Norfork Lake / Jordan Marina July 2012

It’s summertime in the Midwest and the days of ice, snow, and rains are all but a memory. The MWMD crew took time out to return to one of our favorite hangouts, Jordan Marina on Norfork Lake. With the July 4th holiday just around the corner, the heat was on and I mean literally. When we arrived the temp gauge was peaking the 112 mark, but that didn’t detour us from spending the weekend enjoying the lake – we just had to be smart about it and make sure we had the sunscreen and plenty of water and Gatorade.

This trip we decided to treat ourselves with all the comforts of home and took advantage of one of Jordan’s newest cabins – the Divers Den. This provided a nice comfortable place to relax and cool down after a long day on the lake. The cabin has two bedrooms, a single bath with shower and Jacuzzi tub, wide-open living room area and kitchen with all the amenities. Outside a comfortable deck with a grill that we used nightly for our dinners and most importantly air conditioning.

Our dive boat, The Muck Diver, is stored in the storage lot at the Marina right across from the Divers Den. It sure was nice to pull up and see her greeting us. I swear I could see a smile coming from her and little jiggle when she saw us. After settling in, I had to visit my old friend and see how she has survived these last couple months since we last saw her. After removing a bird’s nest and convincing a crew of wasps that they needed to move on, it was time to get her back in the water.

Jordan’s Marina was full of life as many were enjoying the lake and the beach area to cool down. It sure was good to meet up with Denise and Dan who were busy with scuba classes and working keeping the marina in tip-top shape. It amazed me at how many people it took to keep the marina going maintaining the store, pumping gas, greeting boats as they came in, cleaning boats, and ensuring that every person was enjoying their time at the marina. Our hats go off to the entire crew at Jordan’s Marina. Every employee we met greeted us with a smile and treated us like a long lost friend. The atmosphere was simply enjoyable and relaxing. I think many dream about a job where you can work on the water, but what we seen was a lot of hard work. One evening we walked down to the marina at 8pm and shocked to see many of the employees still at the marina since they closed at 7pm. They were busy getting things ready for the next day. More amazing is that we know many of these dedicated employees started their day early around 7am. One in particular told us that she lived about an hour and half away and was there every morning and every evening when the marina opened and closed.

I think what draws us to Jordan’s Marina besides the great diving the lake has to offer is the friendliness we experience when we are there and the dedication they have to divers. They provide all the amenities a diver needs, but they also try to make it fun. They run a Treasure Hunt with clues posted at the marina so divers can head out on an adventure looking for treasure. A new thing Dan was telling us about is they are now offering Geo Caching. They have sunk various treasure boxes around the lake and invite divers to find them with GPS. Once you find the Geo Site, you take something from the box and leave something for the next diver.

So, now to the important stuff – the diving. I would have loved to have reported that what we found was 40’ viz and the blue water of the Caribbean. Well, not so much. Although Norfork has traditionally some of the best diving conditions in the Midwest; something has happened to the lake. Last year the lake suffered from record-breaking floods and this year although the floods didn’t come like last year, March did spawn some flooding. The lake quickly returned to normal pool and was heading in the right direction but then the viz fell off to what we experienced about 5’ in the shallows. Nobody knows for certain, but it probably has something to do with the area didn’t really experience a hard winter this year. It was a fairly warm winter and that may have something to do with it. All hopes are that soon the lake will settle a little and we will have somewhere in the 15’ viz range in the shallows. Keep an eye on Jordan’s website for the conditions because they are accurate with the posted conditions.

A popular area for our Diva Divers, is Indian Island. We initially made a trip out to the island, suited up, but the viz in this area simply was not very good. We loaded up and headed to the Dam. This is known to have the best conditions on the lake. We made a couple dives at the Dam and the conditions were not too bad. In the shallows we had about 5’ viz with occasionally a little better. We did make a trip down to 100’ and below 30’ it did start to open up, but it also got dark. Water temps below the thremocline were in the 60’s; so, a thicker suit, hood, and gloves were in order. Surface temps were in the low 80’s. The next day we made a trip to the Dynamite Shack. After searching a little we finally found the shack. Conditions at this site were not too bad. The shack is in about 35’ of water; so, just below the thermocline. We moved across the lake to Devil’s Backbone and made a shallow dive and it was a nice dive. The Diva Divers decided to sit this day out, but we will be back with them on this site. They will enjoy the rock formations and the fish this area has to offer. To end the day, we went back to the Bluffs by Jordan’s Marina. Sand Island was packed with boats as many were wading in the water trying to keep cool. We enjoy diving the bluffs because of the great rock formations in the area and the occasional treasure we find from those who jump off the rocks. This time our treasure included a t-shirt, multiple hair braids, a pair of prescription glasses, and a $1 bill (Does this mean we are now professional divers having been paid to dive?)

Although the temps were souring above 100 degrees, we had a very nice trip and can’t wait to get back down. Although the dive conditions were not the best, we enjoyed getting our gills wet. Our philosophy is a bad day of diving is much better than a day of working. Finally, once again we want to thank the staff at Jordan’s Marina for their hospitality they shown us. The Staff is what makes Jordan’s Marina more than your typical marina.