In February, divers from Alberta and Ontario traveled to Kootenay Lake in BC to dive a Ferry that sank a few years ago. The wreck lies just a couple hundred feet from shore at a depth of 165 ft.
Trip report by Oren Levstein
I woke up in the morning in anticipation of the upcoming trip.
I still couldn’t believe that my wife, Rasa, the best wife in the world, let me out to play while having her hands more than full with the baby.
After a busy day at work, my buddy Chris Phinney drove me to the Hamilton airport and I caught a flight to Calgary.
Steve Schultz arrived within an hour also and we met up with Greg Mossfeldt who informed us of a change in plans. We would not be sleeping, and then driving later in the night, but we’d get moving to BC immediately.
We met the day driving through mountain roads with a variety of wildlife standing beside the road and looking at us. At times I was really concerned about the possibility of a collision.
We arrived very early at Kootenay Bay, and slept several hours in the car, until the ferry to Procter was loaded. 35 minutes of ferry sailing later, we were on the other side and drove to Ainsworth Hot Springs, where we checked in our hotel and were greeted by the rest of the expedition’s participants.
We all grabbed some breakfast and took a look at the dive site.
As we were still tired after the long nightly drive, we slept several hours more.
Upon waking up, we all assembled our gear and went for the dive.
We all dropped our gear on the floating docks at the marina and got ready. Brian Nadwidny, who was my team mate on this dive, and I discussed the dive plan, jumped into the water and after a short swim were at the buoy that was marking the wreck.
A bubble check later, we dropped into the dark waters of the Kootenay Lake and arrived at the bridge of the wreck of the MV Anscomb. This first dive was meant to give us an orientation of the wreck and where everything was.
Visibility was less than expected at only about 5-7 meters, and water colder than expected at 2°C. We dropped deeper and arrived at the props of the ferry, which is lying on a slope, listed to the port side. After exploring the props, we ascended to the car deck, swam through and explored it also.
We were surprised by the huge chunks of paint that got dislodged from the ceilings when our bubbles hit it. It definitely did not improve the vis.
We peeked at every door and stairway we found, and then ascended to the passenger area which we explored from the outside, and then ascended higher to the bridge, which we penetrated shortly.
It was amazing to see a freshwater wreck that wasn’t covered with Zebra mussels and had everything present. All signs and lamps on the outside and inside were there, with a big search light on top, as well as all bridge instrumentation.
After a short photo session with Greg, we reached our planned bottom time and ascended, completing our deco.
Total dive time: 69 minutes
Max Depth: 164ft
Bottom Gas: 21/35
Deco Gas: 50%
After a successful dive, we met up at the restaurant of the marina and enjoyed some excellent Fish and Chips with several beers from a local micro-brewery.
Later, we all gathered in our hotel room and watched the pictures and video footage from the dive. One of the divers shared his experience from a recent trip to the Truk lagoon wrecks by showing a DVD he made.
It was a perfect ending to a great diving day.
Seeing how much we enjoyed the dive yesterday, we decided to go diving today even before breakfast.
We repeated the setting of the gear on the floating docks as in the previous day and went over the dive plan.
Remembering how chilly deco was the previous day, Brian Nadwidny and I decided to add 100% Oxygen to cut the deco shorter.
After the short swim out to the buoy, we descended onto the wreck and were greeted with improved vis compared to the previous day of 10-12 meters. Temperature was the same chilly 2°C.
We dropped to the propellers again and repeated our slow ascent through the car deck to the upper parts of the wreck as yesterday. This time it was much more purposeful as we had a better idea of where things were on the wreck.
We reached the passenger area, which we penetrated. The paint that was dislodging from the ceiling by our bubbles rapidly reduced the visibility in these closed quarters, and we exited to continue our exploration of this intact wreck. On the port side of the same level, we discovered the generator room with a fairly large generator. We also found a tool box with a roll of duct tape on the starboard side, just outside of the passenger quarters.
Ascending to the bridge level, we were running toward the end of our planned bottom time, and after being photographed (shortly) at the big search light on the upper most deck, we ascended to start our deco, which was uneventful. After switching to Oxygen at the 20ft mark, we took bearing and started our underwater swim toward the exit point which reached after several minutes and exited after completing our deco time.
Total dive time: 64 minutes
Max Depth: 159ft
Bottom Gas: 21/35
Deco Gas: 50% and 100%
After reassessing our plans for the rest of the day, we decided to skip breakfast and head to the ferry in order to catch it before it left. We arrived just in time to embark when it was starting to load and it saved us several hours of waiting for the next ferry.
During the ferry transfer, we had a chance to enjoy the beautiful lake and mountain sceneries of the Kootenay, and reflect on the great dives we just experienced on the last 2 days. We enjoyed the chat with some of the other members of this trip who were on the same passage.
The drive back to Calgary was uneventful and we arrived there 7 hours later after enjoying the beautiful scenery of BC during the day this time.
After waking up and throwing our gear into the truck, we headed to AquaSport Scuba shop for fills.
Shortly thereafter, we were on the Highway to Lake Minnewanka, which is a glacial lake in the eastern part of the Banff National Park. Because of the presence of a submerged village, submerged bridge pilings, and submerged dam, the lake is popular among scuba divers. 2 hours later we were on location.
We moved our gear closer to the tent that contained the hole in the ice and geared up. The tent set up was awesome. It was comfortably warm inside the tent and they had refreshments, hot soup and hot chocolate for the divers to warm up after their dives.
After the divers in the water finished their dives, we jumped into the triangle hole in the ice and off we went to explore the submerged structures.
We explored the submerged bridge pilings and after the obligatory photo and video work, we headed back to the hole to finish the dive. The dive culminated in the loss of a Sony VX2000 video camera in a Halcyon housing, due to a faulty bolt snap, and also a successful search and recovery of said video system.
Total dive time: 51 minutes
Max Depth: 52ft
Bottom Gas: 32%
After rejoicing about the lost and found video system, we headed back home to Calgary and ended the day with a feast of BBQ’d steak and fish. We washed everything down with several nice beers from a local brewery.
For desert, we watched diving footage of the Gunilda, Judge Hart and the Halifax wrecks. Very tasty!!!
After packing our gear, Steve Schultz and I caught our flights back home later during the day.
It was an awesome trip of diving a fairly intact wreck and interesting underwater structures under ice. These would have been dives that I would not have had a chance to dive if not being invited by Greg to join the team on this trip. Thank you Greg for allowing me to join in on some quality diving.
By Oren Levstein