Mermet Springs / PennyRoyal Sept 2012
The summer of 2012 will go down as one of the hottest driest summers in history. It just seemed fitting that as we headed into the unofficial close to the summer (Labor Day), that the reminisces of Hurricane Isaac could be felt in the Midwest. (I thought we just had worry about hurricanes when we travel to the Caribbean?) As we made our way across the state and then down south to Mermet Springs the windshield wipers worked overtime. Pulling into Mermet was like coming home and it was good to see that place was full of eager divers (actually not as many as you would think). After checking in we had to see for ourselves what everybody was saying, “The viz is awesome at Mermet and the Jellyfish are out”. Yes, it was true, the water looked amazing and we could see the training platforms from the docks. There was no time to waste because diving was upon us and thankfully the Scuba Gods took pity on us and let up on all the rain.
For our first dive we figured we should take an easy shallow dive visiting some of the great sites Mermet has to offer. As we made our way around the quarry we found our first Jelly Fish; a lot smaller than I thought they would be. We spent a lot of time trying to take the perfect picture and video of these strange little creatures. At the same time the Spoonbill must have felt a little frisky that day because it seemed they strolled by one after another checking out what these fool divers were doing. An hour and a half later we finished our dive and it was time for some lunch and then gear up for another dive. Our 2nd dive we made it a little deeper down to the boxcar, by the missile, and then to the plane. Coming back we swam along the wall back to the bus and then to the other side for some wall diving.
We had considered doing a night dive, but having to drive all day and then two long dives was enough for one day. Good thing because shortly after arriving at our hotel in Metropolis the tornado sirens sounded. As we watched outside the hotel, it rained hard, then sideways, then nothing. Shortly the wild storm was over and it was time to grab some food at our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Metropolis.
The next day we loaded up again and traveled south arriving in Hopkinsville, Ky to check out Penny Royal Quarry. Pulling up we were simply amazed at how blue the water was. After checking in and filling out all the paperwork, down the hill to the pavilions. As we looked into the quarry we were even more amazed at how clear the water was. We thought Mermet’s viz was great, but this was a divers dream. We quickly got the gear on and into the water. Oh my god, is this the Caribbean? We measured the viz to be 40+ feet. What more can a Midwest Muck Diver want? After wading out to the shelf we dropped down and found several wrecks – of course, the traditional school bus, many boats and trucks, a motorcycle, and an RV. We made two dives and each one was very peaceful and relaxing. I simply have never seen visibility like this at any quarry in the Midwest.
After the diving was done, we met up with the owners Dennis and Kris. Talking to Kris he told us that they had treated the quarry several weeks prior with a chemical that bonds the suspended particles and makes them drop. It definitely worked. Dennis told us that that they are working on adding some heated showers and real toilets; hopefully, for next years season. This will definitely make diving at Penny Royal much more enjoyable; especially, for the Diva Divers in the group.
What a whirlwind trip, but very well worth it. We covered three states and two of the top notched quarries in the Midwest in one long weekend and enjoyed every minute of it. This got us thinking we need to get the map out and plot out all the Midwest quarries and maybe make a week long trip traveling around the Midwest.
Stay tuned as these plans develop…..