St. Lawrence Rivaaa…

28 07 2010

Sunday, July 25th, 2010 ~

To start off the day, we were very surprised to see a few visitors on our street. There were a few neighbours outside, wondering where these little ones came from…

Since I had to miss Steve and Jay’s epic 5 1/2 hour dive yesterday, I was definitely coming out for some fun today. Myself, Steve, Eric, Jay, Chris P., and Oren all met at our usual Centeen Park spot, for some more adventure.

Steve and I got special presents from Netherlands…

We got ourselves down to the water, put gear in, did our checks, and discussed our dive plan. We were in two groups of three, and planned on scootering 40 minutes upstream, then duck into the channel to drift and explore. This would be scootering longer in the shallows than we normally do, so we were hoping to find some neat things. Chris, Oren, and I were the second team of three, and since the visibility wasn’t great in the first bit of our journey, we quickly came upon a few single tank divers, that were very surprised to see a bunch of divers on big, black machines. We stayed out of their way, and continued on. Passing our “regular” spot that we drop in, we did see some really interesting formations, some debris from boats, and a few lines that didn’t really lead anywhere. We had reached the 40 minute mark, gathered up, ok’d each other, and off to the races..

Wait a sec… Oren… ok? Nope… scooter not ok… Scooter not feeling well… Doh! Time to head back. The other three continued on, and we headed in the other direction. Since we had plenty of gas, and could use the current to our advantage, we decided to drift back at 65′, so we could at least make our way to the Gaskin. I towed Oren for a little bit, then we drifted. There wasn’t a whole lot to see, where we were, but there were a few nice bottles here and there. We were all very aware of our gas, and still had plenty. Our original dive plan was somewhat still in the works, we just didn’t go as far as the other three, and didn’t go down into the middle of the channel. We knew we were getting close to the wreck, as the visibility got a bit worse, and we were at the right depth. It was at this time, that we just happened to see three lights come up on us. Now.. how on earth we were in the same place at the same time, was pretty cool! Since we had still followed our drifting portion of the plan, we just happened to sync up in the right place.

Instead of heading to the wreck, we decided to keep on going past it, then moved up a bit more shallow. The six of us drifted together for a bit, then the other three scootered away. We made our way a bit more shallow, and followed the wall back to our entry.

Although we didn’t get to see some of the amazing things that the other three saw, we still had fun, and still had an adventure. It was good that we had discussed our “failure” plans at the beginning of the dive, and we were on the same page.

Bottom Time ~ 2 hours, 21 minutes
Max. Depth ~ 72′
Visibility ~ 5′ – 40′

Along the way, I found a neat sun hat, that I had to bring along with me. I ended up scootering with it on for a while, and I think Chris and Oren nearly choked on their mouthpieces…


Eric, analyzing gas…

Steve, while we were unloading gear…

Oren and Eric…

Chris P….

Eric, with his magic carpet.. that he left behind.. doh…

This little guy snuck in for a shot, as I was taking a pic of the gear. I didn’t even see him until afterwards!

It was nice to see Stephanie and Carmine again too!

Until next week’s adventure!

A Ride At Centeen Park…

21 07 2010

Sunday, July 19th, 2010 ~

Myself, Steve, Jay, Andy, and Eric met up at the mighty St. Lawrence, for some adventure out of Centeen Park. It was a pretty busy place, and we ran into quite a few people that we both had and hadn’t seen in a while. Apparently, there had been about 5 charter boats on the Gaskin, with another couple of boats circling, waiting for their turn on one of the two mooring blocks. I guess visibility wasn’t going to be the best today…

By the time we got into the water, did our pre-dive checks, and ducked under, we saw that not only was the visibility bad, it was horrible. The five of us stretched out, checked for bubbles, then Steve gave us all the “ok” sign, in which we all returned… we’re off…

Ok.. so.. Jay and Steve were in the lead, with Andy, myself, and Eric behind.. wait a second… I don’t see Eric… “One, two, three..” sets of bubbles… *look behind me*… no Eric. So.. I stopped to wait for him, as I watched the others go off into the abyss. Hmm… still no Eric… I did a quick pass back, then back up. I was about to surface, when I heard his scooter, and went directly to him. *Phew!* We decided to continue on, in hopes of running into the others. We past the corner of the park, then surfaced, to see if the others were there. Ok… not here… We discussed it, and since we knew the plan, we decided to descend and continue on with the plan. Perhaps they were waiting for us near the channel drop.

I swear I thought I heard their scooters at least once, along the way, but you really couldn’t see anything more than about 7′ away from you. We continued along the wall, and still no friends. We reached the spot where the channel drop was to be, and decided to head back to the entry. We weren’t sure whether or not they would have dropped into the channel without us, so we scootered back.

Once we got there, there were no signs of them. We had another discussion, and decided to head over to the Gaskin. If the visibility was that stinky, we would just turn around.

Finding the line out wasn’t very hard, but I had to look twice at the hoop, to get the right bearing on it. Voila.. we have a line! We came close to thumbing it, but we were very close to the wreck, and this is where we always end up after a channel drift dive, so we proceeded. The visibility was horrible, but we plugged on.

Once we got there, we went for a couple of tours through the wreck, which is in such poor shape. It’s sad to see the state of it now, even the changes over the last five years. The visibility actually improved on the wreck. We messed around a bit, then gathered up to head back. Wait a second.. what’s that??

A light! Another light! Holy smokes.. and another! w00t! We had found our friends! We played around some more, then drifted off for a bit, before heading for home. This is about the time that my little video camera malfunctioned, so some of the most fun video bits never made it.

Upon discussing our separating with the other three, it turns out we surfaced within 120 seconds of each other, and must have passed each other at least once, without being able to see each other. They tell us that the visibility was much better in the channel. Bah!

Oh well.. Eric and I still had alot of fun, and it was kind of fun doing the navigating. 🙂

Bottom Time ~ 110 minutes
Max. Depth ~ 70′
Water Temp. ~ 73
Visibility ~ 2′ – 20′



Eric and Steve…

Eric and I… (Congrats on your Tech 1, Eric!)

As we were doffing gear and getting changed, a little boat went over the Gaskin…

We finished the day off with some Swiss Chalet, wished Jay a “Happy Almost Birthday,” then to Dairy Queen for dessert… Eric’s favourite! Dairy Queen was decorated with sunflowers, which I thought was quite nice…

We also saw a fellow pull up in a rather large pickup truck…

From there, we pan over to Eric’s divemobile. It is entirely possible to dive out of a mini.. doubles, a stage, and a standard body…

I caught a picture of a really old car, about to pull out of a driveway, in Brockville…

It was another day of Diving Goodness out in the River, with friends!

Charmed In Morrisburg

19 07 2010

Saturday, July 17th, 2010 ~

Andy met Steve and I in Morrisburg, to do some exploring and scootering around Lock 23. There is always alot of current on this end of the river, so scooters are a nice tool to have here. The lock is one of many that were flooded in 1958, when the St. Lawrence was expanded, to fit the freighters that used the river for transport. There were complete villages relocated to accommodate the flooding.

When we arrived, we noticed that the water level was much higher than usual, and the waves were quite high, due to the wind. Hmm.. white caps on the St. Lawrence!

I’m sure the picture doesn’t do the waves justice, but below is one, just the same…

We unloaded our gear, and since the diver dock was missing (It was damaged over the winter), we had planned on putting the scooters in where the dock used to be, then giant stride off of the boat docks.

We got into the water, which was not hard, but did require a bit of thought as to how to clear the little lip on the dock with our fins on. With some slight navigation, the three of us were in the water, and made the swim over to the gear.

Our plan was to go Southwest from shore, do a bit of exploring, then head over to the lock system, and surface at the beach area. Trying to make it back to your entrance can sometimes be quite a task… even with scooters. We did our pre-dive checks, then down we went.

We made our way through the weeds, dropped down through the old channel, then started to drift. There were so many large fish! I saw the biggest carp I have ever seen in my life, and I even swore in my reg. It was right beside me, and was probably close to the same length as my body. Of all of the large carp I have seen, I have never seen one like this. He was a giant!

We saw just about every species of our St. Lawrence fish, and so large!

Once we got to the lock system, we played around, checking out the old lock doors, the mechanisms, and would sometimes find shelter from the current in spots. As we were in one corner of the lock, I managed to find myself picked up by an up-current. I was caught a little off-guard, but wheeled my scooter around, and hit the trigger for “down.” I did get lifted about 10′, but I managed to get back down rather quickly. *Phew!*

We scootered some more, drifted some more, played with a couple of bass, that swam right up to the little video camera that I had. I did actually get some video, but the camera malfunctioned a bit, due to some slight leakage.

When we got near the beach area, the surge of the crashing waves was insane. I wondered if I was going to get seasick…lol. We surfaced, carried our gear in to a shaded picnic table, and I waited with the gear, while Steve and Andy went for the vehicles.

Bottom Time ~ 82 minutes
Max. Depth ~ 41′
Water Temp. ~ 73
Visibility ~ 2′ to 40′, depending on where we were

As I sat there, there were two ladies sitting close by, asking about the conditions under water, and asking what we saw under there. It turns out that they had both lived in Morrisburg for all of their lives, and were there when the St. Lawrence had been flooded, in 1958.

I sat and listened to their stories, which were so fascinating…

Edith Baker actually had her house moved for the Seaway flooding. She said that they moved her house about three or four blocks, and that they had already laid out foundations for the moving houses. Edith also said that the moving of her house was unnecessary, as the park that her house used to be in was still there. Edith had lived there her entire life, except for the war years, where she lived in Calgary (from 1941 – 1945), when her husband was in the Air Force.

Edith used to drive their boat all along the old Seaway, and knew the currents like the back of her hand. She told me that she drove the boat around because she couldn’t drive a car! Since the St. Lawrence has been flooded, the currents have changed dramatically, and she will no longer drive the boat out there.

I also spoke with Sandra Bailey, who described walking along the Lock system when she was five years old, with one sister that was fifteen, and another that was 17. If she had upset them, they would make her walk along the one part of the Lock that only had one railing. Sandra says that she is still deathly afraid of heights, due to that missing railing. If she had been good, they would walk across one of the other sections, with all of the railings intact. She really liked those days.

Apparently, there had been a giant rock near the system, where some of the kids would dive into the water from. It wasn’t allowed, but everyone did it. It was also at a park near here, that Sandra learned to swim. There was a small alcove of the river that was sheltered from the current, and everyone would swim there.

Edith and Sandra told me that Morrisburg was once a town that had everything: a bowling alley, stores, theater, etc. … Now, all they have is a gift shop and a dollar store. That, and the IGA with the painting of the old Lock system on the side of it. If they want to buy clothes or anything, they have to drive to Cornwall or Ottawa.

Apart from having a most excellent and fun dive, seeing monster fish of every species, I met two very fascinating ladies, that I wanted to talk to all day. They told me that they come here every day to swim.

Thank you, Edith and Sandra!!! I will be back!

I think I grinned the entire drive home!

Video from the dive!


5 07 2010

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 ~

Steve was teaching a Fundies course in Kingston, and since he didn’t need my help, I went for a dip with Chris P. and Steve R. Chris brought Oren’s oreo scooter to play with, and I had mine with me for the weekend, so I decided to let Steve R. play with it, and I would take some video, with my little Go Pro camera.

We got in, made our way around the students, and headed for the boat at the back, where I handed off my scooter. I had given Steve a briefing on it beforehand, so he knew what to expect. He and Chris were zipping around in circles, and I am pretty sure I saw grins that could have swallowed up the entire quarry.

Here is some of the footage…

We did have a ton of fun, and I think they were hooked…

Bottom Time ~ 74 minutes
Max. Depth ~ 26′
Water Temp. ~ 71
Visibility ~ 10′

It seems they are still smiling…

We also met up with John and Sergio in the water…

Sergio gave me a “swim under” in the quarry. :p

We then watched as the class did their rescues, and of course, I had to take some pics…

It was such a gorgeous day, and it was made even better by diving with friends.

Thanks, Chris and Stephen!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010 ~

Today, Steve needed me to play camera person for his course, so I was handed the nice, big video camera, and filmed Dive #5.. The “Meat and Potatoes Dive!”

When the dive was finished, Steve took the camera back, and Chris, Stephen, and I went back in for a tour. The visibility wasn’t that great, so we just swam around a bit, retrieved the golf club that we had been playing with the previous day, and returned it to the quarry owner.

Another excellent adventure!

Bottom Time ~38 minutes
Max. Depth ~ 26′
Water Temp. ~ 73