A 10-minute underwater swim off the eastern shore of Sand Hollow Reservoir will bring scuba divers to a series of submerged wrecks, which are just one feature of the scuba course in the lake located just 45 minutes from Cedar City.
Through the Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism department, SUU offers a scuba class taught by dive masters from Aqua Sports, a St.George dive center that is certified by the Professional Association of Dive Instructors.
The ORPT class instructs students on the necessary knowledge and skills of diving, and includes four confined dives in the PE building pool and credit towards four open water dives required for the PADI Open Water Diver certification.
Over the past two weeks, students have been completing certification requirements at Sand Hollow State Park, where Aqua Sports instructs divers in the course located in the reservoir.
From the surface, the only visible markers of the course are buoys that warn boaters to avoid passing through the designated dive area.
However, as scuba divers descend, they navigate around and through submerged sandstone protrusions to features such as buoyancy rings, culverts, platforms and several submerged vehicles.
Lying on the lake bottom between depths of 35-60 feet are toilets, a bomb, a Cessna 320 airplane, a 26-foot Reinell boat and a ‘69 Volkswagen bus.
Kevin Dye, scuba instructor and dive master at Aqua Sports, described the process of getting some of the craft into the reservoir.
“We had a dive master who was also a crane operator that set trusses in town. We brought the plane out on a trailer, screwed the wings on, and he set it right in the water. We took it out from there”
By utilizing lift bags (synthetic bags filled with air) both in the fuselage and on the outside of the plane, divers were able to stabilize the buoyancy of the plane and direct its intended location on the lake bottom.
They endeavor took about 15 people; some topside in boats, some underwater working lift bags and taglines. Getting the bus into the water was a little more exciting.
“We drove the bus right off the shore into the lake,” Dye said with a chuckle, “The parking brake wasn’t working to slow it down, so we hit a few bumps and threw up some sand with the bumper before hitting the water.”
Dye referred to an amateur-quality youtube video capturing the event.
The initial fee associated with the class covers equipment rental costs for the dives required for certification, which permits diving anywhere in the world up to 18 meters/60 feet.
Additional certification costs apply, though Aqua Sports has subsidized the cost of the Adventure Diver certification (allowing dives to the recreation limit of 40 meters/130 feet) to students who continue their dive training within a reasonable time frame.
Story by: Reyce Knutson
Photos by: Mitchell Quartz and Reyce Knutson