A wonderful article by Steve Lewis on Diving the Bell Island Wrecks and the Iron Ore Mine! http://t.co/VkO1htl9A8
Kamikazes of the North
The Ocean Quest crew has been hot on the tail of a long-lost wreck: the Empire Ocean. Interesting anomalies on our magnetometer, inconclusive but intriguing side scan imagery, and local folklore put the wreck just north of Ferryland...in 240 feet of water! A dive of such a depth requires intense planning, which Ocean Quest is undertaking. In the meantime, Bill Flaherty, skipper of the MV Ocean Quest, has had his nose in the archives digging up what he can about this remarkable ship. Here's just a small part of his research.
Side Scan Sonar Images of The PLM-27 and Rose Castle
Now that the busy season is over, we at Ocean Quest finally got started on something we have wanted to do for months.
We've had in our possession a wonderful device from Starfish Seabed Imaging Systems. It's their 450f towfish side scan sonar, and it has been an absolute joy to use. Once you set up an interference-less power supply (ie: not from your boat's battery), it's a matter of plugging it in and dropping it in the water to get some great images. It's a little bit like a camera, in so far that you have to play with it a little to make sure you have everything in "focus" and in "frame" so to speak.
We first attempted to image the SS Rose Castle, the deepest of the wrecks. It sits in about 160 feet of water and it's about 110 feet to the deck. We chose this wreck to run the device through its paces, and it delivered!
Surprise Visitors on the MV Ocean Quest
This week, we have a couple of guests from Europe, one of which is visiting North America for the first time. Once their first day of diving on the Bell Island wrecks had been completed, they stumbled across a pod of Minke whales as they headed back into Foxtrap Marina. Their return, needless to say, was delayed so everyone could spend some time viewing these beautiful creatures.
The minke, while a smaller whale, is still an incredible sight, coming in at half the length of our MV Ocean Quest!
So while Hurricane Bill blew out the first day of diving, the ocean made up for it in a big way!
Dive Site Spotlight: The Clapper
Our first Dive Site Spotlight features one of Ocean Quest's favorites: The Clapper.
Named after the above surface rock formation that resembles a Bell's Clapper (there is a nearby site with a huge rock formation that we call the Bell), this site is on the south western end of Bell Island, just a short distance from the PLM-27 and Rose Castle sites.
Once you exit the boat to the site, you'll find yourself in 20 feet of water. Near the Clapper is the major draw for the site: the sea tunnel. This channel goes into Bell Island for over 200 feet, ending with a small chamber in which a diver can stand up. The channel provides a great swim through exposed strata, without providing an enclosed overhead environment and the surface is accessible at all points. It certainly gives the impression of cave diving, without all the training and risk. While it is shallow and safe, it is a tight squeeze and rough conditions may prevent entry.
Impromptu Newfoundland Hospitality
We really wish we could take credit for this... we do this kind of stuff with our guests all the time! But this is a story about ordinary Newfoundlanders showing a bit of their world renowned hospitality. Fortunately, this kind of stuff is so common, rarely does a visitor not have story like this.
Pierre and Nicole are from Quebec and are experienced divers. They have rebreathers and take their diving seriously. They finished up their diving tour of Newfoundland here at Ocean Quest, staying a few nights with us. This past Saturday, they skipped the boat charter in favor of taking part in one of the Newfoundland diver's favorite past-time: collecting scallops!
Dildo, Newfoundland is a hot spot for scallops, and everyone knows it. In fact, if you are diving off the wharf in Dildo, not a few fisherman will ask if you are going for scallops. And then they will promptly tell you where to go for them!
Pierre and Nicole picked a spot and noticed it was near private property. They asked a lady who resided there if it was okay to go for a dive. The woman gave a particularly Newfie response: "It's the ocean, we don't own it, of course you can go diving!"
She did, however, asked the couple to keep an eye out for a camera her friend had dropped in the water.
They didn't find the camera, but they found scallops aplenty. They soon discovered, however, that they weren't on the menu. When they had finished, they saw that the woman they had chatted with had cooked them up a feed of fish and chips!
As if that wasn't good enough, the rhubarb wine was broke out, a drink that thoroughly mystified the Quebecers. They had never seen such a thing, but it was certainly appreciated and enjoyed!
Eventually, more locals showed up, and a party was had, right there on the beach. They couldn't believe how warm, friendly, and accepting these people were. They were taken in as one of gang! Before it was all said and done, it was 9:00pm, much later than they had originally anticipated their return!
Pierre was beside himself while telling this story to us the next day. He simply couldn't believe how much fun he had and how unexpected it was. We were certainly not surprised, but no less happy that one of our guests got such a great taste of Newfoundland hospitality (and fish!)