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!!!)

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! 

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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