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For those non-"Great Lakes Divers", a few things about Great Lakes Diving:

  • The Great Lakes are not "cold-water diving"! You can look it up in any dive book, "cold-water diving" is when the water temperature gets into the mid-50's. A "Great Lakes Diver" hopes that some time during the summer, their hang is in the mid-50's!!! A dry suit is the norm for early season, late season, and deep dives.
  • This is the Best Wreck Diving in the world, IMHO. You are not going to find intact wooden wrecks like these in many other places in the world. You will not find as many, in as small an area anywhere.
  • These dives can be very advanced. If you haven't dove the area, try to start off diving with local divers or local charters familiar with the area. You can expect any or all of the following:
    • Low visibility, sometimes < 1'; I don't like diving in it, but sometimes you don't know it's going to be that bad until you are into the dive. "Great Lakes Divers" think 20'-30' is excellent visibility.
    • Cold water, sometimes < 32 degrees (particularly Lake Superior). If you are going deep or not "use to" these temperatures, use a dry suit. You can get training and rent them at many local dive shops.
    • If you mix depth, low visibility, and cold; guess what you may get? Narcosis!
  • If you are going out in your own boat, in addition to the normal Coast Guard safety equipment remember:
    • Check the Marine Weather Forecast before you leave (and bring a weather radio or Marine Radio with you to check it through out the day).
    • A large "Diver Down" (Red background with white diagonal slash) flag. This is the local law; the fines aren't cheap. Stay within 50' of the flag if you are a diver and stay at least 200' away if you are a boat (actually 100'/200' in Wisconsin & Michigan, 50'/100' in some other states, so keeping 50'/200' prevents you from coughing up for a fine!).
    • If you are going to dive an off shore site, you will need a GPS, Lorain, or perforable both.
    • If you are going to dive an off shore site, make sure you have the coordinates to the entrance to harbor or landing (you can get them on the way out). Fog that roles in from now where is quite normal. It is quite hard to avoid fog on the northern Great Lakes, if you do a lot of diving.
    • Your D.A.N. or similar Emergency Oxygen Provider kit.
    • RADAR is extremely nice to have around the Apostle Islands, Isle Royal, Munising, far Northern Lake Michigan, and White Fish Point. Again, the fog can be quite thick at times. I have found that it extremely nice to know what is out there, as well as where you are going.
    • A marine radio (or at least a cell phone).
    • Lots of anchor line and a good anchor. You will need 3-4 times as much line as the depth of the wreck. This will give you the proper scope the ensure your boat is still there when the dive is over. It is also the amount of line you will need to keep your boat in one place if you have problems. If you contact the Coast Guard: The first thing they will tell you is to put your life jackets on. The second is to anchor your boat. In some areas, the wrecks will be buoyed and you can tie on to the buoy. But early in the season, don't count on anything being marked.
    • A good depth finder. This will help you find the exact location of the wreck, if it is not marked.
    • An extra tank of air or plan to come up with 1/2 tank. You may need it to free your anchor.
  • Alternatively; dive with a local charter or diver. They will bring all the above stuff and they will be able to get you to the wrecks quicker, usually.
  • Removal of any object from a shipwreck in any of the Great Lakes is Illegal. This is not the ocean. Great Lakes' wrecks have been around along time, their environment has help ensure this (unlike most of the ocean wrecks). The biggest danger to our wrecks is pilfering by divers. Please, "Take only pictures and leave only bubbles". The next diver thanks you.

Last modified: Tuesday, 30-Sep-2003 18:22:29 PDT