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.