Divers reach wreck of SS Tahoe off Glenbrook
GLENBROOK — A long-sought prize in Lake Tahoe apparently has been attained.
Two divers say they reached the wreckage of the SS Tahoe over the weekend off the Glenbrook shoreline and some 370 feet below the frigid lake’s surface where the ship was scuttled 62 years ago.
Saturday’s descent took divers Martin McClellan and Brian Morris to a goal the two men and a group of support personnel have pursued for more than three years.
“It was just absolutely a phenomenal experience,” said McClellan, a Reno financial adviser. “We got there.”
“There” actually was about 15 feet south of the ship’s bow. The divers could spend only about 5 minutes safely at the bottom.
“By just taking our time and working step by step we’ll be able to do the whole thing, the whole boat down to the stern,” said Morris, a Reno lawyer.
Lake Tahoe’s 6,229-foot altitude makes the venture dangerous. At that altitude, a dive to 370 feet in the alpine lake is the equivalent of a depth of about 475 feet in the ocean.
The depth requires use of a mixture of oxygen, helium and nitrogen rather than the compressed air breathed by recreational divers at shallower depths. After five quick minutes on the bottom, McClellan and Morris spent nearly an hour and a half rising to the surface, slowly decompressing to avoid the potentially deadly agony of the bends.
But now that McClellan and Morris have finally reached the wreck and returned safely to the surface, McClellan predicts future dives will go easier.
“That first-dive jitter is now out of our consciousness,” McClellan told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “We intend to go back a bunch.”
McClellan said at least $50,000 has been spent thus far on efforts to dive to the SS Tahoe, more than half of it out-of-pocket expense and the rest donated.
Launched in 1896, the SS Tahoe steamed thousands of circles around Lake Tahoe carrying freight, mail and passengers. The vessel was scuttled by its owners off Glenbrook on Aug. 29, 1940.