EAST COAST DIVE TOUR
2014

1,000 Islands,
St. Lawrence River
Brockville, Ontario, Canada
Trip Leaders: Jim Vafeas and Craig Morris

Friday, August 8 through Monday, August 11

Dive the Canadian Caribbean
Join us on our East Coast Dive Tour trip to the 1,000 Islands to dive the incredible wrecks of the St. Lawrence River. Visibility in these 70°+ waters can reach 60 feet this time of year, and the currents cause the lake to have no thermoclines – even to depths of 130ft – earning the name Canadian Caribbean. This trip is perfectly suited for all levels of divers.

The 1,000 Islands are as beautiful underwater as they are above water. The irregular bottom contour provides many shallow shoals that surprised unsuspecting ships, leaving them scattered about the lake bottom, but remain in excellent condition due to the freshwater. From paddlewheel steamers of the 1800’s to contemporary freighters, this river has them all awaiting us.

Sailing on "Queens" of the river …
We’ll be diving off spacious boats that feature large areas for gearing up, an enclosed cabins, wide, easy to board ladders, an indoor head and an upper deck for relaxing between dives on Saturday and Sunday.

 

During this trip, you’ll have the opportunity of diving some of the best and most unique wrecks in the area. These wreck sites include:

Conestoga -
 
On Friday afternoon upon arrival, we will be diving a new dive site - the wreck of the Conestoga.  The Conestoga was a 253 foot long steam freighter launched in 1868. She was tied up just outside of Lock 28 with 40,000 bushels of wheat when she caught fire on May 22, 1922. The cargo was salvaged but the boat was lost. She was towed to her current resting place in 28 feet of water, just a few yards from shore. The Conestoga is wonderfully intact and much of her internal machinery remains intact.  Circle the wreck multiple times for a great dive.
  See more photos of the Conestoga here and here
 
Video of the wreck of the Conestoga.

Robert A. Gaskin
 
The Gaskin was a double masted iron rigged wood barge built in Kingston Ontario in 1863. She is 113' x 26' and sits on a firm bottom with the bow at about 50' and the stern at 65'-70'. The Gaskin's upper deck is quite open allowing ample ambient light for easy penetration throughout the wreck.
  See more spectacular photos of the Gaskin.
 
Video of the wreck of the Gaskin from a promotional video.
 
Double tanks, drysuits and DPV's are not required to dive these wrecks.

Lillie Parsons
 
The Lillie Parsons is a unique center-board schooner that's 131 feet long.  On August 5th, 1877, while carrying a cargo of coal, she hit a rock and took on water as her cargo shifted during a squall. She sank next to Sparrow Island in only 40-60 feet of water.  A great dive with even greater drift!
  See more spectacular photos of the Lilly Parsons.
  Video of the wreck of the Lilly Parsons from a promotional video.
   Double tanks, drysuits and DPV's are not required to dive these wrecks.

Kingshorn
 
The Kingshorn is a largely intact wooden barge sitting upright in 90' of water. Divers love this wreck for it's great photo opportunities below deck and around the ships wheel.
  See more spectacular photos of the Kingshorn here.

Keystorm
 
The area's most popular wreck, the Keystorm was a 256' steel laker built in 1908 that went down in October, 1912 after it struck Scow Island's outer shoal. From swimming through it’s immense cargo holds, to the spectacular photo opportunities by the wheelhouse and prop, this wreck has something for everyone. She sits on its starboard side in 20' to 120' and is truly an unforgettable wreck.
  See more spectacular photos of the Keystorm.
 
Video of the wreck of the Keystorm from a promotional video.
  Double tanks, drysuits and DPV's are not required to dive these wrecks.

 On Monday, our Advanced dives will be on the wrecks of the A. E. Vickery and a Bottle Dive and Ash Island Barge:

A. E. Vickery
  This 136' long, triple-masted schooner went down in 1889 on a rocky shoal and has a maximum depth of 120' deep.  There is a windlass on the upper deck, along with what looks like a section of mast and several openings to the hold which can make for a fun swim through. Two of her masts lie on the bottom just forward of the stern on the starboard side, and her entire rudder appears intact.
   See more spectacular photos of the A.E.Vickery.

Bottle Dive and Ash Island Barge
 
Drifting along the Ash Island wall you can come across some great discarded personal affects from the residences above.  Intact bottles from the 1920s, pottery and more have been retrieved during this dive.  At the end of the dive you'll end up at the Ash Island Barge sitting in 125' feet.  The barge was scuttled while still carring stone cargo after the completion of the Ivy Lee bridge. Vessel is fairly intactand upright along the slope of Ash Island.  A wall and ascent line make this the easiest ascent / safety stop of the trip!
   Watch a video of the Ash Island Barge dive.

And during our surface intervals we’ll be once again BBQ-ing Hot Dogs, Cheeseburgers, Chicken or Sausages for your dining pleasure.
 


Diver on prop shaft of Conestoga


Illustration of
Robert A. Gaskin


The Lillie Parsons afloat


Illustration of the Kingshorn


Diver swimming by the
engine room of the Keystorm


The wreck of the Keystorm


Diver near the bow
of  the A.E. Vickory


Accommodations
We’ll be spending Friday through Sunday nights at the Brockville Comfort Inn located right off Route 401 in the center of Brockville. The Inn is located near all the area restaurants and features a Complimentary Continental Breakfast and free nightly popcorn. Yay!

Other activities…
We'll be doing morning charters which will bring us back to the dock early afternoon to allow plenty of time for sightseeing, shopping, tours and spending time with the non-divers who may have joined us on the trip.

+

= awesome eats!

Non-divers can take a City of the 1,000 Islands Cruise or visit the historic Boldt and Singer Castles.  There is the ever popular Brockville Rib Fest all weekend and the Poker Run on Saturday.  Plus there is a Dairy Queen minutes from our hotel.  There are lots of lighthouses to visit, or hit the mall in Brockville for some great deals due to the value of the American dollar in Canada.

 

ALL THE DETAILS...


Trip Dates: Friday, August 8 through Monday, August 11, 2014
Travel Time: 6½ - 7 hours.
Water Type: Freshwater - St. Lawrence River
Minimum
Experience
 Level:
Open Water with Enriched Air Nitrox Specialty, Wreck Diving Specialty, Deep Diving or other Wreck Diving experience.
Divers should be comfortable dealing with currents on the surface and on the downline.
Attractions:

Historical, pristine, fresh-water wrecks.

What we'll be doing: Up to 3 days of 2-tank boat diving.
Shore wreck dive on Friday afternoon.
Depths: Multilevel dives from 25 to 125 feet
Meeting Time and Place:

Friday afternoon at hotel - upon arrival

Other Activities Available:

City of 1,000 Islands cruises, tour of castles, sightseeing, shopping, museums, dining, fishing, and much more.

Special notes:

All our trip members must have a VALID Passport. or a U.S. Passport Card

Information on obtaining a Passport can be found at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.

Information on obtaining a Passport Card can be found at http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html.

Important: Trip requires a minimum of 16 divers signed up (with deposits) by Monday, July 1 to avoid cancellation. Trip limited to 20 divers maximum.
Cost: 3 Days cost per person based on double occupancy includes: 2 nights of accommodations, 2 days of 2-tank boat diving, an air fill after the Friday shore dive, Nitrox fills (32%) for remaining dives, BBQ during Surface Intervals, all taxes and gratuities. 3rd day includes extra night of accommodations, 2-tank boat dive & BBQ.

Video of Wrecks of Brockville

View a Slide-Show presentation from a past trip to this area
Video of the wreck of the Gaskin from a promotional video
Video of the wreck of the Lilly Parsons from a promotional video
Video of the wreck of the Kinghorn from a promotional video
Video of the wreck of the Keystorm from a promotional video

Note: Double tanks, drysuits and DPV's are not required to dive these wrecks.

Freshwater Wreck Adventures in the St. Lawrence's Thousand Islands
Skin Diver article By Famed Northeast Photographer Pete Nawrocky

1,000 Islands Trip
Article by Tiedemann's Diving Center member Tom Healy recapping our East Coast Dive Tour 2000 trip to Kingston and Brockville, Ontario Canada.