Manta Divers, July, 2012
I hope everyone has been managing in this hot and dry weather, but as divers, you all know that the best way to deal with these conditions is to get yourself to your favorite dive site and get below the thermocline! Favorite diving spots can be like old friends, but it is important to realize that there are many lakes and quarries in this area that could become your next favorite dive site. That is exactly what happened to us two weekends ago.
We were up in Three Lakes, WI prepping for our Search and Recovery course and some fun dives as well. We had planned to get a spot a the Franklin Lake campground in the Nicolet National Forest. Due to the very clear water the small amount of motorized boat traffic, Franklin Lake has been a favorite of ours. The only thing that would make logistics a bit challenging for our group was that there were no spots available immediately next to the water, meaning that there would be a bit of hiking with gear each time we changed tanks. Mike and I decided that it was still doable, so it was off to the grocery store for supplies.
While waiting in line, a guy noticed Mike’s Manta Divers T-shirt and asked if he was diving up there. Mike explained our plans for the weekend and our new friend mentioned that he had a place on Butternut Lake had just done two dives that day. As we chatted, we asked about possible public entry points and this diver mentioned a resort on the lake that was closed, but the owner, who still lived in the house next to the resort, may be amenable to letting us dive from his lawn. We decided to check it out.
The Butternut Lake resort has a few camping spots and three cottages a flat lawn bordering the lake. Two piers are available for boaters. Upon our arrival, we noticed a lone fisherman and dog loading up for a day on the lake. We knocked on the door to the house and were greeted by Ray Porter, an elderly gentleman in suspenders. As we related the story of what had brought us to his resort, he seemed interested and agreed to allow us to park on the lawn next to the lake for a small fee and a promise to purchase a bag of ice.
That night, the Search and Recovery students learned how to tie several types of knots and then practiced them with gloves on to simulate underwater conditions. Mike explained the different search patterns they would be practicing and told them they would be searching for objects of varying size and recovering them with lift bags. Little did we know that the lake had plenty of recoverable items already in it!
Saturday morning we headed to Butternut, setting up on the lawn and soaking in the gently warming sunshine. While Mike briefed the specialty students, I suited up with my divers and we waded out into the clear water, obviously much less tannin stained than many of the lakes in the area. We dropped down and could not believe the easily 25ft visibility, myself wondering if search and recovery would be a challenge at all. We took a compass heading and swam out to explore.
On our way out we really got a kick out of the crayfish. At first they were very timid, scooting themselves backwards out of our path, but after a while they had a way of letting us know that we were unwelcome intruders in their world, standing their ground, snapping their claws at us! I guess it is no surprise that they didn’t like us. As they scooted to avoid us, they exposed themselves and it did not take long for the bass to see that gathering lunch just got a whole lot easier for them. As we swam, we started to find all kinds of stuff: several anchors, a fishing pole, a crank motor, and assorted motor parts. The bottom was sand and medium stones, so even if you touched the bottom, visibility returned in a few minutes. The lake gets deep farther from shore, but we were finding plenty of interesting sights in the 15-25ft depths. As the sight of divers piqued the interest of vacationers, in addition to the tasks set up by Mike, our search team got a job recovering an anchor for a fisherman. We returned on Sunday to finish our class and do a few more fun dives and were certainly sad to have to go back home.
It just goes to show that you never know what you’ll pick up at the grocery store. We are certainly thankful for the tip we got that helped us find another favorite diving spot. When you own your own diving gear, it is easy to take advantage of information about potential diving spots, but always be sure to check with local authorities regarding any regulations that deal with diving, and of course, tow a dive flag. Butternut Lake worked well for search and recovery and I am already formulating a plan to have an underwater photography class there. We hope to schedule another weekend up there later this season, so keep an eye on the calendar.
In Other News...........
Congratulations Martin Haugstad, Gabe Hatchett, Lloyd Spleas and Richard Gillmore, new Open Water Divers.
Congratulations to Josh Parker and Scott Duban who earned both Advanced Open Water and Search and Recovery Specialist certifications.
Congratulations to Partick Gazarkewicz on earning his Drysuit Diver specialty!
Registration for Lake Michigan dive ends July 31, so get signed up for a fun day of diving on two of Lake Michigan’s famous wrecks, The Prins Willem and the Dredge No. 6. The two-tank day of diving costs $110.
It may be hot and sunny right now, but remember that January can be quite dismal and cold, making it the perfect time to get away to the tropics. Get your reservation in on Manta Divers’ Bonaire trip Jan. 12-19, 2013. Reservation deadline, October 26, 2012.
Spots for the Cayman Brac trip, March 30-April 6, 2013, are going fast, so get your spot reserved soon in so you don’t miss out on a week of valet diving!