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Diving the Forest City, in Fathom Five National Park December 7, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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This little blog, started less than 3 months ago, has now had almost 1,100 hits. Aside from the hundred or so that came from alphainventions.com, which cycles through random blogs automatically, sometimes raising their hit counts in dramatic fashion, that’s just over 10 per page that I’ve posted. 10:1 isn’t a bad ratio, not as good as Stephen King,  but perhaps good for a Canadian author. I’ve noticed that very few people, if any, actually follow the blog, but I’m hitting on subjects of interest to many, so general searches, and searches of WordPress users, seem to find me pretty regularly. It would be nice to have more comments. I understand though – I don’t leave that many comments in other people’s blogs so why should they in mine? My spam to comment ratio is at least 10:1, but fortunately the Akismet spam catcher provided by WordPress works really well.

Anyway, I was writing about my August 2006 trip to Tobermory, and left a hint about the Sunday dives, as as I promised depth – more than 100 feet – twice. The first of these was the wreck, Forest City, which is the deepest documented wreck in Fathom Five National Park. It’s a 217 foot steamer built in Cleveland Ohio and lies on a slope from 60 to 150 feet in depth. The stern, at the deep end, is more intact and interesting than the bow, so Roger and I wasted no time in going there. The reason is that in 1904 the Forest City struck Bear’s Rump Island at speed, smashing the bow badly. We only went as far as the back rail, not all the way down to the bottom, so the maximum depth of the dive was 142, far enough past the recreational limits.

While the visibility was 40 feet or so, it was quite dark, and my little camera didn’t work too well, although with a little Photoshop enhancement I managed to get this fuzzy picture of Roger down by the back rail.

Down Deep by the Stern Rail

Down Deep by the Stern Rail

Looks like his alternate second stage is hanging a bit low, but Roger is a guy I’m really comfortable diving with otherwise I wouldn’t be down there. We didn’t stay down there long. I wanted to see the rail, but I didn’t want to linger at that depth so I started to work my way back up the wreck. After I while, feeling like we were at a reasonable depth, I checked my guage again and found we were at 105, still pretty deep. We wandered around the ship a little more then headed back to the shot line which is a few feet off the port bow. With only 23 minutes bottom time we had no deco obligation so we did our 3 minute safety stop and returned to the dive boat, having gone from a hot sunny day to 8C (46F) and back again in the space of half an hour.

The web site linked in the second paragraph states that there have been more diver deaths on the Forest City than on the Arabia. I don’t think that’s correct. There have been 12 deaths on the Arabia, but the Forest City has had less, I think because it has a shallow end while the Arabia is on a flat bottom so is deep all over. It’s a lovely dive, and one of my top 3 in the area.

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Comments»

1. Allan Carroll - April 6, 2009

I dove the Forest City in about 1979.
My buddy and I went almost to the bottom.
We had an agreement that if either one got uncomfortable we would signal the other. We almost made the bottom but he signaled me that he had had enough so we we returned to the surface.
We spent quite a bit of time going down so we had to decompress for about an hour. Man it was hot in those wet suits after being down so deep. I opened the zipper a bit and the cold water felt like a knife.
The incredible memory of that dive was that there are no fin marks anywhere on the wreck as on all the other wrecks in the park.
As we went down the deck there was a shoe that one of the crew members had lost or left as he fled for his life. I will never forget swimming around it. What a great dive. Just wish we had made the bottom.

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deepstop - April 6, 2009

Hi Allan. Thanks for the story. I hope you still get to dive once in a while.

Chris

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2. Deco Pastimes « Chronicle of an older diver - March 12, 2011

[…] St. Lawrence River, where some of my deco stops are hanging on to rocks (same in Tobermory on the Forest City wreck), my favourite pastime is feeding Zebra mussels to the Gobies. Once they figure out what […]

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