Scuba Diving In Stone Quarries Doesn’t Compare With The Experience Divers Get In Blue Water
Scuba divers in the Midwest get some unique diving experiences that coastal divers who only dive in ocean environments rarely encounter.
But then Midwestern scuba enthusiasts must expose themselves to the differences of the quarries.
Where’s the fun in that?
If you never dove in a stone quarry you probably don’t understand what we Midwestern divers go through to give ourselves the pleasure of going down, and enjoying our favorite sport. Sometimes our diving activity is abundant with struggling and suffering from the extra gear we must lug along, to the extremes in temperatures, to the limitations (or total lack) of visibility.
And yet even with all we must go through I’ve never made a dive when I didn’t reach some state of ecstasy.
No such thing as a bad dive…
The first consideration for a stone quarry diver is the weather. If you plan a January or February dive, you need to prepare extra equipment and clothing. Some of this preparation applies if you’re diving in November and December too.
Because air temperatures are often in the 30s and below during those months the necessity of clothing that keeps you warm before your dive is obvious, as is that same need for after the dive.
Does the dive site have a shelter for changing into, and out of, your dive gear? That cold air isn’t a huge hassle when you’re putting your dive gear on, but it sure gets miserable taking that equipment off when you’re wet. Your fingers go numb, and you struggle to manipulate zippers, buckles, and buttons.
Is there an area for a campfire to warm at when you come out of the water? You just don’t realize how important a warming fire is until you emerge from your dive, and only have a cold fire pit to stand next to, or no pit at all. And you’ll want to carry some firewood to build that fire, you don’t often find a woodpile handy.
Odds are during the months of January and February you’ll need an axe to cut a hole in the ice, and a rope to find your way back to that hole.
Did I mention these are cold-water dives?
No 2- or 3-mil skins for us. When we dive we wear full 7-mil wetsuits, or dry suits. This applies year-round for diving below 20-feet. We get the luxury of diving warm water from June through August, and sometimes October, as long as we stay above 20- to 25-feet.
But drop below that and the water temperature drops fast. All that rock around the sides, and along the bottom, keeps the water chilled even in our hot summer months.
Visibility provides us with unique experiences too. Sometimes the muck from the bottom gets so stirred up that you might as well dive with your eyes closed. You can’t see your compass in front of your mask, let alone keep track of where your dive buddy is.
Other times we get a whole 15-feet of clear vision, and on rare occasions we’re allowed to see for twenty and more feet.
Good vis doesn’t happen often though. Most of the time we only guess at where we are in relation to our entry point, and if you don’t count fin strokes, and watch that compass, you’re lost.
Yes, scuba diving in stone quarries is a different sport that makes tropical diving a luxury to us Midwesterners. But like I said, there’s no such thing as a bad dive.
And when I can’t get away to those blue waters, I’ll settle for a cold-water dive anytime.