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

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!

Some Light Reading – Reviewing Parts of “Divers Guide to Michigan”

Yes, I have been a slacker lately! I’ve been diving since my last post, just no place new. I dove Lake 16 a couple more times, not much different than the last time, except I got to play dead/distressed diver for the rescue diver class going on. So…since I haven’t been any place new, I thought I’d share some light reading I’ve done.

I picked up a couple books from the library (gotta love the library!!) Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington and Snorkeling Guide to Michigan Inland Lakes by Nancy S. Washburne.

The Snorkeling Guide is great for basic information on the lakes there, and is really aimed toward the nature diver. i.e. the people who just want to be underwater watching the fish. She doesn’t mention anything about what else is down there. But I do suggest reading it!

Divers Guide to Michigan is, well what it is called. A DIVER’s guide. He is pretty detailed about the locations. Only problems are: a.) The book is 10 years old. b.) Most of it is shipwreck/Great Lake diving.  BUT he does have a section in the back about some inland lakes in Michigan. Those I will share with you, so read on, or go get your own copy!

HIGGINS LAKE

Located in Roscommon and Crawford counties (North/Central Lower Penninsula).

“..is popular for night diving and for divers who enjoy observing aquatic life.”

“Higgins Lake is popular because of water clarity. During summer months, divers can expect visibility of 20 to 50 feet.”

ATTRACTIONS: To sum it up, it is one of the largest inland lakes in the state, very clear, has a “sunken island” where lots of fish can be seen in large school, and is a popular lake for boating and fishing, so look for dropped items, but not much else.

DEPTH: 135 ft

VISIBILITY: 20-50ft

GULL LAKE

Located in Kalamazoo County (Southern/Central Lower Penninsula).

ATTRACTIONS: Lots of fish, junk and farm equiptment. (He never said junk, my summary)

“In some areas, it was not unusual for residents to dispose of unwanted items, such as obsolete farm equiptment and even old cars, by taking them out on the ice. When spring came, the disposal was complete. Some even set up betting pools to guess on which day the ice would melt enough to give way.”

“These days, that practice is uncommon because of environmental concerns, but Gull Lake is one area where farmers’ “trash” became divers’ “treasure.” “

DEPTH: 110 ft

VISIBILITY: 8-30 ft

BROCKWAY LAKE

Located in southern Mecosta County (Mid lower penninsula).

ATTRACTION: Lots of fish, especially Northern Pike, and vegetation. There also was a marl mine here, so the walls are still underwater.  This is a small lake, so no speed boats. (Just a note here, he talks quite a bit about the fish here, so if that’s what you are diving for, pick up the book for more details)

VISIBILITY: 15-25

DEPTH: 30 ft

MURRAY LAKE

Located in northern Kent County (West Michigan).

ATTRACTIONS:

It’s a popular boating lake, so there are lost “treasures”, fishing gear, small boats, typical busy waters stuff. Lots of fish and great for just exploring.” Murray Lake is a popular ice diving site.”

“There is enough adjacent wetland to support an abundant fishery and wildlife.”

VISIBILITY: 10-25ft

DEPTH: (doesn’t state in the book, I might look it up later)

BAW BEESE LAKE

Located southeast of Hillsdale, Mi, off of the St. Joseph River (Southern lower penninsula).

ATTRACTIONS:

“hosts a variety of small boats, ice shanties, and weed beds that attract small game fish.”

“Divers will find a small cabin cruiser at the northeast end of the lake in 55 ft of water.”

VISIBILITY: 15-30ft

DEPTH: 70 ft

HEART LAKE

Located in southern Otsego County (Northern lower penninsula)

ATTRACTION: Remarkable water clarity.

“There was once a sawmill on the south end of Heart Lake and logs were floated across the alke to the mill. Before some logs made it to the saw, however, they became waterlogged and sank. As a result, divers can find massive logs on the silty to sandy bottom.”

VISIBILITY: (doesn’t say, just says “remarkable clarity”)

DEPTH: 125 ft (lake is “split” in half, one side is 125 ft deep, other only 20 ft)

HARDY POND

Located in Newaygo county (Central lower penninsula)

ATTRACTIONS: The pond is created by the Hardy Dam, when they created this they flooded a steel bridge that now rests under 60 ft of water.

VISIBILITY: up to 30 ft in some areas, but expect much much less.

DEPTH: 110 ft

 

Well there you go, my summary of Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington. I strongly suggest you pick it up, he gives much more detail than I gave, including directions and maps of the lakes (about a page description per lake) Not to mention the other 300 or so pages of stuff, including shipwrecks, underwater preserves, diving St. Clair river and diving laws. Lots and lots of stuff in this book for Michigan divers!

Hopefully I’ll get to hit some of these places soon!!

I hope I helped some more people out! Happy diving!

7/27/08 – Lake 16 – Deep Dive & Navigation

[NOTE: This is a continuation of a previous post. All details about Lake 16, directions, and site pictures, can be seen here.]

 

This post will be fairly short since I gave all the details about Lake 16 previously.

Dive 1: Deep Dive

We did another deep dive early Sunday morning.  We descended to the first platform at 15 ft, then followed the line to the boat I previously mentioned. I think this boat sits at about 30-40ft.  As I mentioned on the previous post, there are a couple different lines heading off this boat. Last time we headed down to a platform with a toilet on it, this time we went the other way, to the car.  Let me tell you, doing an 80ft dive in Lake 16 at 7:30 in the morning will definantly wake you up! Yes, it was still cold. I couldn’t see much of the car, I didn’t even realize it was the car at first. I basically only saw the top, which is red with a white strip (to look like a diver’s flag) and has Banana something written acrossed it. I did bring the underwater camera with me. I took a picture, but I won’t know for a while if it turned out or not. (I took a whopping 2 pictures in Lake 16, and it was fresh film in a 35mm camera, so I’ll have to do some more diving before it gets developed. But I will post them if they turn out.)

Here’s one of the two pictures I took. This is of the hood of the car. Someone painted a diver’s down flag on the hood with scuba written acrossed it. The other picture that was taken at only 10 ft didn’t turn out.

Before we went down, we were told we were going down to the car and snowmobile. I never saw the snowmobile, if we passed it, I didn’t pay attention. So FYI there is a snowmobile down there too.

After we ascended, we never really left the water till we were done, so I really can’t say Dive 2. We hung out closer to the boat launch for the rest of our time there. We did some navigational tests, where we had to first swim a 40’x40′ square w/o a compass (obviously underwater, alone) using our kick count from the day before.  Next we did it with a compass, then a 40′ triangle with the compass, then a straight line 100′ out and back. Point was to make sure you ended up where you started. I never made it. I SUCK at navigation, but hey, that’s what Brian is for.

Last, but not least, we did the search and find. We took a 2liter bottle, painted brightly yellow, tied to an anchor, and then swam out above surface a little ways. Before dropping the anchor we were supposed to find two “markers” (for some reason I am drawing a blank on what its called!) so we can pinpoint that spot again. Then swim back near shore, then go back out using our markers to find where the bottle was dropped, then go find it.  I sucked at this too. This is where my horrible near-sightedness was a big issue. I couldn’t see well enough to find markers on the shore. I’ll retry these tests when I can see to do them.

That’s about it. We had fun. If you’re diving with a group, I’d suggest Lake 16.  I just hope that if you have never been there, you can find the platforms! LOL

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