Sixty four years ago, the collier Maurice Tracy was sunk in a collision with the freighter Jesse Billingsley. With crew of Mark, Jen, Joe and Captain Steve, Sea Lion departed from Brielle with Atlantic Divers wrecksters. Hugh Carberry, Scott Nichols, Mike Pement, John McGreavey, Bill Cavage, Victor Krivitski, Ant Tedeschi and I found a sunny, flat sea as we steamed south to the little shipwreck. The sea was boiling with schools bunker, butter-fish and other bait-fish. Alas, I left my rod at home, a certainty that I would not catch on a this troll. A beautiful ride was no less diminished.
Jen Patterson set the hook in the top of the wheelhouse, making easy navigation on the short decent to the 70 foot bottom. Dark yet good visibility allowed us to explore the boilers and even make the long trek to the scattered bow. A few lobsters were nabbed as divers sifted the wreckage for mungo and the overlooked porthole.
In the early seventies I photographed George Hoffman and Bill Hoodiman recover the bell from the sunken wreck buoy. The picture depicts Hoffman, Hoodiman and a young John Moyer standing in the stern of the old Sea Lion, with the 300 pound bell hanging from the winch tripod. An exciting day, I vividly remember. Hoffman had trouble unbolting the final nut, so he tightened it snapping it instead. A large 20 pound plus lobster watched from the barrel of the float out of reach from our extended arms prying through the crack that sunk the buoy. The lobster was not caught and the bell was later stolen. Only some great memories remain from those days diving with George.
Today was a good day too, as new divers were introduced to New Jersey diving with the Sea Lion crew. Two fun dives with lots of bottom time allowed for a lazy day on the water with friends. Special thanks to Captain Steve Sheerin and the Sea Lion crew.
Good Wreck Diving!