Best Weekend on the Lake, So Far! That’s right. Since our 2011 season opened on April 16th, we have waited/weathered 71 days to finally achieve the best weather yet. This past weekend we ran three charters and each one was simply a great adventure, great weather, great seas and more importantly great viz.
Saturday morning I got down to the harbor around 0720 and my divers were waiting for me. We loaded up our boatload of divers, a mix between Scuba Emporium and Below H2O and departed the harbor within the hour. Sunny skies, 73F and ZERO Wind & Seas told me that it was going to be a good day. The only thing in question at this time was the viz. For the most part these were newer divers and for a majority of them it was their first Lake dives so I was hoping to impress them with our Lake. The Lake was like syrup, in fact the only ripple in the water was the wake left by the R/V. I happened to know one of the divers, as he was one of my neighbors, though I didn’t know he was a diver until that very morning, so on the way out and with a clear shot to the Mack I turned the helm over to Damon and let him have a turn at the wheel, I mean why should I be the only one having fun. After about 50 minutes of smooth running and a little “S” turning (piloting a boat is not like driving a car) I was tying into the bow mooring on the Mack. As I plopped down the ladder I declared that the , ” pool’s open” and got our divers in the water. We had a couple guys flying doubles and I got them going first. For the other four divers, this was their first freshwater dives and I wanted them to dive with DM Tom, so we got them in and then Tom and off they went. Well the divers were impressed. They had rail-to-rail viz, temps in the high 40’s and giant schools of alewives surrounded the Mack. Whenever I hear about the fishlife on the Mack I wish the Illinois DNR could see it for themselves. During the permitting process for the reefing of the Buccaneer last year, I was told that “you know there is a fair amount of research that freshwater artificial reefs don’t work for attracting fish”! I simply nodded my head and handed the person saying that a couple of pics showing large schools of alewives and yellow perch on the Mack.
For dive two we headed to the Wells Burt. Again the seas were flat and so were my divers as I had forgotten the WCD Pineapple at home! So as we cruised over to the Wells we munched on shortbread cookies and pretzels (just not the same). We got our divers in and as walked around the R/V I could make out the individual divers on the deck of the Wells. Yellow tank, Silver tank, even Blue tanks were visible to my eye as the divers made their way around the site. It was absolutely just a beautiful sunny and calm day on the Lake. Oh, the wind did finally pick up…to 4 knots!
Sunday June 26th was a busy day for me with 2 charters. My divers met me at 0700 and we were leaving the harbor at 0717 talk about a group of organized and experienced divers. The plan was to dive the Rotarian and the Buccaneer. We again had sunny skies 71F temps and 5kts NE winds. There was a slight chop to the water but “waves” were less than 1 ft. This was my first trip to the Rotarian this year so I prepped a marker line and new Captain Bob (with license in hand) piloted the R/V the 8.5 nm to the site. Once there we discovered that last years mooring line did not survive the winter. The quick fix was to mark the site with a drop buoy and then we dropped the anchor and got our divers ready. This group from ScubaU had all dove the Lake before but not the Rotarian. So as we were getting them ready I gave them a breakdown of its history as a “Speakeasy” during the Roaring 20’s. They had a great dive on this wreck with viz around 40 feet and temps in the high 40’s. When they came up they all said what a great dive it was and asked why were there so many bottles there. I explained that the story was that the crew would drop there bottles between the hull and the inner walls. Whether its true or not I don’t know but it sounds good.
Next stop Buccaneer. There again our divers had great viz. If you didn’t have a chance to dive the Bucc last year, there have been great changes to our newest wreck. Some of the big storms we have had this past year have ripped off the roof, removed the aft structure covering the stairs and now the steering wheel is gone! The divers had a great time even with the changes.
Once back at Burnham we loaded up another group of divers and repeated the Rotarian – Buccaneer – Burnham Triangle. My 11-hour day on the Lake was over and boy was it a great day for diving.