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Thread: Lake Mead dive advice needed

  1. #1
    Grouper
    Join Date
    02/03/2008
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Age
    43
    Posts
    590

    Lake Mead dive advice needed

    Hello all-
    Ok- will be in Vagas in May- found a boat, tank and weight rental (thank you for your advice)
    now I'm wondering- any "must-dives" in Lake Mead? What do you like? We are renting 2 tanks each- so we've got 2 dives to plan....
    ps- I'm not afraid of low vis, or lack of Sea Life- I dive Lake Erie!

    thanks!

  2. #2
    Rock Slide
    The rock slide is located in the Black Canyon area which is about a 25 minute boat ride from the marina. The site is situated on the Nevada side of the channel and sports a breathtaking view of the Hoover Dam and several above ground remnants from the construction of the Dam including pulleys, cables, portions of the original diversion dam and more! Water depth for most of the dive ranges from 30 feet to as deep as 130 feet.
    Bottom composition is rock and as you go toward the dam you will encounter pot shelf rock formations with plenty of fish and more Dam construction remnants. In one area there is a cable that is believed to be stretched across to the Arizona side but it drops off into the abyss beyond 130 feet
    Cavern
    Near the Rock Slide is a man made cavern that is believed to have been initially formed during the dam construction and is now an exceptional dive site. Depending on the lake level, the 40 foot entrance is in about 50 to 70 feet and the cavern itself extends back about 60 feet in an upward fashion to about a depth of 50 to 60 feet. The cavern is marked with a cable for easy navigation. There is son silt out condition s to be concerned with so this cavern is great for training sessions.
    A dive light is recommended and divers should be a least an Advanced Diver or very experienced.
    Trojan
    The Trojan is a wooden boat about 35 feet in length located in the Boulder Islands area. This vessels is in about 50 feet of water and went down after being swamped during a storm in the early 60's. It is rumored that the boat was carrying discontinued casino chips that were being dumped in the lake. To this day, folks occasionally still find one or two if they are lucky!
    The bottom composition in the area is mainly rock with a few silty areas. The dive usually begins on the wreck and then the surrounding area is explored where there are several rock formations, a swim through, fish and more!
    Batch Plant
    The Batch Plant was originally an aggregate washing facility for the concrete that was used to build the Hoover Dam. What is left now is a 12 foot high block wall that is approximately 100 feet in diameter with the base of an arm assembly directly in the middle. On the out skirts of the area there is a dug out and another structure on the South side as well. The railroad tracks can still be found below the factory.
    The depth of the area is approximately 70 to 90 feet with an anchor line decent. Bottom composition in the area is silty with a few rocky areas. Wild life includes fresh water sponges, catfish, blue gill and more!

    Tortuga
    The Tortuga is another wooden boat situated in the Boulder Islands area which is marked. This vessel is in a depth of about 70 feet and has been prepared for safe penetration by Scuba Divers. The vessel is 45 feet in length and is a twinn cruiser that makes a great dive.
    The bottom composition is mainly silty and the surrounding area has several rock formations o poke around and see.
    Lovers Cove
    A 25 minute boat ride will take you to Lovers Cove. As the name implies, this cove was named for its peaceful surroundings, but nothing compares to what you will see underwater! A reef is situated in the middle of the cove which curves out in a dog leg fashion. There are several ledges that you can fly off to a depth of 40 to 50 feet deep. All around are crevices where fish hang out and most of all, you will never have the same dive on this site.
    Bottom composition is rocky and you will want to have a light to search out the fish hiding in the crevices.
    Gypsum Beds
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    The Gypsum Beds are about an hour away from the marina and is a dive that you will rate up there with many of your best dives ever! The Gypsum deposits in the area have dissolved into white quartz, clear quartz like overhangs. The overhangs dip down to a depth of 100 feet and start at about 30. You can at any time wave the silt away and low and behold a quartz deposits underneath.
    The overhangs allow for silhouettes that are breath taking and the many quartz formations will have you imagining they are more than just rocks. As you finish off the dive and do your safety stop you will be in the middle of schools of fish that will make you forget your doing a safety stop.
    House Boat
    The House Boat went down in the 70's during a storm and now sits in approximately 90 feet of water with a list to her starboard side sitting on a shelf. The boat is penetrable and is about 60 feet long. Several portions of the boat is still in tact so if you want to lounge on the deck or take a nap in the bedroom, she is ready to make your acquaintance.
    The boats name is the Merrimaker and you will spend plenty of time exploring her engine compartments, entry ways and the hull still look good. Bottom composition in the surrounding area is rocky but most of your bottom time will be spent mainly on the boat. Bring a light as you will definitely need it!

    Kitts Rock
    An underwater pinnacle normally under the the water, Kitts Rock is seemingly in the middle of the lower basin. This is a nice dive for basic diving to technical as there is a nice drop off on all sides for your preferred depth.
    This site is susceptible to windy conditions is only accessible during fair weather.
    Wildlife includes fish, rocky bottom and vertical sites and overhangs.
    General Diving Conditions
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    Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which includes Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, is a unique freshwater diving area. It offers a wide variety of diving environments for both novice and advanced divers.
    The degree of visibility on both lakes fluctuates throughout the year. During the cool winter months, October to April, visibility is usually good (20 feet to 50 feet). During the summer months, May to September, algae growth is stimulated by warmer water temperatures that results in reduced visibility (30 feet to less than one foot, depending on location and depth.)
    Visibility also varies with depth: the deeper one goes, the darker it gets. This is particularly pronounced in the summer months when the thermocline formed by warmer surface waters is present. During the summer months the first distinct thermocline usually occurs near the 30 foot to 40 foot depth. From surface level to 30 feet in depth, the temperature may range from 70 to 82 Fahrenheit, and this layer supports the majority of algae growth. The second distinct thermocline usually is found near the 60 foot depth. Between 30 feet and 60 feet the temperature ranges from 70 to 60 F with less algae present due to cooler water. Below 60' in depth, the water temperature is 60 to 52 F. At this depth the water is usually clear but much darker in summer than in winter due to the dissipation of the light caused by the presence of algae in the warmer water above. During the winter there is usually no thermocline, with the entire water column in the low 50 degrees.
    There are several exceptions. Where rivers or streams flow into Lake Mead, visibility is poor year round due to high silt content or excessive algae growth. Examples are: Iceberg Canyon where the Colorado River flows into Lake Mead; north of Overton Beach where the Virgin and Muddy Rivers flow into Lake Mead; and Las Vegas Bay near the terminus of Las Vegas Wash. The reverse is true, however, from Hoover Dam to mid-way between Willow Beach and Eldorado Canyon. The colder water released from Hoover Dam (52-55 degrees F) provides clear water and good visibility throughout the year.
    Most of the currents in Lake Mead and Lake Mohave are slow and undetectable. From Hoover Dam to mid-way between Willow Beach and Eldorado Canyon, however, the current ranges from 3 to 12 miles per hour. This current is variable, depending on the volume of water released from Hoover Dam and the water level in Lake Mohave. At Ringbolt Rapids, the speed of the water may reach 16 miles per hour on week days.
    Navigational and cove name maps are available at Alan Bible Visitor Center and all marinas. Informational boater maps are available online and are not intended for navigational use. (Map Page)
    There are dive shops in Boulder City and Las Vegas, Nevada, and Bullhead City, Arizona, which supply equipment sales and rental, instruction, and air. Check the local telephone directory.
    Restricted Areas
    Lake Mead - the following are areas closed to diving:
    1. Above and below Hoover and Davis Dams.
    2. The portion of the Lower Overton Arm of Lake Mead, from a northern boundary at approximately Latitude N. 36 15' to a southern boundary at approximately Latitude N. 36 10', and from the western shoreline to the eastern shoreline, to be closed to SCUBA and all forms of underwater diving unless a permit has been issued by the Chief Ranger's office.
    This restriction is necessary to protect sensitive cultural resources while the park formulates a recreational diving management plan to protect the submerged B-29 aircraft [see link]. This restriction chall be in effect from January 22, 2004, through January 21, 2005.
    Requests for permits can be made by contacting the Chief Ranger's office at (702) 293-8908, or by visiting or writing Lake Mead National Recreation Area Headquarters at 601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, Nevada 89005. All requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    1. All designated boat harbors. Divers employed by concessioners diving on official business and special events approved by the National Park Service are exempt from this restriction.
    2. Designated swim areas.
    3. Southern Nevada Water Project water intake tunnel and the water intake overhead boom, located on the east side of Saddle Island, just north of Lake Mead Marina and Boulder Harbor.
    NOTE: The suction in the tunnel is not dangerous at normal water levels (a maximum of 2.6 miles per hour, 585 cubic feet per second at the tunnel entrance), but with all 20 units operating, a possible suction hazard could be present at low lake levels. The top of the tunnel is at 1,050 feet above sea level, and the entrance is 12 feet in diameter with a vertical bar screen with six-inch spaces between bars. At average lake levels, the tunnel is about 110 feet below the surface.
    Lake Mohave - the following areas are closed to diving:
    1. Above and below Hoover and Davis Dams.
    2. All designated boat harbors. Divers employed by concessioners diving on official business and special events approved by the National Park Service are exempt from this restriction.
    3. All designated swim areas.
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    Potentially Hazardous Areas
    Lake Mead
    1. Iceberg Canyon and uplake: soft, viscous silt layers on bottom several feet thick. The further uplake you travel, the muddier the water becomes due to the silt content of the Colorado River. Also, the thermocline is usually found at a depth of 5-l0 feet with the water temperature dropping to the low 50 degrees.
    2. Ski Beach and Personal Watercraft Beach near Hemenway Harbor: excessive boat traffic, especially from Easter to Thanksgiving.
    3. Gypsum ledges, which have been eroded by wind and water, may have unstable overhangs.
    Lake Mohave (up to 17 feet annual vertical fluctuation)
    1. From Hoover Dam to Chalk Cliffs (22 miles): narrow channel and heavy boat traffic.
    2. Ringbolt Rapids (8 miles north of Willow Beach): swift and turbulent water up to 16 miles per hour, depth to 70 feet. Recommended for ADVANCED DIVERS ONLY.
    3. Katherine Landing area: heavy boat traffic.
    Safety Tips
    1. Due to years of rod and reel fishing, areas containing submerged brush and trees are usually laced with pieces of monofilament line and hooks. Entanglement can be serious, so always carry a dive knife with you while diving.
    2. Never dive alone. Use the "buddy" system.
    3. Fly the standard red and white diving flag within 100 feet of diver while diving. A floating tow flag is essential in many areas due to heavy boat traffic.
    4. Plan your dive; dive your plan.
    5. Do not dive beyond the capability of the least experienced member of your group, and do not dive unless trained and certified.
    6. Check with the local area rangers on the latest weather forecasts. (Weather Page) All launch ramps have weather boards. Call Wind Talkers.
    7. The nearest recompression chamber is located at the University Medical Center (UMC) in Las Vegas so it is imperative that the U.S. Navy dive tables and altitude conversions be followed. In recent years, Lake Mead's elevation has between 1140 to 1170 feet above sea level. Lake Mohave's elevation fluctuates between 630 feet and 647 feet above sea level.
    8. It is essential the following information be given to the ranger and doctor when a diving emergency occurs:
    a. Depth, bottom time, and surface intervals of all dives within 12 hours.
    b. Conditions of ascent; breathing, non-breathing, conscious, etc.
    c. Names of others in the dive group, especially the victim's dive buddy.
    d. Signs and symptoms of victim, and time symptoms appeared.
    e. First aid administered to victim.

    NOTE: Standard first aid for an embolism or decompression sickness is to give oxygen, if available, and lay the victim down on his left side with his head slightly lower than the body.
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    Preferred Dive Locations
    Lake Mead
    1. Castle Cliffs-Gypsum Reef: good drop-offs, large gypsum and sandstone rocks, visibility variable. Access by boat.
    2. Kingman Wash: gentle slope, good for novice divers, occasional heavy boat traffic, visibility variable. Access by boat.
    3. Black Canyon: sheer wall diving, depth 500 feet, usually good visibility. Access by boat.
    4. Boulder Islands: large cement tank used during construction of Hoover Dam to store water, located off tip of "Big Boulder Island," visibility variable, often heavy boat traffic. Access by boat. Also, two 45 foot to 50 foot vessels have been placed on the bottom for fun and training. (Tortaga and Cold Duck).
    5. Dive Park (North Boulder Beach): just north of the designated swim beach, gentle slope to 70 foot depth, good training site, visibility seasonally fair to good. Access by vehicle or boat. Boat traffic restricted to dive support vessels. Also, five to ten vessels or other objects have been placed on the bottom for fun and training. Objects are marked with yellow buoys and range in depth from 30 feet to 70 feet.
    6. Saddle Island: west side of Saddle Island (Boulder Harbor side) moderate drop-off, excellent area for freshwater clams in 40-60 feet of water, visibility variable. Access by boat preferable.
    7. Wishing Well Cove-Boulder Canyon: excellent location with steep drop-offs, narrow canyon, canyon bottom stair steps from 0-140 feet, usually good visibility. Access by boat.
    8. Gypsum Reefs-Virgin Basin: extensive white gypsum reef area with irregular underwater erosion forms, visibility variable. Note: outstanding eroded formations may present unstable overhangs. Access by boat.
    9. Cathedral Cove: about 5 miles south of Echo Bay, protected water, usually good visibility, interesting underwater formations. Access by boat.
    Lake Mohave
    1. Black Canyon: moderate to swift water, usually good visibility, water temperature 52-55 degrees F all year, steady boat traffic, excellent current drift diving conditions. Access by boat.
    2. Ringbolt Rapids: advanced divers only, swift and turbulent water for about 100 yards, visibility usually only fair due to turbulence and bubbles, 50-70 foot depression at base of rapids. NOTE: Hand-held buddy line and surface support boat essential. Boulders and rock formations may pose a hazard along canyon walls. Access by boat. The high water flows and boulders along with other obstructions make Ringbolt Rapid a potentially hazardous dive along the Nevada side. AVOID THE NEVADA SIDE.
    3. Work Barge: located 4 miles below Hoover Dam on the Arizona side. The 38 foot tow barge was used on the spillway tunnel repair project and sank in 1946. It is located in about 25-35 feet of water in moderate to swift current. The barge is protected under the Antiquities Act, therefore, nothing may be removed or damaged. Access by boat.
    4. Cabinsite Point (north of Katherine Landing): vessels prohibited. Two boat wrecks. Access by vehicle.
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    Aquatic Life
    Regulations
    1. Nevada and Arizona State fish and game regulations are in effect. A combination Nevada/Arizona fishing license is required.
    2. Spearfishing is legal for carp and striped bass ONLY. Spearfishing for striped bass is permitted throughout Lake Mead but only from the cable below Hoover Dam to Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave. Spearfishing is prohibited within 1/2 mile of any dock or swimming area.
    Fish - the following species of fish may be found in the two lakes:
    1. Largemouth Black Bass: During the spring and summer they can be observed guarding their egg nests or schools of fry. During this period their behavior is aggressive. (No spearfishing)
    2. Striped Bass: impressive silver fish seldom seen by divers. Up to 50+ pounds. Legal to spear.
    3. Channel Catfish: average 4 pounds. (No spearfishing)
    4. Black Crappie: average one pound. (No spearfishing)
    5. Rainbow Trout: up to 5 pounds in Lake Mohave. (No spearfishing)
    6. Razorback Sucker: usually found only in Lake Mohave. Under federal law, it is classified as an endangered species, and is one of the few remaining original Colorado River residents. (No spearfishing)
    7. Bluegill Perch: found in shallow waters around rocks and vegetation. (No spearfishing)
    8. Green Sunfish: found in shallow waters in rock holes and cracks, very shy and colorful. (No spearfishing)
    9. Threadfin Shad: about 3 inches, the predominate "food" for game fish, usually found in large schools.
    10. Carp: up to 20 pounds, legal to spear.
    Other Aquatic Life
    1. Crayfish: found in heavy bottom vegetation, rarely seen.
    2. Asiatic freshwater clam: found in abundance in both lakes. Legal to collect.
    3. Freshwater sponge.
    4. Eel Grass: usually found above Willow Beach on Lake Mohave, often grows to 15-20 feet long, undulating in the current.
    5. Algaes, growing or hanging from submerged bushes and trees, are often found hanging on strands of monofilament fishing line.
    6. Soft shell turtles

  3. #3

  4. #4
    TadPole
    Join Date
    04/30/2008
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    United States
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    Hi MSelizann.

    How deep do you like to go on your Lake Mead dives?? Would you like to see wrecks (150-200ft), leftovers from Hoover Dam construction (130-170ft), or just keep it shallow and see some nice rock formations?

    There some great stuff to see in Lake Mead, all within 15-20 minutes of the Marina.

  5. #5
    Grouper
    Join Date
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    Location
    Erie, PA
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    590
    probably shallow- I'd like to keep it nice and easy.........
    what areas do you suggest? We are bringing a portable GPS...

  6. #6
    Shark
    Join Date
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    San Antonio, TX for now...
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissionScuba View Post
    Hi MSelizann.

    How deep do you like to go on your Lake Mead dives?? Would you like to see wrecks (150-200ft), leftovers from Hoover Dam construction (130-170ft), or just keep it shallow and see some nice rock formations?

    There some great stuff to see in Lake Mead, all within 15-20 minutes of the Marina.
    with the low lake levels, there are some things to see leftover from the dam construction much less than 100 feet, in fact, some cool things to see right around 30-50 feet... there's even an old water basin thats out of the water now...
    -cody / on vacation from vacation...
    PADI MSDT Instructor, US Coast Guard Captain - Master Near Coastal

  7. #7
    Grouper
    Join Date
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    30-50 feet might be about right...since I will be in Vegas and drinking the day before- I don't want to have ear issues....any good spots you could recommend?

  8. #8
    Shark
    Join Date
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    Location
    San Antonio, TX for now...
    Posts
    2,867
    Quote Originally Posted by mselizann View Post
    30-50 feet might be about right...since I will be in Vegas and drinking the day before- I don't want to have ear issues....any good spots you could recommend?
    Definitely...

    If you have google earth, it'll be real easy - I'll plot it out for ya...

    here is a picture of the water basin... when I was last there, the water was about halfway up the side of it (look at the water stain on the side of it)... so, things might be a little shallower than I recall... When we dove there, you would submerse and swim down the water chute off to the side (in the picture, it angles down to the right) Down there is a small sail boat, and some other remnants (water troughs, etc) of the upper most part of the concrete plant... deeper, is the aggregate pile, which, if I recall would be about 50-100 feet to the right of where this picture was taken from... in Google Earth, the round thing you see with water in it is the thing you are looking at in this picture, however, the GE pics were done prior to the water level being below it...

    Attached Files Attached Files
    -cody / on vacation from vacation...
    PADI MSDT Instructor, US Coast Guard Captain - Master Near Coastal

  9. #9
    Grouper
    Join Date
    02/03/2008
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Age
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    Posts
    590
    that looks like a great place to dive- and there's probably not much boat traffic there, right? Thanks for the advice!

  10. #10
    Guppy Founding Member
    Join Date
    07/13/2007
    Location
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    Quote Originally Posted by mselizann View Post
    that looks like a great place to dive- and there's probably not much boat traffic there, right? Thanks for the advice!
    Actually there is a fair to moderate boat traffic at this area... the house boaters love to tie up and party near the tank... but if you get there first they will respect the dive flag... I personally know most of the guys and gals who hang out at this spot, and they are very good about the rules, and they love divers (we get all the crap they drop off their boats for them)
    Thanks,

    -- BMP --

    Las Vegas Divers

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