Saturday, November 10, 2012

Village of Clayton Scuba Diver Access for Frink Park is moving forward.

Village of Clayton Scuba Diver Access for Frink Park is moving forward.  

Skip Couch prsenting donation to Clayton Village Trustee Dennis Honeywell
from Hunt Underwater Speciaties
On Thursday November 8th, Skip Couch presented to Clayton Village Trustee Dennis Honeywell the first generous donation check for the Diver Access Point. This donation was from Hunt Underwater Specialties that operates several dive shops and air stations in Clayton, Alex and Watertown area. The money will be deposited in a Village managed bank account set aside for this project.
In September of this year, veteran Clayton diver Skip Couch proposed to Clayton Village Trustee Dennis Honeywell that a Scuba Diver Access Point could be placed in Clayton at the East end of the Thousand Islands Regional Dock at Frink Park on Riverside Drive. The access point proposal was accepted by the Village board with funding being provided through donations from divers, businesses and individuals.
The Scuba Diver Access is a great opportunity for the diving community to get good shore access to the St. Lawrence River in a great community. This would place a new site for both recreational Scuba and dive training to complement those sites already in Cape Vincent and Alex Bay.
The access point will consist of a floating dock with an attached T-ladder connected to shore by a ramp and steps. The diving community will be responsible for building, funding and maintaining the dock while the village will acquire all necessary permits and be responsible for putting the dock in the water in the spring and removing and storing the dock for the winter.
Skip Couch will be coordinating the construction work and raising the funds for the project. All work will be done by Scuba divers volunteers. The plan is to have this completed by spring 2013. Donating sponsors will be recognized in this project.
Any divers, businesses or individuals interested in supporting the Scuba Diver Access should send checks made out to “Village of Clayton”, with a memo that
it is for “the diver access point” to the following address.
Raymond (Skip) Couch
17749 County Route 3
Clayton, New York 13624.
If you have any questions, you can give Skip a call at 686-5102. Any and all contributions will be welcome.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Discoverers of 19th century shipwreck uncover its origin and “violent end”

Watertown Daily Times, October 16, 2012

CAPE VINCENT — Area divers who discovered a rare 19th-century shipwreck here last year in the St. Lawrence River believe they finally have uncovered the boat’s origin and its violent end.

After months of research, a team of local history buffs concluded that the 50-foot “Box Stove Wreck” is probably the Benicia Boy that “blew away” and went under on May 21, 1883, said Dennis R. McCarthy, a veteran diver from Cape Vincent.

He and fellow diver Raymond I. “Skip” Couch found the wreck by pure coincidence last August and, unable to identify it, temporarily named it after the rather valuable cast-iron stove found in the hull.

Mr. McCarthy said the Benicia Boy — an 1872 sloop built on Galloo Island by
Sackets Harbor businessman Barney Eveleigh — had lost its anchors fighting a storm while trying to return to Cape Vincent, forcing its crew to jump onto the village’s old railroad dock before the vessel sunk.

“She struck the pier with a force great enough to break her to pieces, but her crew was able to jump onto it before she came apart,” he said. “We suspect that the ship could have sunk and been de-masted by pulling the masts off from the surface. This could also have dragged the ship along the bottom.”

Upon their initial discovery last year, Mr. Couch, Mr. McCarthy and his wife, Kathryn, started searching for clues on the 50-foot-long and 14-foot-wide sloop that sunk near Cape Vincent.

The shipwreck was listed last fall as a new archaeological site with the state Historic Preservation Office — meaning that nobody is allowed to disturb the wreck without a permit — but the crew, using computer simulations, recreated the ship’s internal dimensions to determine how it worked and possible reasons as to why it sank.

And after digging through old newspaper articles and ship registries, they finally found a ship matching their profile of the wreck.

Named after mid-1800s American bare-knuckle prize fighter John Camel Heenan, aka the Benicia Boy — who died around the time the ship was put into commission — this particular sloop was able to carry a load of 10 cords of cedar wood and most likely sank during an attempt to move some cargo to Carleton Island in bad weather, Mr. McCarthy said.

Sloops are small vessels — less than 60 feet long and rigged with a fore-and-aft sail and a single mast — once used to transport goods by navigating through the shallow waters of small rivers, bays, canals and harbors. They eventually were replaced by steamships in the 1880s.

Very little is known of sloops built in the Great Lakes, and along with a potential in-depth archaeological survey of the Box Stove Wreck, the crew is seeking additional information — pictures and descriptions of sloops — from the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River community.

“We’re still trying to gather the full story,” Mr. McCarthy said Monday.
Anyone with information on the Benicia Boy or sloops of the Great Lakes may contact Mr. McCarthy at 299-3435 or via email at

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Watertown Daily Times, Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Watertown Daily Times, Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Veteran diver envisions Clayton as a popular diving spot; proposes to install an access point at regional dock

CLAYTON — A local veteran diver is spearheading a project to attract the diving crowd to downtown Clayton by installing a removable dock with a T-ladder at the Thousand Islands Regional Dock at Frink Park on Riverside Drive.

Although plans are preliminary — with project permits pending and about $6,000 to be raised — Raymond I. “Skip” Couch, a scuba diver since the 1960s and founding member of the Clayton Diving Club, said the divers’ access point could be installed as soon as next spring.
“I’ve been working on this for two or three years now,” he said, adding that Clayton has the potential to become a popular spot for recreational diving and especially for training.

Local governments have given their blessings for the project, which would be funded through donations from divers and possibly businesses.

The proposed U-shaped wooden structure — a floating dock that would be placed near the village’s main dock — would be 18 feet by 16 feet with a 6-foot-long middle section. It would be removed at the end of each diving season for maintenance and repairs.

Nearby St. Lawrence riverfront villages, such as Alexandria Bay and Cape Vincent, attract a large number of divers each summer, and Mr. Couch estimates that more than 50 divers would visit Clayton every weekend if they had better access to the water.

Village Trustee Dennis H. Honeywell said the access point also could be used as a kayak launch and should not interfere with the docking of boats.

If the project becomes a reality, he said, village businesses should benefit from the access point because divers are “stay-over people” who are likely to lodge and dine in Clayton.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Steam Barge Arizona
Found by a Rocket

Location: South Side of Wolfe Island
GPS: 44° 7.37N, 76° 23.018W

The wreck is located in Canadian Waters southwest of the Horne Ferry Landing on
the south shore of Wolfe Island, Ontario near the red buoy R244. Wreckage of the
Arizona is spread over an area about 200 by 30 feet. The wreck was dynamited
shortly after it was moved to its present location from the break wall at Cape Vincent
where she originally sunk.

Read the interesting story of how this wreck was discovered by divers in the early 1960's in
Thousand Islands  September issue story "Found by a Rocket"

Monday, August 27, 2012

 Friday August 24th
Schooner Maggie L.
The Clayton Dive Club deployed a buoy to help protect the wreck of the Schooner Maggie L. located off Clayton in French Creek Bay. Shipwrecks are an important underwater historic resources. Providing a buoy will reduce the risk of anchor damage caused by divers anchoring on the wreck and the buoy will also improve access to this popular dive site. Buoys provide safer ascents and descents for the divers. Buoying wrecks in Canadian waters is supported by several dive organizations and the Ontario Government.

1000 Islands Ready Mix Concrete donated the concrete mooring block for the buoy and R J Marine Associates LTD. placed the block on site. The Clayton Diving Club will maintain the buoy and have filled all the necessary regulatory permits before the buoy was deployed. A lighted buoy will replace the temporary holding buoys.

The Maggie L. was a 90 foot 2-masted wooden schooner that sunk after a collision with a steel freighter on November 4th, 1927 as she was leaving the main shipping lane towards Clayton. The Maggie L. was one of the last commercial ships to sail on Lake Ontario and the Upper St.
(Photo's by Carol Kozin)
Mooring block donated
1000 Islands Ready Mix Concrete

R J Marine Associates LTD's
Landing craft with morring block.

Morring block being deployed.

Block on Site.

Temporary holding buoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cape Vincent Dive Club

The Cape Vincent Dive Club will provide Scuba demonstrations during Cape Vincent's "A day on the River" activities, Saturday August 25th.  

Some of the following activities:
1)  Brief presentation regarding the clubs efforts in the community to promote diving locally.  
2)  Explanations of the various equipment used in recreational diving.
3)  Demonstrations of gearing up, using the buddy system.
4)  Demonstrations of a deep water entry from the end of the dock.
Two demonstration times, one at 11:00 AM and again at 1:00 PM

CVDC diving the Wolfe Island II
Night Dive with the CVDC

Friday, July 27, 2012

45 years ago!

The Clayton Diving Club Inc. was formed in 1967 and incorporated in 1968. It went on to buy land, had several dive boats and for over 30 years operated as an active Dive Club. In the late 1990's its numbers decreased and eventfully it divested itself of its assets and functionally stopped operating.
This video provides a glimpse into the exciting and interesting first years of sport scuba diving in the Thousand Islands. In 2010 a new Clayton Diving Club formed to carry on the rich tradition of scuba diving in Clayton, NY.

Video by:
Pictures: Skip Couch, Dennis & Kathi McCarthy
Song: "Ghost Fleet" by Tom Booth, Watertown NY (2010)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Schooner A. E. Vickery

August 17, 1889, the three-masted wooden schoonerA. E. Vickery struck the shoal above Rock Island Lighthouse while entering the AmericanNarrows with cargo of 21,000 bushels of corn destined for Wiser’s Distillery at Prescott, Ontario. She was launched July 1861 at Three Mile Bay, N.Y. as the J.B. Penfield and renamed the A. E. Vickery on February 25th, 1884. She was about 130 feet long by 26 feet wide and had a depth of hold of 11 feet

Side scan of the A.E. Vickery

Vickery's bow and hawse pipe

Vickery's windless and tow bit

Vickery's main deck

Vickery port hull

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dive the Islander, Clayton Diving Club, June 16th, 10 AM.

Composite photo of the wreck of the Islander, Alex Bay, NY.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Steam Barge Arizona

South of Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada across from Cape Vincent, NY
St. Lawrence River.

GPS: 44° 7.37N, 76° 23.018W


In 1922 the wooden propeller Arizona was the oldest steam barge on the Great Lakes. Launched in 1868, she had been rebuilt several times and was in good repair when she stopped at Cape Vincent on December 6th, 1922. She was on a return trip from Brockville, Ontario and heading to Oswego, NY. On the morning of December 7th, she caught fire at the Cape Vincent Break Wall. The Arizona was 188 feet long by 33 feet in beam. The raging fire onboard prevented her from being towed into deep water and she sunk at her moorings.  In 1923 the hull of the Arizona was raised from the break wall and fitted with pontoons so it could be moved to a location outside the navigation channels. It was then sunk using 200 pounds of dynamite. (From "Dive the Thousand Islands")


Photos: Dennis McCarthy 2012


Diver and prop

Bow area

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Google has a five-year project to map the entire ocean floor using an unmanned seagoing sensor

In the longer term, Google has a five-year project to map the entire ocean floor using an unmanned seagoing sensor, whose accuracy -- within "a few centimers" might discover the resting places of top-secret spy satellites and other sunken wreckage national security authorities had thought was hidden forever, potentially triggering a "treasure hunt" by foreign powers, Jones warned. "ONR [Office of Naval Research] had done research on this but they had run out of funding," Jones said. So Google tracked down 17 people who had worked on the project before their contracts were cancelled, hired them, and has restarted the initiative itself. "The Navy's tested it, it works great; [but] they got too poor. They just couldn't do it," said Jones, himself the proud son of a Navy sailor. "That's just not right."

Monday, May 14, 2012

St. Louis wreck, Cape Vincent, NY

Wreck of the St. Louis, Cape Vincent, NY         44° 8.010'N, 76° 19.240'W

The St. Lousis, 1864
The St. Louis was built in 1864 by Peck & Masters in Cleveland Ohio.  She was originally configured with 2 decks, one mast and listed to have a single screw propeller.  From 1864 to 1906 she was used in commerce on the Great Lakes and was owned by several different companies. Her owner in 1906, International Paper Company of Niagara Falls, rebuilt her at Tonawanda, N.Y. as a single mast tow barge of 588 tons. Her single cylinder steam engine, boiler and propeller were removed at that time. Marine record lists her as being stranded at Cape Vincent on February 18th, 1914. Her documents were surrendered and listed her as a total loss. On August 19th, 1922 it was noted in the local newspaper that the fire department responded to a fire on the St. Louis.   (From "Dive the Thousand Islands")

Monday, April 30, 2012

Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands

Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands

TI Museum To Exhibit "Shipwrecks of the Thousands Islands"  May 11 - June 28, 2012

Video presentation by TIASD

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 12th through 15th twenty students and professors from SUNY Geneseo visited the Thousand Islands Region for their Field Experience course. As part of their course the students researched subjects related to the 1000 Islands and did a presentation to their class during the trip. Student Emily Bukowski presentation was on shipwrecks in the region, and asked Thousand Islands Area Scuba Divers (TIASD) Dennis & Kathi McCarthy and Skip Couch to meet with the group in Clayton and share some of their knowledge about the local shipwrecks.

Emily Bukowski presenting her shipwreck project

Skip Couch and Kathi McCarthy with group

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Clayton Spring Clean Up Dive, 
Sponsored by the Village of Clayton, ABM, Clayton Dive Club, TIASD and others

Date: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Contact:  Rod Azar
Site: Mary Street Dock in Clayton

Don't let these pictures fool you. They were taken from the Mary Street dock on March 20th and the water is between 8 and 12 feet deep.

Mary Street Dock, Clayton NY (3/20/2012)

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