August 13th, 1992
Hi Mom,
     Thanks for asking if I did any diving up at the cottage last week. As a matter of fact I did.

     Wednesday was a pretty nice day. There was a lot of sun, which made for some OK visibility in the lake. The water in the Lower Sugerbush part of the lake near the cottage has a lot of tannic acid in it making it a dark brown color. Visibility is good to about 12 feet after that it starts getting dark quick. Even with a light you can’t see much. Not to mention you have to stay mostly off the bottom because of the deep vegetation silt everywhere.

     I had just finished doing about an hour dive along the shoreline looking at the fish in the cribs along the shore. Cribs are stacks of wood stuffed with Christmas trees that fishermen, years ago, dragged out onto the ice in the winter. When the ice thawed the cribs dropped to the bottom and created a nice bottom structure for the fish to hang around in. The cribs give the fish shade and allow some protection from the bigger predators. Most times of the year they are teaming with pan fish along with the occasional bass, walleye, or northern. While I was sorting out my gear on the dock, one of the neighbors pulled up in his boat and asked if I could dive down and pick up and anchor he lost. I told him about the visibility deeper then 12 feet and he assured me it was shallower then that and he knew right where it was. I said, “No problem” and loaded my gear into his shallow bass boat. We took off and headed East around the point and into the big lake. After about a 10 minute boat ride, he slowed down to an almost stop and started to backtrack. I started hoping there would be a line still attached to the anchor because this area of the lake was known to be extremely silty. After a couple of odd passes I finally asked him, “Are you sure you know where anchor is?” He replied, “I can’t seem to find the log on the shore that I used to pinpoint where I lost it.” As I helped him scan the shore for the right log among several, even though I had no idea what I was looking for. I finally asked, “When did you lose it?” “Six years ago.” he replied, matter of factly. I nearly fell out of the boat. Trying to look serious, I suggested that after all this time the anchor probably had sunk way down in the silt and was irretrievable. He sighed, turned around and we headed back. He thanked me for the effort when he dropped me off and after I packed up the gear, I ran up the stairs, as I couldn’t wait to tell Sherrie the story.

     The next day I had a different dive planned. Years ago one of the neighbors found a wrecked boat out in the lake. They dragged it into shore and told Pa and Uncle Ray about it. Ray told the neighbors thanks for finding it and the next day, after they left, he filled it with rocks and hauled it back out farther into the middle of the lake. “Out of sight out of mind” so to speak. A couple years later I was chatting with my brothers, at the season end cottage closing, about looking for it just for fun. Tim said, “If you find it, I could maybe use the speedometer cable.” Now I have a mission. Later that day I chatted with Uncle Ray about the approximate position of the wreck and scheduled to look for it on my next trip up to the cottage. With the bad visibility and murky bottom the probability of finding the wreck was very slim, but I thought I’d give it a try. So Thursday afternoon Sherrie and I dragged the aluminum fishing boat down to the water. We couldn’t find an anchor, so we filled a five gallon plastic pail with some rocks and tied on a long rope we found. Thinking I might flip the boat while rolling out, I swam behind it instead while Sherrie rowed it to the approximate position. We dropped the bucket of rocks and I got ready to drop down into the murk.

     Not using the best dive plan in the world, I figured I’d follow the line down to the bottom and swim around blindly feeling for the wreck while Sherrie sat in the boat reading a paper back novel. I did my checks and started my decent into the dark water with my primary and backup lights already switched on. I watched my gauges until, even with the 50 watt light, I couldn’t see them anymore. Now it was completely pitch black. The last thing I saw on the gauge was 23 feet and 2700psi of air. Talk about feeling alone! It was very creepy.

     I worked my way down our make shift anchor line until I felt the muck at the bottom. I could feel the handle of the white pail but even with my bright light pointing directly at it, I couldn’t see it. I started thinking, “This is stupid, I have no idea which direction I’m going, it’s even darker then I thought it would be and the bottom composition keeps sucking me in.” “That’s it!” I decided after just a couple of minutes without even letting go of the line, “I’m going up”. I reached down and turned off my useless lights to conserve the batteries and turned to start coming slowly back up the line.

     While I was carefully and very very slowly feeling my way up the line my eyes started to get accustomed to the almost no light situation. I squinted and took one more look around. Now I could see some slight shadows and noticed something really big, the size of a small bus, right next to me! I stopped. My first thought was the wreck. What are the odds of dropping down right next to the scuttled boat in the middle of this big lake without a GPS or anything? It would be virtually impossible. Then I noticed this huge object was actually moving!

     My thoughts raced,”OK, I’m too shallow to be narked. I don’t know what it is, but I’m getting out of here” and I started to climb the line a bit faster this time. While heading toward the surface I started thinking, “You know you really can’t go back up to the boat and tell Sherrie you saw a monster, got scared and came up. You’re going to have to go back down and find out what it is.”  So I stopped, slowed my breathing and headed back down into the murk. When I got back to my original position the monster was still there and still moving. While holding on to my precious line with my left hand I reached out to try and touch this big hulk with my right. It was too far away. I couldn’t reach it. I hooked my fin around the line near the bucket and stretched my body out. This time I new I’d get to it. I stretched out and swung my arm at the monster and... It went right through! What I thought was a solid moving mass was just the silt stirred up by the dropping of our bucket anchor. Armed with the knowledge of knowing, and another good story, I headed back up the line. Once on the surface, outside the boat, Sherrie asked,”Done already?” I replied, “Yes, but remind me to tell you about the cottage monster later.” I helped her pull up the bucket full of rocks and dumped them out. The bucket was full of the blackest dirt substrate I’d ever seen. As we rowed and swam back in I told her about the monster and we both laughed.

  Well I’d better get back to cleaning the muck out of my dive gear.
Love ya, see you soon.
Rick~~~