I am not a regular scuba diver by any means, but that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of some great diving spots near where I live. Not all great scuba diving is down in the tropics, you know. When it comes to wreck diving, some of the best locations are nearby in Kingston Ontario. There are more than a dozen known wrecks in this part of the St. Lawrence seaway, many in excellent condition for exploration.
For those of you not familiar with the area, Kingston is in southern Ontario and a relatively easy drive from either Ottawa or Toronto (between 2 and 3 hours from either city).
What makes the wreck diving in Kingston so special is that the recent explosion of the zebra mussel population in the waterway has led to crystal clear water conditions. The mussels filter the water to food, which clarifies it. Not great for the ecosystem, but ideal for you and I. Kingston is now known as having some of the best freshwater wreck diving in the entire world.
To give you an idea of what you’ll find, there are some of the bigger Kingston wreck, and the year they went down. Some are the actual ship names, and some are nicknames that have been given to them by local divers:
- Munson (1890)
- Comet (1861)
- G.T Davie (1945)
- Aloha (1917)
- Effie Mae (1993)
- Marsh (1917)
- Cornwall (1930)
- Sheboygan (1915)
- Maple Glen (1925)
- Wolfe Islander (1985)
- “Titanic” (1925-1930?)
- “Queen Mary” (1925-1930?)
- “Glendora” (1925-1930?)
Sound appealing yet? Just remember that wreck diving is not the same as open water scuba diving and there are some safety regulations involved. The official term for diving around or in shipwrecks is “penetration diving” and it requires a special course to become certified. Most dive centers offer these courses, and it is a good idea to learn the necessary precautions for diving within a sunk boat or other tight spaces.
Being in Canada, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the water can be cold. You should be fine with a 1/4″ wetsuit, though you might stay a little warmer with a dry suit. It’s up to you. An anti-freeze kit for your regular might be a smart idea if you plan on diving during the colder months of the year (late fall, winter, or early spring). Of course, if you limit your dives to the summer months, then none of this is necessary.
As a first-timer to Kingston wreck diving, you might want to visit the Limestone Dive Center when you first arrive to get directions and more detailed information on the wrecks. They can also hook you up with an additional equipment you might need for your wreck diving trip. Group dives go on all the time, so you might want to sign up for one if you want to be a little more social.
However you plan your trip, I can guarantee that the wrecks will be amazing. Enjoy this opportunity for a little something different in scuba diving travel.