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First Diving Trip to the St. Lawrence River December 9, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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When I first started diving the upper St. Lawrence River wasn’t a well known dive site like it is now. The lower St. Lawrence had difficult dives available for the early pioneers, like the Empress of Ireland, which was explored by a bunch of intrepid divers from Syracuse New York and other places around 1970. I noticed this when reading the book, Dark Descent, because at the time I lived in Syracuse New York but alas I was only 15 and had no interest in diving at the time.

There is much good diving today stretching along the river from Lake Ontario to Brockville and beyond. Before 15 years or so ago, the visibility was terrible, as the Zebra Mussels had yet to take over everything and clean up the water. Today the visibility often 30-50 feet, and makes for good diving. The other terrific thing about the area is that in the late summer, warm water from near the surface of Lake Ontario flows into the river, so the temperatures from early July to mid-September can exceed 20 degrees Celsius (68F) right down to the bottom. I don’t think there is any warmer diving available anywhere in Canada at those depths.

So we make two trips there each year, although my first time in 2006 I went on the Labour Day Weekend trip, having missed the July trip for the PADI Wreck Diving Course because I was in Los Cabos. I also took my wife on this trip, as I’d been told about a resort called “Caigers” in the vicinity. Most the dive club stayed at the run-down Bridge Island Motel so most of the social activities were centred there. So on the Friday of the long weekend we drove the 3 1/2 hours to Caigers, having to stop and ask direction at one point to find our “resort”. It turned out that other than being on the river and having some docks for fishing and diving boats, it was just another somewhat run-down motel (although Bridge Island is considerably further along). I noted the moth eaten curtains as I entered our small room, but at least it had a coffee maker and a bar fridge so we could have some of the comforts of home.

It’s an easy drive from my home. I can be on highway 404 in 12 minutes from house, and exiting onto highway 401 (at kilometer 375) you can drive to exit 675 and be 5 minutes from Bridge Island, which is about 5-10 minutes from Caigers. Too bad about the weather. It was cloudy for all of the weekend and raining for most of it. This really put a damper on my wife’s spirits. We seem to encounter more than our fair share of bad weather when we travel, poor thing, so she got to stay inside a lot in a rather depressing room while I went out diving.

If you like traditional breakfasts, they offer that at Caigers. While dining there I ran into a diver from Windsor I’d met in the Turks and Caicos and we chatted for a while. We had both wanted to go to Cozumel on that trip and ended up in Turks because of Hurricane Wilma. He thought that Cozumel was way better than Turks but I hadn’t yet been to the former so had no opinion on that.

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1. Brockville - Scuba Diving Caribbean of the North « Chronicle of an older diver - December 20, 2008

[…] temperature of the water and the exposure protection that’s best for that temperature. For my first experience in Brockville I took my dry-suit just in case but ended up using a full length 3mm Henderson HyperStretch Wet […]

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