Wooden Ships and Iron Men

Copyright 2018 by Don McAlhany

Photo taken by Don McAlhany of the Friends Goodwill (South Haven, MI)

This Memorial Day weekend it was a hazy day off shore and this picture I took of the Friends Good Will reminds me of the days gone by and of wooden ships and iron men.

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Mermaid MegaFest – South Haven, MI

Mermaids from around the area gathered today in South Haven, Michigan during this Memorial Weekend 2018 to participate in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS official attempt for Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Mermaids. And it was not just for mermaids – mermen and merkids, sailors along with nefarious pirates, will be everywhere! The festival is also dedicated to promoting efforts to preserving our natural freshwater resources and the festival is dedicated to promoting efforts to “Protect our Water Wonderland”! Herer are a few pictures of todays gatherings.

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Fresh Mud Being Updated

Just a note to mention that all our Fresh Mud Post were either lost or corrupted when we changed servers this year. Hopefully we can resolve this problem soon. Mack

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Happy New Year 2018

After celebrating the New Year under the ice of Round Lake in Dowagiac Michigan, the participating Muddies gathered around the hole to have our pictures taken to document the event.

Some say we should keep the masks on to protect the identities of the crazies. 🙂

This dive could not have taken place except for the support of those on the surface helping the divers get their gear on and off  and tending our safety lines.  We always give a big “Thank You” to everyone who assists in for setting up, tending lines, taking pictures and braving the cold, blowing snow. They are as crazy as we are – in a nice way, of course.

Thanks to Amy Schuring, Lucy Riemer, Dawn Tonneman, Marie Skyler, Mary Beth Thar, Karen Mann, and Ken Riemer for setting up, tending lines, taking pictures and braving the cold, snow and wet hands (and feet).

Bringing in the New Year 2018 — Mud (Michigan Underwater Divers) Club Style: Standing – Orange Suit: Ken Reimer (Berrien Springs, MI), Right to Left from Orange tender: Kevin Ailes (Bangor, MI), Jim Scholz (Dowagiac), Don McAlhany (St. Joseph, MI), Sir Larry Steelman (Niles, MI), Brian Daisy (Hartford, MI), Dave Tonneman (Columbus, Ohio). Diver in the water with mask: Skyler Daisy (Seattle, Washington)

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Prep Time for the New Years Eve Night Dive

As has been done for the past 40+ years, several Muddies spent the last day of the year getting ready to celebrate the coming in of the New Year under the icy covered waters somewhere in Michigan.

Round Lake (Sister Lakes – Dowagiac, MI) was our alternate dive site, since our planned location on Magician Lake had insufficient safe ice to support a group of divers and tenders with heavy scuba gear.

At Round Lake, we first cleared a path out to an area deep enough to dive. The chainsaw we were to use for cutting the ice became inoperative while making the initial cut, and we had to complete the job manually using an old fashion ice cutting saw.  The boundary area was then marked with reflective cones and tape to identify the area and as a warning to snow mobiles & ice walkers of the open water hazard.

This is the public parking are for Round Lake which is located in Dowagiac Michigan. It is one of several in the sister Lakes chain. As you can see there is a bit of snow on the ground.

The dive site has been prepared for the New Year’s Eve Dive

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Adaptive Diving & Mary Free Bed Hospital

On Saturday, December 16, several Michigan Underwater Divers (MUD) divers and Scuba Obsessed Podcast listeners, had the privilege of working with Tim Marr and Paul Kuiper of West Michigan Adaptive Diving, during the scuba clinic held at the East Grand Rapids High School swimming facility.

The clinic offered children, adults, and veterans with disabilities the chance to experience scuba diving. West Michigan Adaptive Diving, founded by Tim Marr of Altek Sports & Scuba of Zeeland, conducted the day-long session, in cooperation with Christy VanHaver of Mary Free Bed Hospital.

The goal of the Adaptive program is to get people with disabilities in the pool and give them an experience that they may never have had and to help people who others have placed limits on to realize there are no limits.

Here are a few pictures from the clinic:

Pamphlet explains Who they are, The Mission, and Vision

MFB Registration

Depending on the need, either two or three dive buddies assisted each guest diver

buddies assisting guest divers

You can see her smile from here

Sponsors: Mary Free Bed, West Michigan Adaptive Diving, Octobermoon, Royal, and Karken

Adaptive Scuba Diving Clinic 2017

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MUD Club Turkey Dive

On Saturday, November 25, the Michigan Underwater Divers (MUD) Club held their annual “Turkey Dive”.  The event notice specifically said  “expect cold water, very low visibility, steep river side, moderate current, and you will not be disappointed.”  Something to do with truth in advertising.  It also mentioned that Bubble Watchers (surface support personnel) and anyone offering manual support were welcome.

Now, there is some debate as to why it’s called a “Turkey Dive.” Though most believe it’s because it’s held the weekend after Thanksgiving, others think that it’s because many do not consider the turkey to be very intelligent and the same goes for divers who are going to dive in a cold river in November (especially when it’s known to have limited visibility – zero to maybe a foot- a fast current, and hazardous rip/rap along its banks).

With all that said, the dive has been a MUD club annual event for 25+ years.

Now, the site is not always at Fisherman’s Park in Benton Harbor. Sometimes the current is too fast or the river is covered in ice. So, when that occurs, the club finds an area with slower current or thinner ice.

The specific site depends on the river conditions that week. This year, it was held along the banks of Fisherman’s Park (by the new Whirlpool building) right off of Main Street in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The hardcore divers come early and setup ice shanties with heaters to enable them to don & doff their dive suits, and stay warm while doing so. That part’s real critical if you’re diving in a wet suit – especially after the dive and you’re all frozen up. Some of the older divers have gotten smarter as they have gotten older and figured out that dry suit diving is a great deal warmer.  And just because they always used to do the dive in wet suits, doesn’t mean they still have to do so to maintain their macho image.

This year, the divers had a warming trailer available that allowed 6 divers at a time to don & doff their gear in absolute comfort and have warm clothing to put on afterward.

Club members who chose not to dive, but came out to show support for the turkeys – I mean divers – are always appreciated because they provide extra hands and muscle to help divers set up their gear and assist the divers getting in to and out of the water.  People on the shore line provide an important safety factor for the divers in the event of a diver problem or emergency.

In addition to the heated trailer, we also had a warming shelter/windbreak set up with hot drinks and sweet treats to keep everyone fortified against the elements.

We had two divers diving rebreathers, one doing side mount, and the remaining divers using standard scuba gear.  Other than being very breezy,  it was a very nice day for a dive, though the visibility could have been a tad bit better. Hats off to Rhonda, who did the dive wet, unlike the rest of us old guys going dry.  After the dive, and with all the gear stowed, we adjourned to the local Pizza Hut to continue discussion on the day’s dive and those planned.

Here are a few pictures from the 2017 Turkey Dive.

Fisherman’s Park – Benton Harbor (Across the bicentennial bridge, continue by the new Whirlpool complex on Main Street, right turn at the roundabout, see the big building on the right, turn on the road to the park.

The parks boardwalk – looking toward the bridge. Marina across the river on Industrial Island.

Water was high, lots of concrete rip-rap. You have to watch out for the loose ones! Visibility with the sun out was manageable. You lost the sun’s benefit at about 10 feet then the visibility was inches.

Dressing Trailer. Nice to be warm and out of the wind (especially when wet!). Refreshment canopy next store where the sweets and hot drinks were. Love that hot chocolate after a cold water dive

Mr. Tom Turkey… Darrin donated a recovered CB, others left him several rod and reels, tennis and golf balls, misc bottles and cans. Not a good grubbing dive.

Mary Beth – MUD Club President

A trio of Old Turkeys (Ken-Mack-Sir Larry

Mr. Ed

Robb & Kevin: two younger turkeys paying homage to Mr. Tom

Brian Daisy

Darren J entering the river

Mr. Bob S. – One of the two wearing rebreathers this dive day.

Ronda diving wet. How she let Kevin convince her to go wet I’ll never know!

Sir Larry and Mr. Ed watching (maybe assisting) Kevin A. get setup.

Mr Robb – He has a dive tank, but it’s a side mount.

Mack – the old guy setting up his gear on the river bank. Somebody said it looked like he was looking for his marbles (whatever that meant)

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Cold Water Checkout Dive

Today was the second weekend for anyone wanting to check out their dive gear for the upcoming Turkey Dive. For those not having made any dives recently or changing over to a dry suit, it’s always a good idea to do the first dive in a non-threatening and controlled environment.

What that means is diving where you can make a safe shore entry with little or no current, proceed in stages to deeper water, verify your gear is working correctly, and allow you to get comfortable in it.

It’s also a good place to rehearse your dress procedure to make sure you can don your equipment efficiently. Did you get you neck seal in place correctly? How about remembering to turn on your tank of air before you put your buoyancy compensator (BC)?  Did you remembering to connect your BC inflator hose and your dry suit inflator hose?  Did you bring the right fins for your dry suit if your suit booties are different?  If your using semi-dry gloves did you have a thermos of warm water to prime them before entering colder water?  And of course you remembered to bring extra weights to compensate for the dry suit bulk?

It’s much easier to respond to neck or wrist seal leakage, inflator hose leaks, glove seal disconnects if you’re not in water over your head, with zero visibility, and a current trying to drag you around.

In spite of your experience level, we have all had the issues mentioned above at some time or other in our past. The key thing is to remember to have a checklist and not to get distracted. And this is another reason to do a Buddy Gear check. Find the errors on the surface first!

Today the air temperature was 35°F, and very windy which made the windchill way below freezing. Gloves before, during, and after the dive were required, that is unless you like frozen fingers.  Water temperature was 44°F, but still uncomfortable in leaky gloves or trickling down your neck seal.  Today’s underwater visibility was limited to 4 to 5 feet and the light was not the greatest, but I was able to get a few underwater photos of the zebra mussel infestation in Paw Paw Lake.

Looking forward to next week’s Turkey dive. Maybe see you there!

Gearing up by the pier.

Minimizes entry issues or problems. Provides in water support and equipment laydown area.

Large rock on bottom covered in zebra mussels

Even in November you find green vegetation on the bottom.

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Paw Paw Lake (Coloma / Watervliet) – Zebra Mussel Invasion

November 25, 2017

For those who did not get outside today, it was actually quite pleasant. At Forrest beach (Paw Paw Lake, Watervliet side) it was in the mid 40’s, no wind and not even drizzling. The water was just a bit cool to the touch, still soft and with good clarity.

The lake bottom appears to have a thick silty sand build up everywhere with no patterns to indicate where it’s coming from. Did not notice any weeds but did come across very nice patches of green vegetation. The most notable finding and change from last year, other than the sand, was the number and quantity of zebra mussels.

On the bottom, if it’s not sand or vegetation it has a significant buildup of mussels. Everything from tires, boulders, tree parts, and even very small exposed parts of small rocks are all covered with a thick covering of mussels. Did not see any cray fish and the few clams I did locate were barely alive and all covered in mussels.

After hearing some motor noise nearby, I surfaced to see a fast moving speed boat whizzing by a dive flag. No chance to get numbers or name. So obviously boaters / fishermen are out and about.  Interesting how many inland boaters do not know the requirement to keep away from a divers flag.

Paw Paw Lake – Forrest Beach Area – Watervliet, MI


Typical freshwater clam being killed by Zebra mussel.

Small clump of Zebra mussels. There are over 60 individual mussels in this clump.

When separated from the clump, this is what they look like.

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Thirsty Thursday Dives (Niles, Mi)

Thirsty Thursday Dives – The nice thing about belonging to a dive club is you can more often than not find a buddy to go diving with you.  Other opportunities to dive for any certified diver include the weekly  “Thirsty Thursday”  dive after 5:00.

During the last month of summer and early fall, the Saint Joseph river, as it wanders thru and around Niles, Michigan,  begins to clear up. That means the visibility increases , the river current moderates and the water temperature is suitable for wet suits.

One of the draws to diving the river  is looking for bottles, some of which can be of significant value to some collectors. Divers that do this sort of diving are called “grubbers” as they dig around in the muck looking for treasures made of glass.

Here are some typical finds:

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2017 Ecology Dive – “Results”

The Michigan Underwater Divers (MUD) Club hosted an Ecology Scuba Dive, September 23 in the St Joseph River.

There were 17 divers and surface support individuals participating in the 2017 Niles Ecology River Dive in the St. Joseph River held last Saturday at Riverfront Park.

The weather was great, if a little warm for this time of year, and the river cooperated by having a slow flow rate giving us at least 10 feet visibility before we silted it up by picking up the trash.

As indicated by the pictures there was a fair amount of trash collected which included many shopping carts, several bicycles, pipes, tires, water tank, and a ton of bottles. Wolfs Marine in Benton Harbor supplied the prizes that were awarded for four categories of trash: 1st Prize was for the Most trash collected, 2nd prize was for the largest item, 3rd for the the heaviest Item, and 4th the most Unique.

As one of the participating divers it has to be mentioned that we could not have gotten so much junk out if not for the tremendous support and hard labor by those providing shore support.  The success of this event was due to the “TEAM” effort of  everyone participating. A big Thanks to all that participated.

Here are just a few pictures taken from the dive.


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River Cleanup in Niles – 2017 Ecology Scuba Dive

♦♦ updated 9:20pm 9/20/2017 ♦♦

September 23, 2017

10:00am to 4:00pm


  • 10:00 am – 11:00 setup
  • 11:00am – 3pm ecology dive
  • 3:00pm-4:00pm display finds and judging
  • 4:00 clean-up

Michigan Underwater Divers Club is organizing an Ecology Scuba Dive again this year. Join us on Saturday, September 23rd, at the St. Joe river cleanup behind the Wonderland Theatre in Niles. Divers, Snorkelers, Swimmers, Kayakers, Waders, and Bubble Watchers are all needed to help out. There are bottles, tires, bottles, bicycles, bottles, car parts, bottles, and all sorts of “junk” to pick up and clean out of the river. Did we mention there are a lot of old bottles that you might want to display rather than throw into the dumpster, but that is your choice.

We are planning to be in the river any time between 11:00 and 3:00, with awards being presented for the most unusual, heaviest, most pieces and biggest pile.

Everyone is invited to come out and help. If you are diving, be sure to bring a dive flag and float to mark your position in the river. Bring a tarp to collect and display your finds. Extreme caution is urged as portions of the river have strong current and multiple snag and overhead hazards. There are areas that have less hazard and depths can run from 1 foot to over 10 feet. Anyone participating is volunteering their time at their own risk. A liability waver is required to participate.

We will have a trailer to load scrap steel into and plan on having a dumpster available for trash.

We recommend everyone come early for the best parking spots to avoid a long gear haul.

Scroll down to see photos of last year’s event!



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