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Sligo
Jul 22nd, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwreck
Build  Wooden, three-masted barque converted into schooner-barge
Location

 Toronto harbour, Lake Ontario

Depth  66 feet
Length  134 feet
Built  1860
Sank  1918
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Intermediate
Orientation

 Upright

In diving they teach you to plan how to deal with problems. A few years ago a problem on this site might have been… what happens if I surface and all my dive gear has dissolved? Being at the foot of a major metropolitan center (you can see details on the CN Tower and Skydome from here, they’re so close) you never know what kind of chemicals are making their way through these waters. That appears to be less of a problem today, and this was quite a good dive (and all gear that went down came back).

The Sligo started life as a three-masted barque (actually, it started as a bunch of trees, but let’s not go back QUITE that far) that was used as an ocean-going vessel before being converted into a "canaller" schooner barge.

During a storm that threatened her and her tug she took on water and either broke loose or was cut loose allowing the tug to make it to shore. The Sligo’s crew made it to shore in a lifeboat. (Rumour has it that when they reached shore they went to a pub to "warm up" and did not report their safety until the next morning, making people believe for awhile they were dead in the storm.)

This dive features 15′-40′ of visibility (at least the days we did it), and a slight current to help deal with the fine silt which is easily kicked up. The wooden-stock anchor is still inside the bow on the port side just beside the windlass. Twenty feet off the stern lies her signature piece: the wheel, with a short length of steering gear below it keeping it propped up off the bottom.

A boiler towards the bow of the wreck has a thin glass tube that looks like a water level-indicator which is a rarity, especially after nine decades on the bottom.

It can be hard to tell when you’ve found part of her cargo since the Sligo was carrying stone for a highway construction project (a predecessor of the QEW) when she sank.

 

Lyman M. Davis
Jul 22nd, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwreck
Build  Wooden
Location

 Toronto Harbour, Lake Ontario

Depth  135 feet
Length  123 feet
Built  1873
Sank  1934
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Advanced to Technical
Orientation

 Upright

The "Dirty 30’s" touched just about every facet of life in North America, even managing to extend its reach into the realm of wreck diving. In the depression era people were so starved for entertainment they would pay to line up along the Toronto shoreline and watch as an old ship, well past its prime, was set ablaze with some dynamite and a few fireworks (not that people today would likely be any different). This is how the Lyman M. Davis met its fate as as part of Toronto’s centennial celebrations, and now rests not far from the current CNE grounds.

Since it was scuttled you can pretty much guess in advance of diving the site there will be no deck machinery, or masts, or much of anything to see, or so I thought. While the deck "furniture" is certainly gone, stripped for its value before sinking, there is still a surprising amount of the ship left. The deck is gone, but the same can be said of many ships which met a far less violent fate.

Much of the bow remains, with a sizeable portion the bowsprit caught in the rigging and laying along the port side at the bow. (see last photo at bottom of this page). The rudder, centreboard box, sternpost, and a good deal of the sides remain, well coated in zebra mussels as is just about everything in Lake Ontario these days. At present the site is not moored but the Toronto chapter of SOS is attempting to rectify that. The site was mentioned in an article by the Toronto Star (July 10, 2004) where it was described as a "black wreck in black water", a quote taken from an unidentified source, potentially from a time before the onslaught of infamous zebras.  At least on the day we were there it certainly did not deserve that description - we enjoyed decent light penetration and roughly 60′ of visibility.

 

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