Mermet Springs August 2014
As July melted into August the MWMD Team traveled to Southern Illinois to visit one of our favorite dive destinations – Mermet Springs. It certainly felt good to be back and meeting up with Glenn and PJ, owners of this World Class Dive Adventure.
This time we tried something different and took advantage of the awesome camping sites they have installed complete with full electrical hook-ups. This worked out great for us. We pulled in late and although nobody was around we had arranged for them to leave the lights on for us. After quickly setting up camp we spent a few minutes unwinding from the days travels before heading to bed so we could get an early start the next day.
Waking up at Mermet Springs is what life is all about…what more can you really ask for? The morning greeted us with a slight chill in the air-giving rise to fog emulating from the water. What perfect conditions for a long awaited dive. The best part was we didn’t have to rush out of a hotel to get to the quarry – those that wanted to sleep in could and those of us that simply had to get the gills wet could simply walk down to the water, gear up, and jump in.
We had been watching the diving conditions at Mermet all summer. Given the strange cool weather patterns this summer, the conditions almost everywhere in the Midwest have been suspect. As we are heading toward the end of summer the visibility has increased at Mermet. Water temps are in the low 80’s and the visibility is around 15 feet – maybe better / worse depending on depth and location. Not the best conditions we have seen at Mermet, but definitely not the worse either. In all, very divable and very enjoyable.
I’m not sure how many trips we have made to Mermet over the years and sometimes we forget how much this place has to offer. For those of you who still have not made a trip, you are missing out. Mermet Springs says they are World Class Diving and I have to say they are not just talking the talk, they are walking the walk. The place is a Utopia for Divers – starting with the surface facilities. The office is easily accessible with one of the friendliness staff that quickly funnels divers through the ordinary registration process with a down home smile. They do offer an assortment of dive gear at very reasonable prices should you need anything. If you need to rent anything, they can handle that as well. The facility provides real bathrooms that are very clean along with clean changing rooms and hot showers. Around the quarry they provide covered pavilions at no additional cost complete with gearing up tables. They seem to have plenty, but best advice is to call ahead of time and reserve a pavilion. If you get hungry, the snack shack is typically open offering typical lunch items like hamburgers and hotdogs for a very reasonable price.
Entering the water is easy through 3 different docks and this year they have upgraded all the docks and stairs with new composite wood decking. Simply gear up and walk down to nearest dock and walk right in the water….it really does not get any better than this.
Finally, the dive attractions – there are many that include the school bus, the petting zoo, the fire truck, the ambulance, several small Cessna planes, a rail car, a semi-truck, many training platforms ranging in depth from 15 feet to 100 feet. The biggest attraction and probably what many talk about when they discuss Mermet Springs is the Boeing 727. Yes, I said a Boeing 727, but this isn’t just any ordinary plane…this is the actual plane used in the Motion Picture U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones and Wesley Snipes. The plane is easily accessible to divers of all experience. It can be penetrated if you have the skills. I recommend that you watch the movie prior to visiting Mermet to give you a view of how the plane looked in the motion picture…you can still see many of the features.
One thing you will notice with all the attractions is that they are clean…not covered with silt. The staff actually takes time to clean everything weekly. This definitely helps to maintain the visibility, but gives a very professional and polished look.
I can’t believe how fast the weekend went by. Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to our friends at Mermet Springs and head back to the real world so we could afford to go on our next dive trip.