One of my favorite dives in North America is the technical dive to the wreck site of the Roy A. Jodery. Launched in 1965, the ship is a large 700 foot freighter, the same size as the Andrea Doria, and was routinely plying the Great Lakes with its cargo of steel. On the evening of November 20th, 1974, the Jodery hit the shallows of the St Lawrence River across from Alexandria Bay. The result of the grounding was a torn keel and she had little time to save herself. As the captain frantically tried to save her by beaching her in shallower waters, the entire crew of 29 was saved. Unfortunately for the Jodery, the ship sank in less than four hours, ironically within 50 meters of a Coast Guard station. The ship's resting place lies on a vertical shelf and the depth ranges from 140 feet to the mast to about 240 feet at its deepest point.
The wreck site of the Jodery lies immediately off a huge ledge that is covered by zebra mussels. These mussels have filtered the water quite well and the water is extremely clear. Despite the clear waters, the Jodery is a dangerous dive with cold, dark waters and ripping currents. For many years, the Jodery was off-limits to divers because of the leaking oil that was clearly apparent in the 1990's. In 2002-2004, efforts to remove this oil were undertaken by divers from the Hunt commercial diving group from nearby Clayton, NY and deep diving specialist Andrew Driver. This group of experts have effectively removed the leaking oil from the Jodery and she has been cleared for diving only by the most experienced technical divers.
In the past year, I have made eight dives to explore the wreck site of the Jodery with five of these dives led by Andrew Driver. Andrew knows this wreck site better than anyone and it was great to have this expert give me a guided tour of this vessel. The Jodery is in fantastic condition and the original paint and many of the ship instruments are very intact and clearly visible. Utilizing a 10/50 tri-mix diluent in our closed circuit rebreather, we visited many of the significant areas of the ship including a dive deep into the engine room where Andrew had been extracting the oil. The removal of this oil must of been a very arduous task. One of our last dives was a visit to the stern area that was accomplished by a line tied from shore to the stern that requires a 300 foot swim into a treacherous current. This dive is only for the best of divers in very good physical condition. Overall the Jodery is not for the faint of heart but for those with top-notch experience, this wreck is a real beauty!