On Sunday, we checked off another item on our Bucket List - diving in Sundhäuser See. I can't remember exactly how I found out about this lake, although I think it was this PADI article I read about a year ago. What caught my eye was the underwater city part. And the fact that it was one of the closer ones to us that was listed. We weren't going to be far from the lake so it naturally made sense to pay it a visit.
The dive shop is set up on the side of a lake, and unlike many things in Germany, was open on a Sunday. Actually, there are 3 or 4 lakes in the area, but it is closest to the biggest one. The shop is fully equipped and carries mostly Subgear brand dive gear, although there are other brands mixed in. They are a 5 star PADI dive center and offer a full range of classes, so even if you aren't certified, you can become a certified diver here. On Sundhäuser See alone, there are three different entry points and any number of dives possible from there. The dive shop also operates a number of small cottages that can be rented and it looks like they are finishing up building 4 new log cabin style cottages. I think that in the summer, camping is also possible, but if you want to camp, make sure you call to verify. We chose to enter at the one closest to the shop (spot number 1) and do probably the most famous dive there - the underwater city.
We parked, rented tanks and weights, and got to setting up our gear. This was also the first dive that we got to do with the Christmas present we got ourselves: Poseidon Regulators, courtesy of Divers Incorporated. In the States, Aaron's truck was our dive vehicle. In Germany, our current rental car is an Audi A3. Considerably smaller than an F-150, but much more practical. However, it does present a number of challenges to diving that we didn't have with the truck. But, we have since become proficient in diving out of the back of the small vehicle. Make do with what you have.....
Once we had donned all of our gear, we headed down to the water. There is a small set of stairs and a dock. It is deep enough to giant stride off the end of the dock and there is a fins-on ladder for easy exits. A final check of gear, and we were under. Aaron did the navigation and I have to say he has redeemed himself in terms of navigating. He got us right to the dive site we wanted. Visibility wasn't great - about 10 feet - but was on par with the lakes and quarries back in the states during the summer.
We wanted to see the dive site Nordhausia, a city they sunk a few years back modeled after the ancient town of Nordhausan (where the dive shop and lake are located). While it's not quite as cool as the underwater structures we dove last year around this time, it was still pretty interesting. There were old church ruins, a newer church, a couple of houses, a cemetery (complete with a creepy skeleton in a coffin), a wall, and lots of other little things to see. In the houses, there were statues and at first, they were a little disconcerting, but you go to used to them.
Couple pointers if you're thinking about headed to Sundhäuser See for a dive or two yourself:
- There is a fee for diving. It's 8€ for divers, 2€ for non-divers. Much cheaper than most places I've been to in the States
- You are required to sign in for diving and present a valid certification card. While we were not asked for medical certificates, some places in Germany do require them
- Being in Europe, all the tanks are DIN valves. Just something to be aware of
- The website said that a dive light isn't necessary. However, I have found them to be very useful, even during the day, and especially in poor visibility situations. If you have a small back up light, it doesn't hurt to take it (a full canister light isn't necessary, but you could certainly use one if you felt like it)
Unfortunately, my dry suit was still leaking (which I need to get figured out ASAP, cause it's cold!), and the water was about 41°F, so we only got about a 35 - 40 minute dive in. It was nice to be deeper than 11 feet though! Added bonus: it was on February 1, so we got our February dive in! The new Poseidon regulators performed beautifully too. We only did one dive (the whole getting wet put a damper - sorry for the pun - on any more dives), but these lakes have a lot to offer, and they aren't too far away, so I wouldn't be surprised if we end up back here sometime in the summer.