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  1. #1
    Junior Member New Bottler
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    Digging a river, anyone else have experience?

    I've been digging bottles from the Charles River for a while now. It's been off and on but recently I've ramped it up and gone several times this past week. My questions revolve around the current, clarity, and digging. This part of the Charles is safe to swim but the current is relatively strong due to the fact it is shallow, maybe 10 feet max, and the visibility is 3 feet on a good day. All this combined makes it taxing to stay out very long. On top of that, I am only able to take the bottles from the topmost layer because I cannot keep myself down long enough to dig any out. I think I may have a fix for this, SCUBA. I'm certified and renting near me is relatively cheap. Does anyone know of better ways to combat the river?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bottle Master
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    its tough to recover items from a moving river , if there is little to no current , it be relatively safe to scuba dive or snorkel in the area where the bottles are .

    but without being familiar with the actual location or seen pictures I don't really know what to suggest

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bottle Master Harry Pristis's Avatar
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    One tip for you is: use extra lead weights. You don't want neutral buoyancy in a river current -- you want to stay on the bottom. You want to anchor yourself while digging in the sediments. There is a sense of security with hands and knees on the bottom. There is potential panic when swept up by the current. I used 35 lbs. of lead on my belt, for example.

    Here's a bottle that I recovered in a coastal river in SC -- swift tidal current, near zero viz.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Bottle Master sandchip's Avatar
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    Now, that's a day maker!

  5. #5
    Remember that this is an overhead environment. You cannot just surface because of boat traffic. Sometimes the current is too strong and you have to abort the dive. Typically my visibility when digging for bottles is inches to zero, so navigation is by compass. Also, if you are weighted, be prepared to abandon your bottles if you end up overweighted. You can always go back to get them

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bottle Master Harry Pristis's Avatar
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    I'm dubious about JerryN's advice. The sound of boat traffic is unmistakable under water. You can hear a boat motor approaching, hear it overhead, hear it leaving.

    There is one reliable way to navigate under water: be aware of the current. Always work upstream (against the current) from your boat or put-in point. That way, the far bank is on your right, the near bank is on your left, safety (your take-out) is downstream. If you get turned around in a sluggish current, drop a pinch of bottom sediment into the beam of your light to determine the direction of the current.

    "Overweighted" is not really a problem with a BC. Bottles don't weigh much underwater, but that weight increases by the weight of the water and sediment they contain when you lift them out of the river. Finding again something you've left behind on the river bottom is a chancy thing -- don't put yourself in that position.

  7. #7
    Harry I disagree. If there is boat traffic you don't know where it is coming from until it is right over top. Sound travels faster under water and it is difficult to ascertain where it might be eminating from. If the boat is travling fast and you are near the surface without an SMB, that prop is going to ruin your collecting day and perhaps many to come. It is indeed an overhead environment. If you need to come up, deploy a big noticable SMB so that fast moving river boats can see an obstacle ahead.

    I agree that you want to go into the current and be over weighted.

    Perhaps Harry only collects bottles with no sediment. Mine always have river sediment in them and that is not neutral. Of course only a few bottles doesn't matter. But if you hit glory hole and have 20 and you are overweighted it acts like a second weight belt. I have never had to ditch them, but it is good to know before hand that in an emergency, drop it. I think I would rather search for my bag then have a problem surfacing. The accident record in scuba is replete with people who did not want to drop a $20 weight belt and were unable to stay on the surface.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bottle Master Harry Pristis's Avatar
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    The sound of boat traffic is unmistakable under water. You can hear a boat motor approaching, hear it overhead, hear it leaving.
    Note that I didn't say anything about direction, coming or going, of a motorboat on the surface above. That was deliberate because I understand the physics of sound propagation in water.

    I've hit a few "glory holes" but the bottles typically were modern and of little interest. I don't recall any collectible bottle that I had to empty of sediment. Wait . . . I did have to remove some mud from bottles recovered in Guyana.

    In Florida, the law requires a float with a flag or a "diver down" flag on your boat. You are required to stay with your float, and boaters are required to avoid the float. Common sense.

    Anyone who opts to drown rather than drop weights (when did we shift to talking about weight belts?) deserves a Darwin Award.

  9. #9
    Junior Member New Bottler
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    Deploy an SMB on an emergency/rapid surface. One can also use an SMB to mark your treasure to recover after bottle change. Nice bottle HP!

  10. #10
    I always take a compass bearing on the opposite shore, prior to submerging in a slow river, and I always surface up the riverbank to the shallows. In low / no vis., be very wary of fallen tress - a branch can dislodge your regulator, and or you can get fouled up in it. Beware of municipal water intakes, thunderstorms, jet skis and rivers controlled by dams ( some dams can let a lot of water go downstream very quickly ).
    Safe dives and great hunting!



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