An Unconventional Dive

By Seahorse

The students come back this week and so I this was my last vacation dive day. To make the most of it, Bill, a buddy from WPB,FL, and I decided to do an unconventional dive the in the St. Lawrence River. Bill actually prefers to dive here in the summers rather than in Fl. Go figure.

We dropped Bill's girlfriend and her friend, Janine, at the Conestoga, a late 1800's wreck, a steam powered freighter, sunk in 23 feet of water near Cardinal, Ontario. We left Bill's car with the girls where they were going to dive the Conestoga. We drove my car upstream to the old Galop canal locks, probably 3/4 of a mile upstream. This stretch of the St. Lawrence was heavy rapids in the 1800's and these old locks and canals have been abandoned but we decided to see what might be there. Bill had done this once a year ago so it was not a totally new experience but it was for me and not many do this. The canal is not deep, max of 16 ft, but there is a rippin current. There is also an old barge sunk about 1/3 of the way into the canal. We parked, suited up in 3mil, and walked about 400 yards upstream to the upstream entrance of the canal. Bill is in his 60's and he was leading the charge. Hats off to you, Bill. The canal stone walls are about twenty feet high with about 6 ft out of the water. Big giant stride. Current so swift there was no surface ok, just down, swept along the thru the 3foot high grass. A few old bottles and some nice walleye later we were at the sunken barge. Really ripped up from the years of ice grinding it in winter. Had to be very careful because of all the rusty spikes and bolts and jagged edges. Not much current among the debris, thank God. After about 10 minutes back into the maelstrom. Left the edge of the wreck and right onto the roller coaster, no going back. Into the locks now. The floor of the lock was only 12 ft deep but was constructed of timber from one side to the other, probably 30 feet wide and 1/4 of a mile long. Very hugh bolts and nuts secured the timber to something beneath it. Bill saw a bottle and stopped to grab it and I wanted to stay with him so I grabbed an old truck tire that I was flying over and I and the tire continued to slide down the lock. The end of the lock was soon passed but we were still in the canal being swept along. Suddenly we stopped and were being swept back upstream. We had gotten caught in a reverse current along the east wall of the canal. Kept going thru the grass till we were suddenly flushed thru a hole in the wall of the canal over a lip where the bottom dropped and into the river. Sticky clay bottom here for a short while then over the gravel bottom. Kept our depth at 23 ft. A large sheepshead acted as if he had never seen a diver and Bill was even able to grab his tail. Scooooooot. A little while later there were Carol and Janine swimming along. Greetings and Bill handed Janine a souvenire gift, the old small Coke bottle he had grabbed in the canal. Bill and I kept going for the Conestoga. Found it within a couple minutes. Did the usual tour thru the wreck and a kip over the stern to look at the giant propellors. The viz was so good that I saw the rudder and steering assembly lying astern of the old ship for the first time even though I have dived this wreck probably 10 times. A short swim on the starboard side upstream to a place to climb out onto the river bank.

Not a story of hair raising encounters with sharks but a great way to end the summer. Max dept 23 ft, time u/w 43min, viz max of 30 in river, 10 in the canal.

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