We decided to head out to Twin Cave today for a change of scenery. Twin Cave is located in Merritt's Mill Pond and only accessible by boat so it's not one we frequent too often. We have a canoe, which we've had out on the river, but we've never tried to put gear in it. It's an older canoe made of wood and thin fiberglass, but it does have a wide body. The big question has always been whether it will hold 2 people plus 2 sets of gear. That's 2 LP108s, 2 LP95s, 2 Nomads, 2 sets of jet fins, plus 2 divers in neoprene. We're estimating between 650-700 lbs!
Well, we arrived at the boat launch and put the canoe in the water. We took it for a test run with just us (no gear, tanks, etc). We paddled over to the Twin Cave dock with no problem. It took us less than 10 minutes to get over there. From there, we headed back across the pond to look for Indian Washtub (didn't find it on this run), then we headed up the pond to look at Shangri-La. After looking at Shangri-La, we headed back over towards Indian Washtub and were able to find it this time. We finally headed back to the launch to begin preparations for taking the canoe out with gear. This entire tour took less than 1/2 an hour.
Back at the launch, we began setting up. We analyzed our gas (had a blown spool ring that had to be replaced) and hauled the tanks over to the water. We place the 108s at the front of the canoe and the 95s at the back. I sit in the back and Jenn sits in the front, so we were trying to keep the weight distributed as evenly as possible. We tossed the fins in the front, Nomads in the middle (fully inflated), and masks/computers in a reg bag (that floats) in the back. We pushed the canoe out a bit, both got in and took it for a little test run in the shallows around the launch. So far, so good. We didn't sink the canoe. In fact, we still had several inches of boat above the water! We headed back to shore and got out to suit up.
We suited up to our waists and got back in the canoe. Well, add a 7mm wetsuit and a crushed neoprene dry suit, both damp from yesterday's dive, and things change a little. We had to push the canoe out farther to get off the bottom (hopefully get off the bottom). We finally pushed off far enough and were still afloat!!! We only had about 5-6 inches of boat above the surface, but we weren't taking on water. It's one thing to be in a canoe with a couple of people, but an entirely different thing when you add a few steel tanks and wet neoprene. The slightest shift in weight would tip the canoe to one side or another. We quickly learned how to deal with this so we wouldn't flip the boat and made it over to Twin Cave without any incidents!
We pulled in next to the steps, climbed out and tied the canoe to the dock. We then pulled out bottles out and clipped them to the loops along the sides of the steps installed for this purpose. Nomads, fins, etc went on the dock and then the canoe went under the dock. We geared up, got in the water, clipped bottles on and we were set.
This was our first dive in Twin in several months. There used to be cave line that started near the sign and lead down to the gold line, but apparently it's been taken out. I'm actually glad to see this. I always thought that extra length of line was unnecessary. We found the gold line and begin our swim through the Subway. We headed back to the end of the Subway. Jenn just got over a cold and is still having minor sinus issues so she decided not to drop down to the deep section of Twin. I did drop down for a quick peak and experienced a pretty significant change in water temperature. I'd guess the temperature drops at least 7 degrees! I dropped down at the 1st T as well and found the same change in temperature. We then slowly made our way back to the entrance/exit. There were a lot of catfish swimming around in the Subway, even as far back as 800' or so. Visibility was about 20-30' in the Subway. Closer to the entrance, it was less then 20'.
We surfaced from the dive and decided to swim over Indian Washtub to check it out. We got over there without being run over by any boats (there was a jon boat coming back from JB area). We dropped down and found an even larger temperature change than in Twin. I'd guess the temp dropped close to 15 degrees! I poked around in a couple of holes that didn't look like they went anywhere. I also pulled at some of the weeds in the area to see if I could find the entrance, but pulling at the weeds mucked things up so bad we couldn't see anything anymore. We headed back to the dock and reversed the process to get gear back into the canoe. We then headed back to the launch.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for being out on the pond. Air temp was in the mid to high 60s, maybe even in the low 70s. No wind. It couldn't have been a nicer day. Our canoe experiment went great! We were able to load all our gear and ourselves without any problems. We didn't bring deco tanks with us and had planned the dive for a short deco on back gas if we ended up staying that long, but we didn't. The next time we'll try adding our 40s. I'm pretty sure they will do just fine. I'm also thinking about building a stabilizer for the canoe. A couple of sealed 4" pvc pipes on either side with a bracket across the top should keep the canoe from tipping and help us be able to put more gear in the canoe if needed. We didn't bring a camera with us this time, but next time we will and I'll get some shots of the canoe loaded up. It was quite an experience. I wish we had tried this out sooner!