Local dive season in full swing
Well, we are about a third of the way through the local dive season visiting the many lakes in North East Indiana. The water temps since that first dive on May 16th have been slow to rise, but they are getting there. Various members have participated in the seven weekly Thursday dives in addition to the club spring dive/cookout and a visit to Gilboa Quarry. We started out on May 16th at Shriner Lake, followed by the weekend club dive at Little Otter/Snow Lake. The Thursday dives continued at Pretty Lake(Lagrange co), Crooked Lake(Whitley co) and Clear Lake(Fremont). We then made a stop at Gilboa where Deep Blue Divers dive shop was holding there annual customer appreciation dive/cookout. We went on to Lake George(Steuben co), Adams Lake(wolcottville) and most recently Diamond Lake(Noble co) before taking a break to celebrate the 4th of July. While the temps were rising ever so slowly, they were fairly consistant from week to week with the big variable being visibility. The majority of each dive was in the 20-30 ft range where temps were in the upper forties to mid fifties. Below 30 ft it was common to see 46 degrees. Vis is always at a premium in the lakes and so far this year we have experienced it all, from 2 ft in pitch black darkness(Diamond Lake) to a relatively good 20 ft(Clear/Pretty Lake). As the weeks went on, the increase in fish activity was noticable with the common bass, blue gill, carp with the occasional dog fish and pike. Along the way, we came back to shore with a couple anchors, rod & reel and the requisite bottles. We also came across a sunken row boat that may have salvage potential on a future dive but failed to find a helicopter rumored to be lying on the bottom of Adams Lake. (Anybody know where?!!!!!!). Regardless of the situation, each dive was considered interesting, a good challenge and just down right fun!
And the dives continue.............
Club spring dive/cookout
The club spring dive and cookout was held at Jim Oberley's Little Otter Lake cottage on May 19th. Thanks Jim! With perfect weather after days of gloom, we set out for the first of two tank dives by way of two pontoons to snow lake. The water temps were understandably still on the cool side with 68 degrees on the surface and 46 degrees at 30 feet. Full 7 mil gear was preferable. From a central point, each pontoon of divers set out on their own course in buddy pairs. Visibility was in the 15-20 ft range at 25 feet depth were we ventured the most. Even at this early date there was plenty of fish activity with many large pike and bass seen along the way. Kevin and Ken once again practiced their recovery techniques by lifting and towing back a nice rubber coated 18 lb anchor from 20 feet to end the 61 minute dive. We headed back to light the grill and consume mass quantities of burgers, brats and desserts under a warm sun. Afterwards, several divers made a second dive off of Jim's dock to scout the nearby area known to have sunken remains from a boat building operation from long ago. Visibility here was not that good, maybe 5 feet at best, but it gave us the opportunity to practice some low vis diving and help out a fellow diver with some skills. With our tanks empty, we relaxed at waters edge to reminice about days gone by and whats still to come.
2013 Truk Lagoon / Palau
Members of the dive club made the 24 hour plus flight to Truk(Chuuk) Lagoon and the Palau Islands Jan 19th - Feb 4th 2013. We were part of an 18 diver group on the trip organized by Deep Blue Divers dive shop.
Staying at the Blue Lagoon Resort on the southern tip of Moen Island , the group spent the next 5 days exploring the wrecks of the 40 mile diameter lagoon. The vast majority of the 42 ships sunk during operation Hailstone (February 17-18 1944) by the US Navy Task Force 58 were cargo vessels(Maru’s) with smaller naval ships, subs and aircraft also resting on the bottom. The larger capital ships of the Japanese Combined fleet, notably the aircraft carriers and battleships, were moved to safer waters the week before the attack after an American reconnaissance aircraft was spotted over the lagoon.
Blue Lagoon , a seaplane base during the war, is a small but nice resort that caters almost exclusively to divers. It was founded by Kimiuo Aisek who at 17 years old, witnessed the attack. It is now run by his son Gradvin and his son works as a dive master. Everything you may need is available at the resort while they do provide other amenities such as island tours and scooters for a fee. The rooms are basic, the restaurant and its friendly staff serve a good albeit sometimes limited menu which is typical of most island living. The farthest points of the resort was still no more than a minutes walk to the waters edge. For the most part we had 85 degree, sunshine and blue skies with a water temp of 83 degrees. The group was split between two 25ft skiffs, each with a well seasoned islander guide/dive master(ours was Meckenzie) and hard working boat driver/gear hauler(Biruten). After leaving the resorts dock, each boat parted ways for the 10-20 min ride to explore wrecks of their choosing. With no surface buoys, only land marks and years of experience, it constantly amazed us how quickly, Meckenzie, put us on top of the dive site. A typical day was a 6:30 breakfast, 8:00 1st dive, SI (resort, snorkel, or island exploration),10:30 2nd dive, lunch(at resort or island), 1:30 3rd dive, SI, 4:30 4th dive(optional), dinner.
2012 Christmas Party
I think everyone had fun last night. We had many familiar faces and some new faces. The gift exchange is always exciting although a mystery. Who would have guessed that the last gift selected would in fact be a White Elephant? Special thanks to Jay and Marylou for hosting the party, again. I will be sending my photos to Denny to post on the website.
Upcoming Dive Club meetings. There will be no Dive Club meeting in December since the last Tuesday is Christmas day which means our next meeting will be Tuesday January 29 at 7pm. I will send out a reminder around January 25.
A couple changes for the January meeting. I will fill in for Ken since he will be diving somewhere in the South Pacific with Ed, Dan, Jen, Scott and that bunch. We also will be welcoming Bridgette McCue our new Secretary. Thank you Paula for years of service!
The January meeting will be a busy one so forgive me if I move quickly through the old business. During this meeting we will focus on these new business topics:
1. Attending the Our World Underwater dive and travel show February 15-17 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont IL. (www.ourworldunderwater.com) Gwen and I are already planning to attend on Saturday February 16 and most likely will stay on the west side of Chicago that night. If others are going and staying the night perhaps we can plan a dinner with some camaraderie together.
2. Attending the Scubafest dive show March 15-17 in Dublin OH. (www.scubafest.org) I plan to drive to Dublin Saturday March 16th for the day. I will have room for 2 others to go along.
3. An update on the mine diving trip Kevin Betz and I are planning. Remember we will leave on Friday evening to drive to Missouri, make 2-3 dives Saturday, 1-2 dives Sunday and return Sunday afternoon. Based on responses we are down to 3 weekend selections; February 8-10, March 8-10 and March 22-24. We will be selecting the weekend around December 17 so if you’re serious about going now is the time to give input. (www.2dive.com, refer to my November 28 email for more details)
4. Anything else any Dive Club member wants to share about past and upcoming dives.
5. Selfishly I anticipate having some time so show video and photos from diving in Antigua and the Florida Keys over the holidays.
Come to think of it, we will have the same agenda for the February meeting as we are expecting some video and photos from the South Pacific dive trip. Looks like Ed, Dan, Jen, Scott and Ken have an assignment.
Happy Holidays to everyone and a safe journey for those traveling or diving below.
Local club dives
Taking advantage of the weekday lulls in boat traffic, club members have visited many area lakes(and restaurants) over the last few months. What follows is a recap of those dives to date.
May 9th, Hamilton Lake - We started off the local dive season at Hamilton lake with Paula & Denny as hosts. The teperatures both above(67*) and below(53* at 40ft) were still on the cool side but rising steadily after a cold April. Like the temps, Visibility was on the low side(10 ft) but made for a challenging and rewarding dive. The dive took us along the shores between Clark's landing and Cold Springs resort.
May 16th, Hamilton Lake - A return to Hamilton Lake gave us warmer temps(73* surface/ 60* at 30 ft) and improved visibility of 15 ft.For this dive, we stayed with in the confines of Fee Bay. Owing to the still early date , aquatic life sightings were sparse but increasing.
May 20th, Lake James - Our annual spring dive and cook out. The weather was perfect for an early morning dive on the middle basin before the boaters came out in force. Diving from 2 pontoons, the two groups covered a large area of the eastern shoreline. Notable on this dive was an abundance of largemouth bass, bluegill and the erie shilouette of a lonely pike swimming above us. Steve got the prize for best salvage operation when he pulled up a seemingly brand new aluminum prop while Tom got an excuse to by a new surface float. The surface temps were a balmy 75* but as a hoodless Kevin S. found out, at 40 ft, 52* can be quite chilly. Afterwards, we capped off a great day with burgers, brats and desserts at hosts Jaki & Barts Jimmerson Lake home.
June 6th, Hamilton lake - Back at Hamilton for our third dive, this time exploring the former quarry of Crystal Bay. Staying in the 20-25 ft range gave us comfortable 65* temps at depth and much improved 25 ft vis. Tall stands of millfoil next to the old quarry walls gave a feeling of gliding through a canyon. This vegatation gave us an opportunity to encounter a variety of fish and one USO(unidentified swimming object).
June 27th, Pleasant Lake - A small and tranquil fishing lake south of Angola. A shore dive, the plan was to explore the deeper 40 ft middle of the lake insearch of an elusive steam engine presumably resting on the bottom. Our dive plan was quickly modified when poor vis at depth forced us to instead follow the west shoreline in the 25 ft depth range. Here we encountered modest 20 ft vis with temps at depth of 57*. The dive still proved interesting as we came across a vintage intact tricycle, paddle boat, sunken trees and an assortment of 1940's and 50's vintage bottles.