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Heading North on the Garden State Parkway, salt crystals and white flakes shimmered on the highway ahead.  The fact that we were going to get out on the water, after a long wet winter and the harsh aftermath of destruction left by hurricane Sandy was an encouraging sign for the new season.   The fall and winter of 2012 was a blight on the New Jersey coast.  The signs of the tremendous destruction littered the way to the marina, where a only a few boats survived and remained. 

At the end of the snow covered Union Landing, the lights and sounds of the warming engine of the Sea Lion further brought hope of a better year ahead.  Ten enthusiastic divers and crew loaded and boarded the tough little dive boat that weathered storms, collisions and now a catastrophic hurricane.   As we steamed out the inlet, we witnessed Sandy's rage.  Plywood covered what little structures that had survived.  The scene was surreal, not a single building stood unscathed.  The once bustling port looked like a bombed out war zone.  Cruising past the jetty, there hung a lone American flag draped from the upper deck of a washed out business.  Perhaps it represented a sign of hope for the new year.

There was little wind and mild seas, but this opportunity was going to be shortened with an impending barometric low.  We elected to hit the Delaware, a closer run and a better choice to get back to port when the weather picked up.  A orange buoy and fender lie next to the main piece of wreckage.  We surmised that it may be a lost boat anchor snagged in the wreck by a hapless fisher.   No matter, it was far away from the diving area and soon our Irish mate,Tom Fagan was setting the hook. 

As the divers were suited and near ready to go in, a net boat backed up to the buoy and their captain started yelling out that he had just set his net and we were encroaching his rig. His boat was dangerously close to the wreck. It is anyone's best guess why, someone would risk losing their gear by dropping a net so close to a known wreck-site.  Captain Al politely indicated that the netter was out of line.  For the sake of safety, we waited until he moved off the site and far from the diving area.

Into the water the last of the season's winter divers plunged.  Surface visibility was good but diminished as expected as we descended closer to the bottom.  The wind and rain has not subsided for the past three weeks, so we knew what to expect.  John Copeland and Jean-Marc Haab finished up their dives digging a trench powered by Haab's new scooter.  There a small bit of shiny brass tat was recovered.  The others explored and sifted the sand picking up small relics as they meandered along the burned out hull. Objectives accomplished; The group got to venture out and test their gear for a new season of diving in 2013.  Gary Smith, Jason King, Andy Smeigh, Andrew Karistino, Ry Sorkolowski and I enjoyed a brisk dive warmed by a kindred spirit. 

It was Saint Patrick's Day, and although there was not a full pot of gold waiting for us on the wreck, a fun day was shared by friends. A invigorating day at sea for those that dressed in green.  I am confident no-one got that color... if anything more rosey cheeked.  As we re-entered the inlet, we could see activity along the streets in this port torn upside down.   People were cleaning up and siteseers were gazing in disbelief.

This season go to the shore, dive, explore walk the beaches and patronized in those businesses trying to restart.  Bring back the spirit and life to the Jersey Shore.

Good Wreck Diving!





Good Wreck Diving!
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