Marcus and I dove today. I picked up our tanks, then we met up near the coast guard station to launch his boat.
After loading the boat with our gear, then launching the boat, we made our way over to the OJ Walker. To read about the OJ Walker, visit my OJ Walker Page in my Dive Sites section of this website. This was Marcus’ first time on any of the shipwrecks of the Lake Champlain Underwater Preserve.
The waves were getting a little out of hand, and we decided that we’d do the dive, but would be somewhat quick about it, so that we could get back onto the boat, and get out of the middle of the lake as quickly as possible.
I had put my wet suit on, while on land, so I waited as Marcus put his wetsuit on, and we both assembled our BC’s.
Once assembled, Marcus did his back roll entry first, then waited for me at the mooring to the wreck. I dawned my BC, then did my own back roll, and into the water I went. I came up, went over to the mooring, flashed the OK down, received OK down signal from Marcus, and away we went.
When you dive on the moorings for the preserve, you swim to a yellow buoy, then go under the buoy, and find a rope. The rope is connected to an elastic rope type thing, towards the bottom, which is connected to a large concrete slab. About 10 feet from the bottom of the lake, there is a ball on the line. That ball is where you establish neutral buoyancy, then you look for a rope.
In a previous post, I showed a link to a youtube.com video, so you can see what descending down the rope is like. As one descends down the rope, to the concrete block at the bottom, to go over to the wreck, you are basically in a cone of green. The green is algae and such that is growing in the water. After about 25-30 feet, the water gets cold enough that the algae stops growing, and visibility goes from 3 feet to 15 feet. Sometimes descending down the line triggers my claustrophobia and I get uncomfortable, as happened to me the first time down the line to the OJ. We made it about 24 feet down the line, then I realized we didn’t have a flashlight, so we went up to talk about it.
One we were on the surface, we talked for a few seconds, then started down the rope line again, making it to the bottom, then over the rope to the ship. This is one of the coolest shipwrecks I’ve dove, and is definitely the coolest in Lake Champlain. As we got to the boat, we went to her port side, then swam around the boat. Off from the port side around midship, there are several bricks that she was carrying when she sunk, on the ground. There are two carts that were used on the ship to move the bricks around, and those are on the ground near the ship.
I took Marcus around the ship, somewhat quickly, because we wanted to get back on our boat, before we could dive that one as a wreck as well. We went along the port side to the back of the ship. We looked at the rudder, then around to the starboard side,then up to the bow of her. From there, we swam along the deck, poking our heads down into the cargo holds and looking around. As we went down the deck, I pointed out to Marcus the Anchor and the wheel, both still in the same place they were when she went down some 116 years before.
After circling once, and then exploring the deck, we decided it was time to end our dive, so we swam back to our ship, then up the line, stopping at 15 feet for our 3 minute safety stop. For the record, our dive time was 17 minutes at 55 feet, the water temperature was 63 degrees and I dove with 12 pounds of weights.
We got out, then got on Marcus’ boat, then went over to the General Butler.
We did a quick dive to the Butler. She rests around 35-40 feet below the surface, right near the Burlington Breakwater. It’s a neat beginner wreck. I dove this with around 12 pounds of weights, the water was still around 63 degrees top to bottom. Our dive time was around 15 minutes on this boat, as Marcus needed to end the dive.
From there, we went back to the docks, and I took our tanks to the dive shop to get them refilled, so that we could get another dive in. On my way back, the storm that was brewing reached its peak, and we were forced to bring in the boat. From there, we did a beach entry dive at Burlington Fishing Pier.
This is a rock (beach) entry dive. Once you go in, you swim along the fishing pier, then go around the pier, then along a wall, then along another pier, then turn around and do the same thing. There is a lot of great stuff to see. There are a ton of fish there, at least there were that day.
Our total dive time was around 35-40 minutes. My weight was 12 pounds, and the water temperature was 63 degrees. I started the dive with 2800PSI and ended with around 1300. The max depth here was 17 feet.