Trip Report: Tobermory, Aug. 6-7, 2022

Divemaster, Courtney Gibson.

Weather was perfect on Saturday, and we had a great morning shore dive and pair of afternoon boat dives. Skill level of the group is great — even the fairly inexperienced folks have been stellar — and good group chemistry. The Sunday afternoon group attended the shore dive with us on The Tugs, and then borrowed a float to do their own afternoon dive at Lighthouse Point. The rest of the group dove the Caroline Rose and the Grotto in the afternoon. The divers gathered for dinner together Saturday night. The divers: Alison Morley, David Gutierrez, Elizabeth Wooster, Harrison Jones, Ian Thompson, Lara Olivier, Martin Bonert, Ming Yang Yong, Osman Conger, Oswald Tang, Paul Kemp, Sidney Chong, Weiqi Liu.

Another very good day on Sunday. We only had one taker, David, for the shore dive Sunday morning, but he had a good time diving with Martin at Lighthouse Point. The boat dive in the afternoon was looking a bit uncertain, because of the weather, but we managed to just thread the needle on a thunderstorm, and got two dives in. We did the Niagara II, and then hauled quickly back to Lighthouse Point to do the Sweepstakes before the weather gave out on us, with a bit of a thunderstorm going through. The water temperature at the surface was close to 20 degrees C, approaching 9 degrees on the Niagara II at depth. With the cars all packed, a bunch of happy Blue North folks enjoyed some ice cream at the Sweet Shop.

Blue North photos of the weekend to come!

Photos and descriptions below are from DiversDen.ca

Day 1: Sat. Aug. 6 – Shore dive & two charter boat dives

More photos of The Tugs at http://www.diversden.ca/the-tugs/

The Tugs
Shore Dive
Depth: 10-40 ft
Sunk 1905-1947
“The Tugs” is a shallow shore dive site, home to 4 shipwrecks, known as the Alice G, John & Alex, Robert K and the Unidentified.
– On December 8, 1927, the Alice G was forced out of Little Tub harbour by gale force winds. Before the crew managed to fire up the engine, the tugboat rammed against the rocky shoreline outside the harbour. The Alice G is the most intact of the Tugs as the stern fantail deck is complete with its railing. The steam engine, boiler, drive shaft and propeller are still located on the wreck. The smoke stack lies under the starboard side.
– On December 6, 1947, the John & Alex caught fire in the harbour, putting other boats in danger. It was towed out into the bay to ultimately drift back to shore.
– The Robert K met a similar fate on June 23, 1935.
– Not much is known about the “unidentified” wreck; it is believed to have sunk in 1905.

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More photos of the Caroline Rose at http://www.diversden.ca/caroline-rose/

Caroline Rose
Aboard Diver Dens’ charter boat, Bruce Isles
Depth: 55 ft
Length: 132 ft
Built 1940 – Sunk 1999

The Caroline Rose is the sister ship of the Blue Nose. Reaching a length of 40 meters (132 feet) this schooner was built in the yards of Canada’s most famous shipbuilding town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The ship was purchased in 1955 and brought to Owen Sound for use as a charter vessel. In 1990, The Caroline Rose was left unused and neglected in the Owen Sound harbour when she was bought by a group of divers and local business people. This group towed the ship to Driftwood Cove where she was sunk as a dive site in 1999. The exposure to strong storm surges dragged the wreck into shallower water. The wreck of the Caroline Rose is at the mouth of Driftwood Cove. The ship is bottomed out at 16 meters (55 feet) below its mooring buoy. Divers can see the large propeller, driveshaft and rudder. The port side railings were also still intact.

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The Grotto
Aboard Diver Dens’ charter boat, Bruce Isles
Depth: 20 ft
The Grotto was carved out of the limestone cliffs by waves pounding the coastline over thousands of years. It’s a cavern-type dive, a little different from the classic shipwrecks of Toby. The site is roughly 6 meters (20 feet) deep and there are many interesting rock formations and fish. The cave itself is stunning, with sunlight seeping through from the outside revealing a large underwater cavern of turquoise water and swim-throughs.

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Day 2: Sunday, Aug. 7 – Shore dive & two charter boat dives

Lighthouse Point
Shore Dive
Max. Depth: 75 ft
The lighthouse was constructed in 1885 as a means to guide ships into the harbour from the sometimes-precarious waters of Lake Huron. Even today, the red light still acts as a beacon guiding ships through powerful currents, frequent fogs and numerous shoals to the safety of Big Tub Harbour. The Lighthouse is a wall dive — down to a depth of 23 meters (75 feet). This bouldery site is a beautiful spot to seek out small creatures such as crayfish and the round goby. 

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More photos of the Niagara II at http://www.diversden.ca/niagara-ii/

Niagara II
Aboard Diver Dens’ charter boat, Deep Obsession
Max. Depth: 100 ft
Length: 182 ft
Built 1930 – Sunk 1999

The Niagara II was built in 1930 as a 182 foot steel freighter and later in life, converted to a sand sucker. In 1998, the Tobermory Maritime Association was formed with the objective of obtaining and sinking a new wreck to enhance the diving opportunity in Tobermory. After an extensive search, the perfect ship was found – the Niagara II. This exciting wreck was sunk in May 1999 and offers a wonderful diving experience for all levels of certification. The Niagara II lies perfectly upright in approximately 100 feet of Georgian Bay’s crystal clear water, just east of Little Cove. The top of her wheelhouse is at a depth of 45 feet, and both the bow and stern decks lie in the 65 ft range.

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More photos of the Sweepstakes at http://www.diversden.ca/sweepstakes-2/

Sweepstakes
Aboard Diver Dens’ charter boat, Deep Obsession
Depth: 20 ft
Length: 119 ft
Built 1867 – Sunk 1885

Damaged off Cove Island in August 1885, the Sweepstakes was then towed to the head of Big Tub Harbour, in Tobermory Ontario, by a tugboat known as Jessie. The schooner suffered serious damage and was not repaired in time, causing it to sink in September 1885. Sweepstakes was transporting coal and the coal was retrieved after the boat sank.

While a small portion of the stern deck has collapsed, most of the hull, deck, centreboard, windlass and some of the railing is still intact and in place. The hold can easily and safely be accessed, however, Parks Canada has installed barricades to prevent divers swimming under the deck to avoid damaging this fragile wreck. She’s an excellent wreck where the water conditions are always a little calmer and warmer than most other sites. The wreck is in shallow, clear and protected water.