Diving the Georgian Bay Canada
If you love fresh water diving and not afraid of a little cold water, this is some of the world’s best diving, with crystal clear water, more wrecks and rocks, I mean (Big Rocks) than you can count or dive in a life time. The Georgian Bay is located in Ontario, Canada. For you boaters the coordinates at the main channel that separates the Bay from Lake Huron are 44.95N 80.63W. Precisely Cove Island, The Island is located within the Fathom Five National Marine Park at the North End of the Bruce Peninsula and the town of Tobermory. (See map)
The reason the waters are so crystal clear is due to some geological events about 4 billion years ago that deposited layers of granite, shale, limestone and sand then, cut out by glaciers leaving us a Bay of water concealing a rugged landscape that is very unique, and a hard bottom equals clear water. I am sure the Zebra Muscles help the visibility a bit, however the numbers appear to be relatively low compared to what I see from the Michigan side of the lake.
I remember diving Huron pre 90’s I would always call the Port Huron Water Treatment Plant for what they called a Turbidity Count and they would give us a number. I don’t remember what the number was but after a couple weeks of getting the count and then diving, I was able to know what the visibility was going to be before the dive. The first of the Zebra Muscles where found in Lake St. Clair in 1988 however we really didn’t notice the visibility difference in the water until about 1992.
Layers of rock are visible at the shore, in the sheer cliffs and protrude from the depths of the water forming the 30,000 islands within the bay. This beautiful but rugged landscape is the reason for so many shipwrecks concentrated in such a small geographical area. The lure of safe harbor from the quick temperament of Lake Huron meant the demise of many captains and their ships. The Bay is so large that it can create its own weather and currents, also quick to raise a nasty temper, sending many ships to the depths after slamming them into the concealed shoals and rock formations.
My Dive trip to the Georgian Bay took me to Tobermory on recommendation from my dive instructor back in the day. It was an August trip and I drove it from Detroit Michigan, with all my gear and anticipation in tow. It’s about a 150 mile trip from where I was in Michigan typically 3-31/2 hours but I took the scenic route and turned it into a 7 hour road trip. Taking I-94 north from Detroit into Port Huron Michigan, crossing over the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia Canada, and looking down on one of my favorite dive sites, I remember thinking; I would normally be in the water under this bridge if I wasn’t on my way to Tobermory. Usually my weekends where spent in front of the Thomas Edison Inn, Port Huron, Michigan diving a wreck called the “Trumble” in the middle of the St Clair River just south of the Bridge. Once in Canada I took 402 east to 21 north along the shore it was a nice, scenic drive through forests and National Parks with occasional glimpses of the great blue water of Lake Huron. My first stop was for lunch in Grand Bend, Canada.
Grand Bend is quaint little, touristy town on a river that dumps into Lake Huron. It has a number of small marinas, bars, shops, restaurants and a real popular beach. I have made the trip to Grand Bend several times before by boat from Lexington Michigan, after morning dives on the Sport or Regina another couple of favorite dive sites in Lake Huron. After a quick lunch of fresh Perch I continued the drive up 21 to 8 north on to the Bruce Peninsula merging onto 6 north into Tobermory. The Drive up 6 is very secluded lots of forest, deer, farms an occasional market and then you see a Golf Course and I remember thinking there is civilization out here and then a few more miles into down town, let me tell there is not much to this little town.
Tobermory is a very small Harbor town, the Harbor of Big Tub and there is nothing big about it. So there was no problem finding a dive shop, and I found the Divers Den an awesome little shop excellent service, several well maintained dive boats and very experienced staff. I booked my trip for the following morning a two tank dive that cost 70.00CD and scheduled to dive two wrecks the “Arabia” and the “Wetmore”. There are 22 Wrecks within the Fathom Five National Marine Park. I will briefly describe the wrecks I dove that weekend, my goal with this article is to raise your curiosity about the Marine Park and entice you to schedule your own experience in this wonderful, one of a kind Wreck Wonder Land.
The “Arabia” the first dive, sits in about a 105’ of water. It was built in 1853 and is about 130’ long, a wooden sailing cargo ship that sunk twice the last time a year after the first, arriving at its present location in 1883 after taking on water in heavy seas, (see Pic)
This Wreck will have proven to be the best and the most exciting dive of the two I make this weekend.
The second dive is the shipwreck “W. L. Wetmore”. Sailing up to this wrecks mooring buoy is really exciting. As you near the buoy you suddenly realize you can almost see the entire wreck from the surface and the Wetmore is about 190ft long and 30ft wide. This wreck in the crystal clear water appears to be under a magnifying glass and calls to the divers in blue silence so strongly, I sure most the divers on the boat including myself did not even here the dive briefing. This wooden steamship has great architecture and many of it original features except for the steam engine that was salvaged. (See Pic.)
Since my first trip to Tobermory I returned twice. I would love to describe the last two trips and dive sites however I strongly suggest you put this trip on your bucket list and see it for yourself. The best time of the year for this trip is in July or August and is perfect for the Junior Divers school vacation. The Fathom five Marine Park offers many dive site for all levels diving.