The Cedarville Shipwreck – 07/04/09-07/05/09

I spent my 4th of July weekend diving in the Straits of Mackinac, what did you do??

We did 4 dives on 3 shipwrecks, 2 dives on the Cedarville, 1 on the Sandusky and 1 on the M. Stalker. I will split the post into 3, one for each shipwreck.

The Cedarville

Description from Cris Kohl’s  The Great Lakes Diving Guide:

LORAN: 31210.7/48130.6                          GPS: 45  47.230’/084  40.253′

DEPTH: 40 to 106 ft                                        LEVEL: Intermediate-Advanced

LOCATION: This wreck lies 2.8 miles east of Old Mackinac Point.

Launched as the A.F. Harvey on April 9, 1927, at River Rouge, Michigan, the steel freighter, Cedarville (588’3″ x 60’2″ x 30’8″), recieved her name change in 1957. She sank with the tragic loss of ten lives on May 7, 1965, after a collision in dense fog with the Norwegian freighter, Topdalsfjord. All but one of the bodies were recovered.

One of the best known and most frequently visited shipwrecks in the Straits, the immense Cedarville lies on her starboard side and remains quite intact, but don’t rush inside this wreck. The daring rescue of a desperate diver lost insidethe engine room in July 2000, where an extra tank of air with a regulator had to be passed to him through a porthole before trained cave divers went in and got him out, made it clear that penetration diving is only for the trained, experienced, and totally prepared. Don’t even think about doing this large wreck in a single dive; buoy markers are placed at the bow and at the stern. Take your pick.

 There, that got the book quotes out of the way, so now I can move on to my experience. Oh yeah, just a note here, I did forget my underwater camera for this trip. I know, how could I forget! I was kicking myself all weekend. I thought about picking up a disposable, but then it was pointed out to me that they won’t hold up that deep.  So I apologize, and I will post links at the end to sites with pictures.

The Cedarville

Location: Lake Huron, Michigan

Maximum Depth: 106 ft on the stern side (which was my max depth)

Visibility:  20-50ft

Directions: Uh, head north to Mackinac Bridge, find a boat or a charter service, head out on to the water until you find the buoy markers? Seriously though, this is a 100% boat dive, so you will either have to have your own boat (big lake worthy), or hire a charter service ($$). The GPS coordinates are above. We used a charter that docked on the north side of the bridge, in St. Ignace. There were 2 other charters docked there too. I am not sure if any go out from the south side of the bridge in Mackinaw City.

Location Description: Hmm… how to describe the Straits of Mackinac….  Well I can tell you that there are 2 buoy markers, marking the Cedarville.

One of the buoys marking the Cedarville

 Nice view of the bridge.

But, be aware of the boat traffic.

Out of Water Conditions: Sunny, mid 60’s, a bit breezy, but that’s to be expected on the Great Lakes.

Water Conditions: Choppy waters, slight current.

Water Temps: Saturday- Stern Dive- Min. Temp: 42F      Sunday- Bow Dive- Min. Temp: 43F

My Experience: The Cedarville is basically broken in half. Like the book says, you can’t dive the whole thing in one dive, so it typically is split into a bow dive, and a stern dive. Honestly though, the ship is so huge, there is no way to see everything in two dives. We dove the stern on Saturday, and the bow on Sunday.

The Stern Dive: This was our first dive of the weekend. This was also my first ‘real’ big lake shipwreck dive.  I dove in Lake Michigan once, briefly, and didn’t pass the 40′ marker, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew our dives were going to fall in the 80′-110′ range, and from my inland lake experiences, I expected it to be cold and dark. When someone would say something about expecting at least a 20′ visibility, my thought was, sure, with a flashlight. Even Gilboa Quarry got really dark after 80′.  Well, let’s just say, I came out of the water after that first dive with a big-ass grin. Instantly the BEST dive ever!  This is why I got into diving.

I could see, I didn’t get cold, (I was one of two in the group diving wet) I could see, and oh yeah, did I mention I COULD SEE!  If you didn’t read my last post, I just got my new prescription mask before the trip. I am extremely nearsided, and have been diving blind for the past year and a half. IT’S A WHOLE NEW WORLD! So that, in itself, probably made this dive the best dive ever. Ok, so it didn’t hurt that the visibility was great. It was darker on the Cedarville than it was on the other dives, but no where near what I was thinking. The only time I needed the flashlight was to look inside the boat.

When we went down on the stern, we somehow overlooked the superstructure, which was right by the line. We went over and swam through and around the cargo areas, which were large and open. Didn’t make it to the break on this dive.  Headed back, checking out some parts of the superstructure, and headed back up. The zebra muscles were insane! And those little Goby fish,  Everywhere! But I could see them  🙂

The Bow Dive: There seemed to be more to see on the bow of the ship. Lots of windows to peek in. Unfortunantly, I’m not a ship expert (or even a novice), so I don’t know all the names of the rooms and equiptment and stuff you see, but there was a lot. We did make it to the break this time. That was something else. We first swam over it to get “the big picture” view, than swam through it. This second dive wasn’t quite as enjoyable for me as the first one was, but that was because I was cold this time. The water temps were a whopping degree higher, but I guess my core temp wasn’t quite back up yet. My max depth on the bow was 99′ and the visibility wasn’t quite as good as the stern’s the day before.

 

If you are a diver, whether you live in Michigan or not, the Great Lakes Shipwrecks are a MUST dive!  Inland lakes just don’t even compare. This is litterally some of the best diving in the world, right here in my own backyard!

Cedarville Links – Additional Info & Pics

Straits Underwater Preserve

Great Lakes Explorer’s Cedarville Pics

YouTube Cedarville Videos

Google Image Search

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Maplewood Lake, Jenison, Mi

 I just got my new prescription mask yesterday, and we are heading up to the straits for the weekend to do some wreck diving. I wanted to check out the mask before we went, and we happened to be in the Jenison area, so I thought, hey, lets check out Maplewood lake!  Growing up, it was the place to swim. Not any more.  I know they have been having problems with E. coli and what not, but man, they have let that place go.

So here is a quick summary of our dive:  We got in, waist high, (where the beach used to be, now all weeds) put our fins on, I donned my new mask, stuck my face in the water and couldn’t even see my hand, or my dive computer, or the light 6 inches in front of my face.  Zero visibility.

What we learned: Not to dive Maplewood Lake.

At least I was able to tell that my mask doesn’t leak.

New Scuba Blogger

If you have read any of my posts, or the about me, you’ve noticed me mention my husband. Well he decided to start his own blog. He is much more knowledgeable about scuba than I am, not to mention he thinks he’s funny.

So if you in for an interesting read, go check it out at http://northerndiver.wordpress.com Right now he’s just getting set up and started, has some info on it, but be sure to check back regularly because  once he gets things going, he’ll probably start sharing some neat tips and tricks (he has quite a few), along great dive locations.

WEST MICHIGAN DIVERS – UPCOMING SWAP MEET!!!

Hey west michigan divers! Guess what I just heard about? Great Lakes Dive Locker is hosting an old fashioned Buy, Sell, Trade Swap Meet!!!  Here’s the info I recieved:

When: Saturday, June 27, 2009 9am-5pm

Where: Great Lakes Dive Locker 

 4909 S. Division

Grand Rapids Michigan (map)

What: Buy, Sell, Trade Swap Meet. Bring your unwanted gear or a fist full of cash and leave with an arm load of equiptment. Great Lakes Dive Locker will also be having an invetory sale 25-50% OR MORE!  (Maybe even a rare ‘make an offer’ deal on new stuff!!!)

1st Dive of the Year!

Geesh….I haven’t post in months! I did revamp the blog, like the new look?

This weekend we took a dive trip, and I got to do my first dives of the year! (It wasn’t Brian’s first though, since he got his dry suit, the cold doesn’t bother him anymore.) We went with a group of great guys, most of which are members of the Grand Valley Scuba Diver’s Club. Where did we go? We went back to Gilboa Quarry! LOL I find it a tad ironic that my last dive last year was the same place as my first dive this year, especially considering it is out of state for us.  Unfortuantly, since it was the last place I dove, I don’t have any new information to share. I do have a couple pictures of Brian and me though. I didn’t bother bringing my underwater camera, so these were taken by Keith, one of the other diver’s we were with. He got quite a few nice shots (his underwater camera is a lot better than mine) and I think they will be posting them on their website, so don’t forget to check it out.

Read my original post on Gilboa Quarry here!

7/26/08- Lake 16- Deep Dive & Night Dive

[NOTE: I posted the details on Lake 16 on a previous post, but we didn’t complete the dive. This time we did, so I am going to repeat the lake’s detail for those who didn’t read the previous post.]

Lake 16   MI DNR LAKE SIXTEEN MAP

Location:Allegan County, Michigan Between Martin and Shelbyville.

Directions:131 South from Grand Rapids, Exit at Shelbyville, head east to 10th Street (first 4 way stop) take 10th Street south (turn right), until you see the three big silos on the left hand side (this is the corner of 222). Take 222 east (turn right) about 2 miles, until you see the lake on the south (right) side of the road, slow down as the driveway is hidden.

Maximum Depth: 87 ft

Visibility: Better than last time, but still not good. My guess would be inches – 10ft, depending on where you are. I was told by someone who dives it often, that the best time to dive Lake 16 is April-June, and then sometimes in the fall. The algae count is very high right now, reducing visibility, and some years are better than others.

Points of Interest: There is an underwater scuba course, often used for testing, and just plain fun. It includes toilets, a boat, platforms, a car, and a snowmobile. I’m sure there is more stuff to see, but these are what I know are there. Oh and lots of fish.

Location Description:Like said in the Directions, the drive is small and hidden. It’s just a small boat launch, no dock, just a cement drop. Limited parking and single handicapped accessible out house, that is large enough one (or two, if you are not shy, or are with your spouse) to change in. The boat launch isn’t very wide, looks mostly used for small fishing boats. No swimming area near here, but did see people swimming off the launch, I don’t know why, it is a very mucky/weedy lake.

I remembered to take a couple shots of the area. The first picture above, is of the parking lot facing the water, the second, below, standing near the water facing the lot. You can see it is small, and see what is offered. There is a small grass patch in the corner that you cannot see in either pictures, that has a picnic table.

Out of Water Conditions: Both Saturday and Sunday were nice, clear, hot, sunny, summer days

Underwater Course Location: I will try my best to describe how to find it. The picture below is taken standing in the right back corner of the boat launch facing the course. I circled the diver’s flag the group had tied off to the first platform. That is not normally there, only if someone who is diving put it there. Now if you are looking straight out at the water from the boat launch, turn to the left (at about 11 o’clock) to face where the course is. It’s about 150 ft or so from shore.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Our Experience: We dove on both Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

SATURDAY: 

We did 2 dives on Saturday evening/night. The first was a deep dive, the second a night dive. We accompanied a group that was there doing their Advanced Diving dives from Great Lakes Dive Locker. (The instructor is how we found out about Lake 16 in the first place)

Dive 1: The Deep Dive 

We went in around 7pm, swam out to where they placed the dive buoy, and descended. We stopped at the diving platform, with a toilet seat on it, at 15 ft and lined up, got all situated, and made sure everyone was there. Like I mentioned above, the visibility is not very good this time of year. Having people there who knew the lake, and where to dive, made a huge difference.  Now, I believe there are a couple ropes leading off this platform, but I couldn’t see them, so there might have just been one. (If I haven’t mentioned it before, I will now. I AM BLIND WITH OUT MY GLASSES!! I have not purchased a prescription mask as of yet. Don’t ask me why. My eyesight was a problem during these dives, so I will definantly be getting a prescription mask in the near future.)

We followed the line down, if I remember correctly, there was a sunken boat with 2 ropes heading off in different directions. We continued down following one of the ropes off the boat, in a single line. It ended at a platform with a toildet on it at 85 ft (probally technically 87 ft, but I didn’t lay on the bottom, so my computer read 85 ft).  All I really remember about this first deep dive is that it was COLD!!!!!! and dark, but really COLD!!!!! The instructors, and a couple others, were in dry suits, so us in our 7 mm wet suits FROZE! Ok, the temperature was 37 F, I’ve had some people say, oh well, that’s not that bad, and of course they are not divers, and are thinking about standing in just above freezing air.  Well I say 😛 to them! Being completely submerged in 37 F water, that is sucking out your body heat, is FREAKING COLD! Even in a 7mm wet suit, gloves and hood!  Actually, my body was good, it was my hands, head and feet that were cold, especially my hands.

So anyways, as we were hanging out in the 37 F water in the dark, we were asked to do a couple math problems. They were testing to see how we handled that depth. They wrote the math problem on our lil underwater writing tablets, and we couldn’t look at them until we were down there. My first problem was something like 2147 x 14. Well, lets just say I have forgotten how to do long multiplication LOL Hey, it’s not my fault, the schools gave us calculators from 7th grade on, it’s been, what, 15-20 yrs since I’ve had to do a math problem like that. Anyways, I think I concerned the instructor, because I just kept staring at it, go to start writing, then stopped, finally he pointed to the second math problem, which was like 5278 + 1649, I was done with that one in less than 5 seconds. (When we got out, I looked at Brian’s math problems, and he was given just addition and subtraction problems, how unfair was that! He’s Mr. HumanCalculator, and I get stuck with the long multiplication LOL!)

Okay, back to the dive. Well there is not much else, we headed back, single file, made sure we still had everyone, then hung out for a minute at the 15 ft dive platform, where we swam a 100 ft line, 3 times, to count our kicks. LOL I must’ve had a small case of ADD that day. When we surfaced, the instructor asked me what my kick strokes were, and I had forgotten to count!  So I went back down to redo it. I counted this time.  We surfaced, got out, de-geared, and ate dinner.

DIVE 2: The Night Dive

This was Brian’s and my first night dive. We geared up and headed out into the water after dark. This was to be a nice calm, leisurely dive.  Which it was. Everyone diving split off into 2 groups, we had 5 in our group. We weren’t planning on heading to the underwater scuba course or go very deep. Our goal was to hang out with the fish. The first time we dropped down, we all lost each other. That happened a few times. I thought it was dark down at 60 ft in Baptist Lake, that was NOTHING compared to diving at night. You literally can notsee anything except for where your flashlight points, and if you’re lucky, your dive buddies flash light and glowstick/strobe light (you attach these to your tank or shoulder, someplace, so hopefully your buddy can find you.) After descending and surfacing a few times because we lost people, we split off into smaller groups of 2 and 3. My group was Doug (the instructor), Brian, and me. In the shallower waters, I was having bouancy issues, even with extra weight, I was having troubles staying down, so Doug grabbed my hand, and led me around for the rest of the dive. Personally, I suggest if you are not experienced, and are doing a night dive, keep your buddy right next to you, hang on to eachother or something. There was no more concern of loosing people, plus the added benefit of having both flashlights.

We swam around for about 25 minutes. According to my dive computer, the deepest we hit was 23 ft. We saw a  lot of fish (well the best I could see) We saw blue gill, perch and bass. The fish are funny at night. They think the flashlight is the sun for a minute, so when you shine it directly on them, they stop like they’re stunned and lean toward it in a daze, then suddenly come out of it and swim away. I saw a turtle. Actually, it swam in front of me and around, just as I was surfacing in a very shallow mucky spot, I stood up and fell backwards, I swear I landed on it, but it was gone when I looked.

All in all it was a good diving day!

 

Lake 16: 7/27/08, Sunday’s Dives…to be continued…..

QUESTIONS: 

  • Have you dove Lake 16? If so, let me know about it!
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