Type: Shipwreck (Paddle Wheeler)
Nearest municipality: Kingston
Depth: 70+ feet (23+ meters)
Visibility: 20+ feet (10+ metres)
Approximate length: 174 feet (52.2 metres)
Stunning. Huge. Massive. Shocking. Surprising. Fill
in the blank with any of those: the paddle wheels on the Comet are
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 firstname.lastname@example.org