While working at the dive shop on Saturday, I began checking the weather every half-hour for Sunday’s dive hoping to see some kind of change. The forecast was calling 2-4 ft with 10-15 knot winds gusting to 20 knots and the offshore was 3-5 ft with winds blowing 15-20 knots. It was not looking to good for our trip, but I kept monitoring the weather checking buoy reports and making backup plans for Sunday to allow for my TDI Advanced Nitrox/Deco Procedures class to finish their course.
Five O'clock rolls around and the forecast still have not changed but I called Captain Al on the Sea Lion to see his opinion. They were out and it was nice in the morning but bumpy on the way back. I asked if he thought we could make it to at least the Arundo to get some depth for the last two dives of the course. He said, "Yes", which is what I wanted to hear. Sunday was a go, my sprits were lifted because I did not want to go to the quarry to finish there class. I loaded the truck up and head down to Atlantic City to stay on my boat for the night before getting up to drive to Brielle.
While relaxing on the back of the boat, half asleep, I was watching the flags on top of the sailboats a few docks over. They were moving pretty good, and I all could hope for is the wind would die down over night. The four o'clock alarm came pretty quick and it was time to get up and drive to the dive boat. As I walked up the dock to my truck I noticed the flags still did not die down, but at the point my motivation began to die down.
I headed up the road, meet up with my ride Kirk and we drove up to the Sea Lion. Thinking we were going to arrive earlier then anyone to load our gear and get the two best bunks, but everyone seemed to have that plan in their head because we were the last ones there and it was an hour before the boat was to depart. Everyone loaded there gear on to the deck of the Sea Lion, and strapped everything securely down knowing it may be bumpy.
While we waited for one last passenger my class and I sat at the Marina Bar which just shut down from the night before and began planning our dives and writing out our dive profiles. After some planning and talking about what everyone was doing we hoped on the boat and headed out.
As we approached the inlet, I began to have lifted spirits, there was no white water it was just 2-3 foot rollers. I thought to myself this is going to be a great day. The Sea Lion was off to the Arundo, everyone had settled in and I want below to take a quick nap. After what felt like only minutes I was woke up by Mark Patterson one of the mates telling me Captain Al wanted to talk to me. I felt like I was in High school again when you were being called to the principles office. As I stepped out of the cabin I looked around and Al did not have to say anything. The fog had closed in and we had less the 1/2 nm of visibility. After some brief discussion and the fog lifting just a little we decided to press on, but under the agreement if it doesn't get any better we will not be anchoring in the Mud Hole in the fog. After about another 10 minutes and a few calls to fellow Captains we decided to scrub the Arundo and head to a different wreck.
Upon reaching our new destination, Mark was geared up and ready for the tie in. Captain Al sounded the bell and the anchor was dropped, after a few minutes we were snagged and Mark headed down to tie us in. The cup came up a few minutes later and the pool was open. Everyone on the boat began to get suited up and ready to splash. Just as I was getting ready to go over Mark came up with a jelly jar and glass. I seen him come up with these types before and knew he had a spot but is lips where sealed tight.
I rolled over the side following my student/dive buddy for this dive. At this point the wind had picked up and the waves were 2-3 foot with an occasional 4 footer. We pulled ourselves to the anchor line and began our decent. As I passed fellow divers doing there hangs I made sure they where ok and kept on heading down. Kirk and I plan was to do a 30 minute bottom time and I was going to take him on a tour of the engine room. As we approached the wreck the vis was about 25-30 feet and was loaded with all kinds of fish. Kirk followed me and we entered the engine room which was almost all open water it was more like a big swim through. After a lap around the engines I told him to wait, while I checked something out. As I swam down the engine to the stern I saw four valve wheels and two were about a foot in diameter. I grabbed my hammer gave one of the large ones a good shot and off it came. As I swam out I handed over the wheel to Kirk. It was my gift to him, plus I could tell he really wanted it for his addition to his yard display. After our planned bottom time we started our ascent, as we got closer and closer to the surface we could tell the ocean was becoming nasty. All I have to say is thank god for jonlines because at my 20 and 10 foot stops would have been impossible without them. As we started our ascent to the surface Captain Al and mate Chris were headed down.
Once Kirk and I got onboard and undressed, I hear lift bag up. I knew it was one thing Captain Al went to his spot and found something good. As the bad drifted back, Captain Steve jumped in and swam it to the boat. While this was happening Gary Smith Jr, had to throw back a 6-7lb lobster because it was over the size limit (What a stupid new rule). The goodie bag Captain AL sent up was a SCORE!!! The bag was loaded with all kinds of CHINA, cups saucers, plates, jars and glasses. What a great find and you know everyone was ready to get back in the water at that point.
After about a 2 hour surface interval, divers began to splash. Well since I saw the bag of china my wheels were turning, I was taking it all in and planning on where to go to get me some, because no one just gives up there honey hole. After smoke settled from the cranks spin in my head Kirk and I suited up and headed in. I had told him what/where and how long we were going and what to look for to try and find some of these goodies.
This time when we jumped in the seas were a steady 4 foot with occasional five and it was building. We descended down the line passing our fellow divers who were doing their deco. Once on the wreck Kirk and I began scouting out different spots. After a few minutes of looking I swam in to a hatch opening and then turned down a passageway that I have been down 2-3 times before, but I new this was the spot. The vis was still stirred up and the farther I got in the worse the vis got. I saw what I was looking for and started digging I was shoulder deep in black muck and then I found something. I couldn’t see what it was but I had an idea. I opened my bag placed it in and kept digging. After about 25 minutes of complete blackout conditions I grabbed my bag, which I didn't realize how much stuff was in it and head out. Kirk was watching me the whole time from another room but he didn't see how I got in to the room I was in which was better off because there was no room for two people.
I then swam up to Kirk signaled I found the spot and it was time to head up. I double clipped my bag, because I did not want to lose my find. As we ascended up the anchor line we could tell it was getting nasty topside. Our 30-10 foot stops where bouncy. We finished our hang and then I had the task of getting up the latter with a bag full of glass and china. Once the both of us were back on board I tore my gear off and began to check out what I recovered. While I started cleaning the muck off the cups and glasses, the mate Chris jumped in pulled the hook and we were headed home. As I was cleaning my finds I noticed another bucket full of goodies. Mates Steve and Mark and scored as well. There was one thing to be said everyone was going home with some china.
After a long and rough ride in we hit the inlet and had smooth flat water greeting us. We pulled in to our slip and the unloading process began, which went rather quick since everyone wanted to get home after a long day.
Everyone gathered together and we laid out the China and glass along the dock to take a few pictures. Well the whole bar cleared out to see what we got and asked questions. I think the best one was from some lady, she said "I guess the liked the silverware cause they only through the plates overboard." I just shook my head and smiled.
Thanks for a great day Captain Al, and mates Steve, Mark and Chris. Congratulations to Kirk Sherry, Gary Smith Jr, Steve Lagreca, Bill Teague and Steve Rupinski for completing their TDI Advanced Nitrox/Deco Procedures course.
See gallery for pictures.