By Dave Sommers
Who would expect the end of October to be a mild and beautiful weekend to dive?
Four members of the Saginaw Underwater Explorers found it so.
Heavy winds and gale warnings earlier in the week made the weekend of October 22 and 23 not look like a promising venture.
Dave and Edith Sommers were the advance scouts. They had planned on doing some bicycling in the Petoskey area and would report on the he condition of Lake Michigan Friday afternoon. As the sun set Dave reported back to Saginaw that there were 5 MPH winds and 6” waves. This started things in motion.
Dave’s second weather report at sunrise Saturday was for dead flat water at Petoskey.
Tony and Carol Piazza headed to Tawas to grab their boat for the trip north. Since Greg Prenzler works third shift he needed a little shuteye allowing Mike Fabish to attend choir practice. (Mike has quite the voice and has sung professionally). Dave and Edith got in a quick bike ride to Harbor Springs.
Tony and Carol arrived in Petoskey with their boat as Dave and Edith finished their ride.
The boat was loaded and launched, just awaiting Greg and Mike.
The wind picked up a bit as the group got underway. It was just a short ride to the Underwater Crucifix, which was buoyed in about 20’ of water. It could have been a shore dive but a boat sure makes it easier. The club has unofficially adopted the Crucifix and tries to do a cleaning of it at least once a year.
The foursome spent about 45 minutes cleaning the Crucifix of accumulated marine growth.
The sun was on its way down by the group headed south to Charlevoix. We had a place in mind to stay until Edith read an online review, the kindest of which thought they changed the sheets now-and-then.
Tony and Carol knew of another place, which turned out to be luxury condos on Round Lake. Of course, way off-season and late arrival didn’t hurt in getting a reduced rate. The rooms had private balconies overlooking the lake.
Sunday morning arrived very foggy, but by the time we had breakfast and got the boat loaded for the Keuka in Lake Charlevoix it was mostly gone.
The wreck proved somewhat elusive. The GPS numbers were close and we could see it on the fish finder. While we were dragging anchor to snag it we came across an underwater buoy, about 8 feet down. It was secured to the bow of the Keuka. After finally securing a line we hit the water, which was about 54°.
The wreck could be seen from the surface, as the deck is in about 25 feet.
The wreck is covered in Zebra Muscles. The water was quite clear at first, probably 30’ or more. The holds were open with lots of fish. It was a fun time exploring the wreck.
After returning to shore for more air and a quick snack it was off to the Elizabeth in Round Lake. This is an old cabin cruiser type of boat lying in about 45 feet of water. It is not buoyed so finding it presented another challenge. Because of heavy boat traffic during the summer and that the boat lies close to many private boat houses and is close to the channel, it is best to dive it in the off season.
Even with good GPS numbers, it took a while to find it with the fish finder. Once spotted an anchor was dropped. From a past dive, Mike said it was very dark, so the plan was for two divers to descend in an attempt to locate it. Less than 20 feet down the anchor line the wreck loomed out of the murk. The anchor had landed less than 15 feet away from it.
This wreck still has a cabin with easy penetration. There is still some glass in some of the frames.
The wreck is on a clean bottom, however it has a thick coating of Zebra Muscles. It made for a nice 40-minute dive, though it was easy to silt up.
The weekend was wonderful, with great weather, with a high in the mid 50’s.
The guys had fun diving and the girls enjoyed exploring Charlevoix.