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!