A Cold Damn Dive From Cabinsite Point In Lake Mojave

  • Updated: January 13, 2019
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

January 13th, 2019

Yesterday had been fun but Kristen and I both felt we'd gotten our fill of dives at Kingman Wash and Willow Beach. Fortunately Bruce at Sin City Scuba had recommended we contact Jerry Portwood at Dive Shack USA in Laughlin about diving in Lake Mojave.

Similar to yesterday Dive Shack USA wasn't open on Sunday but Jerry was graciously willing to come in whenever we needed to rent us tanks and event went above and beyond to work with us around some cell coverage issues on Saturday.


So that found us driving south to Laughlin painfully early after sleeping for a few hours in a hotel south of Vegas. (For the record Grouchy John's Coffee is Star Wars themed and halfway decent if you're in the area.)


We found Dive Shack USA right off 95 in Laughlin and Jerry cheerfully greeted us as he opened up.


While our intent had been to get in and get out quickly Jerry is infectious in his enthusiasm about diving and we ended up chatting with him for a good while


Also it turns out scuba tanks come in neon green! I really need to get some of those...


Cabinsite is a short drive north of Laughlin past another closed entry gate (thanks government shutdown) followed by an excellent paved then dirt road.


At Jerry's suggestion we had two tanks each with us and we planned to visit the boats first and then the schoolbus for a second dive. We were the only divers out there though a few people drove by to use the bathroom. That *might* have had something to do with the cold high winds pounding into the car.


Behold the joy of putting on cold damp neoprene in a frigid wind!


This is the shore at the northwestern end of the parking area where we entered. There was a buoy attached to the first wreck but you really don't need it as the bottom funnels you right to it.


It was cold out of the water but damn cold once we got in. According to my dive computer it was 52 degrees at depth. I generally run fairly warm and I was wearing a 7mm wetsuit with a full hood, gloves, and booties. I could feel my lips going numb around the reg and I was actually concerned that my limbs were getting to cold by about halfway through the dive.


Fortunately we had something interesting to distract ourselves with as the first boat wreck was only a short distance down the slope.




After that we followed a line going off the back of the boat. This took us down to about 70 ft and led us to the north around into the next cove.


Jerry had warned us that the line may have been cut and relocated by some tech divers but we found they had just added a T intersection along the way. We followed it to the right into the shallower cove while the left turn lead deeper offshore.


The line led straight to the slightly larger boat wreck #2.



We with Lake Mead everything was covered with invasive Quagga mussels.


There were all sorts of fish inside the cabin but unfortunately while attempting to get a closer look I managed to stirred up enough muck from the super thick sediment to kill visibility.


That would be my "I'm a dumbass" pose.

We'd only been down for about 15 minutes at this point but we were both making motions about the cold and we decided it was a good idea to start heading back.


Coming back we followed the line though we swam about 10 ft up to avoid any more nitrogen loading then was necessary. And I spent the entire safety stop pumping my arms trying to keep warm blood moving.


We got back to the car and started to do our usual trick of stripping wetsuits down to our waist and putting on jackets. And then decided we'd better jump in the car with the heater running. Then we decided we really needed to get out of the wetsuits completely and into something warmer.

We ended up sitting in the car for about 30 minutes while it shook back and forth from the wind.


We did have a rather curious roadrunner than seemed interested in our wetsuits. Then came the epic battle...



Both of us had enjoyed this dive much more than Kingman or Willow and we were excited to see the underwater school bus (and other attractions) Jerry had described. But when we were still having issues warming up sufficiently after a good half hour in the car we decided it was probably better to save it for another day.

We returned the tanks to Dive Shack USA and spent a good hour and a half chatting with Jerry about all things diving before hunger and the thought of our long drive home drove us out.


After a perfectly passable lunch at a mexican food place in one of the casinos we picked up the 40 and headed for Orange County. Kristen slept for a good chunk of the 4.5 -ish drive back while I sucked down as much coffee and I could and listened to audiobooks. The heater was running pretty much the entire drive.

And that was it for our Mead / Mojave diving contingency weekend! We ended up getting four dives in (aka 4x as many dives as Kristen managed in Thailand) and got to experience something different so though it was expensive (as diving tends to be) it was a worthwhile way to spend a bad weather weekend.

Personally I wouldn't be in a hurry to go back to Kingman Wash or Willow Beach since they just weren't that interesting. Cabinsite Point on Lake Mojave I'd happily dive again (though ideally sometime when it's at least a little warmer) and both locations apparently have a lot more interesting options if you have access to a boat and can do deep dives. So expect a follow up trip at some point!

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