Sunday, November 18 – 2007
12:04 – 13:06
Dive Number 125
Roads: Dry / clear
Water Temp: +4C
Area: East Main Street Bridge, Welland, Ontario
Vehicle: Gold Chevy Cobolt AYTK-941
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Divers: Wolf, Chuck
Shore Crew / Tenders: Tori
Maximum Depth: 11m
Plan: Cold Water Dive Exploration
As this large country descends from a few short moments of summer into it’s normal state of being a bleak, baron place almost completely devoid of life – the people who reside here continue to suffer. Today was certainly no different.
As autumn starts departs and the long months of unrelenting cold and hardship befall upon us, those who must endure this often attempt to continue their normal lives and day to day activities. Adventuring is one of those activities.
The outside temperature today was a frigid 2 Celsius outside. The water temperature was 4 degrees Celsius. After replacing the right hand seal in my drysuit, We left our house at around 10:30hrs and made the trek to Dain City Ontario just outside of Welland, Ontairo where we had surveyed a spot to dive under a steel bridge which ran over the old Welland Canal at Forks Road. We parked the car just off Forks Road and deployed the road cones we recently purchased to give us some working space and add an element of safety to kitting up around traffic. We also put together the large propane tank with the heater attached to it so that we may keep warm after the dive.
I had some difficulty doning my DUI CP200 drysuit with the military-issue long underwear and insulated work coveralls on. After fighting for a while I managed to get myself into the suit. I waited for Chuck to finish kitting up and we proceeded to the waters edge.
I was surprised that with the drysuit I could not feel the cold. As a barefoot adventurer I rarely wear shoes. I don’t’ even wear shoes or socks with the drysuit. As I got my Interspiro Aga mask placed properly on my head, and checked the hood seal to ensure a proper fit, I realised that I was unable to put on my fins. I waited for Chuck to complete his final pre-dive inspections and then flipped over face down in the water with one foot up in the air so he could attach each fin properly. After the attaching of each fin I received a pat on the bottom so I knew he had completed the fin attachment.
We headed into the depths to find this section of the canal had an unusual layout. It had a very shallow shelf which extended out a few meters then dropped down like a set of steps. At one point we noticed the “step” was held up by what appeared to be a large pile of wood strapped together with more wood. We have seen these kind of items before, but not in this exact mannor.
As we went along we saw very little debris in this area compared to the other areas of the canal we have explored. We did find a test-tube spinner unit with a couple of test-tubes still inside it, and a bicycle, but no shopping trolleys or anything unusual. I saw a large crayfish who was reddish brown in body and had blue claws. He was very docile – I assumed it was due to the cold temperature of the water. As we continued the dive we saw several sets of large wooden piles grouped together all over the bottom. Evidence of a previous bridge in this location perhaps. We also came across several more of the large wooden sprockets several meters in diameter.
The dive progressed very quickly and I was very surprised that I was not at all uncomfortable or cold in this frigid water with the drysuit.
We found a line reaching to the surface which was attached to a large international orange marker buoy. I tugged hard on the buoy to hope to catch our shore crew’s attention with it. Right after we found a nice road cone which I grabbed and we carried with us for the rest of the dive.
Crossing the channel again we found almost no debris fields, bicycles, shopping trolleys or other objects we normally found. The bottom had some unusual prints on it which looked like mouse tracks! We saw several large bass and even a good sized pike! The fish seemed very much more slower and more docile in the cold water than their usual skiddish demeanors.
We exited the water separately and made our way back to the car and doffed our equipment and tried to warm up as best we could, then packed up our gear and left the site just after 13:30hrs. Oddly when I was removing my drysuit, I ripped both wrist seals right out of their sockets, ring and all. It did not damage the rings, however I do question whether it was the cold acting on the suit, or I somehow installed the wrist seals incorrectly.
After the dive we went to a local coffee shop called Tim Hortons and found another team of divers there, some of which Tori and I knew from one of the scuba shops in Hamilton. We talked with them for a while and ended up assisting them in planning their next dive which would be at the East Main Street Bridge.
After leaving the Tim Hortons coffee shop we briefly met up with the other dive team at the East Main Street bridge to show them around and give them a little information about the site.
En-route home we discovered the slimy, encrusted road cone had a very peculiar odor to it which caused quite a bit of discomfort to us. I thought of taking the road cone to the local car pressure wash and blowing it clean.
Arriving at the pressure wash operation we spent quite a bit on trying to get the road cone clean, but it still was encrusted in aquatic algae and zebra mussels. We brought the cone home and left it outisde for the time being.
It was a great and exciting dive, however Chuck feels the water is too cold for him to explore in a wet suit and this may be his last dive of the season.