STRAITS CHARTER 2006 by Kevin Zepp
Our September Straits Charter had an excellent turnout of 11 divers and 3 dive groupies. (One of the divers and one Groupie on a SECOND HONEYMOON). As always we are proud of all of our active and involved dive club members, and their supportive families.
Some divers arrived as early as Friday 9/15/06 to enjoy the beautiful St. Ignace Atmosphere, however the majority of our members arrived on Friday evening. I believe this was the first trip to the Straits for our new member John Conn, and for Alan Finley.
It turns out that this particular weekend was once again shared with the “Parade of 18 Wheeler Trucks” that we experienced a couple of years ago. It is like the Woodward Dream Cruise for VERY large diesel trucks and trailers. There are hundreds of trucks all around the city parked next to one another displaying their customized engines, cabs and engines. Late in the evening they parade over the Macinaw Bridge with all of their lights on, and horns blowing, finishing with a slow drive through St. Ignace. It is quite a spectacular sight, although I do not think any one had enough energy left over after the diving on Saturday to stay up to watch the parade.
On Saturday our charter boat “ Rec Diver “ from Straits Scuba Charters, left the harbor at 9 am and the first dive was on the “Eber Ward”. The “Eber Ward” is a wooden bulk freighter built in 1888, sitting upright and intact in 130 to 140 ft Lake Michigan water. She was sunk on April 9 th 1909 after being holed by ice and sank in 10 minutes. Since she is upright and intact there are swim thru opportunities and the points of interest are the large boilers and engine as well as the mushroom anchor. We had at least 40 ft. of visibility and very calm seas for the entire day. The second dive of the day was on the “William Young”, sunk in 1891 and found to be upright and intact in 120 ft of Lake Huron water. This wreck was found accidentally by Michigan State police divers while looking for a missing person in 2002. We still had essentially the same visibility of 40 ft.. and the water temperatures averaged about 58 degrees on the surface and at depth. Apparently the water has inverted sending the warmer water deeper and the colder water to the surface, making the temperature more homogenous, essentially eliminating the thermocline.
We had one incident on this day that may end appearing in the papers as a huge scandal. We encountered a wreck violator /destroyer who with malice aforethought ( I don’t know what this means, but they always say it on the courtrooms dramas on TV), broke off a piece of a wreck that had sat undisturbed for over 100 years. This violator had an accomplice taking pictures of the whole event, recording their remorseless act. The piece of the wreck sank to the bottom never to be seen again in its original state. Perhaps next year the whole wreck will have collapsed into a pile of rubble. To our horror we recognized the two suspects as Seasnooper members !! Upon interrogation they claim it was an accident but you may see them soon on Judge Judy, or look for their pictures hanging in the Post office. They may end up being the Bonnie & Clyde of the diving world.
After the diving on Saturday some chose to return to the nice inviting confines of La Casa de Brodzik, while another group of 5 ventured over to Macinaw City to pick up some leather that Alan had on order…??? He says it was a belt and belt buckle, ?? but I think the name of the store was “Leather Encounter” HMMM !!. After returning from the shopping adventure we enjoyed an EXCELLENT meal of steaks , potatoes, corn-on-the cob, salads, too many deserts to describe, and our favorite beverages. Thanks to everyone that contributed food and labor ! After this fine meal, tall tales were told and plans made for the following day.
On Sunday we dove on the “ Minneapolis” and the “Cedarville”. The “Minneapolis was a wooden freighter built in 1873 and sunk on April 4 th 1894 after being holed by ice. The Wreck is upright and intact and had swim thru opportunities. The biggest surprise on this Wreck were the HUGE, and NUMEROUS schools of fish ON, IN, and AROUND this site. It was very much like you would see on a tropical water dive, I have never seen this many fish on a Great Lakes Wreck before. The schools were together moving as one , like one entity made up of many pieces, shifting and darting through our paths as we explored the wreck. Our second dive was on the “Cedarville” which everyone is aware of , VERY large steel freighter nearly the size of the Edmund Fitzgerald (588 ft). We had penetration opportunities but a diver that will go unmentioned kicked it all up limiting visibility, therefore curtailing the penetration, he says he just wanted the pilot house all to himself !! Overall we had similar visibility of 40 ft. and calm seas again on this day, outstanding conditions. We have tentatively penciled ourselves in for this charter again next year to hold the date until the event committee has a chance to review next years interest, so if this sounds like an enjoyable dive weekend mark it on your survey for next year.
Included in our group were three new members, Brent Schemerhorn , Eric Bauer, and John Conn. WELCOME
At the completion of the weekend we had one club diver with a new certification…
New member John Conn / PADI Wreck Diver, …. Congratulations !!