This past weekend a couple members of the Aquatic Adventures Dive Club volunteered to install a few mooring balls on the two wreck of F.H. Prince and the City of Concord on Lake Erie.
MAST, the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team is a nonprofit avocational group dedicated to the documentation of Ohio’s underwater historic resources. Formed in March of 2000, MAST is composed of volunteer individuals who support and participate in research, documentation, underwater archaeological surveys, and educational workshops (www.ohiomast.org).
At the beginning of every season, volunteers for M.A.S.T. go out and install mooring balls on the most popular wrecks in the western basin of Lake Erie. This year we were able to get them in earlier than ever before. In all there are a total of around twelve buoys that get placed. We were tasked with placing the buoys on the F. H Prince and the City of Concord.
We met up at at Ala Carte Cafe in Port Clinton at 8:00 am to plan the dives for the day and then headed off to the dock to prepare the mooring balls and our gear.
It took about an hour to get out to the wreck of the City of Concord, it is located south east of Kelly's Island and about five miles off the shore. When we arrived this wind was only blowing at about five miles an hour and we had excellent conditions. We were just going off of GPS coordinates to find the location, which turned out to be right on the spot. When we arrived at the site we dropped a buoy with a line at the location that we would use to start a search pattern if we couldn't find the wreck.
We geared up and back rolled off the boat and headed down the wreck. We had about three to eight feet of visibility. To our amazement we dropped right the edge of the wreck, and in fact the line that leads to the concrete anchor for the mooring ball was right in front of us. After we located the chain I shot a lift bag up to Tim on the surface and he attached the line with the mooring ball on it. We pulled the line down and attached it to the chain on the concrete block. It was a short dive at 26 minutes at 46' with a bottom temperature of 45 degrees.
After successfully installing the mooring ball on the City of Concord we head to the east side of Kelly's Island to install the two remaining mooring balls on the F.H. Prince. It is a rather shallow wreck in sixteen feet of water.
When we arrived at the site we were surprised to see that most of the wreck was actually visible from the surface and we could see all of the down line as well. So we knew that visibility had to be greater than sixteen feet. John and I geared up and back rolled in again and after the last dive this was pretty amazing, twenty to thirty feet of visibility and five degrees warmer at 50 degrees.
Visibility was so much better on the F.H. Prince we easily made our way to the engine shaft and installed the chain for the mooring ball, then headed back to pick up the mooring ball from Tim on the boat.
After we secured the buoy on the chain, we then headed west to the concrete anchor off the bow of the wreck.
After we installed the main mooring ball, we spent another twenty to thirty minutes just checking out the wreck. It was a nice dive with a max depth of 16' for 46 minutes with the water at 50 degrees. This would be a great wreck to start off on if you have never dove in Lake Erie before, it was shallow, warm, and not to far from port.
If you are interested in volunteering with M.A.S.T., they hold training once a year in the spring that you can participate in. Once you are certified you can participate int he M.A.S.T. dives they hold during the summer months. Aquatic Adventures Ohio also offers a wreck diving class that would get you prepared for diving on these wrecks. Check out their schedule of classes for more details.