IVS invades the Great White North – again!

With the recent memory of the Philadelphia Flyers man-handling of the Montreal Canadians, what better time for  a border incursion than now?  Team IVS took advantage of the distraction to insert eight of our team members into the home of the second best team in the Eastern Division.  Mike Parzynski, Rich Peterson. John Glodowski, Kris Gosling, Roger Patton, Joyce & Charles Kichman, and I headed northward to dive some of the deeper wrecks in the St. Lawrence and complete some technical training for the team.

Our mission is to complete 7 dives over the next two days, ranging from 90 to 180 ft in depth.  All dives will be made wearing doubles and multiple deco bottles, along with drysuits, and the plans are for staged decompression all weekend long.  The team is ready and all academics have been completed so it’s finally time to get wet!

The truck is loaded, 14 sets of double 100’s, fourteen 40 cu. ft. stage bottles, and all the technical paraphernalia that goes along with that.  Plus clothing and everything else that we need for a weekend in the Great White North.  Rich headed up with John, Kris & Roger went up earlier today, and Mike, myself and the Kichman’s rode up in the truck Friday evening.  The ride was uneventful, and the border crossing was strangely quiet, almost surreal.  Our passports were swiped, and after some good banter with the border guards about how the hockey season in America was still going on after the Canadian teams have hung up their skates, we were in!

Five minutes later we pulled into Caigers, our home base for the operation.  We’ve been coming here for years and it was always nice, but dated.  Well this past winter Mark the owner made some serious investments in time and dollars (well OK, they’re Canadian dollars) and renovated the rooms and the lodge, adding a brand new bar & lounge upstairs overlooking the river.  We got there and the parking lot was absolutely jammed, and the music and laughter coming from above led us to the bar.  We got in and found the rest of the gang who had arrived earlier, and Mark introduced us to his new partner.  Let’s just say we were impressed with all we saw, and how popular it was with the local crowd!  Smart business move on their part, and we’re glad to be here.

We got up Saturday morning to a bright and clear day on the river.  Wayne Green, owner of Thousand Island Pleasure Diving, met us and introduced us to our crew for the day.  Being the only charter of the day got us on the biggest fastest boat, and with all our tanks and gear, we were happy about that!  Everyone had a nice chance to enjoy a relaxed breakfast, a nice change from the usual hectic morning routine on many of our trips.  We set up and finally headed out to our first location, the  Kinghorn, an old wooden freighter that sits at 90 ft in Canadian waters.  We splashed and enjoyed a nice warm up dive here, with decent viz, water temps in the mid 60’s,  and manageable current at depth.  This is a nice wreck, sitting fairly intact and upright, the damage to the bow obvious where it hit the shoals.  Locals have decorated it with an array of misc bottles and lawn ornaments, making it a unique dive experience for sure.  We had a 30 minute run time here, no need to get any more nitrogen in our tissues than necessary cause we had plenty of that scheduled for later today!

After that we headed over to Boldt Island, where US Customs and Immigration have a point of entry located.  A very pretty place, the island is home to a huge fanciful castle built in the 1800’s.  As we pull up to the dock we enjoy watching the river traffic, including a number of beautifully restored old Chris Craft boats from the mid 20th century era.  Amazingly, America lets us in, and after matching up our smiling mugs with our passports, they give us the big virtual green light to go forth and play.  Back onto the boat we pile, and our next stop is the Keystorm, a steel-hulled freighter that met it’s demise when it veered off course and raked it’s bow across the unforgiving rocks in the shallows.  The depth here is 118 ft at the stern while the bow sits in 20 ft of water, so you get a sense of how dramatic the drop-offs are on the river bottom.  This is a nice wreck for penetration and everyone enjoys a good dive here, under the constant watchful eye of the millions of Belgian Gobies that cover the bottom of the river.  Another half hour here and it’s time to get some lunch!  We motor over to Alexandria Bay, and tie up at the public dock.  There’s a  great barbecue place here on the water, so we walk over and have a great lunch while we de-gas.  Finally it’s time to re-board and move onto our first real deep wreck of the weekend, the Vickery, a three masted schooner that hit the rocks trying to enter port at night on the US side.  The bow sits in in 40 feet of water, while the tops of the masts and the crows nests are angled downward towards the center of the river, allowing us to get to 145 feet of depth before we run out of ship.  This is a good wreck to drop the stage bottles on the deck before we hit the deeper parts and everyone does great in that regard.

The plan now is to head back and re-visit the Kinghorn but we opt to return to the dock and consider coming back out later to make that a night dive.   Unfortunately, when we get back to the dock, there is some a bit of a problem, and due to some unforeseen circumstances, I need to head back to Harleysville, putting a bit of a damper on the rest of the weekend.  So we modify our plans, and I pack up and get on down the road.

Well it turns out that I didn’t miss much as Sunday morning dawned dark & crappy, pouring cold rain down on our divers.  The temperature had dropped about 30 degrees overnight and the morning dives were not quite as enjoyable as the previous days were.  It’s tough when you need to go back to the room to change your drysuit undergarments before the dive, and they ended up suiting up in the rooms before coming back out and boarding the boat.  Some of the team decided to call it after the first sodden dive, and finally only the hardiest remained, with Roger and Kris completing some nice deeper wall dives and exploring an unidentified barge on the Canadian side.

We’ll be back in August to pick up where we left off and get our deeper dives in!

More to come……..


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