Decades ago, a firefighting boat patrolled the Kalamazoo River, keeping the city of Saugatuck safe. At the end of it's useful life, the steel boat was stripped of it's fire equipment and sank off shore as a scuba diving attraction for area divers. This is a clean wreck, with no cables, lines, or snares to speak of, other than a short section of overhead space between the pilot deck and the main deck. The vessel is 40' in length, 12' wide, and rises approximately 10' off the bottom.
The cache is a standard ammo can located about 40' Southwest of the Fireboat Shipwreck on a compass bearing of 235 degrees, straight forward from the wreck off it's bow. The cache is anchored to the bottom by tethering to a 2" diameter galvanized post driven into the sand. The log consists of a marked plexi-glass slate and two grease pencils, but bring a spare grease pencil in case the existing ones are missing. Return to the shipwreck by shooting a compass bearing of 55 degrees from the cache. The wreck is often buoyed by a surface marker during summer months, but can be found without visual aid by watching your depth finder while criss-crossing the coordinates.
This Geocache / Divecache was placed with permission from the DEQ, DNR, and SWMUP. Further information is available upon request from the cache owner. Initial plans to place the cache began in 2007 but it took until the winter of 2008 to identify the primary agency in charge of managing the bottom of Lake Michigan and the shipwrecks contained therein. For future geocachers looking to place caches in similar settings, contact the Michigan DEQ Water & Land management for the required permissions. Be advised that they will not allow you to place them directly on a wreck, and each cache requires permission and/or a permit on file. All geocaches must have permission from property owners (if on private property) and/or the land managers (if on public property such as this one). Please follow the rules and don't ruin the sport or give it a bad reputation, they are usually more than willing to work with you.
The shipwreck and cache are in 73' of cold water, which is outside the 60' limits of open water recreational scuba diving. You must have an Advanced C-Card or be diving with your instructor as an Advanced certification dive. The temperatures at depth are 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit year round, and a drysuit is strongly recommended, but a 7mm wetsuit should suffice (I have done this in a 5mm wetsuit once but it was chilly). Visibility varies from 15' to 60' depending on the lake conditions. Surface currents on Lake Michigan can be mild to wild, and current at depth is usually negligible to none. You must have a compass, your approach to the cache may stir up sand and silt that will obstruct the view of your return path to the wreck (or clip a cave-reel to the bow of the wreck before searching for the cache). A dive light is not usually required to log the cache as enough ambient light penetrates to this depth during most daytime conditions, but is recommended for exploring the wreck and and for signaling your dive buddy. Check your air frequently! A standard Aluminum-80 tank is sufficient for most divers to see both the cache and the wreck, but check your gauges and computer frequently to stay within the no-deco limits, and don't take chances. Dive safe, dive smart, and don't be the FTD (First To Die) on this wreck.
For the diver who is FTF (First to Find), please email me a picture of yourself suited up, as I will craft a special prize for you.
In doing some research recently and conversations with other divers, it seems that the Fireboat shipwreck was damaged in a November storm back in 2011 or 2010. The ensuing hydraulical trauma that damaged this steel hulled boat was probably enough to tear the original cache container (ammo can) free of it's tether. Think roller-waves up to 30 feet tall and the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking again. Now picture the turbulence occurring 70' below the surface and you get a good idea of what might have happened. The replacement container as placed in Sept 2012 is secured much better and hopefully should survive a similar event. I will also upload a rough picture that I sketched in a friend's log book after surveys of the wreck on 7/15/2006 and 7/21/2007 so you have an idea of what it looked like previously. I'll also upload some other pictures during some of the initial surveys before the cache was placed using the "Write Note" feature so those who are curious can see more.