Diving a Sub-Aquatic Village

In the diving industry, Sundays are often referred to as Dive Day.  This winter, 3 weekends out of 4 each month, we can usually be found diving somewhere.  Whether it be White Star Quarry in Gibsonburg, OH, or Colchester Harbor in Ontario Canada, we usually have found something interesting and unique to dive.  Earlier in December we were fortunate enough to be invited to dive on a wreck discovered by Mike Drexler of Drexler Diving Systems.  Our friend Andy Morrison wrote a great article and many of his pictures from that day can be found on the Toledo Blade Website. Last weekend and this weekend, we dove at somewhat more local quarry that had ceased operations and was allowed to filled with spring water.  When it was closed, large machinery, smaller artifacts, buildings, and even power lines were left in place.  Over the years, as the quarry filled with water, these all became submerged making for some fantastic diving opportunities.

We have been fortunate enough to become close friends with people who knows the gentleman that owns the quarry.  With them, we have been fortunate enough to dive this quarry three times - twice on some pretty impressive sites left over from when the quarry was operational.  Last weekend it was a rock crusher.  This weekend it was the village.  It's really isn't a village per say, but there are five buildings and some power lines still standing.  It's approximately a half mile trek each way to get to the site - while hauling about 100 pounds of gear per person.  The air temperature was 18 degrees and the wind felt like it was blowing at 50 miles per hour on the lake (in reality, it was probably  closer to 20) creating quite the wind chill.  The dives are relatively deep (my dive computer read a max depth of 81 feet) and it's a strange feeling when you get in to the water, sink below the surface, and get warmer than when you were standing on top of the ice.  It's not all that uncommon for the water temperature to be 10 - 25 degrees WARMER than the air temperature (not factoring in the wind chill).  

Meghan under the Ice.  Photo by Kent Klemz

Meghan under the Ice.  Photo by Kent Klemz

Anywho, back to the actual dive.  A buoy had previously been tied off and so it was easy to descend on the line.  At first, one can't see the bottom, but as you descend deeper, out of the mist, the power lines start to appear, followed by the buildings.  It very surreal to see a little village appear, seemingly out of thin air (or thin water?).  The buildings still have their air conditioners hooked and and ropes hanging on the wall.  It looks like they walked away from it.  Unfortunately, the batteries on our small underwater camera died due to the cold temperatures before we even got in the water, so no pictures from today.  One of our dive buddies had his GoPro with him today and was filming me as I was performing my safety stop at 15 feet.  Once I was done, I ascended to just under the ice and swam directly towards him.  However, he wasn't videoing, he was taking pictures.  As I went to touch his hand, he got a great picture of me.  And I apparently got quite the scare out of him (he couldn't see me coming).  As soon as I was out of the water, the gear was packed up and we trekked back to shore.

In recap, we got dressed in three layers of undergarments and a dry suit, loaded all of our gear on sleds (about 40 pounds), walked a half mile out to the site, chainsawed a hole through 18 inches of ice, and walked a half mile back to shore, for a twenty minute dive.  Some might call us insane (heck, we sometimes call ourselves insane!), but for the most part, we consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to experience and see parts of this world that few ever will.

If you're interested in learning how to dive and explore the fascinating underwater world, please get in contact with us.  While we don't teach ourselves, we can hook you up with some pretty impressive instructors.