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Scuba diving Lake Huron, the Great Lakes, USA / Canada
Dive Site: M E Tremble, Ben Hur & Lighter
Location: St Clair River, Lake Huron, Great Lakes, Michigan (42°59.640'N, 82°25.578'W)
Description: Wooden schooner wreck
Length: 60 metres (200 feet)
Depth: 22 metres max (65 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
On the American side of the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan just south of the Blue Water Bridge lies a trio of wrecks, linked by a calamitous series of events and lying in about 70 feet of water. There is a large red channel marker on the shore next to a parking lot by the riverfront and if you walk up to the railings you will usually spot recreational dive flags in the water and deck chairs with reclining, semi-suited folks close by.
A salty old dog by the name of Jim has made these wrecks his own in quite incredible fashion over the years and is considered The Authority. A briefing from him is almost a must and some advice is absolutely necessary. This is an advanced dive and should not be undertaken without some basic pointers at the very least.
The Tremble is a 200' wooden schooner that was involved in a collision whilst loaded with coal and under tow in late 1890. She was on her way upstream when she was struck by a southbound steamer and sank with the loss of one life. A tug called Ben Hur was tasked with salvaging the Tremble but whilst moored up alongside she was struck in the side by yet another boat, which tore a hole in the side of the Ben Hur and caused her to sink very quickly, taking down a small cable tender vessel in the process.
My buddy and I suited up and, with our fins on, clambered over the railing and paused briefly to compose ourselves for the dive ahead and for photographs with some visiting Canadian tourists and their children! With regulators in and BCs deflated we plunged into the torrent some ten feet below the promenade. Immediately flushed downstream we finned to the river bed and clinging on to anything within reach we pulled ourselves down to a clay ledge jutting out in to the current. At this point we had been advised to just go for it. So we did: WOW! It was only when I nearly crashed into the side of the Tremble and managed to flip myself over the top and into an eddy that I realized how hard I was breathing. The first few minutes of the dive were intense to say the least but once on the wreck, despite the obvious signs of strong current, it was relatively easy to explore.
Fish buzz about all over the Tremble, in and out of the current and for a few moments it can be a serene scene. But stick your head over the top of the wreck and chaos will ensue if you're not careful in making sure that your mask and regulator are firmly in place. Following Tim's lines we traversed across and away from the wreck, briefly pausing to see the cable tender and skirting over the top of the broken up Ben Hur, up to the sea wall and out on to the promenade via a fairly exposed ladder about the same distance downstream from the wrecks as we had started upstream. I've had some long, relaxing dives in my time and this was not one of them. Insane diving.
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