Great Lakes diving for beginners

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I personally witnessed a brand new reg free flow from a student in a class I assisted at the 80 ft platform (I can not recall exact depth) doing skills.
Being new is no guarantee of being properly tuned. I've seen plenty of new regs that needed some level of adjustment. I check, and adjust if necessary, all my new regs before using them.

I've used several different brands of regs for long exposures at technical depths in temps near freezing without issue. This also includes surface temps below freezing. Properly setup and maintained gear makes a big difference in performance.
All of which can and will have a thermocline.... I've been on Erie for nearly 30 years. The thermocline is usually in the 70-80 foot of depth, and despite 75-77 current record temperatures "up top", it can still be in the 30's under that...

Properly set up and maintained equipment, and proper procedures for diving that environment. That is what lets you dive another day.
Last time I dove in Lake Erie was a year ago: the algae green and very bad (5ft) viz water above the thermocline was 68F, thermocline was at 80ft and below that it was 41F. It was the usual jump into the refrigerator feeling of a Great Lakes thermocline lol.

The viz from 80ft down to 170ft in the clear cold water was 100ft judging from the length of the shipwreck. The St James is a stunner of a wreck with standing masts.
Forgive my ignorance but wouldn’t a reduced Intermediate Pressure increase the risk of a first stage freeze up as there is a greater pressure drop? Or is this something that there is such a small risk with a proper cold water first stage that a reduced chance of a second stage freeze up is worth it?
My Great Lakes dives this weekend:

Rotarian, 77ft, 48F - off Chicago
World War II Navy torpedo bomber, 36ft, 68F - off Chicago (I'll do a separate diving report on this)
Milwaukee Car Ferry, 117ft, 50F (my deepest dive to date) - off Milwaukee
Prins Willem V (Willie), 87ft, 50F - off Milwaukee

Of the "regular" wrecks, the Willie is the only OW (60ft or less) wreck, as her deck is just under 60ft. For the Milwaukee Car Ferry, AOW is required to dive this wreck. It's 130ft to the sand.

I can heartily recommend Capt. Jitka Hanakova of Shipwreck Explorers out of Milwaukee (her boat is the Molly V). The angle and spacing on the Molly V's fin on ladder is freakin' awesome and kind(er) to my bum knees than the other fin-on ladders I've dove on the Lakes. Jitka is extremely helpful! Boat is SM friendly, even for novices (I asked, but decided to dive my familiar single tank BM rig). I didn't dive my usual HP80s today and rented HP100s with 28% from my shop. Wanted more gas for a deep wreck. It was a wise choice. Jitka is very helpful and helps clipping on ponies, stage bottles, pulls stage/SM tanks up from the water where they are clipped to a line, helps on with dry gloves and fins, getting into your rig, etc. We had 1.5-2ft rollers today. I didn't want to take my tank off in the water as I'm afraid of losing my Perdix. As it was, I lost my camera ($140 Intova) on the car ferry.

Today was very hot and humid, at least on the way out to the first wreck. I've never climbed into a drysuit so quickly so I could jump in the water and cool off! Boat does have a collapsible canopy over the benches.

I live in the NW burbs of Chicago, which puts the Hammond, IN boat 1:00-1:30 hours away, and I'm about 1:30-2 hours (depending on traffic) from Milwaukee. It's a sweet spot for frequent wreck diving. Alpena/Thunder Bay are 8 hours away. The Straits of Mackinac and southern Lake Huron are both about 6-7 hours. More to Lake Superior. Toby is about 10 hours drive.

But now we're getting later in the season and weather will be very iffy. Last weekend, all the charters were blown out on Lake Michigan due to 6-8ft waves. Lake Huron had higher waves.

After diving the Willie today

Being new is no guarantee of being properly tuned. I've seen plenty of new regs that needed some level of adjustment. I check, and adjust if necessary, all my new regs before using them.

I'll take that a step further... Most new regs, out of the box, including those specified as "cold water regulators", are likely tuned to be just right in temperate to warm water. That way, they breath most easily, and the fact is, that's where the VAST majority of divers dive!

For those of us that like the chilly stuff, even a new reg should be checked and likely "de-tuned". In my experience, dropping the IP only 10 psi makes a huge difference and the difference in work of breathing is almost negligible.
I dive a BP/W. There are no shoulder clips to unclip.

You could add some if you want them.

One of the advantages of a BP/W is supposed to be that they are modular. Like many, I use a single, continuous piece of webbing. I have no problem getting in and out of my BC in the water, and do exactly that when diving from small boats. But I have better shoulder mobility than many people. If you want a release in one or both sides, you can add it.
Late season Great Lakes diving:

Did 6 dives last weekend, 4 on Lake Michigan. Water temps were high 60s down to about 80ft.

6 Lakes dives planned for this weekend. Air temp supposed to be around 45 or so at dawn. Very glad I’m diving dry again. :wink:

Two more weekends before the boats are pulled out. :(
Double Action had a very interesting announcement today - new and bigger boat out of Hammond, IN! :D Will hold 14-16 divers. Only 4 needed to run.
@Marie13 Thank you for the great thread!

I am in Metro Detroit, just finished my OW class and pool, headed to Grand Cayman to do my checkout dives in late April

My LDS is Rec Diving, they are down at Gilboa Quarry just about every weekend in the summer and do a few trips to Munising and Thunder Bay.

I grew up camping, swimming, snorkeling and fishing on Lake Huron, and that is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to get in to diving.

This thread is really helpful, it is much appreciated. Let me know if you come over to Huron this summer, I know an outfit that dives out of Port Sanilac or would drive up to Thunder Bay if we had a group!

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