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Diving the Munson in Lake Ontario April 19, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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The first real dive club trip of the 2008 season was  on July 5th to Kingston, Ontario, situated near the source of the mighty St. Lawrence River where it meets Lake Ontario. Most of my fellow divers drove up the night before, and some even earlier to get some extra dives in, but I chose to drive up early in the morning so I could spend the night at home. My wife, a non-diver, likes to have me home, so I have to spend my goodwill judiciously, and only go overnight when I really have to.

One great place to stay at least once in your life when visiting Kingston is the ship Alexander Henry. There are a variety of ship’s cabins available from the regular seaman through to the captain’s quarters. Some of the club members spent the night there.

I met the boat in the plenty of time and loaded my gear. We were diving three wrecks in one day to reduce the trip expense, so I had borrowed an extra tank from the dive shop. The three tanks were filled with Nitrox, and for the Munson which was supposed to be at 115 feet I used EAN32. By 9:30AM my buddy for the day Mike Chadwick and I were heading into the depths to the wreck. It was a fine 25C (79F) day.

I took the Nikonos again. I’d taken the lens hood off so I could see the numbers and had no problem with that. However, I couldn’t get the exposure meter to work so I took no pictures. There is a red light in the viewfinder that is supposed to come on when it is on, and I didn’t see it. I have no idea way as when I tried it again later it seemed to work fine.

This was also my opportunity to test my new computer – another Apeks Quantum. I was pleased to see that the two computers were very much in agreement. The depth readings were about 8″ apart at 30′, and 4″ apart at 100′. Someone asked me later how I could say their agreement was within 4″ when the display is in feet but not inches. It’s quite easy. All you do is move your arm through the water column and see when the computer ticks over by a foot, and how much more it takes to make the other computer do the same thing. For time and NDL, the computers were in almost perfect agreement, with the NDL never varying by more than a minute throughout the entire dive. Too bad the older one broke a few months later.

The Munson was a dredging barge, basically a 2-storey platform, which sank while being towed to Belleville Ontario and lies in 110 feet of water off Lemoine Point. The dredging arm and bucket are still there, and make for an interesting dive. As it is in Lake Ontario, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, there is a constant thermocline in the summer, unlike the city of Brockville downriver, which can be 20C (68F) or more all the way to the bottom. For me, this was definitely dry suit, hood and thick gloves temperature, reading 5C (41F) on the bottom despite the 25C (77F) weather outside.

The interior of the Munson has various artefacts, although I can admit to not noticing much of it during our brief foray inside. A fairly deep dive with single tanks and a variety of skills levels calls for prudence, so we only took the simplest and most straightforward swim-through penetration of the lower level. Having already done a fair bit of diving, my air consumption was good, and we reached our NDL after about 20 minutes and were back on the boat after a slow ascent and safety stop with 1200 PSI. My estimate of the visibility was more than50 feet.

I’m looking forward to visiting this wreck again, although with the busy diving schedule this summer, it may have to wait until 2010.

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