It is important to remember the contributions to diving the many dive operators on our coast have made to wreck diving. I will be posting many future testimonials.
Captain Don Cramer- Miss Shelter Haven- Captain Cramer
By Captain Gene Peterson
The Cramer name is synonymous with wreck fishing and wreck diving off the south Jersey shore since the early 1900's for fishing and since the late fifties for wreck diving. Pratt Cramer ran the Miss Sea Isle out of Sea Isle City and his son Don ran the Miss Shelter Haven from Stone Harbor in separate ventures. I dived off and chartered both until Pratt past away on October 29, 1979. Both represented professionalism in the wreck diving business and Don continued the trade past on to him from his father and grandfather. He fulfilled the Cramer legacy completing a full century of the family operated charter business.
In the late eighties, I again began chartering Captain Cramer for dive charters venturing to inshore and off shore wrecks out of Stone Harbor. Captain Don had the well deserved recognition of being one of the most experienced dive boat operations in the Mid- Atlantic area. Dive clubs and shops ventured as far away as Virginia and New York to the Captain Cramer. Don took novice divers to shallows wrecks like the Clermont Dredge, the Green Light Blinker, the Wayne and the Stone Wreck. Special trips for experienced divers ran offshore to the popular City of Athens, Jacob Jones, Moon Stone, Northern Pacific and the Gun Boat. For decades Don captained one of the safest dive operations on the coast. The wrecks speak for themselves. There were many memorable dives had on the Captain Cramer. The boat itself was one of the most spacious and comfortable dive platforms, which could comfortably accommodate a dozen or more divers. Throughout those decades of charters I trusted Don’s judgement as a sound and experienced captain. Many times that trust was proved by his sea worthy decisions.
A well respected boat handler Captain Don could turn the large sixty foot Virginia pine hull of the Captain Cramer over a wreck site and drop the anchor on any end of a wreck within minutes. Not only could he maneuver this behemoth into tight slips, he made his own inlet. Having better knowledge of the sand bars and channels than any Coast Guard buoy tender Don set his own buoys to steer by.
It is noteworthy to include Don as an inspiring naturalist whom took many ornithology groups out for bay cruises pointing out species and habitats. Captain Don’s incredible eyesight was unparalleled. In many instances on the ocean Don could decipher the shapes and markings of birds in flight at great distances long before groups could focus with binoculars. Many times I bore witness to his amazing vision while on the water as he identified small boats on the horizon.
Perhaps most of all, Don was a most interesting orator. It seemed that Captain Don knew just about everyone associated with the water and land in South Jersey. I shared many informative hours in the Captain Cramer wheelhouse fascinated by Don’s collated history of the area.There are few personalities left on the ocean with such rich history and understanding of the sea as Captain Don Cramer. I am privileged to be able to have known and chartered one of the legendary pioneer captains from the early days of wreck diving.