Notes about things regarding scuba diving that I have come to know.

2007 Gilboa Quarry Scuba Diving
Trip Report

This may take a while so if you read nothing else let me extend a BIG thanks to Notso_Ken, Ber Rabbit & Steve_Dives for a great weekend. I'd be remiss not to include Randy43068 in the list for offering to lend me some gear. I hope to meet you on the next outing Randy!

Looking back it was 23 days ago when I started this thread and at the time I figured I was sizing up opportunities for 2008. It was only a few days later when an end of the work week business trip to Columbus began to materialize the scramble to network a weekend layover of diving began. I was hemming and hawing, feeling guilty about leaving my wife home for the weekend. The she said GO, please go, she actually said please, what a woman? Should I be worried?

There is something about packing gear, the checking suitcase weight and all of the logistics that makes me hate a trip before I even get out of the door. Overall the end result is worth it and I just keep telling myself that.

With the rental concession at White Star closed for the season I decided that doing Saturday and Sunday at Gilboa would be the ticket. Being on the road the onsite rental of weights, aircylinder and handy air fills made it all nice and easy.

Saturday was spent with Notso_Ken. We enjoyed 2 nice dives meandering in and about the many underwater attractions. I haven't yet downloaded my computer but the water seemed to hold near 60F until we broke through the 50 foot mark as we approached the tubes over on the left. The man made attractions were different and unique to me but the fish life was something else. I have never been around that much density of size, count and species of fish in fresh water before. I recall Blue Gill, Rainbow Trout, Catfish and several species of Bass.

The day played out to be mostly sunny so we had plenty of bright light and aside from a few pockets of stirred up murk the visibility was very enjoyable. There was a good crowd of divers of all levels spread out along the sites and I would guess there were about 75 divers onsite, maybe a few more. Around here I am hard pressed to muster 10% of that. It was kind of neat to see that many divers all in one place outside of the warmer parts of the world.

Ken was a great guide starting with a nice briefing about the place and what to expect. Setting up on picnic tables then heading down the steps and down the dock was like valet diving compared to stumbling down slopes of loose rocks then across a sea weed covered bottom in rolling surf. Ken retrieved a stowaway Halloween decoration from the dock that I got to return to Ber Rabbit on Sunday.

After taking our time cleaning up we enjoyed talking over some good chow at Tony's Restaurant & Pub in Findlay. I'm always grateful for the chance to enjoy a meal after a dive outing. It's nice to process the experience after having a little time to absorb it. It's almost as good as a third dive!

After that it was back to the hotel to freshen up the gear, phone home and plan the evening. Talking to my wife the buzz at work was the new Bee Movie (no pun intended) so I went to the cinema and relaxed over some popcorn and a few good laughs.

Sunday Morning we started all over again meeting Ber Rabbit and Steve_Dives at Gilboa. After loading my air cylinder du jour we headed over to a site that Steve had staked out. Steve already had his heated tent set-up and Ber had brought a second one along that we all erected. After jockeying vehicles and tables we made sense of the whole thing. I'm as much of a camping and gear junkie as the next guy but these folks put me to shame with gas heaters and even a propane powered slow cooker. I didn't even know such a thing existed! Out came the noodles, potatoes and beef and Ber Rabbit Stew (punctuate any way you want) was starting to happen.

With the stew a stewing it was time to get ready for some diving. I was interested in venturing into the deep side to run along the wall on dive 2 so in preparation we started with some air share drills and ended by breathing from free flows.

In between Ber brought her camera and she gave me a workout suggesting props to pose at as we toured the shallow side. Diving is one thing, navigating in and around attractions is another but paying attention to a photographer while doing it all gave me a workout! It was a challenge and the ham in me was all over it! The pictures got burnt to CD right onsite and I had a bunch of them printed before catching my Monday evening flight home. Ber, thank you very much for some great keepsakes!

The surface interval was spent largely in the tent enjoying the fresh stew and veggie platter. This day was a tad cooler, breezier and more overcast than Saturday so the warm shelter was a welcome treat. With the chill gone and the bellies warm and full we went to the office to get my PM air cylinder and to file a deep side dive plan. Mike (it's Mike right?) isn't bashful about asking questions but I guess he figured Ber and Steve could keep me out of trouble and he OK'd us going over to the deep side.

Getting back to the site we readied our gear and got into the water and made a run towards the right where we slipped down to 70 feet. That was deep enough in the cold water with a wetsuit that was getting thinner with every foot! Down in that water I was suddenly very happy to have lugged a few sodium acetate heat packs along as one was keeping my kidneys nice and warm. Swimming along the jagged limestone walls was very different than the brownstone and granite quarries I have been in back east. There is always something special about swimming out there over a whole bunch of deep water, especially when you know that the deep bottom is nowhere in sight. About the time that Ber was feeling the buzz and Steve and I had had enough of the big chill we doubled back up to about 60 feet and made our way back up to the shallows where we played volleyball with the bowling ball. Did I get that in the right dive?

After wandering about here and there with the fish and attractions it was time to end the final dive of the trip. So it was back up the steps to break the gear down one last time. After that the shelter of a tent was a luxury as I changed from wetsuit to street clothes. Piece by piece the tent village was deconstructed and packed into the vehicles and before long we were bidding adieu to the dive sites for a stop at the office.

After turning in my weights and cylinder it was time to select the souvenir T-shirt. After seeing the Gilboa DVD playing in the shop all weekend I couldn't resists getting a copy and to top it off I got it autographed by Ber "co-star" Rabbit !

If you have been paying attention you know what's next..... Ber led the way to the Red Pig where we enjoyed a salad (gota eat right) potato and cheese soup and Ribs. The ribs really were great with all of the tender tasty meat just falling off the bone. At that point I didn't really want the weekend to end but I don't think I even had room for Jello! We bid farewell and it was back to the hotel to begin drying the gear one last time.

Monday was your basic "surface day" with packing and driving. But the day was not a waste! Many years a go I had read up on the history of the McDonalds restaurant chain. One other early pioneer in the business was White Castle. They are not found in our area and in my travels they have always just been passing sights. On this day I treated myself to 4 sliders. That's one more thing crossed off my list of things to do.

So what did I think of Gilboa, one of your premier dive quarries? For me to answer that I need to first explain what I need to enjoy a dive. Simply being neutral in the water gets me well on the way to having a great day. I'm not saying I have no standards but to me it's about the diving more than anything.

I thought it was a really neat place to dive. With all of the attractions, tree remains and fish it can be as challenging as running through the reefs and ledges here at home. Part of me missed the surge and shore entry but hey you can't have everything. During off season dives it's not uncommon to see nothing that swims and very little that crawls so having a captive fish population is a big plus at the quarry. Visibility, on my weekend there is was as good as I ever see here at home in fresh or salt water. Being able to get out to deep water so easily is a huge advantage for those wishing to do so. Short of getting on a boat we have very few places that will get me much past 40 feet. There are some deep shore sites but not many. I did miss the ocean plant life on the bottom. There are freshwater plants but in quantity they would probably mean algae and there goes the visibility so that's a decent trade-off.

What you have that is wicked special is a vibrant active dive community. Dozens of divers were sharing the facilities and getting along great. I don't know many are aquatinted but it was nice to see so many people enjoying the sport together. I hope that the quarry continues to evolve and be supported by the diving community. It's the sort of place that I'd gladly patronize, especially when the seas and tides are not cooperating. If things work out next year I'd like to return with my wife.

If you have read my posts on ScubaBoard you may have seen me write that the best diving is your local diving, the diving that you can do enjoy at the drop of a hat since frequent diving is the key to becoming proficient. Gilboa was a fun interesting place to dive. If someone dives there with a spirit of continuous improvement there are plenty of challenges. No one locale will prepare a diver for every situation but this was a fun, engaging site and I thank my newfound friends for sharing it with me.

This page created November 6th, 2007