They tempted me to do the same but even with bursts of sunshine and a water temperature hovering around 30-degrees I chose to videotape instead.
Yesterday marked the third weekend of ice diving for the Ulster County Sheriff’s department and firemen with the Corinth Fire Department. Submerged for 10-minutes at 30-feet the men were on their way of reaching their PADI Ice Diving certification. The drills and practice ensures that department volunteers are ready to rescue anyone who falls through the ice while snowmobiling, fishing, skating or skiing over any body of water.
Gary Seguin of Seguin’s Dive Shop provided the instructors and some of the gear while a safety tent and portable heater was prepped for divers needing warmth and hot refreshments.
The time and energy it takes to ice dive is exhausting. It’s a team effort from start to finish. First, a 6’ x 6’ x 6’ triangular hole is cut into the thick ice. The snow on the surface is blown off making perfectly-shaped concentric circles so the divers can see where the hole is from below.
Then each diver suits up with proper exposure suits, special regulators, full face masks, quick-release pony bottles and harnesses. Divers are tethered to bright yellow ropes that are let out or taken in by a tender so the diver doesn’t get tangled. Should a problem occur, rope signals or tugs are given to the tenders at the surface and they respond by pulling the diver to the surface.
Yesterday, Moreau Lake was busy with children sporting fishing poles, buckets and pairs of skates. The ice is as much as 3-feet thick in some places so everyone is safe to venture out onto it. But, come early April, that thickly frozen surface will begin to thaw from the edges inward. That’s when all the training and real-life scenarios the divers have practiced will be critical.
FYI: The video I’m editing now will show what an underwater ice world looks like to a diver and why recreational divers enjoy this sport too.