Lake Winnipesaukee Dive Sites
Lady of the Lake
"The Lady" was built in 1848-1849 by the Winnipesaukee Steamship Co. She was a side wheel paddle steamer, 125 feet long, and went on to dominate commercial lake traffic until 1872 when the steamship "Mt. Washington" was launched. In 1893, she was docked in Glendale Cove (now named Smith Cove), stripped of machinery and used for temporary housing for the workmen building Kimball's Castle. In 1895, her keel was filled with rocks and she was going to be sunk in deep water north of Rattlesnake Island. While being towed, she sank unexpectedly in the middle of the cove. She rests upright in 30 feet of water in front of NH Marine Patrol Headquarters. She is one of the easiest and most popular dive sites in the lake. The water temperature ranges between 65-78 degrees in the summer, requiring full wetsuits. The average visibility is 10-20 feet. The double layered oak hull and decking remain intact allowing for diving through the deck holes and peeking out the portholes. There is a tremendous fish population living on and around the wreck including; small & large mouth bass, yellow perch, sunfish, hornpout, and an occasional cusk or eel.
This is a rendering of the Lady of the Lake as she looked during her working days.
This is a rendering of the wreck as it looks today looking down from above.
This wreck sank in the early 1900's near Weirs Beach. It can be found in about 45 feet of water due east of the black and white buoy off of Doe Point. It was a work barge designed for driving pilings into the mud. The wreck is intact. It sits upright and the crane and boiler are still attached. This is a cold dive (52 degrees F in the summer) so a hood and gloves are strongly recommended. Bring a light also.
"Empty Pockets" and The Diamond Island Dory
These 2 wrecks are located close to one another off the NW point of Diamond Island. "Empty Pockets" is a twin engine cabin cruiser about 28 feet long. It rests in about 55 feet of water. Registration suggests that it sank in the late 1970's. The hull is intact but the helm station has begun caving in.
The Diamond Island Dory is located to the southeast of "Empty Pockets" about 40 yards towards the island. This 19 foot boat is in about 35 feet of water. There may still be a line running from the starboard side bow rail of "Empty Pockets" to the Dory.
Old Navy Underwater Laser Testing Site
Just south of "Empty Pockets" is the location of part of the Navy's old underwater laser testing site that dates back to the mid-1950's. The Visibility Lab of the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography conducted testing to study laser transmission through water. A rail car that ran on a track, like a coal-mining rail car, was used to measure how fast the laser beams were traveling through water. One of the rail car staging towers can be found in 45 feet of water. A few pieces of the rail car track can be found laying on the bottom.
The below video begins in the area of the Navy Testing Site. The item in the video referred to as "The Chair" is the staging tower referred to above. The second part of the video is the Empty Pockets wreck. The third part of the video is a small fiberglass boat (it is not the "Diamond Island Dory") that is between Empty Pockets & "The Chair". The last part of the video is a area just south of "The Chair". This area is 10 - 25 feet deep & contains a lot of debris abandoned by the Navy when they left.
Ship Island Wrecks
There are two wrecks located off the eastern side of Ship Island. The 1st wreck lies directly east of Ship Island on a rocky slope at a depth of 30 feet. It appears to be a 25 foot cruiser with a closed bow from the 1950's. The hull is visible along with a big block motor and shaft and batteries. The 2nd wreck lies north of the 1st wreck in 85 feet of water. This wreck is about 18 feet long, a red hull with white decking and a steering wheel. There is no motor and no visible hardware. Both wrecks can be found on a single dive.
To locate the shallower wreck, anchor off Ship Island in 15-20 feet of water directly facing Little Barndoor Island. Check the following compass headings from the surface.
150 degrees to eastern black marker buoy off Moose Island.
215 degrees to southern red marker buoy off Ship Island.
265 degrees to northern black marker buoy off Ship Island.
Swim down the rocky slope to a depth of about 27 feet on a heading of 90 - 100 degrees. The bottom should be no deeper than 30 feet. At depth, turn south and follow the slope at 27 feet until the wreck is found. It is behind a big rock.
The deeper wreck is north of the 1st wreck. You will want a hood, gloves and a light for this dive. To locate the deeper wreck, first find the shallower wreck. Then swim east down the slope to about 38 feet and turn north. Quickly find a small rock pile containing a beer can. There is a line attached to the beer can and marked with some pink surveyors tape. Follow the line, which turns into a white fiber tape line, to the wreck in 85 feet of water.
This flat-bottomed vessel was one of the earliest on the lake and typical of Yankee ingenuity. It was powered by two horses on a treadmill towards the rear of the barge that turned a paddle wheel with a large stern sweep for steering. It was used primarily to deliver coal and other goods to the islands in the 1850's and 1860's. This type of barge eventually became obsolete with the invention of the steam engine. There are only two known examples of this type of boat left in the United States. This 60 foot long wreck lies near the western end of Bear Island, just south of the mail boat dock. The bow rests in 22 feet of water while the stern slopes down to almost 40 feet. The hull remains mostly intact but there is no evidence of any decking left. The bottom and sides are still in good condition. Some tools and pieces of coal can be found around the area of the barge. This area was also a dump site for a prominent hotel located on Bear Island, so many artifacts can be found here as well.
Interesting rock formations were formed when the glaciers pushed through the area creating very distinct cuts, tunnels, and striations. Quartz veins have been exposed. The rock ledge forms what appears to be a staircase made for a giant, which starts in about 20 feet of water and descends down to 40 feet.
The wreck of the Echo Junior lies in about 38 feet of water on the south side of the white & red topped buoy in Loon Cove (Alton Bay). The 28-foot hull is still intact. It burned to the waterline on its maiden voyage. The engine of the 1940's speedboat is a 12-cylinder Allison Aircraft engine. The wreck is very, very fragile so please do not touch it.
An excellent location for a shore dive. This site is accessible from McKinney Park. The dive starts off in a shallow, rocky area with some sandy patches, great for practicing skills. Move away from shore and there are enormous rock formations with the depth dropping to about 30 feet. Continue out to a depth of about 45 feet and the "wall" starts. The "wall" drops down to 90 feet with a maximum depth of 105 feet. There are some interesting wall contours, with a few resident eels. There is also a cavern at about 75 feet.
There is an underwater Geocache called " Winnepesauke bumblebee scuba". It is located in about 37 feet of water.
Goodhue and Hawkins Navy Yard
A lot of boat hulls, barges, and engines were sunk throughout the mooring fields during the many years of the Navy Yard. To the right of the anchored sailboats, there is a single engine steamship located in 39 feet of water. Next to the steamship is the hull of a small cruiser.
Located on the shores of West Alton, this site has tremendous rock and wall formations. There is an assortment of fish life. Join us in the hunt for the sunken logging truck that sank in 1965 towards Echo Shores or the missing shipment of illegal rum. This point was one of the popular launching sites during prohibition and a load was lost.