|DIVE SITE OF THE MONTH:
THE WRECK OF THE M.E. TREMBLE
Courtesy of Marko Tomko
Location: The American side of the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan about ¼ mile south of the Blue Water Bridge. The wreck lies in about 70 feet of water approximately 50-75 yards directly out from a large red channel marker on the shore next to a parking lot by the riverfront. If you ask for directions to the Thomas Edison Inn, this will bring you to the immediate area.
History: The Tremble was a 100 ft wooden schooner loaded with coal, towed on Sept 7, 1890 when it was struck by a southbound steamer and sank with the loss of one life. Not long after, a ship called the Ben Hur was attempting to salvage the Tremble when it also collided with another ship. Its wreckage likes beside the Trembleís.
Diving It: Park in the ample parking lot next to the channel marker, and, before you suit up, walk along the seawall/railing for a ways downstream from the channel marker and locate a ladder to exit the river. Choose carefully! All of the ladders require a strenuous climb, but some are easier than others! (Editorís note: Heed these words, this climb is not for everyone, in fact for very few, especially for small statured folks). Other alternatives exist, such as exiting near the Huron Lightship Museum)
Because of the very strong current here (6-8 knots) you will need to drop into the water from the seawall about 3 park benches north of the channel marker. Plan on climbing over the railing with your fins on and regulator in your mouth. Make sure your BC is completely deflated before you drop from the railing because if you float downstream before reaching the bottom you will lose valuable yardage. (Tip: On your way to the bottom, if your body is 45 degrees pointing head downward, the current will actually help push you to the bottom.) Once on the bottom near the seawall, join up with your dive buddy and get situated for the swim out to the Tremble in the strong current. Both of you should double-check all of your gages and equipment.
The usual practice here is pretend that you are swimming perpendicular to the seawall straight out to the wreck. The reality is (and the reason you entered the water 3 park benches upstream) the stiff current will wash you downriver as you swim out. Effectively you will be traveling at about a 45-degree angle to the wreck. Once you reach the wreck, duck under the stern where the current is dead and catch your breath. (CAUTION: There are dugout areas underneath this wreck for the chains/straps used in the attempt to salvage it. The current will push you into these holes posing life-threatening conditions and they should be avoided at all times.) The wreck is best explored by holding onto a part of it at all times, and working your way from handhold to handhold. A hand held diving hook or claw is sometimes useful. It is an absolute must for you to leave the wreck and begin your swim back to the seawall with at least 2/3 of your air supply remaining. The return trip is very strenuous and you will need it. Keep in mind that sometimes the direction of the current is outwards from the seawall, so it is easy to become disoriented. It is best to head back at a 45-degree angle. A rather high clay cliff means you are getting close to the seawall.
Cautions: This is a very aggressive dive and thus IS something you should work up to. The safest way to do it is to find someone who has done it before, who is comfortable on the wreck, and accompany them. It is not a dive for those without a lot of experience in river diving or experience in only light currents. A few strong suggestions:
1) Take a swift water diving class from your local dive instructor
Whatís to see: The Tremble is a 100-ft
wooden wreck in fairly good condition. The cargo of coal is very
much in evidence. Recent reports Iíve heard indicate part of the
wreck may have collapsed, but there are still a lot of interesting features
such as the hull, hanging knees, keelson, etc. that can still be observed.
The bow was dynamited out but much of the rest of the hull is intact.
It helps that the visibility in this part of the St. Clair River is
often very good.