Captain Al has brought the Sea Lion down to Atlantic City for a few weeks of diving. As many of the local divers know there is not many opportunities to hit the wrecks off of AC due to the lack of dive charter boats in the area. If anyone is interested contact Atlantic Divers (609- 641-7722
) or check out their schedule @ http://www.njwreckdivers.com/
Today Saturday May 21, I arrived at the Sea Lion which I thought was early to be greeted by a few divers who had already loaded there gear aboard. As I began loading gear the rest of the group showed up, loaded the boat and signed all the waivers (Paper work, Ugh). The Sea Lion pulled out of her slip around 7am and we began our journey out to the San Jose, just in time as there was an early morning fog that had just disappeared. As we broke the inlet
we were greated with calms seas, just a small swell with a large period.
After arriving on site, Captain Al did his circle or two around the wreck, the hook was tossed in. A few minutes later we were hooked in and Tom Fagan splashed to tie us to the wreck. Within 5 minutes the pool was open and everyone began gearing up and ready for the dive. John Copeland and I decided we were going to dive together and see what we could dig up as we both had been on this wreck the previous year. Our plan was to head to the bow section and explore around.
John and I geared up and splashed one after the other, being careful to gently make it over the side of the boat, because we didn't want to be the first ones putting scratches in the Sea Lion's new painted hull (The boat looks amazing). Anyway we descend to the wreck, made sure we were both squared away upon reaching the bottom and headed towards the bow. The vis was not too bad about 15-20', but it was still dark as the sun had not come out yet. John and I made it about 30-40' towards the bow, as I was digging around making a mess I noticed I lost John. No biggie, I started my way back to the anchor line just to make sure I had my bearings correct being my first dive off NJ for the year. Making my way back to the line I recognized the area and realized the anchor was tied in no more then 5' from were it had been on last years trip. John found me again just forward of the anchor and I followed him to the stern of the wreck. What an AMAZING area!!! On the previous trip I focused on the bow area, but boy was I wrong the relief is high, the area is intact and it is just a sight to see (Wish I had a camera). We both were coming up on 45 minute bottom times, and decided it was time to get back to the line and make our way up. After a short hang we surfaced, to have a Skull & Cross Bone great us on the surface, it is painted on the bow of the Sea Lion.
I boarded the boat and everyone was smiles and laughs, talking about their dives, how nice the weather had become & if the city would be on fire from the end of the world
. After about a 2 hour surface interval it was time to jump back in. This time the plane was to send up a valve John had found on the previous dive. We jumped in crashed to the bottom and went to work. John started hitting on the valve and it began to wiggle, he then stopped to put a lift bag on it to help stress the connection that was still holding it in place. As he was doing this I noticed the bolts were steel and began hitting them with a hammer. They started popping right off, except for one. So out came the chisel, but still no luck. John had the lift bag rigged at this point I handed over the hammer to him. With a few more big blows the valve was rocketing to the surface. The rest of the dive was spent checking the stern area out, even though its not the best place for goodies this area of the wreck is really cool.
All in all we had a great day and everyone got in two great dives. The bottom temp was 45 degrees with a thermocline of 60 degrees. Seas went from 2-3' swell to less then 2' and vis was 15-20'. There were a lot of lobsters around the wreck, but I did not find any keepers.
The San Jose was Built in 1904, this coal-fired steamer sank on January 17, 1942 due to the collision with the SS Santa Elisa. A large intact wreck remains that lies in 110 foot of water . The bow section is busted open on the port side. Here a cargo of tropical lumber remains bridled to the hull. San Jose was a United Fruit ship as was the Almirante and Miraflores also sunk off the southern New Jersey coast.