Well, we had two full boat charters set up for April 16th & 17th and mother nature blew me off the Lake. Such is life. The following weekend was Easter and Windy City Diving had nothing scheduled so it was time to do some personal diving. Saturday, my crewmembers Mike & Bob (who are both now captains) and I headed up to Milwaukee to dive with Jitka and Lubo of Shipwreck Explorers and a couple of other divers.
The plan was to shake out the cobwebs with the first tec dive of the year, and boy were there cobwebs. Some of the drysuits seemed to have shrunk over the winter (including mine). Two guys ripped neck seals causing one to become a non-diver and the other a wet diver. I had to patch a wrist seal with gaffer tape and during deco is saw one of the boys lose two regulators.
It has been quite sometime since I dove the Milwaukee area, not because the wrecks are bad (they have some great wrecks) its just that over the years I have dove them all. The group plan was to dive the St. Alban and the Emba, both in the 160 ffw range. My plan was to dive the St. Alban, as it had been quite sometime since I was there, and with the water temp hovering around 39F I knew I was good for one dive.
About 30 minutes after leaving the harbor we were circling the wreck site looking for a submerged marker, which we spotted relatively quickly. We sent Steve in to lift the pendant to the surface so that we could tie in the Molly V. Speaking of cobwebs, after going into retrieve the pendant Steve will definitely remember to connect his lp inflator next time. After catching the line and his breath we began diving. After running into a problem with my drygloves I hit the cool waters of Lake Michigan with wetsuit gloves and instantly revised my dive plan from 30 to 20 minutes.
At about 90 feet I could make out the outline of Alban, who’s deck was still another 50 feet a way. After getting to the deck and surveying the area I realized that I could see easily 80 feet and maybe 100 feet in every direction. Totally excellent! I dropped down to view the prop, which is about the size of a Volkswagon Beetle and then I headed toward the bow checking out the debris field along the way. After clearing the bow I swam down to the dirt and grabbed a Burbot by the tail that I saw moving through the starboard side debris field. We poked around the inside of the midship area marveling at the shear size of the boiler. At 20 minutes I called the dive as my wet gloved hands were getting cold. After stops clearing all my stops I reboarded the Molly V, thanking both Jitka and Lubo for an excellent dive.
Though I think Windy City Diving and the R/V Aquatica are the best dive operation on the Great Lakes, I have to admit that if you’re not diving with me you should be diving with Jitka and Shipwreck Explorers. For the recreational diver they offer some great wrecks that you won’t see with WCD and that should be on every divers “bucket list” and for the technical divers they travel to all the cool wrecks in Superior and Huron. They run a nice operation.