Trip Report: Northwind Expedition

Ever since the Dawnlight went out of commission two years ago, there was no convenient way to dive the wreck of the Northwind, which sits in about 115′ of water off Manitoulin Island. Last year, Steve Tiernan (Tobermory AquaSports) mentioned to me that he’s thinking about putting together an expedition to dive the Northwind the following fall. It was a no-brainer: in between nods, I was figuring out in my head how to get my husband Norbert excited about the trip and get something organized.

Last Friday, our little group of eight set out on our excellent adventure to dive a wreck we’ve never dove before. As mentioned in my previous post about the Northwind, the trip includes a drive to Tobermory, getting on the Chi-Cheemaun, and driving from the ferry dock on Manitoulin to Gore Bay, where Steve had tied up our favourite dive vessel, the Teak Isle.

We might be gung-ho for diving, but our little group liked to come back after a day’s diving to creature comforts! I booked us into Susan Mathia’s beautiful B&B, The Queen’s Inn. Make no mistake, however: the team was more excited about Susan’s delicious eggs benedict than about the comfortable beds and beautiful 19th century house right by the harbour in Gore Bay.

There’s not much more I can add to Vlada Dekina’s and Tom Wilson’s great reviews and photos of the wreck, which you can enjoy on their websites, and respectively. This was my first local trip with my underwater camera system. It was a great challenge, and I’m glad I’d been training all spring and summer for deco dives: I needed all the time I could get underwater. I didn’t manage to produce any images I’m proud of, but I did include a couple shots that vaguely resembled passable photos.

What I can add is that on our two days of diving this past weekend, the water was calm and warm, so it was perhaps too much to ask for great visibility on top of that. Nevertheless, at just less than 300′ long, the Northwind was chock full of entertainment starting at 75′ and bottoming out at about 115′. Temperature at depth was a balmy 54F and 64F closer to the surface; the deco stops were almost unbearably warm!

Two amazing things that struck me about this wreck: after more than 80 years underwater, many of the portholes still had glass in them; and perhaps even more mysterious is the fact that the doors on the wreck still swing freely. Other noteworthy points that Vlada has already pointed out in her write-up of the Northwind is that the painted wood on the wreck is still visible after all this time. The metal hull, on the other hand, has mostly been colonized by the mussels, which I might add, haven’t done a great job last week filtering out the particulates in the water.

Next year’s expedition dates are already set: Oct 8 – 12, with the first and last days being travel days. Yes, it’s a longer trip because everyone on this year’s expedition wanted a third dive day. At this time, all eight of us are already on board for next year’s trip, so there’s room for four more divers. 🙂

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more about “Trip Report: Northwind Expedition“, posted with vodpod
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