Sunday, December 09, 2012

Point Pleasant Beach footage from the air....

Aerial footage of Point Pleasant Beach from what appears to be a remote control Helicopter....

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's all in the training!....

As you can tell by our previous posts...its all about Hurricane Sandy. Its hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it first hand. Everyone is doing their best to get things back to normal. Yesterday we helped out a friend a bit by retrieving a lost piece of salvage equipment. It made for a great day.
Today, it was back in the water for more search and retrieval. This time at a local marina. Some of the items that had been lost during Sandy had been recovered from this area, but there were still more to be found. Chet led a team of six divers consisting of Joe, Bob, Tom C., Gibby, Tom T. and Joe #2. Sammi helped Chet with shore support.
The water the day before was just less than zero visibility. Today….it was even worse. If your hand was touching your mask, you knew it was there, otherwise you may as well have just closed your eyes the entire dive. For most divers this is a “No Go” situation. Not the type of diving that your typical sport diver should even consider trying. Add to that equation the cold water, strong currents and debris and you can see how easily a diver could get in trouble.

However, this is what we train for. This is why we train in all diving conditions. This is why we practice working, salvage techniques, navigation and team work in underwater conditions that most people would just laugh at. Because when its time to get the job done…we want to be as prepared as possible.

We setup an out and back search pattern with guide lines. This helped a great deal with navigating in the murky muddy darkness. Sweeping our arms out, we slowly crawled over the search area. Fishing Poles, Job Boxes, Tools, Signs, Boat Canvas, the list goes on and on. At the end of the day the dock was covered with items retrieved from the murky depths.

To some it may have looked like a bunch of crazy divers in cold murky muddy water. But to was just another day doing what we love most.

Walking on the Wild Side....

Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy and things were a bit quiet today for the Dive Team. People were busy taking care of their houses and cleaning up debris from the storm. It looked like it was going to just be Chet and Joe today.
We took a quick look at the inlet and the water was as murky as its been since the storm. We decided to check out the RR Bridge just in case...but the viz was just as bad. We sat looking at all the debris around Gull Island and decided that today would be a good day to explore. As divers, we want to know what is in the water...but we also keep an eye out for possible land hazards also. Things that may end up as an underwater hazard later on.
As we walked thru the thick brush and along the shore, the first thing that becomes apparent is the amount of plastic bottles. When I say they were everywhere….I mean EVERYWHERE! Seeing them concentrated in such a small area reminded me of stories of the Pacific Garbage Patch. It hammers home the need to recycle.

As we walked we also found the strangest assortment of debris. Most things you expect to find such as, Plastic Bottles, Fishing Debris, 5 Gallon Buckets and Milk Crates. Notice the common theme of plastic here. But then you come across a 12 person Hot Tub! Just sitting on the shore line as if it was waiting to be installed. Bowling Pins. (These I added to my juggling bin). A Guitar case...missing its instrument…the guitar only to be found just around the bend..smashed and held together by the strings.
It was a hot day. Hard work navigating thru the debris and the brush. If only we had a tasty beverage. Sure enough, seconds later Chet asks me if I’d like a cold Ginger Ale. He found a refrigerator stocked with still cold beverages. Boy did that Ginger Ale taste good!
We collected around 25 tennis balls and spent quite a bit of time trying to regain Joe’s swing. Lets just say...Joe will never play Major League! Chet gets the award for the longest hit!!

We also found the parking bumpers from the inlet parking lot. These are made from a high density plastic and were held into the pavement by 18’’ long spikes. Here they were tossed like toothpicks along the shoreline. Ripped from the ground and floated away by the force of the waves and water.
We decided to launch Rescue34 and retrieve the bumpers. Tom C. and Joe brought the boat thru the canal and over to Gull Island. It was getting late and by the time we retrieved the bumpers it was dark. Bob showed up and we loaded the bumpers and other debris into the dive truck. Chet and Joe decided to bring Rescue34 back as Tom and Bob took the dive truck back to the squad building.
It’s a long ride back to where we launched the boat and we were taking our time enjoying the quiet of the night. Up ahead we noticed flashing red lights near the entrance to the canal. There was a hint of smoke in the air so Joe thought it was perhaps firetrucks along the shore. Chet was sure it was in the water. Sure enough, as we came closer we noticed a work boat that had been doing “Sandy Cleanup”
We came alongside slowly and asked if everything was alright. The Captain replied
“ No…I think he may have broken his arm”..pointing to a man sitting in the rear of the boat. Chet asked if they had reported it and he said…”Isnt that why you are here? I was just going to joke what took you so long!”. It was then that we looked towards the bow of their boat. It had run into one of the navigation markers. This is like hitting a telephone pole with your car...except you are in the middle of the water!
We quickly called in the situation and arranged for an ambulance to meet us at the Garden State Marina. We transferred our patient to Rescue34 and transported him to the waiting ambulance. In the end..the arm was broken in several places and their boat was in bad shape…but it could have been much worse.
We stopped by the State Police marina to check in with the owners of the boat and then slowly made our way back to the boat ramp. As we drove back to the squad building we all said the same thing…sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time.

Time to deliver the mail....

Saturday brought us a beautiful clear sky and a brisk wind. It also brought us almost zero viz! But since when has that ever stopped our Dive Team?

One of our friends lost quite a bit in hurricane Sandy. Flooded house…flooded business and lost gear. One of the items just happened to be a piece of underwater salvage equipment called a Mailbox. This is a large pipe approx 3’ in diameter and 6’ long, weighing in at 400lbs! And it was our job to find and recover it asap.

Chet lead the team of divers consisting of Joe, Bob, Gibby, Bond and newcomer Sammy. Chet and Sammy stayed topside to help guide the operation while 2 teams of divers used search lines to pinpoint debris that had been lost in the hurricane.

While searching we found items such as lawn chairs, drain pipes, rope coils and even a hedge trimmer! Joe and Bob found the Mailbox after several sweeps. They used our 500lb lift bag secured by running lines thru the pipe itself. No problem floating an item this large when you train for these kinds of things...but the big question was…how are we going to get it OUT of the water?

Our friend suggested he could get a crane over to lift it out. However we have Chet’s incredible knowledge as a rigger and quickly devised a plan of action. We setup our ladder as a ramp and used our winch from the Dive Truck to gently pull the Mailbox up onto the dock. With a bit of extra muscle from some members of the First Aid squad that showed up…success!

But wait ..what is that large white area over by the dock? What was our final find of the day? A commercial bathroom stall door! We all laughed and pulled it from the water. Just another piece of debris to add to the massive cleanup at Point Pleasant.

Driving back to the squad building we all remarked at the devastation around us. It was obvious that it was going to take a lot of time and a lot of help to get this town back to its old self. Today we felt like we were able to help…just a little bit.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Megan & Jonathan on the Ellen show....

4:30 minutes in the Point Pleasant Beach Rescue Dive Team is mentioned for the work and service it performed for the community during Hurricane Sandy...

Jonathan is the Captain on the Point Pleasant Beach First Aid Team and Megan is a EMT...

Monday, November 05, 2012

Shore Community Recovery....

Sandy on Sunday – 5 days later..

The weather on Sunday was simply beautiful. Sunshine with just a hint of clouds. . The ocean water was blue and inviting. The winds of Hurricane Sandy may have died down….but the aftermath remains. Just turn your face towards any street and you can see the destruction stretching out as far as you can see.

We started the day by taking a quick tour of one of our favorite dive spots, Manasquan Inlet. We left the rig behind and started out on foot towards the inlet. As we slowly walked along the road, the cleanup was in full effect around us. Piles of trash, in most places 6 or 7 feet high surrounded us. Mattresses, bookcases, sheetrock, lamps, the debris was everywhere. Each piece representing a slice of someone’s life. Books, clothes and photos all placed at the curb waiting to be carted off to the junkyard.

The inlet was hardly recognizable. A utility pole lay stretched across the road blocking the way. Wires dangling. The bathroom was gone. Ripped off its foundation. Only pieces of the concrete walls remain. The corner waffle house gutted. More utility poles lay strewn across rooftops. Balconies tilted dangerously off of houses. The 500lb wooden doors of a restaurant...gone...washed out to sea.

The photos you see don’t tell the whole story. They offer only a small peek into the destruction. Walking along this battered street made everyone just shake their heads in disbelief.

It was time to get back to the squad building. We had our own cleanup to do.

In the afternoon we took food to the workers in Mantoloking. Approaching the Rt 35 bridge was like entering a war zone. Boats and debris everywhere. Trees cut up and placed along the street or still laying across lawns.

As we drove over the bridge we could see the amazing power this hurricane delivered to the NJ coast. Hurricane Sandy had cut a new inlet at the base of the bridge…but the army core of engineers had already cut off the flow of water from the ocean. What an amazing feat. Tractors, bulldozers and dumptrucks were everywhere. Like ants they swarmed over the area. Each one taking us a step closer to returning this place to the people who live here.

We thank each of the workers out there laboring to bring our world back to some sense of normalcy. The Police, Fire Dept, First Aid, Rescue Workers, Construction Crews, Utility Crews and Volunteers everywhere…our heartfelt thanks.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Hurricane Sandy ~Rescue 34~

The news was everywhere...Hurricane Sandy was coming and it was going to be bad. We started out on Sunday preparing for the storm to come. The skies were already dark with clouds swirling overhead. The wind was beginning to pick up just a bit. We took a quick drive around the area to check conditions. The Manasquan Inlet was washing over the sea wall at hightide…flooding the area where the fishermen set up their posts. The waves were high and pounding the jetty.
As we stood there watching the waves pound the jetty, we noticed an incoming vessel. We couldn’t help but think to ourselves, I’m glad its not me on that boat. The captain of the boat made all the right choices entering the inlet and we were happy to see him motor his way past us. As it turns out, this was the boat that had just picked up a surfer that was being pulled out to sea by the storms surge. Nice job Captain.
Stopping at the RR Bridge we could see the water had reached the bottom of the bridge. Windows were boarded along each street and boats were being pulled from the area as quickly as possible. It was time to get back to the squad and do more work.
We made a new cradle for our boat that was still in our parking lot. Just to be sure she could withstand the winds, we also tied her down. We spent the remainder of the day stocking supplies and prepping as best we could for the upcoming storm.
As Monday morning came, we could see the effects of the storm strengthening. We made a quick run down to the beach and to check out the damage that was already being caused by the winds and waves. We spent some time watching Al Roker give his reports, as we watched the waves behind him slowly eroding the dune he was standing on. Power lines were already down in the area and wind was racing. The ocean was at the boardwalk in many areas. Already washing over and breaking thru the sand dunes protection.
Our day Monday was spent like so many other Rescue and First Aid teams, transferring people to shelters and doing our best to provide help where needed. As the day wore on, the weather worsened. The local gas station had its roof ripped off of the pump area, trees were falling left and right, power line after power line fell and the wind gusts were up to 60 mph.
Around 11:30 Monday evening we got a call of people trapped in a flooding house. The trucks could no longer make their way thru the debris and high water. It was time to take out Rescue 34, our inflatable RIB. Chet, Bob, Gibby, Sabrina and Joe geared up and headed out.
It was the height of the storm. Winds at 70mph, rain blasting your face, and debris everywhere. We decided to place the boat in the water along Arnold Avenue. The streets were flooded from less then a block past the RR Tracks all the way to the beach. We made our way past sunken canoes, trees, downed lines, boats and flooded cars. We found the house and drove the boat right up to porch. We got the man and wife and their 2 cats and a dog into Rescue 34 and headed back to the waiting ambulance. Sometimes you can find humor even in the middle of a tragedy. As we slowly made our way back, wind whipping at our faces we all began to sing “Row Row Row your boat..” Twisted maybe, but it made everyone laugh and eased the tensions of the family with us.
We transferred our family to the ambulance and decided to head back out to check on a few houses where we could see flashlights moving in the darkness. As we were walking Rescue 34 out into deeper water a nearby transformer blew. It lit the sky with this eerie bright blue glow. It was so bright we could see almost to Ocean Avenue along the beach. It was like a full moon rose for just a minute. Bright blue, then almost green, then dark blue...fading to darkness. It made you realize just how dark it was with no power or lights anywhere.
A few houses we found with people refused to leave. Assuring us they were fine and wishing that we stayed safe. As we moved back towards the ambulance area, we saw a truck coming towards us. One of the houses had a bad gas leak and we needed to get one of the workers to it asap. As we neared the house, we found it also had a family still occupying it.  Mother, father, three children and 3 dogs! We cleared the house and brought the family to the ambulance.
We were ready to go back and check more houses when we were called back to the squad building due to worsening conditions. Back at the squad building, we cleaned our gear and made ready for the next call if needed. We made it through the night like the rest of the Point Pleasant Beach area, by riding out the storm. Answering a few calls and hoping for the best.
The next morning we had a request for another rescue. It was daylight and things had quieted down quite a bit. However the area was still massively flooded. Once again Rescue 34 was the way to go. We had a person trapped on the second story of a house. Inside the house was a jumble of furniture and debris. We cleared the way and got our victim to the waiting boat.
As we slowly made our way back to the ambulance, the view around us was unimaginable. Cars washed up on lawns. Sunken boats.  Hot tubs, swimming pools, lawn chairs, anything you could imagine, floated along in the flood waters or were washed up into the most unlikely of places.
The storm was over.
But its devastation was all around us.
Now its time to cleanup. To rebuild.
To be thankful for those who were safe and to remember those we lost.
P.S.    A few years back the Dive Team was raising funds by way of coin donation Jars at local 7-elevens and other businesses to purchase a hard-bottom inflatiable boat for the team to respond to distress calls and serve the community. Donations were good but one day the team received a phone call from local resident and President of Nassau Broadcasting, Mr. Mercatanti, who said he wanted to help the Dive Team in it's efforts serving the community. Mr. Mercatanti stepped up to the plate on completed the cost of what is now known as ~Rescue 34~ and described above......

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Mantoloking Bridge Area... Now a Inlet....

Living In Virginia I can only follow the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy by the photos I get off the internet, emailed from friends and team members of the Point Pleasant First Aid Rescue Dive Dive Team, and very short cell phone conversations. Many people I work with in Virginia know that I am from NJ for I have been called a "Yankee" from time to time but many have shown concern and have asked about the storm damage...

I have shown the above photo of the Mantoloking bridge to them as a focus point and the damage to the Jersey Shore area other than the usual shots of the Seaside boardwalk which has been a big media draw and shown numerous times... Damage to Mantoloking is alot like the damage that occured to Key West a few years back with hurricane Wilma where KW was not hit directly by Wilma but the storm pushed a lot of water into the Gulf of Mexico and when the storm was gone the water escaped back into the ocean since there was no longer a driving wind to keep it in the Gulf. The storm surge and damage came from the Gulf side instead of Ocean side...

The above Mantoloking photo shows the water running from the top of the photo (West) to the bottom of the photo and towards the Ocean (East)....
(Thanks to Jerry for the use of the following photos showing the damage to the Mantoloking bridge area) 

Photo from the top of Mantoloking bridge looking East and towards the Atlantic Ocean

Photo taken from Manoloking looking towards bridge...

Route 35 looking North near where the bridge intersection was...

     Route 35 and why it's still closed at this time and what the Rescue people have to deal with..

Huuricane Sandy ~2012~

The railroad bridge near Gull Island......
Inlet parking lot....

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Artifact Salvage Workshop.....

Sunday Ocyober 14th, 2012
The Point Pleasant Dive Team will be holding a "Artifact Salvage" seminar available to the public to show how to identify,clean, and preserve artifacts that people have found along the shore....


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grandparents Day ~2012~

The skies were cloudy as the Point Pleasant Dive Team headed out to the annual Grandparents Day event in Brick Township . We arrived to the sights and sounds of parents, grandparents and children enjoying a day by the pool.
Our purpose this day was to provide a presentation of the life and artifacts found while Scuba diving in the nearby waters of New Jersey . Our display tables included a series of macro photographs showing a variety of sea life found near Manasquan Inlet, a large shell collection and many artifacts including bottles, shipwreck items.

However, as always it was our interactive touch tank that fascinated and thrilled both children and grandparents alike. Our touch tank shows what you may see if you were to dive in the waters of New Jersey . Sea Stars, Star Coral, Spider Crabs, Snails and more are included in our mini collection. We dive first thing in the morning to collect our specimens and enough water to keep them happy and healthy.

Having a pool on the premises allowed our Chief Diver Chet Nesley and Rescue Diver Dave Gibson to provide a demonstration of some of the skills required to be a part of our Dive Team. This included a Search and Recovery of two “lost” items. Our divers blacked out their masks to simulate a zero visibility dive and searched for the items placed in the pool by our volunteers.

The day was great fun and the weather held out just long enough for us to pack up our display. Of course the day wasn’t over yet…there was one more job to do. It was time to take our specimens back to the safety of the waters where we found them.
Our thanks to the wonderful people of Grandparents Day for allowing us to share a peek into the underwater world of New Jersey .

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wooden Boat Festival ~2012~

Each year we are proud to be a part of the Wooden Boat Festival sponsored by the Toms River Seaport Society and Maritime Museum. The day includes a collection of wooden boats moored along the canal, vendors selling nautical goods, pirates and of course the
Pt Pleasant Dive Team touch tank and display.

The Dive Teams day starts at 5:30 am as we don our scuba equipment to collect our specimens for the touch tank. It takes about an hour to collect the proper specimens and enough water to keep our touch tank and our specimens healthy throughout the long day ahead.

Our displays at the festival included photos of various marine life found off the Jersey coast, a multimedia display showing artifact recovery, marine life and Dive Team drills, our brand new shell display case created by our fantastic Sue Lewicki, and of course “Dry Suit Guy” – a fully suited representation of what equipment we wear during our dives.

Of course the highlight of our display was our Touch Tank. Kids and adults alike had a great time learning about the marine life of New Jersey from members of our Dive Team. Our Touch tank included specimens such as the Sea Star (or Starfish as most would call them), Spider Crabs, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Star Coral and the Red Bearded Sponge. There were many smiles and a few shrieks as the Sea Stars would start walking along a childs hand!

12 hours after starting our day we are finally on our way back to the RR Bridge to release our marine specimens. As we know from the past, you never know when a call will come in and it did on the way home. No rest for the weary.

In the makes a for a long day, both for the Sea Stars and the Dive Team.
But we love every minute of it! We look forward to seeing our friends again at the Wooden Boat Festival in 2013.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jetty Training 2012

On July ?? 2012 the Pt Pleasant EMS and Dive Team, along with local lifeguards from Jenkisons, held a jetty rescue drill at Manasquan Inlet. Over 30 emergency personnel participated in the drill over the course of the evening.

The Manasquan Inlet can be a very dangerous and tricky area for rescue and recovery. The inlet handles a high volume of boat traffic on any given day, especially in the summer months. Combine this with swift currents, riptides and slippery jetty rocks and accidents can and will happen.

Our drill concentrated on locating and recovery of a victim in the jetty rocks and jacks. The jetty rocks and jacks create numerous caves and crevices where a victim can be lodged out of sight and even hearing. Locating the possible victim requires a systematic search of every possible hiding place. The rocks are slippery with algae, seaweed and water making every inch of the search dangerous to the rescuer if not executed correctly.

We split the lifeguards into several groups each lead by a member of the Dive Team. Meanwhile Chief Nesley had several of the Dive Team members hide in the rocks as potential victims. As we searched the inlet everyone was soon able to see how hard this really could be. The Dive Team can be very good at getting into those tight crevices.

But the lifeguards wee not about to be shown up. They proved their dedication and professionalism by finding very victim.

Once the victims were found, EMT’s were called to the location and the process of recovering the victim started. Victims were secured onto backboards and carefully extricated from the rocks and jacks. Imagine trying to secure an unconscious victim to a backboard while wedged into a space the size of the front seat of your car, while waves bash you into the rocks.

After all the victims were rescued, the Dive Team went for a quick swim around the tip of the jetty. This can be a tricky place as waves and swift currents can wash you into the rocks or out to sea. As we walked up onto the beach after our swim, tired and ready to discuss our evening..Chief Nesley had a surprise in store for all of us. The shout came to us on the beach, distressed swimmer in the water. Back into the surf we went! Pulling our “distressed swimmer” (actually it was Milton’s son) back to the shoreline. Safe and secure at last!

We would like to give a great thank you to the members of Jenkinson’s Lifeguard squad.
Everyday they are out there showing their courage and professionalism protecting the swimmers in Pt Pleasant. Great job everyone!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Gull Island Seal Rest Stop....

Photos of seal reported by Chet Nesley at Gull Island, Pt Pleasant NJ on 3/4/12, taken around 12:00 noon. Seal was hauled out at the base of the train bridge and would quickly return to the water when the train crossed the bridge. He would swim around and dive at this location and then haul out again. I checked again around 5:00 pm and seal was not at this location and no site of him in the water.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Sinker Sales 2012....

Today, Feb 26, 2012, we had an excellent turnout for our Blowout Sinker Sale. Ocean Fire Co. #1 invited us again to table at their annual Fisherman's Flea Market, held at Antrim School. With a beautiful day, the event was well-attended, and fortunately 13 members were available to pack out 2116 pounds of sinkers. (In case you were wondering, that's nine FULL 5-gallon buckets. Of course, you shouldn't ACTUALLY fill a five gallon bucket with lead and try to move it. We did a scientific investigation and proved that it will break.)

Our crew of Professional Sinker Sorters were busy sorting the whole morning and preparing custom orders to exacting specifications. Or not. (When you want to get rid of a ton of lead, it becomes necessary to throw in an extra handful here and there.) Mike and Justin were so busy selling, we actually ran out of bags and had to make a supermarket run. We also sold lures (hand-polished by Flo), F-Cove salvaged sunglasses, and a handful of vintage bottles. In the meantime, Larry the Singing Lobster kept the kids busy with his only two songs.

In the end, we did have to take back home some bottles, lures, and a rusty anchor that just couldn't pass muster. And Larry. BUT NO LEAD. This was our best sinker sale to date, so thanks to everyone who stopped by and to our hosts.

Can we take ONE week off from collecting now? Not if we want to have 2500 pounds next year...

1. Full buckets of sinkers are HEAVY!!! LIFT WITH THE LEGS!!!!
2. Kids LOVE Larry the Lobster.....Adults DO NOT!!! (Except Flo)
3. There are some things you cant even GIVE away!!

Sinker dive facts
52 sinker dives in 51 weeks
Biggest haul 288lbs
Most sinkers came out of manasquan inlet
five dives in shark river inlet
two dives on the wreck of the delaware
two dives at the highlands bridge
It took eight people six hours to clean and sort the sinkers.
Best sinker spot is sue's sinker garden, over five hundred lbs of sinkers came from that one spot.