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!

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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!

07/20/2008 Baptist Lake

Baptist Lake  MI DNR BAPTIST LAKE MAP

Location: Sand Lake, Newaygo County, Michigan

Maximum Depth: 65 ft

Visibility: Good; 20-30’+ at 30′ deep. Bad; inches to a couple feet at 60′ deep.

Directions: 131 North from Grand Rapids, Exit 110 toward Sand Lake, turn LEFT at 22 Mile Rd/S County Line Rd. Just after a mile, turn RIGHT on Newcosta Ave/W County Line Rd. 3 miles up, turn LEFT at 120th St, then 1/2 mile up the road is Oak Dr. Turn LEFT.  You will see Ensley Township’s Baptist Lake Park on the Right. 

 (NOTE: Baptist Lake did NOT show up on our GPS)

Location Description: Parking is along the road and acrossed the street. The boat launch is just past the park and parking. This is a great little family park. There are two portapotties by the boat launch.  There are picnic tables and benches in a fairly shaded, grassy area, just above the beach.  The beach is small, but clean, and there is a small fenced in park with a slide and swings for the kids. My sister-inlaw and her 2 sons came with us, to watch our 2 children while we went diving. The kids had a great time swimming and playing at the park.

There are speed boats and ski doos sharing the waters, so beware, but there are also posted rules of no-wake boating after 6:30pm, (7:30pm w/ daylights saving) While we were there, the people on boats and ski doos were aware that we were there diving, and were very considerate. We spoke with them briefly about where we planned to be, and devised a signal for when we surfaced, to make sure they saw us.

Just a suggestion, we drove down to the boat launch to unload our gear, it’s a little bit of a walk from the parking area to the water, especially carrying tanks and everything, then parked.

Out of Water Conditions: Sunday was a beautiful sunny day. Temperatures were low to mid 80’s, little wind.

How We Found this Site: After Saturday’s experience, or lack there of, at Lake 16, we were itching to use up the air we rented.  We spent Saturday evening, and much of Sunday morning to midday, searching online for someplace, ANY PLACE, with desent visibility to dive. I came acrossed a website, The Sea Hunt Dive Club of West Michigan, which is a group of West Michigan Divers, that get together weekly to dive, or just to hang out. We are not members, and have no affiliation to this club, but they do have forums where they discuss where to dive. Granted they don’t have much information about individual places, since most of the members already know about the lakes. They just ask who’s going and such. (this frustrating online search, is why I decided to make this blog, I know I can’t be the only new diver looking for a place to dive) They mentioned Baptist Lake a few times, and I recieved the impression that they dive there semi-frequently. We live fairly close by, but Brian didn’t want to head out there blind, so we decided to try and find a dive shop that was open on Sunday, to see if they knew anything about diving in Baptist Lake.

American Dive Zone, located in Kentwood, Mi, was the only shop open when we started calling around late Sunday afternoon. They also happened to be one of the schools that do some of their open water tests at Baptist Lake. How cool was that? The guy Brian talked to said that Baptist lake had an underwater scuba course, and would probally have divers there. He gave a brief description, saying there was a sunken pontoon boat, transformed into a dive platform, with ropes going off to different sites. 

We headed off, after desperately begging for a baby-sitter, and arrived just before 6pm. We forgot to ask the dive shop where to drop in at!  Fortunantly, there were people at the beach and boat launch, who have watched divers enter. One person told us that they watched dive teams go straight out from the boat launch.

 (NOTE: Adventures in Diving’s webpage has a brief description of Baptist Lake, one I didn’t notice until typing up the post on Lake 16, after we dove Baptist Lake, LOL, and they state “Posted Signs prohibit diving from the boat launch.” We did not notice this, but please keep it in mind and watch for it)

Our Experience: We suited up, and entered from the boat launch (oops). We went straight out until we couldn’t touch, then decided to descended and follow the bottom out. There are a lot of weeds at first, but are more dispersed the further you go.  We saw a lot of fish. At about 20ft deep, I looked up and saw schools of Blue Gill and Sunfish. It was really cool. I really enjoyed swimming literally, with the fishes. Some how we managed (Brian said it was my fault, I headed off “course” and he followed, he had the compass) to do a large circle before we were low on air. The tanks we started with were the one’s we took into Lake 16. We were just trying to find the course or something, with this first dive.

We got down to 45 ft during this dive. Visibility was really good, I thought, probally 20-30ft, but the temperature dropped to 6.1 degrees celcius. Man was I glad I was wearing a hood and gloves! It was COLD! We found a sunken, old, wooden canoe. Our first find! We didn’t find the platform or the course. The canoe was not hooked to a line, so it wasn’t part of it. We surfaced, spent about an hour playing with kids, swapped tanks, then suited up again.

This time we entered from the beach. I believe we headed straight out from the beach, I followed Brian, since he had the compass. Once again, we descended where the water was about 10 ft deep, and followed the bottom out. We saw more Blue Gills and Sunfish, and even a couple bass.  When the bottom was about 25-30 ft we found the sunken pontoon boat/scuba platform! We were excited! We checked out the pontoon, then headed off, following one of the lines attatched to it. First we came across an old speed boat, Brian got behind the steering wheel and pretended to drive it, while I laughed and wished I had brought the camera down. We moved on, still following the line, passed another boat and a bouy. Visibilty was still good. We kept following lines until we were passed 50 ft, then visibility went to crap. It got dark and cold. My mask fogged up, but the only reason I knew that, was because I couldn’t read my gauges. After I cleared it, I still couldn’t see around me. We kept going though and it the deeper we got, the darker and colder the water got. At some point, while hanging onto the line, Brian on one side, me the other, all I could see was the line in my hand and Brian, not even the bottom, though I knew we were just above it. If I wasn’t sure I was kicking my feet, I would’ve sworn we weren’t even moving. Then out of the foggy dark water, the bow to a boat appeared out of what seemed to be out of no where. We were down to 60-65 ft, evidently the deepest part of the lake? It was an old fishing boat, nothing spectacular. What was odd, was that once we crossed that line where everything went dark, it seemed we couldn’t see more than a foot in front of us, but when we were at the boat, we could see bow to stern. Oh, did I mention it was cold down there? LOL

After exploring the fishing boat, we followed the line back to the light. We got back to the pontoon platform and our tanks were at 1500 psi. (By the way, the platform sits at 15 ft) So we hung out on the platform, and played around, just to waste our air. I did somersaults, Brian did push-ups, I did walking hand stands, we were being goofy and having fun. We took our time heading back towards shore. I chased more Blue Gill, saw, what I think was a Pike, and just enjoyed the beauty and wonder underwater life has to offer.

It was a great dive, and we will definantly do it again. I hear there are picnic tables, a snowmobile, and other stuff we didn’t find under there. More for next time. Brian wants to bring cards down for when we find a picnic table. 🙂

Points of Interest (That we found): Pontoon boat/Diver’s platform, 2 fishing boats, 1 speed boat, 1 canoe, lots of fish!

Gear: Everything (see “Our Gear” for details)

  • BC’s, regs, masks, 80# tanks, boots, fins
  • 7 mm wetsuits
  • Gloves
  • Hood
  • Flashlights

Sorry, no pictures taken, not even of the site.

 

QUESTIONS: 

  • Have you dove Baptist Lake? If so, let me know about it!
  • What contributes to water clearity??
  • If you’re doing an off shore dive, how does one bring a diver’s flag?  Float it out and anchor it to a general area you’ll be? Attatch it to you, so it follows you? That seems like a tangled danger to me… You may think I’m stupid, but that wasn’t taught in my class, and I can’t seem to get a straight answer.

07/19/2008 Lake 16

Lake 16   MI DNR LAKE SIXTEEN MAP

Location:Allegan County, Michigan Between Martin and Shelbyville.

Maximum Depth: 87 ft

Visibility: When we were there, NONE, oh ok, maybe 6″-12″, yes, that’s inches!

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.

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 accessable out house, that is large enough to change in. The boat launch isn’t very wide, looks mostly used for small fishing boats. No swimming area near here.

Out of Water Conditions: Saturday was one of those crappy, hot, humid, cloudy, raining off and on Michigan days. I believe the temperature was in the mid 80’s. When we got to the lake, it was sprinkling.

Our Experience: We were told that many diving classes train here, so of course, we were all for it. Now, we are still not sure what exactly contributes to underwater visibility, but I’m sure the rain was stirring up the lake.  We got suited up, headed in, and got to where it was deep enough to descend.  Brian (my husband) and I were about a foot away from eachother, and when we both went under, we couldn’t see eachother.  We played at the surface, trying to see if there might be at least a clear spot, but nothing.  We left very disappointed.

Sorry, no pictures taken, not even of the site.

NO DIVE COMPLETED 

TO SEE THE BLOG ABOUT THE COMPLETED LAKE 16 DIVES CLICK HERE

According to Adventures in Diving’s website Lake 16 is described in a note as such:

Many local dive shops go here for classes – weekends can be crowded. There is a dive platform and a lot to see on the bottom of the lake. Visibility varies from a few inches to a few dozen feet. Outhouse available for changing or other “duties.” No picnic tables.”

I guess we just picked a bad day!  Brian is going back this Saturday, July 26, 2008 for an Advanced Divers course. I’m not sure if I’m going or not, depends on the babysitter situation.  But I will definantly post an update about Lake 16 afterwards!

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