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
Sorry, no pictures taken, not even of the site.
- 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.
Filed under: Diving in Michigan, Inland Lakes -Newaygo County | Tagged: baptist lake, boats, diver, diving, ensley township, fish, inland lakes, michigan, newaygo county, recreation, sand lake, scuba diving, sunken boats, underwater, water, west michigan | 4 Comments »