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, WreckAndReefs.com and ScubaQ.ca 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Countdown to Northwind Expedition: Sept 18-21

Eight more sleeps to the Northwind Expedition! I’m so looking forward to diving a new wreck, especially one with so much to explore. Tom Wilson’s notes and pix on the dive are making me excited to test my diving skills. ๐Ÿ™‚

Plus, I get to ride on the Chi-Cheemaun for the first time ever!

There’s still time and space to join the expedition: $300 for two days of all-you-can-dive. Call AquaSub at 905 883 3483.

Logistics

  • Book passage on the Chi-Cheemaun
  • Friday Sept 18: travel to Tobermory to catch the Chi-Cheemaun, check in at The Queen’s Inn Bed and Breakfast
  • Saturday Sept 19: devour gourmet breakfast at Queen’s Inn and head out for a day ofย  diving!
  • Sunday Sept 20: see Saturday
  • Monday Sept 21: say goodbye and hope to come back again!

She-P, or how I fell in love with dry suit diving again

ShePTwo days ago, I got my chance to get in the water with the plumbing installed on both myself and the drysuit. It wasย  my big She-P day.

Glorious.

I can now drink as much water as I should to prepare for a dive.

I no longer fantasize about how I can shimmy out of the suit fast enough during surface intervals.

I no longer have to wonder if I should submit to Guiness my records for how long I can hold on before I have to break the seal.

I no longer have to do the ‘dance’ underwater during long dives.

Halleluja!

Gotta love decorator crabs

One of my all-time favourite creatures. In this video by Anna and Ned De Loach, one guy thought it was a good idea to sport an anemone on his back. As Anna narrates it, it rather defeated the purpose of camouflage when what should be anchored to the reef (the anemone), is running drunkenly at full tilt across it. LOL Is this guy a candidate for the Darwin Awards?

My brother and I found one on a night dive in Malaysia a few years back dressed in a bright red anemone. When he found himself in the spotlight, he tore across the bottom panick-stricken, tripping over and running into stuff.

Between a great dive and a lousy one

We’re always a few breaths between having a great dive and lousy one.

Underwater, anything that gets your mind away from a state of calm yet alert risks ruining your dive: getting frustrated with a piece of equipment, struggling with buoyancy, feeling uncomfortable, etc.

Anytime I feel discombobulated underwater, I take the time to go back to the first thing I was taught: STOP, BREATHE, THINK, then ACT.

I focus on breathing instead of the problem I’m having. Regaining composure puts me in a better state of mind to manage that problem.

Works every time.

Yesterday, for instance, nearly 2 hours into a dive, I start feeling the call of nature. That set me off shivering. Using yoga breathing techniques, I re-focused my mind on my breath. It didn’t remove my urge to go, but it effectively put that call of nature on hold. ๐Ÿ™‚

Diving in Antarctica

I’m so pleased that Scuba Diving magazine featured a cold-water diving destination on their website. And for that icing on top, the video features a woman diver, Lisa Trotter. She’s my kind of woman!!

I don’t think I’ll ever get over the gender stereotypes about diving: that hard core diving is only for men and that women only like warm, tropical diving.

The funny thing is, I’ve met men who are just a bit miffed about women who can make the tough dives and use the macho equipment. It almost seems that by doing so, these women are an affront to their manhoods.

Kinda sucks, I guess, for the He Man Woman Hater Club. Heeheehee!

My New Twins

Double 100's

Double 100's

On Monday, I test dove my new twins: a set of XS Scuba high pressure 100’s.

Norbert and I wanted to see if these slightly taller tanks (than my HP 80’s) would trim out better. And they did! I feel so grown up, what with these so-called real tanks, as if the HP 80’s were somehow tanks for weenies.

They’re an extra 6 lbs heavier than my twin 80’s. Not too much more, but I have to admit my legs felt the extra 6 lbs after a weekend of climbing up boat ladders!