Local Dive Sites
Nope, that ain't around here!
The Savannah River
Diving conditions: about 66-72 deg F, 8 ft visibility (varies)
Profile: 15-20 ffw max, temperature 72 deg F (or less), bottom time limited only by air consumption. Current and visibility vary. Divable year around depending on your cold tolerance.
Entry: One option is to park at the Riverfront Marina and jump in off the pier. The shoreline going down to the pier is steep, so you can also just walk down the boat ramp. Best to swim upstream for a while, and then drift back to the marina. Another option is to take two cars, suit up at the Riverfront Marina and leave one car (with towels, etc.) there. Then in the other car drive up to the 5th Street marina near Saint Paul's and enter there using the boat ramp. This "Great Savannah River Drift Dive" down to the Riverfront Marina takes about an hour depending on current and how much you zig-zag. After about 45 minutes, stay on the Georgia side so you don't miss the Riverfront Marina boat ramp. Lots of stuff to see, including wrecks and old gym equipment. The Augusta Dive Club folks can show you other options.
What to do: The Georgia side is generally more interesting. Lots of junk, old boats, beer and soft drink cans and an opportunity to clean up the river. The Augusta Dive Club has a scavenger hunt now and then. Steve has a knack for finding valuable things, some quite old, that have been thrown in the river. Typical river fish life, turtles, occasional snakes along the shore. When current is strong, you can do aerobic exercise by swimming in large circles (upstream, downstream).
Warnings: Dive flag absolutely essential, or you'll be fined. Fishermen abound, and Mike and Bill have been "caught." Be sure to bring a dive knife. Also, boats and jet skiers don't always know about dive flags (or consider them as targets), so be really careful when surfacing. Don't get swept down river - it's a long, hard swim back to the marina!
Profile: Maybe 5 ffw max, temperature 80 deg F, unlimited bottom time. No current, great vis. Divable year around.
Entry: Can step in from the shallow end or take a giant stride in the deep end.
What to do: Perfect for dive training, checking out equipment, skills practice, a refresher course, swim parties. Check with the shop for availability before coming.
Warnings: Dive flag not needed. Alligators only rarely sighted.
Clark's Hill Lake
(Some people call this Lake Thurmond)
Location: If you're coming from the SC side, take the Highway 221 exit (left) from Highway 28. As you drive along 221, there are exits (not seen on Google maps) for the lake (don't take), the Visitor's Center (don't take), and then the Overlook. If you get on the dam road, you've gone too far! Park your car in the Overlook lot (next to the dam), below the Visitor's Center.
Diving conditions: about 68-72 deg F at the airplane (varies); around 6 ft. visibility at the airplane, a little more at greater depths
Profile: The airplane is in about 25-30 ft of water. I don't know how deep the lake is, but you can go more than 100 ffw deep here. This is a perfect site for nitrox.
Entry: Various entry points are available. The "usual" is to enter from the shore next to the dam. This is treacherously steep and rocky.
What to do: A detailed dive site map is available at the Divers of Augusta Facebook page, and members of the Augusta Dive Club lead dives most weekends and some weekdays. Finding the airplane is pretty easy. Descend, and head west along the dam, keeping the rocks on your left, and the mud on your right. You will always run into the plane's right wing if you do this. Lots of fish. From the airplane, lines lead in a couple of directions. Ideal for practicing navigation skills in a low vis. environment. There's a thermocline at the airplane, and it's cold below that. Around the airplane, a 3mm wetsuit may be fine for you. Up to about 50-60 ffw, a 5mm wet suit is good. Deeper than that, a 7mm wet suit or dry suit.
Warnings: Dive flag is absolutely essential, or you'll be fined. Watch out for jet skiers and boats.
A diver surrounded by bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) at the lake.
Photo by Derek Woodson