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AtlanticDivers

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With mild trepidation I returned to Max's wreck after my great white shark encounter nearly two years prior.  After completing my dive at my final ten foot stop I experienced a surreal meeting with the 15 foot plus apex forager of the sea.  Feeling very insignificant I was awestruck by the white face and black eye staring at me as this immense fish slowly passed under my fins and navigated out of my view.  Breaking my hang I warned my dive companions to get the surface O2 ready in case I decided to omit the balance of my decompression.  I returned back to weighted chain of the deco trapeze and warily finished off the remaining minutes.  Dashing to the Independence's ladder and ascending I tried to justify my previous alarm but was quickly hushed as Paul Whittaker and Chris Jazmin pulled me up the remaining rungs.  They did not need to hear my story. They had witnessed the monster fin passing the back of the boat as they hauled me in.   For the next hour the great white, a couple smaller makos and a blue shark circled the boat.  After three decades of wreck diving, I consider this a once in a life time experience.
Today, Saturday June 21, 2008 on the Big Mac, our group includes Mark and Jen Patterson, Mark Clark, John Preistly, Geoff Graham, Brian Roemer and the crew Harold Moyers, Paul Whittaker and myself.
I named Max's wreck on it's discovery dive in the early nineties on the Down Deep, after Captain Bob Meimbresse's dog.  Having no real clues relating the true identity of the wreck, little Max, a westy that was under foot the entire day of diving became an appropriate name.  After much speculation and research few clues could only deduce the wreck's identity.  Matching co-ordinates and assuming the historic era of artifacts, it was speculated by wreck researcher and author Gary Gentile, that the wreck was the long lost steamer S.S. Montgomery.  This Havana Line steamer sunk in a collision on January 7, 1877 with the steamer Seminole.

Paul Whittaker tied into the stern propeller, making an awesome vista as one descended into the warm (58 bottom - 68 degree surface) blue water.  Visibility was 30 foot plus allowing full view of the wreck at 125 feet.  The depth range varies a few feet from the stern at 150 to the bow which is scattered and fans out to a depth of 162 feet.  Divers sifted the wreckage uncovering bottles, large valves, brass piping configurations, grinding stones, and of course lobster and scallops.  Large antenna were every where.
After safetying on the surface Harold and I descended to the wreck, where he recovered a apothecary bottle, and a 100 lb. grinding stone.

I bagged a few indigenous bugs and happened upon a deck bilge pump.  I signaled Harold and we both agreed to extract the heavy pump.  While Harold cut free entangling netting, I put a choker and a 200 lb. Carter bag on the pump head.  After filling the bag, it was apparent that more lift and another dive was required.  We broke off from the dive and completed our deco requirements.  Back on board divers were discussing the dive and preparing for the next jaunt to the wreck.  Surface time was congenially spent celebrating Mark Patterson's birthday and rehashing old dive tales. 
Pumps like this one have been recovered from several different wrecks over the years confirming or identifying unknown wrecks.  Such is the case of the pump recovered from the Brunette by Chuck Wine.  This pump could also conquer positive information identifying the Montgomery or re-evaluating that identity.
Harold and I plunged back into the water to finish the recovery.  I was to descend secure another choker and lift bag to the pump while Harold swam a line from the boat to clip to the pump to insure it's recovery.  I knew the pump was heavy, but I had underestimated the added weight of the 20 foot long lead piping attached.  I filled another two hundred lb. bag then added one additional 100 lber.  At last Harold added some finishing air as we warily watched the ensemble of pipes and pump levitate off the sandy bottom.  Dashing to the ascent line upstream of the lift, we slowly returned to the surface monitoring our decompression.  As we neared the surface we could see the pump and it's assemblage swinging down current of the Big Mac.  Rusty Cassway and Brian Sullivan whom just happened to be passing by loaned us a  much needed hacksaw.  Mark Clark and Harold cut free the three hundred lb. lead pipe off the bilge and we hauled aboard the much lightened pump.  As expected the pump provides vital clues to the true identity and continues to validate the Montgomery.  A great trip even though Mark, Jen, John and Brian lost some significant dive gear in unrelated incidents.   A good day for the dive shop
A further note:  No sharks were seen.
We had an exciting ride back in as fog, rain squalls, thunder, lightning, and strong wind whipped us back to shore.

Photos taken by Paul Whittaker:
http://gallery.mac.com/p.whittaker#100074&view=grid&bgcolor=black&sel=34

The New York Times story:
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9401EED6133AE63BBC4153DFB766838C669FDE

Good Wreck Diving!

Atlantic Diver  


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Good Wreck Diving!
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