July 4, 2020
dive 4

Big 5 Dive: Dive 4

dive 4
The view from my seat for 24 hours.

The drive from dive 3 to dive 4 felt infinite. We hadn’t slept in over 24 hours by then, and being dry was a new kind of luxury for me and Kyle.

We had managed our dives in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron, but dive site 4 was the most unknown of all the areas. No one really knew what to expect, and the weather was showing three-foot waves on Lake Erie. We drove through rain, and I worried that our adventure would be shut down by weather.

Jessica and Tami switched off driving responsibilities, allowing me and Kyle the opportunity to nap sitting up and shove food into our faces. Actually, it was just me that shoved food into my face. Kyle was very decorous and moderate in his eating, but I don’t believe in that sort of thing when I’ve been up for more than a day.

dive 4
Suiting up in the Avon Lake Boat Ramp parking lot.

Because of the long stretch of road, we didn’t stay in a contained caravan anymore, and we met up haphazardly in the parking lot of the boat ramp on Lake Avon, near dive 4.

Meaghan and I stood on the corner, waving in our vehicles as they arrived, and giving double high-fives to runners. (Ok, we only gave double high fives to one runner, but he seemed excited about it.)

Once Stephanie got the details worked out of how we would deal with dive 4, we suited up in the parking lot and drove over to the private neighborhood, which is where things got tricky.

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Ready to roll into the waves at Lake Erie. The dark specks in the water are divers swimming out to the buoy. Thanks to Jessica Kaiser for snapping this photo.

Because the dive site was on private property at the end of a cul-de-sac, we parked along a different road in a residential neighborhood. We loaded tanks into one van and drove it down the cul-de-sac, and walked down.

Scoping the area, we tried to find the best way into the rough water. The wind was up, and Lake Erie was choppy. The shore was rocky, with a man-made break. We geared up at the van, walked down a fairly steep hill and had to negotiate wet rocks.

Georganna, a woman who lives three doors down and regularly dives the site had placed buoys on the wreckage the day before. The surface swim wasn’t much, but with the winds so high, the going was tough. Many of our crew opted to snorkel, as the heavy tank made getting in and out of the water a definite ordeal.

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Finished Dive 4, photo thanks to Renata Rojas

Kyle and I sat on the edge of the break and slid into the water, fighting our way out to the first buoy. We descended, and the visibility was near-zero, perhaps about arm’s length. Neither one of us brought our underwater cameras on this venture because it was so treacherous, we wanted to concentrate on only the swim.

We hung onto the bottom of the tether, floating just above the wreckage. I attempted exploration, but after moving one hand off the tether, a surge knocked me right into Kyle. I returned to my initial position, and gestured to Kyle that we could just go back.

Nope.

I was the one who insisted on scuba for this site. If we were diving, then it had better be a for real dive, and Kyle watched his dive computer to make sure we spent our full ten minutes below. So we counted down, in tea colored water, with the current pulling at us, the surge knocking us around, and an occasional appearance by another diver.

We surfaced and headed back to shore. Once we got to the break, our shore crew was in full support mode, hauling our tanks out of the water as we were washed against the rocks.

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Almost there. Thanks again to Renata Rojas for snapping this pic of our progress that we kept on the van windows.

After all the divers made it out of the water safely, we met with the owner of the property, whose son had discovered an old hand gun on the wreckage years before. The ship was the Penelope, a tug boat built in 1890, which sank in 1909, after a fire. No lives were lost, as the crew came ashore on the smallboat as the Penelope burned to the waterline.

We took a few pictures despite the fact that we were behind on our timeline. We would most definitely NOT make our final dive site before 10 p.m.

We walked back up to our cars on the main road, stowed our gear, only to have the woman in the house we parked in front of scream at us through the windows. She had called the cops on us earlier, and when the policeman had showed, he was apparently very polite and pleased with our day-long efforts.

The woman screamed that she was calling the police again. We were not on her property, but we were in front of her property, which I suppose made us a sort of eyesore. But we got out of there, reconvened at the Boat Launch again. Kyle and I opted to stay in our wetsuits for the final leg, which was still another 3.5 hours of driving to get to Olcott, NY.

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Dive 4 complete!

We were exhausted but determined. One more dive to go, as long as we could get in the water by midnight. MIDNIGHT.

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