As the publisher of a magazine about SCUBA diving on shipwrecks, you can imagine how excited I was when I learned about a location in the Old Ninety Six district of South Carolina perfectly suited for training. As with all sports, training is essential to honing your skills in order to have a safer and more enjoyable experience, particularly when it comes to diving in waters that may not offer the best visibility, or may present obstacles such as an overhead environment inside a shipwreck. Having a place to train before taking the big plunge into the real thing is essential, and I found the site at the Lake Thurmond Visitors Center on Clarks Hill Highway, in Clarks Hill, SC to be perfect.
My wife and I decided to take a couple of days and tour the area to enjoy the small towns and cities that surrounded the dive site. Within a 25 mile radius we visited Edgefield, Greenwood, Abbeville, and McCormick, where we stopped and enjoyed one of the best Pizzas we ever tasted at Little Italy’s Pizzeria, right on Main Street in McCormick.
Finding a place to stay close to the dive site is a bit of a challenge, but if you do your homework you can find bed and breakfast in the smaller towns, or the major hotel chains in Greenwood, the larger of the cities. Another excellent choice only five miles from the dive site is the Modoc Campground, offering electricity, and running water at each lakeside camp site. As we set up our tent, we were even welcomed by a family of wild deer in the woods adjacent to us.
The dive site itself is beautiful. There is ample parking and only a short walk down to a small white-sand beach where we entered the water. You can suit up at your car as we did, or you can take your gear down to the beach and suit up there. To enter the water you need to be prepared for a very shallow walk for the first thirty feet, so you will need to carry your fins instead of putting them on at the beach. It was the end of September for us, and the water was still very warm requiring only a light wetsuit, at least in the shallow water where we stayed. The dive site has many choices for every level of diver depending on your purpose. Although I didn’t choose a navigation course, there are navigation lines already set up to practice your use of an underwater compass at multiple depths. There are many ledges to dive at depths extending to over one hundred feet deep; however for our dive we were curious about seeing a sunken airplane at a depth of only thirty six feet.
As we entered the water, we only had to keep the rock wall of the Lake Thurmond dam to our left and swim about fifty yards out, and there it was. An airplane underwater, something you don’t see every day. The visibility wasn’t that great during our dive which made taking photographs challenging, but we were able to get a few close-ups.
If you are looking for the perfect place to extend your training for those far away vacation spots, or just want a place to get wet and have fun (and enjoy some local small town charm), this dive spot is ideal.
By Joe Porter, Publisher of Wreck Diving Magazine, www.WreckDivingMag.com
To the best of our knowledge, the information contained herein is accurate & reliable as of the date of publication; however, we do not assume liability for the accuracy & completeness of information. This is not an all-inclusive listing.