This weekend we were diving Lake Huron once again. I have to admit, diving the wrecks near Harbor Beach, MI from the Sylvia Anne is one of my favorite dive trips. Capt. Gary Venet is top notch (not to mention a helluva nice guy) and his boat is about the best I’ve ever dove from.
Marshall and Renee Allan, Eric Ward and I arrived Friday afternoon for a trip out to the Glenorchy, a 350′ steel freighter that sank due to collision. She’s upside down at a depth of 120′. The engine room can be penetrated by those properly trained and equipped, and is really the main reason to dive this wreck. Without penetration, all there is to see is a very large, steel hull.
Saturday and Sunday we dove the Dunderburg, one of the best wooden schooners in the Great Lakes. For the whole story and some outstanding pictures, check out Andy Morrison’s website here.
We had excellent weather and visibility all weekend. It was mostly sunny, with nice blue skies and temperatures in the 70’s. On the lake, the wind was light and favorable. I don’t think we ever had much more than a 1′ swell. Visibility averaged 50′ or more.
This trip also marked the maiden voyage of Marshall’s new dive trailer. He just bought a nice, new 8 x 10 enclosed trailer, allowing us to put four divers in his SUV and all the gear in the trailer. It worked out very well. We had plenty of room to haul everything we needed, plus it gave us a “base” to work out of at the marina to change out tanks etc. Thanks Marshall and Renee.
It was a very enjoyable weekend and everyone had good dives and came home safely.
This weekend (June 7-8, 2008), I had the pleasure of diving with Capt. Gary Venet aboard the Sylvia Anne. I was working with a couple of Trimix Diver students. The target wrecks for the weekend were the Daniel J. Morrell (bow) and the Governor Smith. We were diving Lake Huron, off the tip of Michigan’s “thumb.” Our departure port was Harbor Beach, MI.
It was a wild weekend weather-wise and I didn’t really think we’d get to dive much. We arrived Friday evening. Just after dinner, strong storms rolled through and I wasn’t sure things would calm down by Saturday morning, especially since the Morrell is 26 miles from Harbor Beach. However, Saturday morning brought nice weather and gentle winds. We made it all the way to the wreck site and enjoyed waves of 2 feet or less. The Morrell is a classic Great Lakes steel freighter, about 600 ft. long. In November 1966, she broke in half and sank. The stern half of the vessel, still under power, continued steaming on until it sank some 5 miles from the bow section. The bow section is upright and intact (except for being only half a ship) in about 200′. The main deck is in about 160′. Visibility was good and we enjoyed exploring the shipwreck and visiting the wheelhouse and forward cabin areas.
Saturday night brought more storms. Sunday morning was pretty breezy and I turned my cell phone on early anticipating a call from Gary cancelling the dive. But once again, the weather gods smiled on us and about 8 am, the wind dropped. We headed out to dive the Governor Smith, a 240 foot-long wooden steamer that sank due to a collision with the Uranus in 1906. She lies at a depth of about 180′. Again, we were treated to waves of about 2 feet, which subsided throughout the morning to calm conditions. The wreck is nearly intact with many artifacts strewn about the deck and out into a large debris field around the wreck. The bow is impressive with anchors still in place. At the point of impact, you can see one of Uranus’ anchors which broke loose and was left inside the Smith. We all enjoyed the dive and the nice ride back to the harbor.
While we were diving, a thick fog had developed. The trip back was like riding through a bag of cotton. When Gary slowed the boat to a crawl, we wondered what was up. Then, we began to make out rocks dead ahead. We were about 50 feet from the breakwall of Harbor Beach Marina! Gary expertly guided us into the entrance to the marina and back to the dock.
It was a wonderful weekend and we got very lucky. Not only did we get to dive both days, but we got to the wrecks we had targeted. I’m looking forward to returning in 2 weeks to do more diving from Harbor Beach.
I have two spaces open for the weekend of June 21-22, 2008. We’re departing Harbor Beach, MI on the Sylvia Anne, operated by Rec and Tec Dive Charters. Saturday’s departure time is 1 p.m. and Sunday’s departure time is 8 a.m.
Charter fee is $110 per day and our target wreck is the Dunderburg, one of the most beautiful wooden shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. Depth on the wreck is about 150′. Advanced Nitrox/Decompression Procedures certification required, as well as Great Lakes diving experience.
E-mail me if you’re interested.
After a weekend off from diving, it was back to the water. This weekend I met Jim and Wally at White Star Quarry near Gibsonburg, OH for Intro to Tech. It was a great weekend and we got lucky with weather. Forecasts earlier in the week called for rain, but it ended up being sunny and warm both days (although we had 20-30 mph winds Saturday).
Both Jim and Wally had some experience diving in drysuits and double tanks prior to class. This isn’t a prerequisite for the course in any way. Actually many people who take Intro to Tech are advanced recreational divers who wear single tanks and wetsuits whose goal is to see what technical diving is all about and if it’s a path they want to follow. Jim and Wally have already decided to pursue technical diving and took Intro to Tech to help prepare them for the Advanced Nitrox/Decompression Procedures course.
Their prior experience with doubles and drysuits allowed us to spend a minimum of time talking about some of those topics freeing up time for other things. We did our classroom and two dives Saturday and one dive Sunday. We were able to wrap up just after lunch Sunday so they could start their long drive back to Indiana. The dives went well and since this was their first trip to White Star, I got to introduce them to the quarry. On Sunday’s dive, we went through the tunnel.
We spent a fair bit of time talking about dive planning, an often overlooked process in recreational diving (in my opinion). After tracking gas consumption over the first two dives, I asked them to predict what their pressure guages would read at the end of Sunday’s dive. Before the dive, they each told me what they thought they’d end up with. At the end of the dive, we checked and each was within 100 psi of his prediction.
In the water we worked on buoyancy and trim, manifold shutdown drills, air sharing with a 7′ hose, SMB deployment, and a few other manuevers.
On Sunday, I saw Leslie, Randy and others doing some training dives with Scott and Linda from MAST. For more information about the good work MAST is doing to research and document Ohio’s underwater historical resources, check out the MAST website.