Friday, August 10, 2007

Birthday Scuba Trip - back to the Wexford

For my 35th Birthday, yesterday, August 9th, my lovely, thoughtful, and wonderful wife put me on a dive boat run by Rec & Tec Dive Charters and sent me off to dive the Wexford.

The jury is still out on whether she was deciding if the life insurance payout exceeded my expected future income, but nonetheless both Lagniappe's Keeper, up here visiting from his home in Harper's Ferry and I hit the road at 6 am headed for Port Sanilac.

We traveled through scattered rain showers and arrived at 8:30 am with plenty of time to load our dive gear on the boat before it left at 9. There were only six divers on this trip, plus the good captain and crewlady / divemaster, and off we went on a three hour tour.

Luckily for us, the weather did not start getting rough and the tiny ship made its way to the dive site off of Goderich, Ontario without incident.

After the dive briefing we geared up and got ready to dive.

The weather was perfect with a calm Lake Huron with excellent visibility of about 20 feet, and off we went down the down line to the bow of the wreck. Out of the gloom, the bow of the Wexford was suddenly visible.

Impressively, the plate I described on my blog Wexford dive report back last year was still on the wreck, a tribute to the good ethical practices of those who've dived the wreck all this time.

This year I could tell my diving skills had much improved. Between taking the GUE Fundamentals class and practicing weekly at Union Lake I was in much better form this dive. I was much more able to relax and enjoy exploring the wreck and I saw much more than I had last year as I wasn't so tunnel visioned, was more comfortable in my drysuit rather than last years wetsuit and had much better buoyancy control so I could keep out of the silt to preserve the visibility.

I saw a lot more artifacts, including a meat grinder, plates and plate fragments and the huge boilers of the ship, in addition to dropping below the bow to get an idea of the scale of the ship with its anchors and hitting about 80 feet maximum depth. After about 22 minutes it was time to ascend and up we went with proper safety stops at 40 feet and 20 feet.

After a surface interval, we dove the stern and I again saw much more than before and had much better situational awareness. Lagniappe's Keeper and I explored the stern thoroughly and saw a neat side area with 4 portholes with the glass intact to look outside the ship from within, as well as some valves and other interesting parts. We briefly explored every level of the ship before ascending.

The Wexford is simply one of the nicest wrecks out there in Lake Huron and in fantastic condition. Lagniappe's Keeper, in his first week of diving after his accident did wonderfully on the Wexford after our practice runs at Portage Quarry and Spring Mill Pond -- the man has guts enough for two men and as my wife says, he's got 9 lives but he's already used up 8.

A Great and successful pair of dives, and after our return we headed home at that evening my dive club came to an excellent birthday party at my house and much fun, as well as many a Myers Rum and Coke was had.

A most wonderful and memorable way to commemorate hitting 35.

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