Type: Shipwreck (schooner)
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Nearest municipality: Kingston
Depth: 110' feet (28 meters)
Visibility: 20-40 feet (6-12 metres)
Approximate length: ( metres)
Level: Advanced (not for novices due to depth and darkness)
The Munson is the kind of wreck that makes even a veteran diver say, "Hubba hubba."
It is deep enough that light penetration levels drop far enough to
force your eyes to adjust, and about halfway down the 110' to the
bottom your vision begins to beg for something to see. No matter
how strong your light it won't reach all the way to this wreck.
This wreck kind of reaches out to you (before you put that down
to being simply unoriginal hyperbole, remember that the Munson
is a dredge with four large "legs" that extend directly towards
To understand the attraction of the Munson you need is an idea of
what it is: a squarish, two level barge with a bucket on a hinged crane
arm. For having been on the bottom of Lake Ontario for over a century
she is in amazing condition.
The ship is a testament to two things: the ability of fresh water
to preserve a wreck, and the ability of man to do the same. Preserve
Our Wrecks (POW) Kingston has done such a marvelous job of educating
divers that some of the tools, cutlery, and other small items that
went down when she sunk in 1890 are still there. A forge, boilers for
raising and lowering the bucket in the pre-hydraulic days, and the
dredging arm are all still intact, albeit in less-than-original
condition. But it is in such good shape it is actually possible to
follow the cables from the boiler area all the way through their
routings to the bucket.
On the lower deck you can find the workbench littered with
tools, a stove, and the collection of utensils and ceramics. The
upper deck is so intact not much light penetrates through here,
so a dive light is mandatory if you want to see the details (like
things NOT to swim into.)
Bound for Rossmore the Munson did not make it far out of Kingston
when she sprang a leak and sank while under tow. She had to be cut
loose to keep her from pulling the tugs down with her, and now rests
less than a 20 minute boat ride from Collins Bay.
Since it is one of Kingston's crown jewels in the wreck department
the Munson has been featured on several TV shows including Sport Diver
and Undersea Adventure, who liked to point out that there was no loss
of life although the cook William Green went down with the ship. The
story goes that he was in the kitchen preparing a meal at the time of
the sinking and went down about 30' before escaping the pull of the
ship and making it to the surface.
At the time of this writing the Munson is not as covered in zebra
mussels as many wrecks in the Great Lakes, and presents few hazards
to divers other than the cold, depth and darkness. It has few
entanglement problems other than some coat-hangar-like wire
amidships on the lower deck and some fishing line that has already
done in a few small fish.
With the open design of the decks penetration is particularly easy on
this ship and safer to boot.
Tom Wilson is a PADI divemaster, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org