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For the third year running my daughter and I have had a couple of days free-diving on the shipwrecks of Tobermory, in Fathom Five National Marine Park, Lake Huron, Canada. The picture above shows her examining a wooden element from a wreck in 5 metres depth at 'The Tugs' site, also shown in the gallery below. The first three pictures show the Alice G, one of the best-preserved of the 22 known wrecks in the Park. I blogged about that wreck here following our 2013 dives at the site. The other photos are from two other wrecks close by, the Robert K and the John and Alex. The timbers from all of these wrecks are exceptionally well-preserved in the cold, fresh waters of the lake.
On the day following our shore dive at the Tugs site we did an excellent two-dive boat trip on board Deep Obsession from Diver's Den, one of two dive operators in Tobermory. Our first site off Cove Island to the north of Tobermory was the Charles P. Minch, a three-masted schooner built in Ohio in 1867 and wrecked in Tecumseh Cove off the island in 1898 while carrying a cargo of timber. Her remains lie in 8 to 15 metres and make an excellent site for free-diving. You can see further pictures of the wreck, from our 2014 dive, here.
From the Minch we motored back towards Tobermory to Big Tub Harbour to dive on the Sweepstakes, one of the best-preserved 19th century Great Lakes schooner wrecks - as you can see from the pictures below, the windlass, forward deck planking, bow structure and much else remains largely intact from when the ship sank in 1885 in only 7 metres of water. She is probably the most visited wreck in the Park, with recent years seeing a big increase in the number of snorkel and diving trips to her during the summer. Some of the efforts made to protect the wreck from damage caused by divers can be seen here, including the wire grates below the deck openings to prevent penetration inside the hull.
From the Sweepstakes it's a short swim to the City of Grand Rapids, a wooden steamer sunk in 1907 in even shallower water, with parts of the upper structure only a metre or so deep. In the slightly warmer water of the shallows and with more sunlight, it has more life on it than most of the Tobermory wrecks - the nearest to an octopus's (well, crayfish) garden that you'll see. The wreck is subject to damage from snorkelers pulling themselves along the shallow timber frames as well as from the thick ice that covers both of these wrecks during the winter months. I've included a few more pictures in this gallery because the City is less often photographed, yet is a very pretty site.
We look forward to more free-diving in the Great Lakes next year!