Ahhh, the joys of winter diving! When the ice is too thin (or, in some winters, non-existent), some crazy divers take to the rivers. River diving allows for a completely different experience, mainly as a result of the current that isn't really present in lakes and quarries. However, it is a COMPLETELY different beast. Not only are there currents, which can be strong, there are also underwater hazards not typically found in protected quarries or even in the Great Lakes. For years, people used the rivers as a dumping ground (out of sight, out of mind?) and as a result, it's not uncommon to find collapsed docks, wads of fishing line, lawn chairs (seriously?!), cinder blocks, re-bar, and even low-head dams. While to the untrained diver, this is an environment ripe for something to go wrong, with the proper training, equipment and mindset, the rivers can be a fantastic opportunity to dive locally. And really, who wants to wait for their next tropical vacation to get in some underwater time?
We often dive either the Detroit River or the St. Clair River, but have dove other rivers as well (Cooper, I'm looking at you). I have had so many people ask me "Why in the world would you want to dive the Detroit River?! Aren't you afraid of finding a dead body or something? What is there to see down there anyway?" Well, while finding a dead body would be pretty horrifying, it's really quite rare (unless you are a public safety diver and it's your job to find that kind of thing). What we DO find when diving the rivers though are bottles. Tons and tons of them. Everything from beer bottles to apothecary bottles and everything in between. Take exhibit A, a bottle Aaron found a few months back in the St. Clair River. The bottle has "Dr. D. Jayne's Expectorant" embossed on one side. While we can't positively identify when the bottle is from, best estimates put it anywhere from 1850 - 1890.
And THAT, my friends, is why we dive the river!