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.

10/23-25/2008 Gilboa Quarry, OH

This post has been a long time coming. I was waiting to get my film developed before I posted, then kept procrastinating, you know how it goes. Well, I have my film developed, and most did not turn out. I am not an underwater photographer! Visibility was much better than what the images show, I just have an el cheapo underwater 35 mm camera.

Let’s see, where to start…. First off, I know my purpose behind this blog was for Michigan diving spots, and I know Gilboa is in Ohio, but Gilboa was only a few hours drive south, great for Michigan divers!

Brian and I got there on a Thursday evening. We were able to get in one short dive before they closed up. We wanted to check out the visibility before the weekend rush came in, and let me tell you, it was great! Granted the sun was setting, and it was cloudy, but still, great visibility! We spent the night in one of the bunkhouses. Then the next day we got 2 dives in. The visibility wasn’t quite as good as the day before, but still good. There were dive classes going on (you know how the beginners kick up stuff 😉 ) and it rained all day. We spent the evening trying to find something to do, we live in a Lil hick town with nothing to do, but Gilboa is in the middle on nowhere! We spent that night at the bunkhouse also, then got one more short dive in before we left Saturday morning. That pretty much sums up our trip there 🙂 I’m gonna try and lay the rest out like the other dive spots.

Gilboa Quarry – Gilboa’s Website

Location: Ottawa, Oh

Maximum Depth: Attraction side – 60 ft; Deep side – 130+ ft

Visibility: Great 30-80 ft

Directions:  Gilboa Quarry is located about 15 miles west of Findlay on Old St. Rt. 224. Pickup St. Rt. 224 on I-75 in Findlay, Ohio.

Location Description:Gilboa Quarry is an old quarry (duh!) that they let fill up and added a bunch of stuff to for divers. Great description huh? Okay, seriously now. You drive in and see this large dilapidated building. As you can see from the picture below, it doubles as a rock climbing wall. The office is in the newly renovated area just left off the picture. The quarry is behind it. There is a decent sized parking area across the drive.

If you check out their website, you will see they have a few different lodging options. Around the side of the quarry, near the docks, is a nice camping area with tables, fire pits and outhouses. We would’ve camped, but it was a bit cold for tenting it and scuba diving. There is also a couple cottage options, pictured below, which are next to/on top of the bathrooms and shower building. Everything is nice and clean.

They also offer bunkhouses, which are basically just a heated room with3-4 bunk beds. That is what we stayed in. Those are located in the big scary building that has the rock climbing wall on the side. I didn’t get a shot of the actual rooms, they look just like they do on their website. I did get a shot of the entrance to the building and just inside. I think it’s a reck room/eatery during busier times of the year, or when the rock wall is open. I think the rock wall is a separate company, but I’m not sure.

Here’s the steps up into the building to the bunkrooms.

Just inside the doors. The reck room, stairs leading up to the rock climbing business and the bunkrooms. So yeah, there’s a lot of stairs to climb if you plan on staying in a bunkroom.

Here’s a shot of the 2 doors of the bunkhouses from the bottom floor. That’s one of our wetsuits hanging over the rail.

The dive docks, or I should say, decks, are large and are in excellent condition. Plenty of room for a group to gear up and head out together. There are 4 docks on the shallow side (We never made it to the deep side so I can’t give any info on them) 3 are grouped next to eachother, and the 4th is off to the side a little. Since it was just Brian and I, we took the single one. Each dock had a platform 10 ft  underwater. Below you will see how clear the water is. That platform is 10 feet deep, and this was taken when the sun was almost set from the deck. So not underwater.

Out of Water Conditions: The whole time we were there it was cold, cloudy and/or raining.

How we found this site: Word of mouth. Other diver’s that have been there. We were supposed to go with a group from the dive shop, but my father past away that week, so Brian and I waited and went alone.

Points of Interest: There are definantly a few here at Gilboa So I will just list them as I remember them. Just a note here, you can swim around and through everything here, just don’t get stuck!

  • Grumman Airplane – 65′ feet long 78′ feet long wide and 23′ feet high
  • Sikorsky “Double Deuce” Mojave Helicopter
  • Sunken boats
  • Tower Wreck – The original quarry tower fell while it was filling, it still lays where it fell, complete with toilet and all!
  • School bus
  • Truck, Van, Car & Motorcycle
  • Tire Chain- Large tires chained together that you can swim through.
  • Cement Tubes- Stacked large cement cylinders that you can swim through.
  • The Enchanted Forest- Old trees still underwater like a lil forest.
  • The Christmas Tree.
  • Fish, fish, and more fish! These fish will swarm you, whether you have food or not! But you can hand feed them too!

Our Experience:Like I mentioned above, we jumped in as soon as we got there, just before closing. The visibility was great! in the 80′ range. We were the only ones there. The first thing you notice when you get in to the water, is the fish! Holy Crap! They literally swarm you looking for food. It’s quite obvious they are regularly hand fed. They made me a bit nervous. They get right into your face, literally, and poke at you searching for food. And these aren’t little blue gill, you got some large mouth bass, rainbow trout, large pan fish, catfish (one in particular that wouldn’t leave us alone was HUGE), carp, perch, etc. It would’ve been a fisherman’s dream if they allowed fishing. LOL I can’t believe out of all the pictures I took, that none showed the fish swarming. It was pure luck. They even chase you into things! Anyways, since we did 4 dives, and they were all pretty much the same, I’m just gonna post the pictures and tell a little about them.

This the motorcycle, it’s actually on a mini platform to hold it upright.

This is the School bus. These pictures are kind of hard to make out, sorry.

(This one might actually be the Van, I’m not quite sure)

That is Brian’s fin LOL, we were swimming through the school bus, you can kinda make out the seats.

Here’s the airplane.

This is Brian leaving on the jet plane, even though you really can’t see him.

And me sitting in the doorway. You can make out my blue fins. Note the fish fins at the top of the photo, and the fish in it, and I’m sure there were 15 other off to the side lol.

 This is inside the plane (I think, or it could be inside the helicoptor, hmm..)

This lil guy was in the front of the helicoptor.

I’m not sure what this was, I’m guessing either one of the boats or part of the fallen tower.

Here’s part of the Enchanted Forest.

Here’s a shot where you can see part of the tower in the background.

Here are some fish.

Here’s Brian

Brian again, next to a propeller from something, helicoptor maybe?

And Brian again….geesh! What do you expect when I’m carrying the camera?

Oh look! It’s me!

 

Well that’s all the pictures that turned out. If you want to see additional, better, more professional looking pictures (taken w/ the right equipment) from Gilboa, look at their site here

A quick breakdown of where everything is, depthwise: Pretty much most of the stuff, plane, helicopter, bus, etc lays at about 30-40′ deep. Some stuff like the bike and a couple boats were probably around the 20-25′ mark. The Tower wreck starts at about 40′ and reaches to about 55′-60′. The deepest thing on the shallow end is the cement tubes at 60′. The deepest we went is 68′. I was not allowed to go into the deep end because I only have my open water certifications. They have strict rules about this. This is the first time I have encountered this, so it sucked. I could even prove that I’ve done deep dives, but they have their reasons for being careful. Looks like I’ll be getting my Advanced card sooner rather than later.

That pretty much sums up these dives. I definitely recommend Gilboa Quarry. It was one of the best inland man-made sites I’ve seen yet.  We’ll probably go back. This July they are trying to break a world record for the most divers in one spot, we might try and make it back for that. If you interested in details, check out their site for information here. They are also open year round, with the exception of a the holidays. So you don’t have to wait till next spring! 

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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