Stonework on Beaver Island
Some examples of Dick Burris' stonework found throughout the island. Click on pictures to view full size images,
There were a few young divers with a friend who wanted to dive on a shipwreck called Bessie Smith in Iron Ore Bay on the south end of Beaver Island. The wreck has two sections that lay in about 12 feet of water. We gave him our usual SCUBA textbook class which was simply "hold your breath while ascending and you'll die.” Then he was prepared for the adventure of his lifetime.
There was enough spare gear that we could scrounge between us to fit this chap for a dive in the chilly water of the bay. I of course had some ripped wet suits, extra tanks, out of date regulators and tank harnesses. One thing appeared to be missing. He needed a weigh belt to allow him to submerge, otherwise he could not overcome the flotation of the neoprene suit. I always had log chains with me, for multiple purposes. "Here we go! Instant weigh belt!" It worked just fine, he was able to submerge almost perfectly. He was just ahead of us getting into the water, and everything was going well. There was about a 2 foot swell that day which was par for diving. All of a sudden, we heard a frantic "HELP!”. Then silence, then another "HELP!”. He had gotten his chain weight belt snagged on the buoy rope that was tied firmly to the shipwreck. He could reach the surface just long enough to scream “HELP!” and then a wave would cover him. He repeated this again and again, louder each time. There was a scurry to come to the rescue of the poor guy, and we quickly had him freed. So much for his SCUBA training and introduction to such a fun sport! Every time I meet the divers that were there that day we talk about this foolishness and laugh a lot. I still have witnesses to that fiasco, two of whom we see every year, Beans and Duff Conner. We still say, "All of we FOOLS ain't dead yet!"
Some years later, a friend of mine came to Beaver Island to visit. Jim was a school teacher, and was not too athletic. He expressed that he too would like to experience diving on a shipwreck. We elected to make a shore ... Read more