Port Dalhousie Shipwreck Moored

(043-14.734 / 079-17.064)

Jim Garrington of Shark Marine discovered this schooner off Port Dalhousie several years ago while testing one of his sidescan sonar units. The site had been kept secret while he, with the help of David Gilchrist, performed an archeological and photographic survey. The 110’ deep wreck was originally believed to be that of the Henry Clay, although this is no longer thought to be the case. To date this wreck still remains unidentified. Jim agreed to release the location to the diving public once a proper mooring system had been installed to protect the wreck from anchors and grapples. Dave, being an NDA member, approached the club to see if we were willing to expand our Lake Erie Mooring Project to include this Lake Ontario shipwreck. Most people became aware of this Shipwreck when Dave presented his video of it at our Shipwrecks/2002 Symposium in Welland in March of this year.

Our first thought was to tow a 3600# block out under our 4000# lift bag from either Port Dalhousie or Port Weller.  However, after our previous experience with the Betty Hedger’s block, combined with the fact that we didn’t want to risk damage to the smaller boats available, we elected to hire a tug with crane from Oakville and come across the lake. Although large blocks were available in the Oakville area, the cost of transporting them to the harbour was prohibitive. We obtained three used 1200# anchors from the Town of Oakville and after some minor welding had them loaded onto the Emerald Bay and ready to go.

At 7AM Saturday, July 6th the tug Emerald Bay with Barbara and Ian Marshall on board headed out of Oakville with calm seas. Our plan was to meet Pat Palumbo and David Mekker on board the Pearl Dive Charters boat out of Port Weller at 10 AM.  Pat & Dave were to locate the wreck, attach floats to both ends and place a third float where the anchors were to be dropped.  We had hoped to suspend all three anchors from the side of the Emerald Bay, chain them together and drop them all at once. Unfortunately, the seas had picked up to 3-4’, which meant that lifting 1200# blocks under a 24’ boom was going to be a thrilling experience. We elected to drop the blocks individually away from the wreck and worry about hooking them together and moving them later. One bock was complete with the mooring line and buoy and was verified by Pat to be about 80’ off the wreck. Ian and Barb made a dive to locate the other two blocks and mark them for easy retrieval later.

The following Monday Ian and Pat left Port Weller early evening aboard the Pearl Dive Charters boat. Over the course of several dives, they were able to maneuver the three blocks together and move them to within 25’ of the port rail, amidships of the wreck.

Each anchor has 10’ of chain and all are joined at a 7000# ring. The ring and chain are held off the bottom by an air-filled 5 gallon container. A ¾” poly line runs up to 10’ below the surface.  20’ of chain comes up the rest of the way to the white/orange mooring buoy. Another 20’ of ¾’ poly line with a blue/white swimming pool float is floating on the surface. This line has a thimble spliced in it, through which the boat’s bow line may be passed. There is also a tag line running from the ring, to a pulley attached to the wreck and up to a small float. This assures that the tag line will always be taut no matter which way the wind or current are moving.

Special thanks should go to Jim Garrington for releasing the numbers to the wreck, John Schertzer of Pearl Dive Charters for supplying his services and boat at no charge for two days, Dick Stam of Great Lakes Boat Service for arranging for the blocks, welding and supplying his services, boat and crane for less than ½ his normal fee. The Roland Buoy’s mooring buoy (approx. $300 value) was donated by SOS (Save Ontario Shipwrecks).  The Niagara Divers’ Association donated a total of $831.00 towards supplies, hardware, line, floats and boat fees. The four divers mentioned above, all supplied their time, equipment and air at no charge.

Please note:

Although the mooring anchor is a total of 3600#, it only weighs 56% of that weight in water. As this area is a sand bottom, we cannot count on bottom suction to hold the blocks in place as we do with Lake Erie’s mud. We purposely left the line short with only chain coming to the surface to prevent fishermen from cutting the line (all shackles attached to the chain and buoy have been welded). PLEASE use the tagline attached to the buoy (not the small emergency ring on top of it) and use lots of scope to prevent the bocks from moving.

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