Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dives 78 and 79 - Wrecks of Lake Huron

For the Kickoff dives of the 2008 Wreck Diving Season, I along with Jerry and Rob drove up to Port Sanilac on Friday night. We stayed at a motel and after realizing that nothing in Port Sanilac was open, drove to Lexington for breakfast.

Returning to Port Sanilac, we went to the Marina and met Captain Venet of Rec Tec Dive Charters.

We loaded out equipment on board and after a while more divers started showing up, with James, Terry and Chad coming in last but at least before the boat left the dock.
The water was nice and clam, with the sun shining as we arrived at our first dive site.

The first dive was on the Mary Alice B., a steel tugboat built in 1931 that sank in 1975, and not found until 1992.

The dive was cut short as Rob wasn't feeling well, so we aborted the dive. Unfortunately, Lake Huron decided to play some tricks. When we surfaced, instead of calm we faced 5 foot waves that were rocking the boat nicely and making getting back on a challenge. The swells continued for most of our surface interval, so Captain kept the boat moving, and once it calmed down we prepared to enter the water, which was still somewhat choppy, for our second dive.

The second Dive was on the famous CSL Regina:

The Regina was one of the lost ships of the Great Storm of 1913. Like the Wexford, the Regina was lost with all hands in the storm, and Regina was not discovered until 1986. As there were no survivors, no one knew the exact location of the wreck. The greater mystery was that bodies of sailors from the Charles S. Price, another ship lost in the storm, washed onshore wearing Regina lifejackets and vice versa. This mystery has never been fully solved -- Did the Price ram into the Regina, accounting for the hole in the side of the Regina? Did looters accidentally switch vests after plundering the bodies of the sailors? The mystery heightens the excitement of diving this interesting wreck.

The Regina rests on the bottom upside down, with its huge propeller and rudder intact, which is an awesome sight. A debris field surrounds the ship, including her zebra-museel encrusted smokestack, with soot still visible inside.

Here's a drawing of how she looks on the bottom:

Here's a picture of the prop with a diver alongside to give you an impression of its size:

The Regina is an awesome dive. I'm not yet cave/wreck certified so I didn't try going inside, nor did Jerry. Instead we watched James, Terry and Chad, who are certified, run a line and go in. We watched them through the portholes as they explored the interior. James took a video of both the Mary Alice B and Regina dives and once he's finished I'll link to it. I am going to buy a case for my digital camera, as my team mates forgot theirs, so no original pictures in this post -- but the next wreck will have some.

Jerry and I descended onto the wreck and examined the Prop, rudder, smokestack, and looked through the portholes, and then Murphy decided to show up. Jerry's drysuit, and my drysuit started flooding. Mine wasn't very bad as the thinsulate insulation garment kept me warm even as I was getting wet, but Jerry had on fleece that once wet in the 45 degree water got him cold quite quickly, so we had to thumb the dive.

Because both dives on these wrecks were incomplete, I'll simply have to go back again, as if I needed an excuse to visit these cool wrecks once more.

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