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Brockville 2009, Ash Island Barge September 16, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving, Training.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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I arrived in Brockville at noon on Saturday, September 6th, having left around 8:30 in the morning from home, only stopping for gas and bathroom breaks. Traffic was heavy but not insane, and the police were out in force for the long weekend. I set my cruise control at 119kph on Highway 401, which has a speed limit of 100kph, and as usual didn’t have any problems. I passed a radar trap at this speed, and the cruiser pulled out and followed me.  I pulled into a big gap between cars in the right lane, slowed down to the speed limit (which everyone else was going at that time) to make it easy for him to pull me over, but he went right by me.

Our departure was scheduled from Caiger’s resort at 2:30, with a plan to dive the Keystorm and the America. While we were waiting, we found out that our boat had hit a deadhead and bent one of its props. It meant that we didn’t leave until 4:30 and had to change our plan as the trip to US Customs and Immigration, the dives, and the trip home in the slow boat would have taken 5 hours.

So we decided to dive a fairly recently discovered wreck near the Thousand Islands Bridge called the Ash Island Barge. The dive started upriver on the shore of Ash Island followed by a drift along the bottom of the river to wreck. Brad was continuing training Chris for his technical diving certification and I followed along to help out.  Brad led, then I followed behind Chris, noticing that he was a bit uncomfortable at the beginning of the dive and his body position was too head-high to be optimum.

He quickly settled down, though, and we enjoyed the drift dive along the bottom. The recreational divers were above us at about 90′ and even though they descended before us we quickly caught up with them in the faster current further away from the wall. The bottom of the river was white with Periwinkle shells which brightened up the scene considerably.

Once we hit the wreck, Brad put Chris through some drills, including a no-mask swim, and at the 22 minute mark we headed up, stopping to let Brad advise two of our recreational divers that their dive was over due to low air. Their rather unusual dive plan called for the diver with the higher capacity tank to share air with the other diver so they could maximize their dive time. In retrospect they agreed that this wasn’t the best idea, and in any case should have waited until the latter diver had more than 300 PSI remaining.

Chris was tasked with simulated deco, using the common practice of diving Nitrox on an air decompression schedule. Diving “real air” myself, I had some deco obligation which I hastened using EAN71 deco mix. Rich was missing when we got back on the boat, and we finally noticed his SMB on the other side of the channel. He’d drifted over there after losing sight of the other divers and missing the wreck.

Here’s the log from my Shearwater Pursuit for this dive. Maximum depth was 121′, and the water temperature a balmy 21C (70F), and highlight of highlight, I found a Thousand Island baseball cap in good condition on the bottom during the drift. All it has was some very small zebra mussels attached, evidence that it hadn’t been there for very long.

Ash Island Barge 20090905

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