On Sunday, June 28, 2009, the Dive Team was invited by Colleague member Bill Cleary, owner of the 46’ vessel Depth Charge, for a two-tank dive for Deep and Boat training. Bill clearly had this vessel designed for diving, so we couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Bill’s experience includes much offshore, deep water (200’+) wreck exploration and salvage operations, so he and Captain Tom ran an incredibly well-organized trip.
We loaded up around 7am, exited Manasquan Inlet, and made the quick trip to the wreck of the Delaware, about 3.5 miles southeast of the Inlet and 1.5 miles off the beach of BayHead. See http://njscuba.net/sites/site_delaware.html for details about the wreck site.
We anchored in close to the engine (which stands about 25 feet up off the bottom), with Bill first tying us in to the propeller shaft. He sent a lift bag to the surface, signaling to us on the boat that the anchor was secured and it was safe to dive. The boat crew set up a granny line to the anchor line to facilitate everyone’s safe descent, due to the strong surface current. Divers were assigned to buddy teams, and each team was assigned to locate the propeller shaft, swim down its length to the actual propeller, and return with a loaded sinker tube. This would then be brought to the surface in a controlled fashion with the aid of a lift bag. Flo & Tom C., Eric & Sue, and Chet & Tom T. (who was on his first deep boat dive) all encountered 2-3 foot surface chop, a mild temperature drop at 35 feet, and 10-15 foot of visibility on the bottom. All assigned tasks were accomplished, plus the unexpected recovery of a 20-lb. Danforth anchor with chain and 100’ of attached line.
Sue’s dive computer decided to freeze during her safety stop, but she had tracked and logged the first dive with a separate bottom timer and depth gauge, and so was able to plan the next one on the Recreational Dive Planner. (Remember when your Instructor said in Open Water that you’d need to be able to find a Missing Surface Interval on the dive tables? Well, we did today.)
The weather topside was in the 80s with a nice breeze, but this made the surface a little lumpy, and although Bill’s burgers smelled awesome, Eric did a little chumming with his. The second dive was a little more turbid and a lot darker. We still all had a nice dive and collected a bit more lead around the engine and boilers. These 6-10 oz. sinkers are popular items at our fundraiser sinker sale in the winter with the very same fishermen who lost them. Along the way, we met up with lots of blackfish, sea bass, ling, and at least one lobster that was poking around. With the initial mystery of the deep out of the way from the first dive, Tom T’s air consumption was much improved on dive #2.
Once back on land, even after we cleaned the boat, and washed and stowed the gear, the day was not over. Due to the fact that we finally had a weekend of nice weather after several rain-outs, the town and boardwalk were mobbed, and, as expected, a string of first calls followed. Dive team members jumped in to assist the First Aid Squad on numerous calls as EMTs, Ambulance Drivers, and First Responders. Welcome to summer in Point Pleasant Beach!