Isle Royale - Recap

I promise, this is the LAST post about Isle Royale :)  We hope you've enjoyed reading about the amazing diving that we did during the week, and learning more about this national treasure in Lake Superior.  Of course, none of this would have been possible without the hard work of planning and logistics from the staff at Divers Incorporated in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  And of course, without the expert captain of the Lake Superior Diver - Ryan - and his first mate (for this trip) Rick.  If you are ever looking to do a charter to Isle Royale for SCUBA diving, we highly recommend contacting Captain Ryan at Isle Royale Charters.  

1. The food was excellent and I never went hungry, neither did Aaron or Rich. 

2. I think Captain Ryan has every inch of these wrecks memorized, and will provide you with some of the best dive briefings that I have ever had.  

3. Remember that Lake Superior can and is a fickle, mother f****r.  Be patient with the weather, it will cooperate eventually.

Now, some important things to know if you're planning a dive trip to the great white north.

The National Park Service has put together a primer for diving this oasis of the north.  Here are some important things to note and lessons we learned along the way:

  • The water is cold.  Even after a normal winter (as opposed to the Winter of the Polar Vortex we had this past winter), the surface temperatures rarely exceed 45 or 50 degree Fahrenheit.  And below this, the water is constant 39 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit.  Make sure you have a dry suit and adequate undergarments to keep you warm, especially on repetitive dives
  • The showers on the island are short and expensive.  For $5.25, you get a coin that will turn the shower on for 5 minutes.  However, after a couple of days in a dry suit, it's totally worth it.
  • If you're coming from the Detroit area, be prepared for a long drive.  Either way you go - through the UP or through Chicago/Wisconsin - it's about 15 hours, without stops.  If you have the time, take a couple extra days to do the drive and see the sights along the way.  Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore is amazing, as are the Porcupine Mountains and the small turnouts along the way.
  • If you do decide to go through the UP, and are planning on staying in hotels along the way, make sure you book them well in advance.  On our way back. every hotel from Marquette to St. Ignace was booked.  So, we slept in the truck for a few hours before continuing on.  Next time, I'm making reservations at a hotel.
  • Take a fishing pole and a valid fishing license.  There is nothing better than fresh grilled lake trout that was swimming a mere few hours earlier.  Rick was the only one with any luck the whole week and he graciously shared his catch with us.  Absolutely delicious!
  • Make sure you are comfortable with your dive computer.  Know that if you have a conservative computer, it will limit your bottom time for some of the deeper wrecks.  Also, make sure you know what happens as you approach your No Decompression Limit.  Aaron and I both dive Shearwater Petrels set to recreational mode.  They allow us to maximize our bottom time, see our total time to surface, and adequately and safely plan repetitive dives in order to maximize bottom time.
  • Make sure you bring a dive light.  While the water in Lake Superior is clear, some of the deeper wrecks get dark and if you are planning to penetrate the wrecks at all, a light is a must (not to mention a wreck reel and the proper training and experience).  Some of the wrecks can be deep, dark and are always cold - make sure you are both mentally and physically prepared to handle them.
  • We've already established the fact that the water is cold.  So, it is important to make sure you bring a regulator capable of handling the cold water.  The last thing you want and need a regulator free flowing at 100 feet.
  • Surface weather can vary greatly.  Our first day on the island, the temperatures were in the mid to high 80s.  By the middle of the week, the temperatures had dropped to the mid 60s during the day and low to mid 50s at night.  Make sure you bring layers and enough warm clothing.  
  • Part of the interesting part of wreck diving is knowing the history of the ship.  The wrecks on Isle Royale are all fairly well researched.  There is even a book about the wrecks that lie in the water near Lake Superior, complete with renderings of the dive sites.  This research was funded with your tax dollars and is available here.  At Rock Harbor, we picked up the softcover version since we did not adequately research the wrecks prior to the trip.  We highly recommend bringing a copy with you to help plan your dives as a great source of background information.
  • The island is at once, more remote, more civilized and more wild than you could ever imagine.  At the main harbor, Rock Harbor, there is a restaurant, lodge, bar, store and even WiFi (only for Lodge guests though).  However, as you travel around the island and explore some of the smaller archipelagos, you realize just how far from large civilization you really are.  And the views of the night sky are simply incredible since there is nearly no light pollution.  That being said, we would both go back in a heart beat, and are planning on doing so in a couple of years (after we are done with the whole Germany thing).



We hope you have enjoyed following us on this adventure.  If you have any questions about diving or Isle Royale, put 'em in the comments and we will be sure to answer!

- Meghan -