The Charlotte 🤿 Shipwreck Dive

White dial ARES diver-1 on wrist of AJ at about 25ft underwater, with his hand on what remains of the hull of the ship. Green water all around and debris in the water from putting hand on hull
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Wait…there is a shipwreck in Lake Whatcom, in Bellingham? Goonies never say die!

When you think “lets dive shipwreck”, chances are Lake Whatcom in Bellingham Washington isn’t going to be the first place you’d think to look.

Curious, I hit the Google with a barrage of search terms, trying to see if there were any cool dive sites with a shipwreck. Of course, my inner 9-year-old self hoped for a Goonies like galleon, but of course this is Bellingham. While looking for nearby wrecks I could dive, by chance I landed on a YouTuber who talked about a shipwreck in Bellingham’s very own Lake Whatcom. To double down on my new found luck, I reached out to him asking if they would share the location; and he happily did. Best of all, it was just 35min from my home and accessible by shore dive. Earlier that day I had just gotten my tanks refilled… and I knew that my dive buddy was free that very next Monday after work.  

AJ with shades, black hat, and bright red dive jacket with old dive patches. He is wearing a black wetsuite and there are old dock pillars behind him in a body of water

The Wreck of The Charlotte

The history that I have on the Charlotte comes by way of a good friend, and dear colleague, (thank you Nancy) and this blurb she found online on this downed ship. 

“The Charlotte was built at the Larson Mill site on Lake Whatcom. The boat was named for Charlotte Bloedel of the pioneer lumber family. The 65 foot tug was built in 1911 but her rare steeple compound engine was built around 1880 in Victoria B.C. The engine powered Canadian craft for many years before it was brought to Whatcom County and it served two other vessels on Lake Whatcom, the “Prentice” and the “Ella,” before it was placed in the Charlotte. The Charlotte worked on Lake Whatcom towing logs for nearly half a century before the mill burned in the 50’s. The old girl was kept running by various steam buffs until Halloween night, 1975 when she sank at her mooring at the south end of Lake Whatcom.”

This old tug was also mentioned back in 2015 in the Bellingham Herald. Also City of Bellingham does have a PDF with a bit of the history of the lake, with photos of other boats from the era. Cthippo1 on YouTube (thanks again), has a video on a bit of the history he was able to find on The Charlotte.

Vintage sepia photo of the Charlotte with steam out its stack, people at its aft
Photo via Cthippo1’s | YouTube

Now, the argument might be made by some that this “shipweck” might be called more of a “shipsank;” but for me it scratches more than enough of my acute submechanophilia itch that I’ve developed.

Shots from the dive