So the week before I went down to Beaver Lake with my shop for a class. We had 7 OW students and another instructor had 2 rescue divers. The lake was the worst vis I had seen yet. We did find one cove that has spring feeding that was the clearest, but we were still forced to do everything one on one rather than in groups. We got through everything and fortunately everyone on that trip turned out to be pretty good or it could have been a mess. We had clearance troubles here or something else there as would be expected but overall there weren’t any real problems over the whole weekend.
I was kind of concerned with having a 12 year old OW student on the trip with these conditions but he turned out to be quite the trooper and got in and got things done. Those who actually know me know that I don’t really relate well with the younger kids but I have to say this one was a pleasure to have around.
Anyway, this blog is about going to Mermet Springs. I had to share the weekend before experience before I could really share this one. I figured that all the reservoirs and lakes and pretty much anything fresh water was going to be the muck diving episode all over again. A buddy I had met was going to Mermet Springs to meet up with a buddy of his who is an instructor out in Quincy, Illinois. I had seen information on the springs before and had it on my "gonna check it out" list anyway so sure, great time to go. I figured a closed system quarry that only gets runoff from it’s own property would be much clearer than anything with running water.
I was right. They had gotten some rain and the waters were a bit murky, but compared to the open reservoirs I had dived the week before, this was Cayman Brac... haha It had total silt out areas, but drop down and clarity opened up tremendously. And they definitely have a lot of stuff in the water to see. Very nice set up. You can surface over to drop lines... You can navigate if you like... or you can take the cave lines from item to item if you like. Great set up for all levels of divers. It started getting pretty chilly at the 30’ mark, but that’s where visibility really started to open up. Down at 50 and 60’ it was great clarity, probably 25-30 feet easily before classes came through and silted the place up. But even then, the silt settled pretty quickly and you were back to being able to see pretty well again.
We went on Friday night to get a few dives in and only wound up getting one in as a storm moved in with active ground lightning hitting all around us during our surface interval. So we went and got a steak instead and then headed back to the hotel in Metropolis.... Yep, that’s right... Metropolis.... All with the whole Superman statue and everything.
The next morning we headed out and got a couple of dives in before Rob’s shop arrived. Rob Tipton and Naomi were absolutely great people. He runs Scuba Adventures out of Quincy, Illinois if anyone out that way was looking for a shop for cert or maybe some continuing education training. Ok, enough of the commercial.
We started Saturday figuring we should hit deep early and then play as we like later. So we started toward the 85’ platform. There were two bouys with down lines and they were connected about every 10’ with cross bars, kind of like a ladder. This was a great way of doing downlines to a deep platform. We found it was quite chilly down there... but sadly I have to report that my depth guage only read 83’ while resting on the 85’ platform. That started a few good jokes later. We headed over to the wall and chilled with a couple of cross patterns, finally coming up around the deep dock for a surface interval.
The next dive we took the course we had planned for our next dive on Friday night before the storm chased us away. We chose to do the caveline routes and went down to the traincar at around 60 feet and found a torpedo next to it that was pretty cool. Then we headed up the next short caveline to the nose of the 727 they have in the lake. This is the 727 from the movie "US Marshals." Was pretty cool, literally. They put a thermometer on a lot of stuff and the one in the cockpit was reading about 54 degrees. We went in and followed the fuselage up gently to an exit around 20’. We followed lines down to an ambulance and fire truck and then headed the upline to the school bus and motorcycle platform to off gas a bit. These are all around 15-18’ so were good for that purpose.
We explored around for the other dives. On our last dive we joined Rob and Naomi on their fun dive with the class. It was a surface out to the tail bouy for the plane. Down the outside of the plane, then over to the train car and back to the plane going up inside and following over to the ambulance and then up to the shallower uproute. You’d have to see a map of the place to see what I’m talking about. All kinds of routes going everywhere. They do have slate maps though you can hook onto your gear.
As for the place itself. I really liked how it was laid out on the surface side. It had areas with tables and such that were under cover where instructors could use as classrooms. Great setup. I wandered around a bit during surface intervals and met some really nice people. And the staff of the place. I had to take a moment on Sunday before we departed to go find Glen Faith, the owner of the place, and let him know how pleased I was with every single interaction with any of his staff. They were entirely helpful and always willing to go out of their way to get something done. And vigilant they were. Anytime there was anyone in the water you can be sure there were those turquois shirts roaming around and on the docks observing.
It’s a pretty small place, but one certainly worth a visit.