Today is our first day of diving and my first time in freshwater! We dove from the Stayer’s boat, Wildkat, with Mike and Deb who are close friends of the Stayers. If I hadn’t known we were on the shores of Lake Huron, I would have thought we were looking out onto an ocean. I was excited to see the crystal-clear stern wake we left behind, and that we didn’t have salt spray stains all over our gear…different from San Diego and Massachusetts! When the time for the first dive came, Pat stayed behind with Deb while Jim, Mike, and I descended on the first wreck.
The wreck of the Sport was so cool because, having sunk in fresh water, the wood was intact-another sight you could never see in Massachusetts, or any salt water location! Sport was the first steel hulled tug on Lake Huron, it sank in a wintry gale in 1920, and lies on her starboard side in 49 feet of water. After giving me a tutorial on land, Jim let me try using his video camera underwater and luckily it turned out to be much easier to use than I thought! I had to compensate for its weight by adding air to my BC, but I was able to watch what I was filming on a small LCD inside the housing (which was a GATES housing, by the way!). To make the film pleasing to the eye, Jim told me that I should not use the zoom, move very slowly and steadily through the water, and let the motion in the frame be natural, not just panning.
The Sport had some amazing artifacts lying on and around it. Aside from the anchor, winch, and bell on board, I saw the wheel, many portholes and her enormous brass whistle!! Portholes and especially whistles are rare finds in the ocean and can be taken by divers if the wreck is not part of an underwater preserve. We circled the Sport a couple of times and on our way to the ascent line I saw Jim do a huge double take, the ascent line was gone! All that was left was the chain wrapped around the wreck. Jim and Mike tied a reel line around the wreck and we surfaced together. Luckily the boat was only about 100 yards away but the surf was huge and the current at the surface was substantial. The forecasted 2 foot seas turned out to be 4 to 5 footers; I wasn’t scared out of my drysuit because I had two experienced men on either side of me, but we seemed to be drifting pretty fast. Deb and Pat were able to keep an eye on us the whole time after the line broke and immediately tossed us a life-ring to pull us in. About five minutes later everyone was safely onboard. Needless to say we didn’t make a second dive today.
Back at the house we celebrated Deb’s birthday by relaxing in the heated pool followed by a sausage cook out. It was a good way to end what they called a “shaky” day. No one can predict what will happen on a dive, complications always occur. Today was an excellent learning experience for me. Before heading off to bed Jim and Pat taught me how to edit the footage we took by using Media100 to digitize, color-correct, and edit the film.