Locations/Kingston

Comet
Article 2

May 1999
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Type: Shipwreck (Paddle Wheeler)
Build: Wood
Location: Kingston
Nearest municipality: Kingston
Depth: 70+ feet (23+ meters)
Visibility: 20+ feet (10+ metres)
Approximate length: 174 feet (52.2 metres)
Built: 1848
Sunk: 1861
Access: Boat
Level: Intermediate


Stunning. Huge. Massive. Shocking. Surprising. Fill in the blank with any of those: the paddle wheels on the Comet are absolutely ________.

For anyone who has had the pleasure of diving the Comet that is about all the reminder they need to set their mind reeling. The propulsion devices of this 337-ton side wheeler still tower 25' above the bottom of Lake Ontario near Kingston. They are the most intact part of the ship, with much of the upper decks having been flattened. It is still possible to penetrate the lower deck and swim between the two massive boilers which run a good portion of the length of the 174' ship.

Originally designed as a passenger ferry the Comet has been under the water more often than some submarines. Her history runs like this: sunk from hitting a shoal and was raised, boiler exploded, sank and was raised, then finally hit another ship, sank and was let rest in peace to fulfill her U-boat fantasies at a depth of 80'. (Looking from the end, thanks to the way the wheels stand perfectly vertical from the bottom and the upper decks are fairly flat, the ship does actually resemble a "U".)

The wheels are so large they almost double the width of the ship from 25' to 45', and triple the excitement of diving on it. They are actually big enough to swim through, but you will have to get pretty friendly with the zebra mussels to manage it.

Due to it's location visibility can range from being able to see it from the surface, to 10' depending on the current and the whims of Ma Nature, but when she is in a good mood this is a great dive. On a day in early May the temp was 43 degrees and vis an appreciable 50' and there was plenty of light to see by even when penetrating the lower deck thanks to holes through the upper one.

Tom Wilson is a PADI divemaster, and can be contacted at marvintpa@hotmail.com

 
 
 
Comet Pictures
Comet Pictures
   

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