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Technical Diving Agenda for 2009 January 12, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Shipwrecks, Technical Diving.
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Wednesday night our little technical diving subgroup of our dive club met at the shop to discuss dives for 2009. We had Brad (shop owner and technical instructor), Matt (prospective technical diving student and Assistant Instructor), Rich (newly minted technical diver and Divemaster in training), Pete (Divemaster and technical diver, who finished his course at the same time as me), Mike (Divemaster and finished his tech course in September), and Andrew (Assistant Instructor and not quite finished his tech course).

Our first goal is the Oriskany, a.k.a the Mighty O. This aircraft carrier was sunk intentionally a few years ago about an hour off the coast of Florida near Pensacola and ranges from advanced to technical depths. We’re planning to go there in April on a 5 day trip which includes a 19 hour drive each way. We may rent a Winnebago for the trip and take some non-technical divers to defray the costs. Rich ordered deck plans and a video of the dive to help us plan our visit.

Another destination is Long Point in Lake Erie. While Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes with a maximum depth of about 240 feet, one of the deepest parts of  the  lake is around Long Point, and there are many wrecks down there at deep air depths. Two we have in mind are the Trade Wind (120 feet) and the St. James (165 feet), and we’re looking at perhaps June for this trip. The water will be cold, and we’ll all be in dry suits.

We also discussed going to Cornwall, maybe around July 1, which is further downriver than Brockville on the St. Lawrence, where there are a dives on a power dam, “Lock 21” and a large wreck called the Eastcliffe Hall. This would be more of  a regular club dive but there are technical diving opportunities on the power dam apparently. There is also supposed to be a boat with sleeping accommodations available so it could anchor near the Eastcliffe Hall (which is only about 60 feet deep) and make it a night dive.

July will also be time for this year’s wreck diving course. With a maximum of 8 students,  a total of four instructors or safety divers are used. I was one of them last year, and while the students do 6 dives in groups of 2, the staff only do 3 long dives.  So each dive needs extra air and decompression.

Early August will be the club’s annual trip to Tobermory, Ontario. The club dives the deep wrecks there anyway, usually the Forest City at a maximum of  150′, the Arabia at just over 100′, and the Niagara II at around 90′.  So we can use our additional air and bottom time quite effectively on those. I suggested that we continue the trip on to Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior. We would take advantage of being in Tobermory (4 hours drive from here) and take the Chi-Cheemaun over to Manitoulin Island then drive the rest of the way. This would take about 2 3/4 hours off the trip (not including the ferry ride, which would count as part of the fun). There are plentiful wrecks in Whitefish Bay between 130 and 200 feet for us to play on, and several of these were featured in the most recent issue of Diver Magazine.

Finally, at least at this stage of planning, we are planning to have a technical boat at the club’s traditional Labour Day Weekend trip to Brockville, Ontario. The destination wrecks  are  the Roy A. Jodrey and the Oconto, which are both on the American  side. We now have enough technical divers to make this possible.

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a fun year. First things first, though – next month I’m going to Cozumel for some warm salt water diving.

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