Friday, 22 August 2014


The last long weekend my dive buddy and I had the pleasure of joining in on the Tobermory charter with our other Ajax Scuba Club members.

I have never seen waters so clean and clear, or expected to see fresh water in Ontario look so blue.  Just stunning.  The other thing that divers will be stunned at?  The water temperature.
Warmest temperature recorded on my computer; 55°F, 12.7°C , coldest?  A mind numbing, reg freezing, icicles on my fingers; 42°F, 5.5°C

San Jacinto
Depth 80F, 24.5M.

She’s quite a way out off of Yeo Island, and was not discovered to 1989.  She was wrecked – with no lives lost on June 20, 1881.  

This large wooden schooner is split wide open but still has many artifacts intact.  

We were able to clearly identify massive dead-eye rigging some intact and some just left off the bow resting on the lake bed with part of the railing.  One of our divers (Derrick) who ventured the entire length of the ship recorded a temperature of 38°F/3°C. 

City of Cleveland

Depth 40F, 12.2M
The City of Cleveland is a ‘easy dive’.  Great light pouring in from the sun the wreck can be seen from the surface and lies in less than 40F/12M of water.  She’s a twin-decked, four-masted, wooden steamer.  

Completely broken up.  Great photo opt for divers have to be the two large boilers or the rudder and massive propeller.  She sank on September 15, 1901 in a snow storm when she ran aground.  No lives were lost

.DAY 2
The Niagara II
Depth 48 to 89F, 14 to 27

As the Captain warned us, this is the coldest water diving (next to ice diving) that you will ever do…
The Niagara II was scuttled on May 15, 1999, for the express purpose of creating a new dive site.  It is not recommended for penetration unless you are trained for wrecks, have the proper equipment and have planned and prepared.  Even then our Captain warned against it due to the heavy slit that now fills every room.  This 180F long freighter and sand dredge has ‘many’ new sites on it – you will find a bicycle, and a sea-doo.  This ship is intact and upright, but it’s very important to keep an eye on your air, and your depth.  Even with full sun, the site is a bit gloomy due to its location next to a rock wall.  The Captain also warned of these dive hazards; free flow, and cold temperatures.

The Caves / Grotto
Depth 70F, 21M to surface
Parked off the cost of what the Captain calls Bikini bay we are met with people launching themselves off the cliffs.  
Captain explains the dive plan.  Drop below the boat – the sand is at 70F/21M you don’t have to go all the way down, watch your computer and stay around 40F/12M, if you kick hard, in 25 strong fin kicks you will start to see the formations of the island.  Follow it up and in-between two large boulders you will see and opening.  Swim in and up 15F/4.5M and you will surface into a cave.  This cave will have lots of screaming children, and members of the public asking you where you came from and how you can breathe underwater. (The jokes continue from the Captain here) 
Most important things to remember; once you start the assent to the cave opening, get in as fast as possible.  There are cliff jumpers and we don’t want an accident.  
On your way back to the boat, watch your depth, two boat lengths away and there is a 500F drop off, if you get below 79F/21M, surface slowly, completing your safety stop and look for the boat.

The best part for me (at the Grottos) was sharing a moment with a family of Divers, Mark & Jane, and their son Thomas.

 I found a Cray fish and it swam from my hand to theirs – and they captured it on the GoPro.  I just love seeing families diving together.

Depth 40F, 13M
Few of our Ajax Scuba Club members had fun checking out the amazing shore dives.   Within walking distance of the shore you can start to see remnants of four small steam tugs (Alice G, Robert K, John & Alex, and the Bob Foote) .  Also suitable for snorkeling, it’s a great place to come out if you have an extra day, or air left in your tanks from your charter.  You’ll find free parking and a washroom here.  Ensure you have a dive flag visible at all times and stay with the marked diving areas. *** Site plan maps are available at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre.

Ajax Scuba Club had the pleasure of diving with a charter booked out of The Divers Den.  Our charter boat, piloted by Captain Jason was roomy and perfect for the twelve of us.  Captain Jason was constantly 
Captain Jason
feeding us facts, jokes, and cookies. He has inside knowledge of the wrecks we dived on, and shares a passion for diving like we all do.  It made a great dive weekend – a fantastic weekend.

You have to love it when, on the rare occasion you have the perfect dive.  Great Location, fantastic conditions, and outstanding charter staff.  It might be a Captain, or  Dive Master, or even a buddy that has inside knowledge, that makes  your dive that much better.  I can usually tell from the dive briefing when a good dive is about be to a great dive.
I was right – they were all great dives.
On tropical charters you might expect an orange slice after your dive, here in Tobermory expect the real Canadian deal; Maple leaf cookies.

Thank you Captain Jason of The Divers Den, our fearless leader and Dive Master Colin and the rest of the Ajax crew that made this trip one we looking forward to repeating.

Personal notes;
1.       Plan the dive, dive the plan – never dive outside your training or comfort limits.
  •     It’s required that you register with the Fathom Five National Marine Park as a certified diver and obtain your marine park pass.
      •      Weekend pass is $9, and you get a paper wrist band – go for the season pass for $19 and get a cool medallion souvenir for your BCD.
  •       Always book your camping/hotel prior to the Dive season opening.   Tobermory is Very popular.
  •     You CAN NOT dive these sites without the proper exposure suit and equipment. ***
      •      I tried to wear 3mil gloves on the first dive and I had to cut my dive short because of the pain. (Thank you Chantel for lending me her warmer gloves)
      •     Many of the wrecks require a torch to look inside, or underneath
  •     Know proper free flow procedures and how to deal with them. 
  •     Discuss emergency and dive abort procedures with your buddy.
  •     Bring a warm sweater or jacket and a beanie for pre/post dive time on the charter – did I mention that Tobermory was cold?

Helpful Links;


  1. Wonderfully written story of your Tobermory diving adventures. I really enjoyed seeing the photo's, especially of the shipwrecks! I've been going & visiting that town & area for 50 yrs, and altho I've taken many a boat tour over the wrecks, this is the first time I've seen them from this perspective. Thanks for sharing! Brigitte

  2. Good job, Patricia..very informative and well written article.