New Tiller Mooring

In July/2002 the NDA placed three small mooring blocks (chained together) on the Port Dalhousie Tiller wreck.  At some point last spring or late the previous fall, the rebar pulled out of the concrete on one, leaving only two blocks.  One of the remaining two also had one side of the rebar pull out, but we managed to hammer it into a loop and clamp it in place. The weight is not suitable for anything more than  small vessels.

This spring we were asked to remove our new buoy and sink our line, as the Coast Guard had to set a heavy mooring (8000# block and large buoy)  for a survey vessel to use.  This vessel was far too large for the mooring we had in place.

We had hoped that the Coast Guard would leave the mooring block for us (we even offered to supply them with one) but we were told that it had to be removed, as they could not accept liability by having a private mooring attached to it. The day after the Coast Guard removed their block, with the help of John Schertzer and Pearl Dive Charters we raised our line and reattached the buoy.

The ASI Clipper was the vessel used for the survey and when ASI Group heard that we needed a new mooring block, they offered to take one out for us.  Jean-François Pelletier welded some 5/8” chain and steel rod for us, which I dropped off at Dufferin Concrete in Niagara Falls. The next day, Spencer Shoniker supplied his truck and trailer and we delivered the new 2700 pound block to the Clipper’s mooring.

Survey Mooring
Survey mooring in place (May 2009) Photo © Barb Marshall
Last Thursday (July 18/09) Spencer took Jack Wenger, my wife Barb and me out on his boat to get everything ready on the wreck. We took our time as we had 4.5 to 5 foot waves most of the day. We had placed a jug on the bow a couple of weeks before and we needed to make sure that it was still there and the line had not stretched out.  We also put another marker in a clear area off the bow to mark the area we wanted to drop the block. We also removed our mooring buoy from the original line and replaced it with a foam filled jug.  Jack did all the diving on our morning trip. Next, we headed into Port Weller to meet up with the ASI Clipper and crew.
block loaded
Block Loaded onto the ASI Clipper
Photo © Barb Marshall
Clipper underway
Even a 70 footer bounces in 5' waves
Photo © Barb Marshall
ASI members Darren at wheelhouse, Richard at aft helm,
Rob controling the hiab. NDA members Ian & Jack in dry suits
Photo © Barb Marshall
Darren, Rob and Richard from ASI group met us on board; they had just used their 3 ton hiab to lift the block on board. We rigged it up completely on board with chain, jug, line and buoy and discussed how we were going to drop it into position before we headed out. Jack and I were aboard the Clipper to manhandle the block while Rob worked the hiab. Spencer and Barb followed us out keeping the boat in the Clipper’s wake to make for a smoother ride.  After a dry run, Rob hoisted the block over the side and Richard, using the stern controls, backed the block up to our mark. One quick slice of a razor knife and the block was set.  As it was still too rough for Spencer to come alongside, Jack and I left the clipper and swam over to Spencer’s boat.
Final directions
Photo © Barb Marshall

A few final directions , one cut of the knife and it was gone.
Block set
Photo © Barb Marshall

After tying off to the buoy, I went down to install the tag line to the wreck and that’s when I found out that we had a problem. The block’s position from the wreck was perfect, but the block had flipped on the way down and the chain was on the bottom with the poly line chaffing against the block. It was totally unusable this way. When I surfaced and explained the problem, Barb quickly phoned Darren on the Clipper but they had already tied up and the captain had left for an appointment. I had hoped to use their hiab to pull up on the line just enough to flip the block. We had three small lift bags and jugs on the boat, but even with the help of the engines we were unable to pull the chain out or flip the block. We were SOL for the day. Having no other choice, I cut the line as close to the block as I could and we once again moved the buoy back to the original line.

We planned to go out last Saturday but the thunder storms kept us off the lake. Today (Friday, June 26/09) was the first chance we had to get back out.  The thunder storms cleared out this morning and we headed out just after noon. First job was for Jack and me to pull down the line attached to our 4000 # lift bag and tie it off to the chain. We had it rigged so that the bag would be at about 10’ of depth. Jack inflated the bag and I cut it loose as soon as the chain was clear. I surfaced, and then took down the new line, bottom jug and tag line and hooked everything up.  After Barb and Spencer deflated the lift bag, Jack took it down and attached it to the old mooring blocks and untied the original tag line from those blocks. By the time I finished my 23 minutes of deco, the others had everything ready to go.

My plan was to mark a new location, float the blocks and then use the boat to pull them into place. Spencer thought that with the little wind and current we had that day, he could just swim the blocks into position and did a quick bounce to check things out while Jack attached a fresh tank to the lift bag. On the first try, the bag was set too shallow and the blocks didn’t quite clear the bottom .  After deflating the bag and shortening the line we tried again. This time the blocks rose about 6’ off the bottom.  Jack headed down to help Spencer swim the blocks into position, but Spencer had beaten him to it and cut the line to drop the blocks before Jack got to the bottom.

Spencer & Jack sinking bag
Photo © Barb Marshall

Spencer (left) and Jack (right) deflating the bag after the first
 attempt to raise the old blocks.

Blocks being swam into position under inflated 4000# bag

Bag 2
Photo © Barb Marshall
Barb was to do the last dive and attach a new tag line to the wreck but we had run out of time.  Spencer had an appointment in Welland that he couldn’t miss, so we moved the buoy (for about the fifth time) to the new mooring, put a foam filled jug on the relocated original and headed back to shore. James Detenbeck made a run out to the site and installed the final bottom tag line from the block to the wreck on Friday July 3/09.
Buoy in position
Photo © Jim Lockard

New buoy in position

Buoy in use

Buoy in use
Photo © Jim Lockard
The new mooring has the buoy and the block is 22’ off the port bow. The original mooring was port amidships and is now about 30’ further aft closer to the stern. The buoy is the preferred mooring, the jug should be used  by smaller boats only.

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