by Luke Wilson
(Muskegon, MI USA)
The first time I ever visited Gilboa, Ohio I was a young teenager, eager to set foot into the depths of the lukewarm quarry waters. I was more excited for this Ohio trip than a young child on Christmas Eve.
I recall the agony of the four hour long car ride, just awaiting that first dive to become submerged and be one with the water. When my mother and I finally arrived at the quarry, we check into the bunk house. It appeared ancient to my young eyes.
The bunk house consisted of lengthy pieces of plywood, with a metal roofing; it looked unfinished. Nevertheless I thought the place was great!
It had heat, air conditioning, a fan and lots of bunks. Plenty of room for just my mother and I. Soon after we unloaded our personal belongings, we suited up.
I remember my mother's drysuit was never dry; we had previously gotten it fixed with wrist seals. However that was never the problem. Her zipper had lost some glue allowing water to flow freely.
My getup was never complicated as such, for I explored the depths of mother nature with a regular wetsuit. The first time I entered the mesmerizing quarry I felt shivers, not from cold but from when you feel really great about something.
Around thirty-five feet down a school bus waited in the silt, a favorite feeding place for the quarry fish. I recall purchasing a bag of fish food and as soon as I cracked the bag open, it was on.
A fish tornado surrounded me; I was astonished as I held onto my mask and my regulator so the ferocious fish didn’t knock anything off. It was more than amazing. As I sat atop the school bus I thought to myself, “This dive has changed me forever.”
I remember vividly the massive underwater airplane, casting a shadow on the mucky bed below. Entering the plane was jaw dropping; the cockpit was still intact with the same seats that this aircraft once took flight with.
There wasn’t much room, but it was a fantastic atmosphere. A small exit rested on top of the submerged plane, just big enough for a diver to pass through with the air tank strapped on.
I remember keeping a watchful eye out for the ancient paddlefish, which are said to lurk within the deep waters of the quarry. However, I never went down deeper than sixty-feet; the paddlefish prowls at a very deep depth, very rare to see.
I recall seeing a colossal what I think was a Japanese goldfish, it was HUGE! It must have been at least a ten pound fish.
The scenery was out of this universe, the dives were incredible, the people were outstanding, the environment was life changing. For many years to come I shall never forget my visit to Gilboa Quarry, Ohio.
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