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Lost and Found Under Lake Havasu

By Joel Silverstein

Swimming along the soft, silty, monochromatic bottom of Lake Havasu in the distance a stream of light shimmers off the bottom. Slowly approaching the sparkle the diver carefully reaches out to find out what the light is bouncing off. Is it a Budweiser can, an old boat part, river beads, or jewelry? Lake Havasu is one of the most popular lakes in the southwest. Covering more than 19,000 acres, the lake sees more than 750,000 visitors each year but unfortunately their things fall into the water settling on the soft murky bottom. For about a 100 scuba divers that scour the bottom of lake on a regular basis the bottom, Lake Havasu has become a venerable lost and found.

wreck-alley-1Divers have been exploring the Colorado River and Lake Havasu since the early 1960s. Back on January 2, 1960 a war surplus North American AT-6C single engine fighter plane crashed in the lake taking the lives of the two passengers. That plane has yet to be found, but divers have been looking for it for years. Other areas of the lake are popular for diving include the wreck of Millers Folley, an early 1970s party boat that sunk in Skier’s Cove under mysterious circumstances. Resting in 25 feet of water it is a popular dive site frequented by divers of all skill levels. And over at Site 5 there are two sailboats. And while there are as many as two dozen wrecks that sprinkle the bottom of Lake Havasu, it is the never ending stream of treasure that continues to attract scuba divers from all over the Southwest.

site5-sail-4But it’s not only the tourist divers who get the goodies, it’s the seasoned locals who dive the lake every week of the year knowing where to go to find the best locations and the best treasures. Some of the best spots include Copper Canyon, Steamboat Cove, Friendly Island, the ski areas, and under special permit with the Lake Havasu Divers Association, the Bridgewater Chanel. On any given dive day treasures abound with pricey box anchors dropped by sailors, iPhones, cell phones, GoPro cameras, necklaces, rings, watches, and the most abundant treasure, sunglasses. But these days style is everything, we are not talking about those ten-dollar glasses, divers are finding some of the finest eyewear around. Brands like Oakley, Ray-Ban, Maui-Jim, Gucci, Prada and other trendy brands. Jewelry, sure, gold rings, necklaces, diamond earrings and watches.

On the big weekends it’s not uncommon for calls to come into Lake Havasu’s local dive shop, Scuba Training and Technology, where someone is desperately looking for a diver to help them find some precious lost item. Fortunately the shop has some talented treasure hunters who will help find the item. Over the years they have reunited husbands and wives with lost wedding rings, family heirlooms, and lost cameras with “priceless” photos inside.

It takes skill and perseverance for these divers to continue to find treasures underwater. Some sell their finds and convert them into expensive dive trips elsewhere, others supplement their income, and others just love the idea of finding treasure. And with each pass along the bottom one never knows what they will find. It is the lure of the shiny objects that entice divers to visit the bottom of Lake Havasu week after week. But on the dive we talked about at the beginning of this article it was not an old beer can, or some old boat part, it was the glimmer of light reflecting off the crystal of a Rolex Submariner.

So long as people spend time visiting the beautiful waters of Lake Havasu they will continue to drop things overboard for dedicated treasure hunters to find and give them new homes. Lake Havasu is a treasure diver’s paradise. If you are a treasure diver, this may be the best place in the country to dive!

Joel Silverstein is Vice President of Scuba Training and Technology Inc. He’s been diving around the world for the past three decades and has spent the last fourteen years in Lake Havasu.

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