3.3 FT Waves & Wednesday Fireworks!!

I had a group of divers from DD Dive and they wanted to going diving.  Ralph the store owner and I conversed about 6 times that day trying to interpret the weather.  In the end Ralph said he was very confident of his divers so lets go.  The plan was to dive the Buccaneer but without a mooring on site and 3-foot waves I felt that might be too much to ask from our divers and me.  After a brief chit-chat we headed for the Mack.  I knew our normal 1-hr trip was not going to apply because as soon as I cleared Northerly Island I was in 1-2’s and I was still behind the breakwall.  I throttled up and then back and then up again and back again trying to determine the right speed so that the ride was not too bad but yet we would still get to the Mack and back for fireworks by 2115.  I had already broken out the 100ft bridle and set it up.  80 minutes after leaving Burnham Harbor I had Ralph at the bow hooking the stern mooring line on the Mack in 3 – 4 waves, but in one attempt Ralph had the mooring and we setting up.  With the 100 foot bridle, the R/V was riding out the sea smoothly as the waves passed beneath her.

We got our divers ready and one-by-one they entered the 73F water and made their was to the bow and then down to Chicago’s best wreck.  The thermocline was around 30 feet where the temperature plunged to 47F.  These wetsuit divers did well and knocked out a 30-minute dive.  Once we got everyone aboard, which was actually quite easy with the swinging ladder on the R/V, I headed back to Chicago while the divers enjoyed some Coronas and Blue Moons, funny no one wanted WCD Pineapple.  Even with a following sea the ride back was a little rough as it was dark enough that I couldn’t maintain the speed I needed and read the seas for a smooth ride.  In a little over 30-minutes we were maneuvering past the Chicago Lighthouse.  Having great radar made the trip a breeze.  Well shortly after arriving the fireworks show started and we had the best “seat” in the house as just by sheer luck we had chosen a spot south of the barge and with the NNE wind we were in perfect position.

Another great day on the Lake.  Oh, by the way, for 2 of our group this was their first dives after being certified.

Another Great Weekend on the Lake!

Saturday the 9th of July was simply a great day on the Lake.  Days like that are why people buy boats.  I got down to the harbor around 0730.  It was sunny and the temp was 78F.  The barometer was reading a nice high 29.30, indicating a stable weather.  The group first group of Chicago Scuba Meet-Up divers began loading the boat while the Jimmy Buffett music played on the R/V’s stereo.  We pulled out of the harbor at 0829 and headed toward the southern light on Chicago’s main breakwall and then veered due north, we were headed for the Wells Burt.  The wind and waves were zero!  There was not so much as a ripple on the Lake as we worked our way up the Chicago shoreline.  50 minutes after pulling out of the harbor I was backing down on the Wells mooring as we sterned in.  The Lake reminded me of a pond even though 8-days earlier the R/V was being tossed around in 3-footers.  As I grabbed the mooring line I noticed that the viz looked outstanding and I told my boatload of divers to expect the best!  They were not disappointed.  Surface temp was 73F and the thermo was just above the deck where the temp dropped into the upper 50’s, which was ideal, but what was even better was the viz.  The divers reported viz close to 70-FEET.  After a great dive on one of Chicago’s best wrecks we headed to the Wings of Wind.  As the divers noshed on WCD Pineapple I pulled up to the Wings mooring.  The line was a little short so I sterned in again and fabricated and extension.  The divers hit the water and reported another great dive.  They saw lots of juvenile fish (probably shad or spot tail shiners) and viz was as good if not  better than the 70-Feet.

Once back at the harbor we loaded up another boatload of CSM divers and headed to the Buccaneer and then the Tacoma.  The winds had picked up to 8-kts but the pressure was holding at 29.30.  Just as earlier in the day, the boating and diving where simply fantastic.  Even though we could no longer stern-in, due to the 1-foot waves, it was still a great day on the Lake, except for the flies.  Let me just say this, these flies bite.

Sunday we worked out of Wilmette Harbor which meant I had to get up early, but the 60-minute solo run up the Lakefront in flat flat seas is one of my favorite things to do.  The first charter was for two-dives on the Mack and the second charter was Mack and Wells.  Viz for both wrecks was near 70-feet.

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Friday July 1st I met my divers at 0930 and we left the dock a little after 10AM.  The plan for these six divers was two dives on the Mack.  The group was a mixed bag, half experienced, one not so much and two first timers on the Lake.  The weather report called for <1Ft seas with 10kt winds out of the SW.  Wind speed was right but the direction was 90 degrees off.  We had winds from the SE.  As we left Burnham we ran into 1-footers and with their set and our direction of travel we were going to take a quartering sea for the next hour.  As we passed Dever Crib the seas built to 1 -2 footers and by the time we got to the David Wells we were in 2 – 3’s.  I slowed the R/V down and ran the troughs for awhile and occasionally jumped a wave to get us to the Mack.  70 minutes after we cleared the mouth of Burnham we were tying into the bow mooring on the Mack.  Capt. Bob did a quick job or tying us in on the first try.  Not bad time just 10 -15 minutes longer than normal but our first timers and another diver were not thrilled with the conditions and decided to call the dive.   Our three divers in doubles continued to suit up but as the group leader looked over at his non-diving friends he decided that making them suffer while he dove was too much to ask and we called the dive even though the buoy was reading just over 3-feet.  We headed back to Burnham but no one was interested in eating the WCD pineapple and we all blamed the weathermen for a lousy prediction.

The next day the Lake was flat, flat, flat and the skies were sunny.  We were getting the weather they had called for, the day before.  We had a nice group of divers, though mostly newer divers.  With the 3-foot seas the day before I was afraid of the nearshore viz so I decided to head to the Mack for good viz and cooler temps.  Usually the air drops as we head off-shore but we had 80F air all the way to the Mack.  As no one in this group was wreck certified I decided to take the stern mooring so that they could drop into the engine and boiler rooms without  much trouble.  The divers had a great dive in 47F water and had rail-to-rail viz.  Next stop. . . Wells Burt!  Our divers hit the 63F water (surf) and explored this grand old lady.  While they were down the clouds moved in an the temp dropped about 10 degrees and the wind picked up to about 10kts.  The divers didn’t care because they had 50ft of viz and 53F water.  The thermocline was right at the deck so they were barely effected.  It was quite funny to hear the divers describe how much warmer this wreck was as it was only 6 degrees warmer.

Sunday July 3rd was just the same, a great day on the Lake.  We had a boat full of divers and we headed to the Buccaneer.  The viz was 50-Feet and the water temp was 53F.  The Bucc gave our divers a great dive.  Next dive the Tacoma.  The winds had picked up again but as we were only 3-miles off-shore our sea state was still just around 1-foot.  The Tacoma proved to be an excellent choice as our divers got to spend alot of time on her and explored her many interesting parts.

We didn’t dive Monday but the Lake was just beautiful.  I hope everyone had a great 4th of July.  Happy Birthday America!

Best Weekend on the Lake, So Far!

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.

Given the Weather. . .

Given the weather, we had an excellent weekend of diving!  Saturday started out hazy.   I met my boatload of divers at the dock and thought, “when is the weather ever going to get better.”  Fortunately we had a light (less than 6kts) northerly breeze so as we departed Burnham for the Mack we were met with 0 seas.  As we approached the south light on Chicago’s breakwall we skirted around a few sail boats that were converging or whatever it is they do when they get ready for a race and we headed the R/V toward Dever Crib.  As we progressed north of the breakwall the seas developed into nice 1-foot rollers.  I say “nice,” as any boater will attest to the fact that when the Lake is totally flat some of the fun of running a boat is missing.  Rollers on the otherhand, give you a nice feel of running a boat on the water.  Water temp was reading 63F and the air temp was 68F.  We had a mixed bag of divers with some with a lot of Lake experience and some with none.  I am always jealous of the ones with none when their first dive in the Lake is the Mack.  Sometimes life seems unfair, as I remember my first dive in the Lake on the Material Service some +35 years ago and not be able to see more than 3-feet.  Anyhow, within the hour we are tied into the bow mooring on the Mack and the divers are hitting the water.  Along the way we passed a few fishing boats and I wondered if any of these divers would see a salmon or trout on the dive.  While the divers punched out a 35-minute dive I enjoyed a little sun on the bow of the R/V.  Dive report:  46F with +40-Foot Viz, and plenty of alewives but no Burbots, Salmon or Trout.  Next stop – Wells Burt.

Being only 5-miles away I cruised over to the Wells at a leisurely 10-knots while the divers regaled one another with their adventure and noshed on WCD Pineapple.  I was somewhat hesitant to go near-shore as the viz the week before was marginal, but the Lake is ever changing and the possibility of warmer water was to the liking of this group.  Within 30-minutes we were tying into the mooring on the Wells.  After setting the tag-line and the flag I got on the radio and issued a securite call.  Now most of you know that I generally don’t do that unless viz is an issue but all those sailboats I passed off of Chicago where now headed my way.  No one came close but it is always better to issue a warning and not need it than to not issue one and have a problem.  The surface viz looked good as I got the divers in and sure enough they were all very happy as they had 60F water and rail-to-rail viz.  As we headed home to Burnham the skies clouded over again.  All in all, another great day on the Lake.

Sunday the 19th also started out hazy.  For father’s day we were headed south for dives on the Material Service and Tacoma.  After loading our divers we stopped by the fuel dock to spend some money.  I don’t how much you all get to travel but I was just down in Springfield and gas was $3.46/gal so if someone could explain me why I’m paying $5.41/gal I would appreciate it.  So after adding 110 gallons and making sure all the tanks were properly racked we headed out of the harbor.  The Lake was flat we had a 2-kt wind out of the East and the R/V was on plane and headed SSE at 20 mph.  That is for about a mile than we ran smack into a fog bank and viz dropped to 400 feet than barely 100 feet.  As we approached the fog I fired up the radar and the fog horn but even with great radar zipping through the fog at 17kts isn’t smart so I backed off the throttles and had divemaster Andy scanning and listening to one side of the boat as I handled the other 16 points of the compass.  Of course all the divers want to know how long to the dive site and my answer was always changing as for the next 5 miles we would speed up and slow down as we went through varying degrees of fog.  Finally with 1 mile to go the fog opened up and we were back to 20 mph for the last mile.  As we neared the Material Service Barge site I spotted a Tide boat and sent Andy forward.  We tied in, set our flags and tag/granny lines and I issued a securite call.  When diving the MSB I always give a securite call and any of you diving in that area should too.  Being only a 1/3 of mile from the “hole in the wall at 95th Street” it is a high traffic area and I have been both on-board and underwater when boats don’t pay attention to the little red and white flag.  Our divers had 60F water and 25-foot viz and lots of small mouth bass to see.  The MSB was my first Lake dive and I still love her, even though I don’t get there much.  My wife still talks about the dive we had in 75F water and 50-ft of viz one July 4th weekend many years ago.

Next we headed to the Tacoma.  There was no mooring here so Andy went over the side and tied a “temporary marker line”.  Once up, he reported 35-ft viz and 60F water.  We got our divers in and they enjoyed a nice 40-minute dive on the Tacoma.  The ride home was nice as the wind had picked up to 9-kts and there was a little chop to the water.  Our divers had a great time.  Though the Tacoma has a small foot print she is very pretty wreck offering the divers lots of things to see from her cleaved open bow to her boiler and propellor.  The fog had lifted for our ride back to port though there were some low laying clouds that made the Chicago skyline look like buildings floating on a island in the sky.

I spent the rest of the day with my family enjoying the boat and father’s day!

Where’d Summer Go?

After a great weekend on the Lake with warm temperatures and flat seas I was thinking summer was finally here.  Last Saturday, the 11th, I woke up to fog.  Now I know that with the right barometric pressure that Air temp 59F – Water Temp 51F = FOG.  My divers and divemaster Jason met me at 0800 and we departed Burnham at 0830.  The viz in the harbor was maybe 500 feet but once I cleared the entrance it dropped to 100 feet.  Fortunately, the R/V has great radar and fully automatic fog horn which made my job of motoring out to the Buccaneer easy.  Also, there wasn’t anyone else out in the middle of this pea-soup.  About 55 minutes after leaving the harbor we were circling the wreck site.  Though the fog was dense for the first 4 miles for the last six we had about 0.5 miles of viz.  The Lake was flat and we used the sonar to drop our marker about 8-feet from the bow.  Jason dropped down and tied us in.  Are divers all in wetsuits punched out a 30 minute dive in the 46F water.  They had about 25-foot viz and a great dive on Chicago’s newest wreck.

Next stop was the Illinois/Holly Barge.  While the divers ate pineapple I played close attention to the radar as we headed in.  About 5-miles from shore I noticed a little blip that didn’t move.  First at a 1/2 mile, then at 1/4 mile and then about 400 feet away I backed off the throttles and brought the R/V down to about 5 kts.  About 200 feet directly ahead of us I could make out the outline of something and then at about 100-feet you could see this <30ft boat setting a buoy for a sailboat race.  By the time you could really see them (the boat that is) you could also make out their faces.  Needless to say, they would pretty shocked to see a boat appear out of no where.  Got to love radar!  Anyhow we altered course around them and proceeded to the Holly barge.  We located the barge with the Humminbird and dropped Jason in about 10-feet away.  A short time later he pops up and says he can’t find the wreck!  I look at my gps and say “you’re right there.”  He drops down again, with a reel and locates the wreck in short order about 8-feet away.  The moral to this story is that the viz was bad about 2-Feet!  As we were here and our divers were ready they jumped in and they went diving while I sat around listening to my fog horn.  We had a short ride in and all was well.

Sunday the 12th, I had a boat load of divers who after hearing about the nearshore viz of the day before asked that I do the Mack and the Bucc.  I ran the route on my gps and it is about 15 miles extra in time and gas.  So I got my calculator out, did some quick math and said okay $20 per person extra and you can dive both.  They did not hesitate a second.  It was unanimous, six divers off to do the first ever, MACK – BUCC Charter.  Cool temps but no fog and 1-ft seas meant we had smooth sailing to the Mack.  Within an hour we were tied into the bow of the Mack.  No burbot sightings but the alewives/herring were present in abundance.  Some of the divers did a swim around, some dropped in and out of the wreck and one dive team did my favorite the full length penetration of the wreck.  Water temp 46F viz 30ft.  After collecting our divers I headed 13 miles south to the Buccaneer while WCD Pineapple was being consumed by our divers.  As usual we located the wreck with the sidescan, dropped new divemaster James L in and he tied us in.  Water temp about the same but viz was down to around 20 – 25 feet.  Our divers had a great time and dive.  For two of our divers this was their first Lake Michigan dives!  Can you imagine that?  Their first two dives in the big lake are on the two best wrecks in the area and on two sites that we divers created!  While we were collecting our divers a +600 foot freighter passed within a 1/4 mile of us.  This is why we don’t moor the wreck.

With the success of this charter, WCD is now going to offer the MACK – BUCC Combo Charter to any and all groups.  The price:  $135/diver.

This weekend I am full Saturday morning but I have spaces available in the afternoon and spaces available Sunday AM & PM.

If you want to go diving give me a call or drop me an email.

Finally, Summer is Here!

Somehow, Chicago has skipped over Spring and Summer is finally here.  Well it is finally June and we had 3 great charters this past weekend.  Saturday morning I met my boatload of divers at 0730 and we began the boarding process.  After getting everyone aboard and situated we stopped by the fuel dock ($5.41/gal) and picked up 100 gallons of fuel.  Off to the Mack for two dives.  We had clear skies and flat seas and we were tied into the stern mooring on Mack in 55 minutes.  On the way out, the clear skies became overcast but the Lake stayed flat.  Surface temp was 55F but these drysuit divers were headed to the mid 40’s.  The cool water brought these divers “rail-to-rail” viz and schools of alewives as they explored Chicago’s best wreck.  After two dives on the Mack and a little WCD pineapple we headed back to Burnham.  The ride back was smooth as silk.

For the second charter of the day, all but one of these divers were in wetsuits.  I was worried about the nearshore viz, as last week we had 5-Foot on the Wells Burt, so I suggested we head to the chilly waters of the Mack for at least one dive.  As we had flat seas for our six divers, I knew that all of them could make the dive on the Mack.  Everyone agreed and we headed off-shore.  We were tied into the bow of the Mack in short order.    The divers hit the water and our wetsuit divers did well in our 45F water.  Like the first charter of the day, these divers had excellent viz and schools of baitfish.  This is the best time to dive the Mack as she looks more like a North Carolina wreck with all the fishlife.

While our divers were down I could see weather developing over the downtown area and to the north of us but there was a window over Evanston.  Once we recovered all our divers we motored over to the Wells Burt at 8-kts while our divers munched on WCD pineapple.  My plan was to slow down things so that the weather over Chicago would dissipate by the time we returned to port.  A little over 30-minutes after leaving the Mack we were tied into mooring on the Wells and our divers were suiting up for their 2nd dive.  Water temp a shade warmer at 50F but the viz was spectacular.  I could make out the divers as they worked their way along the deck of the Wells.  They were actually able to leave the wreck and investigate the masts and spars off the site.  After another great dive this group headed back to port and as planned we missed the big storm that dumped on downtown, just as planned.

Sunday looked to be the best day of the weekend.  We had sunny skies and warm temps down at the harbor.  After Saturday’s charters I recommended to these six divers:  the Mack – Wells Burt combo.  The Lake was flat.  Flat as it gets.  50-minutes after pulling out of Burnham we sterned-in to the bow mooring of the Mack.  Our group of divers splashed in for a great dive.  Again viz was “rail-t0-rail”.  The alewives were present again and even a burbot sighting.  After a great dive we headed to the Wells Burt.  We again sterned-in to offer our divers the easiest access to the wreck.  While our divers were exploring the best wooden wreck in the area (save the Hume) my crew set a new mooring.  After a nice 40-minute dive  with 40-foot viz we headed to the Wings of Wind to set a mooring there.  Using the Humminbird we located the bow, dropped a marker and then dropped our divers Mike & Andy.  Not only did they install a new mooring but Mike cleaned up the old dead mooring lines. The weirdest thing was that the viz was horrible here (5-ft).  After collecting my crew we headed back to Burnham for an afternoon hanging around the boat with my family.  Just a great weekend and I must say:  SUMMER is HERE!

Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday May 28th started out gray and overcast and stayed that way the entire day but we were going to have fun anyhow as we were going diving.  We met our six divers at 0800, loaded up the boat, topped off the fuel tanks and headed to Mack.  We had a light southeasterly breeze and 1-footers.  55-minutes after leaving the fuel dock we were tying into the bow mooring on the Mack.  Our divers were ready to go as I had given them a 20-minute warning.  With 47 F water and 4 drysuit divers and 2 wetsuit divers I told everyone lets plan on 35 minutes (drysuiters) 25 minutes (wetsuiters) and then we will motor into the Wells Burt for the second dive as we might catch some 53F water there.  The plan went off without a hitch.  Our divers enjoyed Chicago’s best wreck, 47F and 25 foot viz.  While they were diving, future captain Bob L, set new mooring lines on the bow and stern.  We collected our divers and motored over the Wells at a leisurely 9 kts munching WCD pineapple.  At the Wells we used the sidescan to locate the bow and dropped Bob in with a new mooring line.  Viz was not so good (5 ft) but Bob was able to set a mooring and then we went about getting our divers diving and that is wear the plan fell apart.  With limited viz we had divers venturing off the wreck and coming to the surface to relocate their buddies or the wreck.  Fortunately the weather was such that there was no boat traffic but just in case, I did issue a securite call to warn other boaters of our diving activities.  Things went well and we headed back to Burnham.  Oh, the plan of “warmer water”  49F!  For 2 degrees we should of stayed on the Mack.

Sunday May 29th, was a non-diving day as we didn’t have a charter, but that wasn’t going to keep me off the Lake.  The southern buoy was reading 0.0 feet, ideal sea state for sidescanning, so Bob and I went out looking for new wrecks.  The weatherman predicted rain and fog but the Aquatica is well equipped with the latest electronics and  quite sturdy so no problem.  Well the fog was thick at times and our progress to the search site was slow. Once on site we realized that with the depth of water we were dealing with our scanning the area was going to take more time than we originally had planned but we had time and fuel.  Then the weatherman’s prediction became quite dire (70 mph wind gust, hail, wrath of god stuff).  We could run for shelter (which is what the weatherman says to do), which meant running into the storm and seeking shelter in a harbor or we could stay where we were and weather the storm.  What to do?  My thought was if we go in we will have to maneuver in close quarters with high winds and somethings will undoubtedly  hit hard,  but out here in the open lake I am away from things that will make the boat break, I have lots of fuel and two good motors and we are close enough to shore that the waves could never get big enough to swamp me.  We stayed.  Of course the winds never developed as bad as they said but lightening sure does scare me.  We continued searching found a couple interesting “hits” that will need further inspection but no wreck jumped out at us.  We called it after the weather switched and we were now being buffeted by 2-3 footers out of the EAST.  That’s right, the winds had changed and at that time and place wave could get really big so we put the hammer down and headed back to Burnham at 26 kts.

Monday May 30th – Happy Memorial Day to all those that served, whether they be soldiers, airmen, sailors or marines.  The weather is clear and sunny.  We again have a full boat of divers (all dry save 1) and we are headed to the Mack for 2 dives as the near shore waters are looking murky.  Near shore temps are near 80 at 0800 but I know things will chill down once we get off shore.  The ride out the Mack is nice and we again are on site in less than an hour.  Water temp is 47F and viz at the surface looks the same.  The plan is 35 for dry and a laughing 30 for the wetsuit guy.  Once on site I get our divers in and I am besieged by flies.  The helm looks like a scene from Seven or CSI as the flies (thousands of them) are just buzzing about.  Needless to say they kept we at bow where the light breeze kept them off of me.  Two dives later and a little WCD Pineapple and pretzels we are headed back to Burnham.  Viz was again around 25 and temp was 47F throughout.  As a sidenote, on the way out an experienced divers asked me if you can do 2 dives on the Mack?  He was intimating that as a reefed vessel she was not as challenging or exciting as a “true shipwreck”.  This same diver had the opportunity to assist another diver in extricating themselves from the wreck, which proved challenging for all parties.  Lesson learned:  diving in an overhead environment even one that is artificial can be challenging.  Also burbots were sighted in the engine room and along the the stern rub-rail.

Lord of the Flies?

Sunday May 22nd started out warm and sunny.  We loaded up our boatload of divers and motored on over to the fuel dock to top-off the tanks of the Aquatica, as we were headed off-shore to the Thomas Hume.  After a little “sticker shock” ($5.69/gallon for regular) we headed East out to the middle of the Lake.  Along the way the air temp dropped and we dealt with fog, but with radar and auto fog horn the trip was a breeze.  Once on site we were somewhat disappointed that the mooring line did not survive the winter.  So we suited up Myron from Elmer’s and Steve S., located the wreck with the Humminbird, dropped marker buoy smacked dab in the middle of the wreck and sent our two divers over the side with a temporary mooring line.  In short order we were tied into the wreck and our five other divers had an amazing dive on this beautiful little wreck.  1Ft Seas, 80-100 Ft of viz and a chilly 39F.

While our divers were down I was besieged by flies.  In fact, I have never seen so many flies.  There were probably 1,000 flies on the boat and they stayed with us the rest of the day.  Fortunately, for the most part they didn’t bite, but I did get a few bites on my ankles.  Next stop NEW WRECK …the Searcher.  Over the winter I came across some numbers for the an old commercial fishing boat that sunk back in 1987.  She is about 70Ft and rests upright in about 145Ft of water.  Being around 20 miles off-shore she is not visited a lot, so Captain Mike and Steve S. were really excited about diving her. After a couple passes with the sonar we got a good fix on her and dropped a surface marker and then our divers.  Mike shot some video so we hope to have that up on the website soon, but his wife is expecting their first child this week so I’m not sure how quick that will happen.  There are quite a few fishing nets on board so a good buoyancy skill-set is a must to dive her.  When she sank in ’87 she took three crew members with her.  80-100Ft Viz, 39F, No Thermocline and 1Ft seas.  My plan is to offer trips here on occasion and to offer a second dive on the Rotarian or Buccaneer.  If your interested give me a call.

Next stop the Buccaneer.  The flies are still with us during the hour ride to the Buccaneer.  Surprising many of the divers on this “lite-Tec” trip had not been to the Buccaneer yet so for most of them this was their first dive on her.  As she is not moored we passed over her and dropped a buoy and then our divers with a mooring line.  While the divers were down the VHF went crazy with weather warnings.  There was a storm cell to south and north of us.  I punched up the radar to the 12-mile range, eye-balled the situation and hoped that we would miss the brunt of the storm.  After our divers returned I cut loose from the mooring and sent Mike down to retrieve the line and thats when the outer fringes of the storm began to buffet us.  There was lightening in the distance but what was more shocking was the hail and horizontal rain.  The winds had to be hitting 35Kts as it took the tops of the waves off and left us with a flat blowing sea.  We zipped up the canvas and kept an eye on the mooring.  Once Mike surfaced we moved in to pick him up and that’s when we learned that Mike did not police the mooring line as he ascended (big mistake) as we drifted over the line and of course fouled a prop.  Just a simple loop over but just enough that we had to throw Mike back in to clear the line.

Next stop Burnham Harbor. We a had clear shot back to the harbor as the storms passed to either side of us.  All an all a great day on the Lake except for the flies that never left.

1st Charter of the 2011 for Windy City Diving

Hey, Hey, WCD has finally completed its first charter of the year.  Saturday the 7th started out sunny then the clouds rolled in and we caught a few light showers but the charter was a big hit.  We had a group in from Ft. Wayne and a local diver.  The new dock assignment EC 18 and the two new hand carts I bought at DEMA worked out great.  The divers loaded up quickly and we were on our way to the Mack for two dives.  Winds were NE about 10kts and seas were at 1 ft. 60 minutes after pulling out of the slip we were circling the Mack looking for a mooring.  After a couple of passes and no line we dropped a marker buoy just aft of the bow and put divemaster Mike in with a mooring line and a short time later I was tying the R/V in.  Though the sky was dark the viz looked good.  After getting our divers ready, what do I see but the remnants of the stern mooring line just behind the boat.  Water temp was a balmy 39F and viz was over 50 feet, my guess was closer to 80!  Our divers punched out 2 30-minute dives!   On the way back we munched on pineapple and pretzels and talked about past and future dives.

If you want the best viz and you can handle the cold, the time to dive is now!