The BIG day
Dreams of underwater worlds lulled us through the night and into a cloudy, rain-spattered morning. Weather reports assured us it would be dry through the weekend so we started the morning a little sluggishly in anticipation of cloud burn off and dry seats on the boat. We also needed time for my dad to address the slight problem he had with his 18′ Lund boat.
Although we were going to use my Uncle Dan’s big boat for the dive, Dad insisted on hauling his boat up from home and tailing the larger boat, a sort of safety net for his peace of mind. It couldn’t have back fired more, however, as he woke this morning to a cracked hull that was taking in water! This seemed to surprise only him. As onlookers, it seemed reasonable that his 25 year old boat could go kaput! at anytime. He soon realized that his boat wasn’t going anywhere but the lift at the end of the dock. Uncle Dan’s boat it is!
We piled in, all smiles and ready to go with all the SCUBA gear, the cheer squad (JoAnn, Larry & Mary), the Guide (Uncle Dan), fishing gear to use after the dive, supplies for shorelunch on an island, and a partridge in a pear tree. We were set. Pentax supplied us with the original camera that we lost–a superbad, hyper-speed, turbo-adventure, mach-speed WG-III; it is indestructible and boasts features like coldproof, waterproof, crushproof and shockproof. This updated version has GPS as well as an altimeter, PLUS! It’s purple. We couldn’t go wrong. The only feature it doesn’t have is fall-down-an-ice-hole-proof. That would’ve been really nice. Where were you on that one Pentax? Oh yea, it does have a carabiner that should’ve been hooked to my jacket. The other camera we were given to record the rescue mission is a Pentax K-30. This is the big kahuna with a lens the size of my head. It sits in my hands like a baby bird nuzzling into its nest on a frosty Autumn morning. Just holding it makes me feel like a professional photographer. Fantasies of the montage I could create with this beauty bounced around in my brain as we took off from the docks and headed into Ontario, Canada to Outer Bay where the infamous camera we lost lay at the soggy bottom of a very stained lake.
The night previous, the Director of Tourism Joe Henry explained to us his hesitation to bet in our favor with this rescue mission. Joe is an extremely optimistic guy so this worried me some. “Lake of the Woods is clean water but the water is stained. The reason for that is because the water drains from the South to the North.” This means that the water comes from the big bog area South of the Lake into the Rainy River which empties into the lake and stains the water a very dark color. It looks, tastes and smells clean, which it is. But visually, Joe explained, it was going to be a challenge.
Already all in, we boated North and suited up. Since this was Brian and my first dive without a teacher, we wanted to be extra careful with our equipment and procedure. My parents watched with slight worry and more fascination at all the gear we had to arrange in order to dive deep. We checked and checked twice that everything was in place. We already had a camera at 32 feet below, we certainly didn’t need anything else down there for longer than we wanted it.
A backward flip into the lake off the side of the boat marked the beginning of our dive. We were underway and underwater.