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AtlanticDivers

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After a long winter, it was good to get back on board the Sea Lion for our annual dig on the January Wreck.   A mild west wind settled out as we ventured over the site.  John Copeland, Tom Harris, Brian Paquette, John, Eric Litschi, Bill Levine, Sandford Levy, Tom Fagan, Jen Patterson,  Captain Al, mate Dan and I got a great start on our digging adventures for the year.  A traditional start up dive, The January Wreck got it's name after The Dive Shop of New Jersey winter dive group from 1980-81 was promised to go there that January by Captain George Hoffman, but did not make it there actually until late February.   After a significant dig was made by the group, numerous decorative artifacts were recovered including a bronze cannon, dead eyes, portholes, dishes, bottles and several gold and numerous silver coins.  The identity was discovered when chard's of glass from a window were pieced together and the the last four letters of the glass spelled out KINS.  From this diver and historian Eric Gray's research uncovered the pilot vessel's name Francis Perkins.  Pioneer diver Norman Lichtman hired George Hoffman's boat and employed a commercial salvage team to mine the wreck for a few weeks, yet only few coins were dredged up due to weather and shark activity created during the dredging.  Safety divers were chased from the water during decompression stops by curious sharks interested in the constant flow of bottom content being dispersed creating a slick over the site.  The wreck location was held in secret until the Sea Lion was nailed on the wreck late that summer on a Thursday afternoon by rival Captain Charlie Stratton of the Bottom Time.   Other later efforts failed to produce the quantity of booty recovered by the original group.  Today, the wreck remains covered over by shifting sands and needs much effort to return it back to a productive dive.  This dive got the Atlantic Divers juices flowing and future digs are planned not only the this little forgotten ship but others.  Stay tuned....or better yet join us....

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AtlanticDivers

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AVery Funny Dive Story from Brian.

Hello everybody! Sunday was my first dive of the season and my first dive with Atlantic wreck divers in the north Atlantic, off the coast of Brielle, New Jersey.. after a nice long sleep of about 4 hrs, i met up with tom and john at johns house at around 4am.after loading our gear and a quick cup of coffee we headed north with our pilot john, co-pilot- yours truly and tom making sure the back seat was sleep worthy for our two hour trip....the big Chevy rolled on down the highway with smooth precision stopping only once for a quick sandwich and drink. upon arriving in breille, close to our planned arrival time and eager to get on board we realized, after about ten minutes..we had no idea where the dock was and based on our information, we were not going to find it very easily. we, after a little debate we realized we would have to ask someone for direction, egos shattered, the co-pilot, yours truly was ordered to do the deed.2 minutes later, after debating for fifteen minutes,the big Chevy trucks headlights were illuminating the "Sea Lion" and a group of figures hurriedly loading all types of equipment aboard her. Jen was very instrumental in tying into the wreck, loaning me one of her weight belts, and out of 12 people she was female! which is always cool!! gives us guys someone to think about and ultimately, make an ass out of ourselves) after getting the morning greetings out of the way , we proceeded to unload and load our gear onto the boat, my-self having no idea the hell I was doing being used to very large boats, lots of room and boat mates kissing my ass..I was given the task to stow gear for three divers in a space about the size of a shoe box. welcome to "wreck diving" I heard over and over. I was thinking "where the hell the rest of the boat?"!!  I thought , any minute another boat would pull up for the passengers and we would soon be relaxing in a nice heated cabin, being that the outside temperature was only a little above freezing, my thoughts and hopes were shattered.. As thirteen of us were soon headed out to sea, all of us huddled in the cabin, which is was no bigger than the area we stowed our gear out side, and probably about the same temp!! after about 5 minutes into the trip I realized that I was in the company of some of the most friendly, funny, outspoken and genuine people I had ever met, the laughter and story's were flowing, Soon all the my other thoughts and projections were gone. I was laughing so hard and felt the power of comradely that these unique people share.."I was going wreck diving! with some of the best divers around"!!..I was very excited and could not wait to get there, but at the same time was honored to be in the presence of these fine people. the "Sea Lion" which i secretly nick-named the "sea snail" crept along, at what I estimated,being a boater myself, at a strong 2 miles an hour, which to the captain was 30 knots (sea lingo)..after about two days (hour and a half) the boat slowed (stopped) and we were upon the sight of the wreck nick-named "the January" by Gene Peterson of Atlantic Divers and friends, later I would be told this wreck had strong sentimental feelings for a friend of these people who had passed on. thou I do not remember all the details of this ship I do know it sank around 1887 she was a masted sailing vessel, had cargo,crew, passengers and did not appear have any causalities upon her sinking, all souls were rescued. the boat has yielded some artifacts such as gold coins, cannonballs, rocket launchers, bottles,and personal affects such as shoes, flatware and and  ford model "t" car parts, which i thought odd, because they were not invented until the 1900's, but what do I know!! anyway,after tying in, we were ready to get into the pool! myself excited, wanting to impress these seasoned divers I was the third one in and the first one back out after realizing I had did not have near enough weight, even thou I was told how much weight to wear based on observations by friends an crew. after coming to terms with the fact that I was no longer that slim young man of 145 lbs I had to re-adjust my pride and ego to a more realistic older guy of 225 lbs of mainly fat!. exhausted and humiliated from five minutes of battling a very calm and flat sea, I climbed back aboard and proceeded to tell my story of the very,very large great white shark I had spotted 20 ft away! which was very believable being that the visibility was only about 12 inches and the water was to cold even to support penguins..  the reason I had come was back to warn all my new friends, which were already off the boat and would not return for a good 30 to 45 minutes, the planned time for this dive, I would only hope and pray they would return as safely as I did....sitting on the boat by myself, with only the captain, also a seasoned diver and the two mates all of whom believed my story whole heartily, i regrouped and thought about my bailout....I would hope for a second dive... I got my wish, the decision too do a second dive, believe or not came to me, by the dive master. there was no way I was going to say no, even thou all the stories of other divers coming back on board pointed out that German attack subs, sharks and walrus, were in the area and that the water temp was about 50 below zero...I stood up and said...OK, ill go...I could not be the only one on the boat who did not make a dive, even thou these perils existed.... so myself, with the proper weight of 70 lbs now added, along with john, plunged in, myself fearlessly,with allot of fear, sinking like a rock  (nice and steady)..I arrived upon my first real north Atlantic wreck. with not too much visibility, about 1 foot my friend and dive buddy john appeared right in my face with his familiar "are you all right" hand signals...I answered immediately with the "OK" signal ..and i was!!..we proceeded  at once to a spot on the wreck where we were told may yield some artifacts, maybe a chest of gold coins! or and old SS Chevy!!...anyway as we proceeded to dig, me with a crow bar and john with his scooter. working together...I realized very quickly. this is diving!!! what a blast!!  I was so excited the time flew by...with constant computer checks and of course the more experienced Copeland constantly asking about my air quantity we dug...I soon found a bottle, a piece of bronze, a dislodged piece of timber and an object that appeared to be a spoon or fork handle...We were digging into the silt laden stairwell of this once mighty ship! heart pounding and excited as to what we would find next.. I looked again at my computer at 70 ft with a little under a thousand pounds of air it was time to go....I thought next time maybe i would bring a small backhoe down with me (being a heavy equipment operator) and speed the process!! after some comm. with  John we found our way back to line....as I slowly rose to the surface.. stopping at various points for my safety...I thought about what had gone on for the last 40 min....there is nothing like this at all!!!..upon the ride back to shore,
I thought even more about it, out of 150 plus dives this was one the best times I have ever had...wreck diving is the ultimate experience...Thanks John, Tom, the good people aboard the "Sea Lion" and Gene P from Atlantic Divers for a very unforgettable time....
See you all again soon......
Brian Paquette     

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