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Scuba diving Lake Huron, the Great Lakes, USA / Canada
Dive Site: SS Wexford
Location: Lake Huron, Great Lakes, Ontario (43°20.434'N 082°26.787'W)
Description: Steamer wreck
Length: 76 metres (250 feet)
Depth: 25 metres max (75 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
Built in Sunderland, England in 1883, this 250' steamer foundered in the Great Storm of 1913. After five years of trade with Argentina and a period of ownership under a French company, she was bought by a Canadian company in 1903 and crossed the Atlantic to her new home. She was seen to have great potential for package freight and grain on the Great Lakes.
Following a re-fit at the Collingwood shipyards in Ontario, she began making routine local trips from Thunder Bay (now Fort William) to Goderich, Ontario with grain as her main cargo. Reports from her fateful day in the 'Freshwater Fury' of 1913 vary, but a great deal of interesting information can be found at http://www.shipwreckwexford.ca/. All lives aboard were lost, some 17 in total.
She now sits upright on the muddy bottom of Lake Huron about 9 miles offshore from St. Joseph, equidistant from the Villages of Bayfield and Grand Bend, Ontario. The site is now permanently marked with a large mooring buoy, provided in cooperation with Canadian Coastguard, who monitor the site and encourage low impact diving that does not harm the wreck site in any way.
This was my first Great Lakes dive and after three years in Fiji was my first for a while in cold water. Although it was an overcast day the water was like glass and we traveled out to the site on a small fiberglass skiff chartered from Ken's Dive Locker in London, Ontario and launched from Grand Bend. Ken easily located the marker buoy and we jumped in to reasonably warm surface water.
Temperatures on the wreck were markedly colder and after tooling about for no more than about twenty minutes, with my computer reading 8 degrees and the cold seeping into my semi-dry, I headed back for the surface to warm up for a bit before splashing back in again. This is a fun dive. Sitting upright and intact makes navigation a piece of cake and the open nature of the structure make for some interesting exploring.
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