Tag Archive for: these

Diving Conditions at Versluis

Versluis Lake started out as a gravel-pit in the early 80’s, then as Grand Rapids Gravel pulled the plug on this location about 2002 the development in the area began.  In 2006 Versluis Lake experienced a flooding from the Grand River (which is adjacent to the lake).  This flood introduced carp and zebra-mussells into the lake.  After it settled back down to a normal level (from a rise of 13 feet over 36 hours) the visibility in the lake was churned up.

After about 12-18 months there was a noticeable increase in the visibility, due in large part to the introduction of zebra-mussells.  At it’s prime Versluis Lake was offering up to 30-40 foot visibility with blue water and many fish to observe while scuba diving.

Recently (as of April 2013) the Grand River again flooded into the lake (as in 2006) but the flooding was a bit more intense as the water level increased approximately 4-5 more feet than in 2006, approximately 17-18 foot rise in the water level.

Consequently the visibility that summer was not as good, but made for great training environments and fish were still hiding below the platforms and our plexiglass dome, and as the seasons pass the visibility improves.

Couple of points to make about Visibility:

1)  Visibility in any lake is based on many factors and a lake clarity cannot be judged on ONE dive.  The FACTORS are:

  •  Time of year:  The best time of year to dive in any lake in the Mid-West is generally NOT Summer as many do not realize.  The best time of year to dive is usually September through to mid June.  Not Late June through early September.  The reason for this is the mid summer outside temperature will eventually heat up the water surface and penetrate downward from the surface, causing the algae bloom to cause turbidity lowering the overall visibility.  When it is cooler out the lake starts to cool and turbidity settles.  This means you will have to invest in that thicker wet-suit to do this, but frankly any lake (including the Great Lakes) will be too cold to dive under the thermoclines (that can vary in depth) even in the middle of summer.  SOme of the best Great Lakes shipwrecks are at 70-130 feet down with water temperatures in the 50’s.
  • Weather:  If it rains.  If it has been (or is) windy, the direction of the wind can affect the visibility for a few days afterward.
  • Summer boat traffic on a lake:  Boating on a lake can act as blenders that churn up the water.  It is recommended to avoid lakes that are smaller and have several boater speeding around on it.  You can count on poor visibility.

2)  If you encounter poor visibility with your buddy on a dive, it is best to use this opportunity to practice skills.  Review all of your scuba skills, practice taking turns with your compass, get out your dive light and hover close to the bottom to look for critters.

Every dive is a GOOD dive.  Either it will be simply a clear-fun-enjoyable experience, OR anything else should simply be a training dive.  No such thing as a bad-dive.  Unless you are breaking scuba-rules.

Can I be a scuba diver?

Occasionally when discussing the course involved to become a scuba diver, some will wonder if they have what it takes to actually scuba dive.  With concerns such as claustrophobia or a fear of being unable to breath (granted breathing underwater is not natural), these concerns may seem legitimate.  However the reality of scuba diving is quite the opposite when looking at these two main concerns.

Claustrophobia :  is the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms.  Scuba diving is the opposite.

Instead of feeling boxed in, it is the closest thing a human could experience to flying effortlessly.  Have you ever imagined being Superman (or Superwoman) flying through the air, up and around objects, hovering like a astronaut in space.  This was the initial feeling I had drift-diving in Cozumel. coasting along in a current keeping perfectly buoyant and subtly adjusting the buoyancy in my BCD jacket to accommodate approaching coral heads and terrain.  I certainly was not feeling boxed in.  However some very low (limited) visibility conditions may be uncomfortable for inexperienced divers, but training in the limited visibility class can prepare a diver to have the right equipment and instruction to comfortably navigate through these conditions. But in most diving conditions with visibility at 10 feet or more, scuba diving is like levitating, free from gravity.

Inability to breathe or have enough air :  The air that you breathe through a scuba regulator is delivered to you as you start your inhalation.  If you have ever snorkeled ,  The snorkel (air-tube) is a fairly narrow tube that extends from the mouth (approximately 12-13 inches)  upward out to the surface (of course) to breathe the air as your face is in the water hopefully with a good (sealed) mask on to see.  As a snorkeler breathes, there is a subtle effort needed to pull (breathe) the air into your mouth, approximately 1/2 pound of pressure is exerted on the snorkel  and the air-flow as you breath.  This sucks, I mean literally you have to work a little bit as a snorkeler to get a good full breathing pattern.  Breathing off of a scuba regulator is much easier.

A scuba regulator is designed to deliver air at ambient (surrounding) pressure.  This means that whether you are at 5 feet, 10, 30, 50 or  a 100 feet (depth of water) while scuba diving, the regulator is working to take the air pressure form the tank (whether it is full or down to 200 lbs of pressure) and deliver it to the diver on demand, compensated for the surrounding pressure.  This means easy breathing at any depth.  Balanced vs. Unbalanced regulators do have a slight difference in performance as the balanced regulators tend to be smoother and better performing at depth / air pressure variances.


Other areas of concern :
Age and orPhysical Condition or Shape:  We have trained divers form age 10 to 77 and their age was not a factor in becoming a proficient diver.  Managing the gear and lugging it may be more of a challenge, however establishing a convenient method of transporting gear and asking for assistance (from the Dive Master or other helpful divers) is not unusual or a negative thing.  Many divers are very willing and able to assist if need. Being in good medical shape is fairly important, however some people with certain medical conditions are able to dive (with a Physicians approval) as long as their condition is manageable and predictable to control.  Diver Alert Network (DAN) is an excellent resource to utilize in answering any questions about health conditions.  http://www.diversalertnetwork.org .

One of our more animated divers we have trained had only one leg and didn’t consider diving until we talked him into it (taking class with his son).  We worked with him to determine the best method of transporting his gear, donning the equipment and then determining the proper weight amount (and placement of the weight over his system) he became very comfortable as a diver and was able to master good buoyancy.  Working through the learning curve with physical challenges eventually will allow a diver (with differing physical disabilities) to scuba-dive in a peaceful gravity-free environment that can be quite liberating.

It is best as a diver to be in good shape, just like any physical activity, the better shape you are in the better/easier the experience.  But with proper training and assistance most people are able to dive in.


The most important consideration to becoming a safe scuba diver first and foremost is simply your desire to be a scuba diver.  You have to want to do this, not for someone else, but for you.  If you have the desire and willingness to learn we can teach ANYONE to be a safe scuba diver.