Norfork Lake / Jordan Marina August 2010
The Muck Diving Crew headed down to Norfork Lake for the first time. We met up with Denise and Dan at Jordan Marina. After weeks of trading emails, it was great to meet them face to face. I have to say both Denise and Dan are great “ambassadors” for the lake. Denise immediately met us and provided information about the lake and what it has to offer for diving. Norfork has a variety of dive attractions, including sunken boats, a bus, the notorious Snap-On truck, and a variety of natural wonders. We happen to arrive at at time when Jordan Marina was hosting a treasure hunt. Divers are challenged to find the treasure boxes using the clues and bring them back to the marina to win diving equipment from the Dive Shop. (We were not able to find any, but during our stay several were found. Lucky divers!)
Our first day of diving was spent shore diving along the Campground Bluff – located a few hundred feet from the marina docks. It is one of the few places to shore dive at Norfork because of limited road access to the lake. The Bluff was great, filled with natural tables of rock, and a variety of fish, and we were able to find several items lost by those that jump off the cliffs above… goggles, sunglasses, and even a cell phone.
The next three days we rented a very nice dive boat from the marina. The boat was spacious and even came with changing rooms in the rear. At the end of each day we pulled up to the marina and were met by the great crew who would grab our empty tanks to fill right there on the dock. They also allowed us to leave all our gear on the boat for the next day of diving. It doesn’t get any easier than this.
The first thing we noticed about the lake was the lack of major boat traffic (as an aside: we were diving during the week, not the weekend). We are use to diving Table Rock with the many boats and rougher water. Norfork was a calm lake, and the water less choppy. This provided a much more relaxing trip. During our visits with Denise she told us that many of the larger boats stay off the lake because there isn’t any major roads/ highways accessing the lake.
Initially, we were a little bummed hearing the dive conditions from Denise. She told us that because of the extreme heat of late July and August the muck level had increased and visibility was cut way down. Denise advised that the best time to dive the lake is April, May, and June where the visibility is awesome because the lake turns in April, but the lack of algae growth leaves it really clear. What we found is that the best diving was down to 25’ when we hit the first thermocline. We found viz to be at times 15-20 feet. The water temps were in high 80’s and maybe even low 90’s. We dove raw in just swim trunks and skin suits. We did attempt one dive down to 65’ to see if it opened up after hearing some reports that it did at 50’. Unfortunately, at this level it was total blackout mode with virtually no viz, and we abandoned the dive.
All in all, we had a great week of diving. We didn’t get any deep dives in, but the shallow diving (without all the rubber and weight) was relaxing. I kept thinking this is the best-kept secret in the Midwest. Norfork has a lot to offer divers and Jordan Marina is one of the finest run dive operations I have encountered. Everybody at the marina was great. Although this was our first trip (of many) to this lake, we were treated like long-time friends. We’ll definitely be planning trips to this lake again and again. In our four days there, we couldn’t hit all the dive sites this lake has to offer, and we look forward to exploring it even more.
A quick update on our newest Muck Diver, Mrs. Snagel: She now has 20 dives under her belt after this trip, but you wouldn’t know it from watching her dive (I may be a little biased, but she truly is a natural). During the dive at the Dam Corner her mouthpiece separated from her hose (Of course, she is blaming this on faulty assembly – that would be my fault once again). Anyway, she calmly floated over to her buddy and got her buddy’s Octo and made an ascent. No drama, no panic, just did exactly what she needed to do. This lead to an hour-long search and recovery for the missing mouthpiece, but we weren’t able to find it. I guess this was our gift to the Scuba Gods on this trip. (Note from Mrs. Snagel – If you find my mouth piece. I want it back! *grin*)