It was not quite three o’clock in the morning when we arrived at the Headlands Dark Sky Park. I had gushed about this place not long ago, imagining this moment. Our caravan drove down snaking roads, narrowly avoiding some of the Dark Sky Park attendees walking back up to where they had to park their cars.
Kyle and I were still in our wetsuits from the first dive. The tarping of the van had seemed like a smart idea, and now that we were in practice, tarps had been nothing short of genius. Both of us kept our feet up on the large blue plastic tub that had become the de facto home of our scuba gear. There were already puddles of cold water pooling on the tarp.
The roads led us down, down, down towards the shore of Lake Michigan. We had crossed back over the Mackinac Bridge to get here, leaving the Upper Peninsula (the UP) as we did so. As we pulled our strange caravan into our staging area, we noticed that it was under heavy construction. Jessica made a suggestion that perhaps this was not a scuba event at all, and that by tarping the van so well, we had just made the job of our eventual assassination easier on someone else.
But not to worry, the chilly dark waters were the only danger we faced.
We geared up in the dirt and hiked down a path to the rocky beach and waded in. This wreck was marked by a buoy with reflective tape on it, just as the previous dive site had been. But this time, there was no Bruce to kayak out and shine a beacon for us. We swam out with Jacque and Meaghan, who had dove the site before when scouting for the trip. There was a vague inclination of where we should be, but no specific heading.
To note: dive gear is heavy. It seems heavier when there are waves (there were waves). Time feels longer when it is dark and you cannot find what you are looking for. We had search parties out, looking in different directions, and finally! Kitrina Godding, one of the divers from Canada, found the buoy.
She called out, we repeated her call as best we could, hoping to attract the other groups searching, but we were all wearing hoods, making it difficult to hear.
We descended and looked around at the unidentified wreck. With the good visibility and everyone’s dive light, the site looked even eerier than I had imagined. We explored the site, this one seeming to have newer construction than the last wreckage at Pendill’s Creek.
When we ascended, the moon had already begun to accelerate its setting into the lake. It was fat, the color of a blood orange, and Kyle and I stared at it as we swam backwards towards shore.
When the moon finally disappeared, I became almost disoriented. Moon and shore had been in opposite directions, but once gone, only the shore lights kept us on track.
The Milky Way was prominent in the sky, and the constellations looked more complex than I remembered seeing them before, freckling the sky with dimmer stars I normally can’t see.
We waded up the beach, learning of some other issues from other divers. A tank fell off of one diver’s BCD, the dry suit of another had failed. Many others had not been able to find the wreckage at all.
But we were almost on time, knowing we were going to have to make a gas stop on the way to the next dive site. We only had 55 miles until 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, the site of the Joseph S Fay.
Staying in our wetsuits, but once again discarding the booties and our hoods, we climbed back into the tarped backseat of the van, and Jessica and Tami drove on.