Eco-Photo Explorers - Main Homepage Company Information How to Contact Us View Available Programs View Our Product Line Eco-Photo Explorers - Main Homepage View Departments Eco-Photo Explorers - Main Homepage
   

Kingston, Ontario


Kingston, Ontario
Diving in the Thousand Islands region of
New York State and Canada
(1999 Expedition)

Expedition Corner

Search Words:
Scuba Diving in Kingston, Kingston Diving, Diving shipwrecks in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Great lakes

The city of Kingston, in the Canadian Province of Ontario, lies at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. It is a port city steeped in history and local interest. Our focus, however, while exploring this area was in the underwater treasures that lie just offshore.

Our first dives were made on the steel ferry Wolfe Islander II, scuttled in 85 feet of water about three miles off Kingston right at the mouth of the St. Lawrence river. This vessel was a ferryboat built in 1946 and designed to ply the two miles of open water between Kingston and nearby Wolfe Island. She performed these duties from 1946 until 1975, when she was replaced with a newer vessel, the Wolfe Islander III.

In 1984, the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston bought the Wolfe Islander II, which had been laying idle since her last tour of official duty in 1975. The intention was to convert the old ferry into a floating exhibit, but these plans were quickly shelved when the museum bought an even larger vessel, the newly decommissioned Coast guard vessel Alexander Henry. A local foundation called the Comet Foundation purchased the Wolfe Islander II for $1.00 from the museum and immediately made plans to scuttle her to create a Scuba diving location. This plan created some controversy in the area because the residents of Wolfe Island felt that this was not an honorable end to this vessel's life and that the scuttling showed a "complete disregard for our heritage on Wolfe Island". Nevertheless, on September 21, 1985, the Wolfe Islander II went to the bottom 3 miles east of Kingston with a flotilla of over 100 boats in attendance.

Today, the Wolfe Islander II ( Specifications ) lies intact on the bottom in 85 feet of water. During our visit to this once proud vessel, we were able to penetrate deep inside her ghostly interior, marveling at the state of preservation of the engine room, the cargo holds and the various corridors and rooms along her superstructure. She is slowly being covered by the ever-present zebra mussels, which are becoming so prevalent in these inland waters. These bivalves are removing so much silt from the waters that visibility is generally very good and we encountered 50-foot visibility near the bottom.

Our second dive was to explore the wreck of the Munson, a dredge that sank in 1890 after foundering six miles west of Kingston in Lake Ontario. She was being towed westward after completing a project in Kingston to dredge a passage deep enough for the new schooner-barge Minnedosa when she started to lean to one side. Suddenly, the Munson tipped over and sank. Although all the crew on board were saved, most of their personal belongings were lost in the accident, which was likely caused by a loose plank on the bottom of the dredge.

Today, the Munson ( Specifications ) lies in 110 feet of water. We found the Munson to be largely intact, with its crane and assorted gear mechanisms in an amazingly good state of preservation. The deep, cold and dark waters in this area have kept the Munson in good shape through the years. In addition, divers have done a commendable job of preserving the various artifacts located here and a visit to the Munson is like a journey back in time!

Our final dives in this area were to the wooden side-wheel steamer Comet, sunk in 1861 off Nine Mile Point in eastern Lake Ontario. We found this to be an impressive dive, although the rough lake conditions created by stiff winds blowing out of the south made the journey to the wreck site an adventure!

The Comet ( Specifications ) was built in Kingston in 1848 and was plagued with bad luck throughout her career. For instance, she actually sank in the St. Lawrence River after only a few trips when she struck an underwater shoal. She was raised, repaired and returned to service. However, in 1849 a steam pipe burst on board as she approached Toronto harbor, killing two people and in 1851, one of her boilers exploded, ripping a large hole in her hull and killing eight people. After this incident, her name was changed to the Mayflower, but her bad luck continued. She ran ashore near Toronto in 1853 but, thankfully, suffered no damage. She had her name changed back to the Comet in 1853, after which she promptly slammed into the side of the Cataraqui Bridge. Once this damage was repaired, the Comet was ready for her final journey. In 1861, on May 14, she left the safety of Kingston Harbor amidst storm signals and rolling squalls. The Comet collided with the Exchange, a schooner, which was trying to find safe harbor at Kingston from the storm. She sank and two crewmembers drowned in the accident.

The wreck of the Comet is an impressive one. The bow and stern have collapsed into a pile of wooden rubble, but her twin paddlewheels remain intact and rise impressively off the bottom. She lies in 90 feet of water and can be explored bow to stern in one dive. As with most shipwrecks in this area, an encrusting layer of zebra mussels obscures the fine details of the wreck but provide for improved water clarity.

Shipwreck diving in the Kingston area represents an enjoyable journey through time for experienced scuba divers. Vessels from all different eras are represented on the bottom and water conditions are generally good. It is a location we would recommend.

Divers Alert Network

DAN diving insurance is
highly recommended for all divers...

Top-of-Page

Wreck Specifications

Vessel Name
Rig
Dimensions
Launched
Date Lost
Cause of Loss
Cargo
Lives Lost
General location
Depth
Access
Diver Skill Level
Diving Hazards
Coordinates
Wolfe Islander II
Steel Ferry
144' 3" x 43' 1" x 8'
Thursday, March 21, 1946
Saturday, September 21, 1985
Scuttled
None
None
About 3 miles off Kingston, Ontario
40' - 85'
Boat|
Intermediate to Advanced
Depth, Hypothermia, Penetration, Silting
Lat/Lon: N44.13.5580 / W76.24.9860
Loran:    15639.2 / 60051.06

Vessel Name
Rig
Dimensions
Launched
Date Lost
Cause of Loss
Cargo
Lives Lost
General location
Depth
Access
Diver Skill Level
Diving Hazards
Coordinates
Munson
Dredge
--
--
Wednesday, April 30, 1890
Foundered
None
None ( from crew of 3 )
6 miles West of Kingston, Ontario
49' - 110'
Boat
Advanced
Depth, Hypothermia, Darkness
Lat/Lon: N44.12.5690 / W76.36.4960
Loran:    15701.4 / 60016.0

Vessel Name
Rig
Dimensions
Launched
Date Lost
Cause of Loss
Cargo
Lives Lost
General location
Depth
Access
Diver Skill Level
Diving Hazards
Coordinates
Comet
Wooden Sidewheel Steamer
174' 8 " x 23' 5" ( 45' with side wheels ) x 10'
June, 1848 - Portsmounth ( Kingston, Ontario )
Wednesday, May 21, 1861
Collision with the schooner, Exchange
Farm Implements
2 ( from about 24 on board )
Off Nine Mile Point Eastern Lake Ontario
65' - 90'
Boat
Intermediate to Advanced
Depth, Hypothermia, Penetration, Silting
Lat/Lon: N44.08.3500 / W76.35.0700
Loran:    15732.7 / 60036.2

Top-of-Page

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the weather like?
Kingston Weather
Kingston Marine Weather

Click for Kingston, Ontario Forecast

How cold is the water and will I need a dry suit and special equipment?
The waters beneath the Great lakes are literally home to thousands of shipwrecks. Due to cold temperatures, fresh water and the absence of wood worms, these vessels do not suffer the same rate of decay as wrecks in a salt-water environment. This cold water preservation seems to hold these wrecks in a virtual time capsule which allows divers the opportunity to visit these precious underwater gems for years to come.

About 30% of the sport divers in the Northwest use dry suits, especially when diving in the winter months. Toward late summer though, the surface layer will be warmer and there'll be a decent thermocline somewhere between 20 and 60 feet. It's not uncommon for the water column below this thermocline to drop below the 50 degrees, and have 70 degree temperatures closer to the surface.

Nubies to cold-water diving are in luck, because they don't have to run out and purchase any specialized equipment to dive in the Great lakes, but if they're going to dive in this area during the winter we would highly recommend using environmentally sealed first-stages. Since the majority of free flows are due to the first stage freezing, and not the second stage, some regulators have been designed to resist the effect of jammed valves caused by the cold. Apeks TX100 (which is what we use), Aqua-lung Titan D and Cousteau Supra D, Dacor 360XP AER Pacer, Ocean Reef Polar Enterprise and Oceanic Delta II Sub Zero are all examples of regulators with this special cold water feature.

Optional anti-freeze kits are also available for most regulators and are highly recommended if divers decide that they cannot afford to purchase an environmentally sealed regulator. These kits provide a layer of non-freezable oil around the regulator's working parts (the piston or diaphragm) which prevents ice from forming and inhibiting the normal operation of this equipment. Failure to protect these parts during cold conditions ( recommended during the winter season ) may allow free-flowing to occur which would signal the end of the dive. Some divers choose not to use environmentally sealed first-stages or cold water kits and follow strict cold weather and water protocols so that they avoid freezing problems.

DUI CF200 DrysuitIn most cases, the average diver will be fine wearing a well fitted full 1/4" or 7mm Farmer John style wetsuit with a hood and gloves during the summer months. Divers with a lower tolerance for cold may wish to purchase a dry suit which comes in a variety of styles and can range in price from $800 and up. Dry suits basically trap air between the body and special undergarments worn under a waterproof outer shell. This heated air, thus provides insulation from the cold. We also recommend that divers take a dry suit class to learn how to use it safely. If used incorrectly, these suits can easily cause serve injuries and even death! In fact, PADI offers a Dry Suit Specialty Course that will provide students with the necessary knowledge and techniques to dive safely and go over the basic problems of buoyancy control.

Who did we dive with?
Limestone Dive Centre
61 Yonge Street
Kingston, Ontario Canada
Phone: 613-547-3483 or 800-286-3483
Email:  ldc@adan.kingston.net

Limestone Dive Centre

Other Dive Operators:
Big Jim's Dive Charters, Kingston Ontario
DIVERCITY Dive Charters, Kingston, Ontario
Northern Tech Diver, Kingston Ontario

Where can I stay?
Below are only a few choices where you can find lodgings

Ambassador Hotel
Executive Motel, The
Holiday Inn - Kingston Waterfront
Howard Johnson Confederation Place Hotel
Kingston - Ann Option for Bed and Breakfast
Kingston - Hotel Belvedere
Kingston - Painted Lady Inn
Painted Lady Inn
Peachtree Inn
Rosemount Inn, The
Secret Garden, The
Stone's Throw, A

How do I get there?
Kingston Maps - All that Kingston has to offer is easily accessible, whether by car, bus, on foot or tour trolley and the streets are safe and inviting.

Kingston Dive Map
Kingston Street Locator Guide
Kingston in relation to Ontario, Quebec & New York
Kingston and a 200km/120mi radius around it!

Top-of-Page

Links

What's on Kingston - Guide for tourists and residents features sections on accommodations, business, classifieds, entertainment, shopping and real estate.
Wreck Diving, Kingston Ontario Canada
Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston, Canada

Top-of-Page

Available Books, Music & Videos

amazon.comBook Search...

For great prices, visit amazon.com
Search for other products Amazon.com has to offer

Expedition Corner

Please email all questions or comments with this site to Technical Support.

- http://www.ecophotoexplorers.com/contacts.asp?subject=Technical Support#form

Top-of-Page

Last Modified: November 30, 2006

Send comments to Web Development :: Privacy :: Copyright :: Web Accessibility 

Web Development - http://www.ecophotoexplorers.com/contacts.asp#form
Privacy Statement - http://www.ecophotoexplorers.com/privacy.asp
Copyright & Disclaimer Notice - http://www.ecophotoexplorers.com/copyright.asp
Copyright © 1994-2017 Eco-Photo Explorers (EPE) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED