St Croix

 Please note: The following reports are listed from most recent at the top of the page to the earliest at the bottom. To view them in chronological order simply start at the bottom of the page.

 

Saturday, October 14th

Once again Marcie graciously invited Harry and I to dive with her, Gary, and Ralph. Our target on this day would be the Schooner Barge, or as Marcie used to call it; Jeff's Barge. It is now becoming known as the Snetind, its actual name. We would then check out some numbers that Marcie had acquired through one of her many sources. It was exciting to think that we may find a new wreck!

We made the trip to the site in about an hour only to discover that there was no mooring on the wreck. After a brief discussion it was decided that we would head over to the Brenton Lightship as it was relatively close and the proper depth for the gas on hand.

As we approached the numbers for the Lightship, it was a welcome site to find the mooring placed there the week before by Heather and David of Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions. We secured the boat to the mooring and made ready to start diving. Gary and Ralph would go first, with Harry and I following them. Marcie would remain aboard and not dive. She dived this site earlier this year, and the prior few days of heavy seas did not bode well for good visibility.

On the way down the line it looked like the visibility would be decent. I could see twenty feet or so along the geri line and just slightly less once headed down the mooring line. Harry was within sight on the way down until we passed about 120 fsw, at that point he vanished. At just past 150 I could barely make out the faint glow of his light . . . and he was only 8 feet away! We set a strobe on the line and Harry headed towards the bow while I set out down across the deck. At about 10 feet down the deck my light disappeared in the murky water at the end of my arm. Being on a "new" wreck with virtually no visibility and the warning of some net hazards about the wreck, I carefully retraced my route and made it back to the line. I then headed along the bulwark towards the stern. When the vis didn't improve

away from the line, I headed back to the mooring where I met Harry and we decided to punch out after 12 minutes.

We made it to the numbers to check out the other wreck but could not do much searching as the seas were picking up and Gremlins in the depth-finder would not have let us seen the bottom even if we did go over something.

As usual, it was a fun day out diving with friends. Even with less than great visibility, it always beats the alternative . . . not diving at all!

 

 

Last week of September
Thousand Islands Trip to dive the wrecks of the St Lawrence River
 

 


Saturday, September 9th

This day found Harry, Jan, and I meeting in Quincy at Marcie's boat to join her, Gary, and Ralph K. to dive the Whale Bone Wreck, a.k.a. the "Mengel", and also a second dive on the Pug. After packing the gear aboard the boat we headed out to enjoy a beautiful calm and clear Saturday of Massachusetts wreck diving. Within an hour we were pulling up to the wreck site to grab the mooring that Marcie and Gary had placed there a few days earlier. After tying up to the mooring and setting the lines Ralph donned his gear and was soon followed by Marcie and Gary. Harry, Jan and I would follow once they returned.

Unfortunately, the conditions at the bottom were nowhere near as good as those topside. Vis was being reported as between four to six feet and very dark. With only one set of doubles with each of us, Harry, Jan and I decided to save our gas for the Pug Wreck and the hope of finding the reported wreckage off to the side of the wreck. Looking back, I wish I had dived the Bone Wreck that day as I have not been able to make it back there this year.

We made our way to the Pug Wreck and this time it would be Harry, Jan and I to dive first. Well; the poor vis followed us to the Pug. With two lines - Harry and Jan's - already affixed to the mooring, I decided not to run my own and follow one of their lines. after several

minutes I almost banged heads with Harry on his way back to the mooring. I returned also and did a braille dive along the perimeter of the hull for the balance of my dive.

All in all it was a great day out diving with good divers and friends.

 

Friday, September 8th

After several weeks of lousy weather which didn't allow us to get out and dive, Harry successfully twisted my arm to take a day off from work and dive the Winsor once again with him and Gary.

It was a beautiful late summer day with calm seas as we set out from Green Harbor. Within a half of an hour we were upon the site. With a bit of searching, owing to its little relief from to bottom, we located the wreck and dropped a line on her. Harry splashed first to tie in and dive, followed by Gary, and them me. I would be shooting video on this dive.

Once on the bottom, I adjusted the lights on my camera, checked my gauges, and set out to enjoy a relaxing dive. I turned and promptly ran into Gary who wasted no time calling me over to check out what he found. As I hurriedly followed him off the wreck I wondered for a moment if I would be able to find  my way back to the line. That thought quickly vanished as I realized that I could simply follow him back to the line . . . he must know his way back!

Gary eventually stopped and pointed at what looked to me like a mere hunk of wood. I promptly recorded some video of his find and realized that I may be looking at the scrollhead, or perhaps a part of the figurehead of this wreck that was once a schooner.

We made our way back to the wreck where Gary signaled that he was surfacing and I was left on my own to enjoy the rest of my dive while filming the main body of wreckage. At the end of my allotted time, I sent the hook up via lift bag and practiced shooting another bag to make an ascent under it as planned.

 

Saturday, August 19th

On Saturday, August 12th, after numerous searches with what we found later to be a miscommunication and mix up in numbers, we were able to "find" the wreck of the Winsor, but not without the help of Tom Mulloy. Tom was kind enough to come out with his boat and physically show us where the wreck is.

Harry and Mike D. got to dive her but a broken dry-suit zipper and worsening conditions did not allow me to get to the bottom on that day.

Well, this past Saturday I finally got to dive the elusive Winsor. While it is a nice relaxing dive featuring a copious variety of marine life, it is just a bit of a disappointment as a wreck dive. Essentially, what one finds is a small portion of a ship. My guess is that we were on a section about amidships – about 80 feet of it – sans the bow and the stern thirds. Immediately recognized is the keelson with frames – about a foot on center - emanating out perpendicular to the keelson, to about twenty feet to each side. They end at where the frames start to make the upward curve of the hull. There is a small section of hull with several frames which make the curve upward, complete with hull planking to what I guess would be just six feet off the sea floor. Beneath the frames there are areas of hull bottom planking partially buried in the gravely ocean floor. There is what looks to be some kind of metal strapping along the tops of the frames and numerous iron drift pins where ever one looks.

 Jan and Harry saw a couple of other small pieces but I did not, as I spent my time on the main section of wreckage. It is an interesting example of early wooden ship construction. However, with no bow, weather-deck, or stern and associated steering mechanisms, I was just a bit disappointed. In the future we intend to search around the wreck to try and find other sections of the Winsor. Originally, she was over 200 feet long. We are hoping that there are other sections nearby.

Even though it may be a lacking a bit as a "wreck dive", it is a very pretty site and is certainly a nice dive.

A special "Thank You" to Tom Mulloy for sharing this site with us.

 

Saturday, August 5th
Harry, Jan, and I put the boat in up in Great Salt Pond in the shadow of South County Hospital to head out to the Acid Barge. The Acid Barge is a seldom-visited wreck about 8 miles southeast of Block Island. It is seldom visited due to its location. Not only is it far from shore – 23 miles – but also it is so close to the Bass that most divers opt to dive the Bass and not some ole barge if they’re in the area. Submarines are always more interesting than barges. Well, this time curiosity got the best of us and we had to check it out. After the 45-minute run from the West Gap we came upon the site. On cue, as we went over our numbers, the hulk of this now artificial reef showed itself on the depth finder. Published numbers for her are not very accurate, however, last year we spent a bit of time looking for her and finally marked the site.

With numbers for each end we passed over her, approaching from down current and promptly set the hook on the first try. With calm seas, great weather, good friends, and now being tied in, the day was getting better and better! It got better still, when after setting the Geri line I could look down and see it at over 40 feet deep! We each silently hoped that the great visibility would follow us to the bottom.

Harry and Jan splashed first, with me following upon their return. With the glorious sunshine and light breeze it was almost a perfect day – except for the flies! With so little wind to keep them at bay we were inundated by Horse Flies. We had the same issue a few weeks earlier out of Boston. Other than that minor nuisance, I was free to relax, and wait for my friends to return. With a run time of nearly an hour for this dive to 160fsw, they would not be back for a while. I had plenty of time to chill and fight off the urge to take a nap. I guess I didn’t fight hard enough as I was suddenly startled from a state of half-consciousness by the unmistakable exhalation of several Dolphins near the boat. I jumped to my feet to see dozens – probably a hundred or so – of the marine mammals all around the boat. As luck would have it, Jan was hanging at his 30-foot stop and was given a fish eye view of the creatures encircling us. A chance of a lifetime!

When Harry and Jan returned and we were done hearing about the Dolphins, I got the news that the visibility at the bottom was nearly as good as at the surface. Have you ever had one of those days when you can’t suit up fast enough? Well, this was one of them. Still; gotta check and double check – gas on, isolator open, lights, camera, and action!

Oh how that water feels soooo good when you finally roll off the boat on a hot summer day. After the bubbles cleared and I checked the housing for leaks, I headed down the line into the emerald colored water. At 50fsw I hit a refreshing thermocline, not the typical ice-cream headache kind that we have to endure on some of the deeper Massachusetts wrecks, but only about a ten-degree differential. Just enough to stay cool. At just past 100fsw I looked down and could see the shadow of the wreck below me. Settling on her at 143fsw I felt like a kid in a candy store. I didn’t know which way to go. First, I moved the hook to where it would be easy to cast off. Don’t want to be messing with a problem at the end of a dive. That took a bit longer than expected – but hey; that’s why it’s done at the beginning of the dive. After attempting to fire up my video lights and failing (post dive I found that the switch was not working) I decided to simply take in the sites. Vis was an honest 25 feet with shadows being seen out to 40 feet. There is one large dragger net on the port quarter with a float pulling it up to resemble a telephone pole covered with camo netting. Several pipes run along the centerline of the barge, with numerous steel hand wheels dotting the deck, which controlled valves within the barge. The wreck rises a solid ten feet above the sandy seabed. Being intact it is easy to navigate around. While this was a solo dive for me, the numerous Cunners, Sea Bass, and Dogfish never left me feeling alone.

After my planned BT I headed back up the line after tossing the hook in the sand. I was hoping to be treated to the same Dolphin show that Jan saw, but alas, all I got to watch was a myriad of jelly fish and invertebrates wafting by with the current. I kept a vigilant watch for the streaming tentacles of any Portuguese Man-O-War that may be present, as we saw one earlier on our way out. After a warm and relaxing hang we stowed our gear and readied the boat to head over to the Idene for a second dive and experience conditions very similar to the barge. It was a great day to be diving around Block Island.
 

Saturday, July 29th
After spending  some time searching and dropping a diver in to check out a site looking for a "new" wreck but having no luck, we shot over to one of our favorite sites off of Scituate, MA; the Pinthis. When we first arrived we had the site to ourselves. We were surrounded by nothing but clear flat water under blue skies and glorious sunshine. However, in no time we had company and were sharing the wreck with the Lucky Lady, a dive charter out of Barnstable, MA. It was the typical Pinthis dive with visibility in the 30 foot range, light current, and what is now a well known and easily navigated site. It did get a bit crowded as the day wore on. When I surfaced at the end of my dive, I found that we had "acquired" another vessel and were quickly becoming a fleet of dive boats! I guess the Pinthis is not only one of our favorite sites.

Saturday, July 15th
Harry and I were invited to dive with Gary and Marcie B. on her boat in Boston Harbor. We became acquainted with Marcie through Gary. She graciously invited us to join her and Gary to dive a wreck that is known locally as the Schooner Barge, and to her as Jeff's Barge in recognition of the diver that first took her to the sight over nine years earlier. With a forecast of a sweltering July day and calm seas ahead, we left Marcie's marina in royal comfort aboard her 36 foot Sea-Ray. If one has any misgivings about if a luxury boat like a Sea-Ray can be used for technical diving, one merely has to step aboard Marcie's vessel once it is loaded with gear and any doubts will immediately vanish.

We cruised the 18 miles to the site at over 22 knots while drinking coffee and munching on assorted pastry and reclining on seating the likes of which most of us do not have in our living rooms! The day got even better when we arrived at the site and there was a mooring on the wreck.

Marcie deftly maneuvered her vessel up to the buoy and we effortlessly tied in. With an efficiency born from a great deal of experience, Marcie set all the lines in nary a minute's time and declared that the pool was open. Harry and I would dive first, with Gary and Marcie as the second team. This dive would be to 180fsw with either a 15 or 20 minute bottom time, depending on how cold it was and how long we felt like hanging.

Once we geared up, Harry and I stepped through the transom and off the platform into the refreshingly cool water and became immersed into the most horrible visibility that I have seen in recent memory. It was the same pea-soup that I was in the day before . . . only worse! I looked up to Gary peering down from the deck and let him know that this may be a very short dive as I wasn't crazy about fumbling around a new wreck in pitch black no vis water at 180 feet. OK; so I'm a sissy, this is supposed to be fun, isn't it? As the vague form that was Harry and I descended the line we suddenly emerged from the guck like a plane dropping out of the clouds. Once I reached the weight on the down line at 30 feet, the vis opened up enough that I could see the mooring line nearly forty feet away rising up from the depths after only a few fin kicks.

As we approached 150fsw another line with a float attached intersected the mooring line. Looking down, I thought that I could vaguely make out details on the bottom but in fact I was seeing the wreck. We continued following the mooring's angled line and arrived at a point on the wreck that I think was amidships. I was at 163fsw, We were tied into an area of intact weather deck with vast openings into the cavernous below deck spaces. Once inside, along the base of the frames, I reached 175fsw. Later, on the exterior of the wreck, Gary reached 182fsw at the sea bed. What I found remarkable was the high degree of light penetration for this depth. When I emerged back on the upper deck I turned off my light and once my eyes adjusted to the conditions a bit, I could see nearly 30 feet! This wreck is huge. It rises over 20 feet off the bottom in some areas and is extensively covered with some of the largest Sea Anemones that I have ever seen. This is definitely a wreck for the video camera. We explored along a section of the outer hull and then inside among the massive wooden timbers, periodically glancing over our shoulder for the security of our strobe which was affixed to the mooring line. I thought to myself that it will take several dives to check out the entire site. Before the end of the dive I was already planning my return.

At 14 minutes with my hands feeling the chill I looked over at Harry. He motioned that he was ready to ascend so we made our way back to the line, gathered my strobe, and started the long ascent back to the warming sunshine. At my first stop at 90fsw my attention was diverted from my computers and timers to the countless Squalus Acanthias, otherwise known as Spiny Dogfish. There were hundreds of the cat-eyed varmints encircling us. Mentally, a ran down the list of items that I knew to make up their diet and thankfully humans are absent from that lot!

After an uneventful hang Harry and I re-joined Gary and Marcie to brief them on the enjoyable dive that they had ahead of them. Marcie and Gary returned from their dive and we had headed off to check out some numbers that Marcie acquired. A good day of diving was made great with the "discovery" of a new wreck within the harbor (more on that later) and meeting a new friend and fellow diver.

A special thanks to Marcie B. for inviting us and making Harry and I feel welcomed aboard  her vessel.

 

Friday, July 14th
Unfortunately there is not much to report about this day of diving. While the weather was fantastic, which made for a great day off from work, the dive left a lot to be desired. I joined Harry for breakfast, after which we headed to Hull, MA to pick up his boat from the mechanic. Harry had an unlucky run-in with a piece of wooden flotsam a couple of weeks prior that required the replacement of his screws and a check of the out-drive. After reclaiming his boat we headed to Weymouth to put in and set a course for Harding ledge to dive the Mohave. Right off I knew our luck was not going to be great when we found two boats fishing very close to where we wanted to dive. We anchored off their bow by several hundred feet - they were drifting bait of their stern so we would not disturb them from where we were - and I suited up to jump in. When I got to the bottom I could barely see my fingers on my hand! The color and opaqueness made it like diving in pea soup. After 15 minutes of braille diving and being startled by Dogfish I called it quits. I told Harry about the conditions and that it was up to him but I didn't think it was worth getting his gear wet. He agreed.

 

Saturday, July 8th
I received a call on Wednesday evening from one of the gang. He had been in touch with a fellow diver who had the numbers to a little wreck which we heard of over the years but could not find any reliable numbers for anywhere. He was given the numbers by one of only two people that had them at the time - they have since been given to two other divers that I know with the same stipulation - I was asked to keep the location to myself and not even mention the name of the wreck on this site. Well; all this "intrigue" was for naught as we could not find any trace of wreckage anywhere near the numbers that we were given! I didn't think that I would be able to mark much on the depth finder while looking for this wreck, as it is nothing more than the broken down wooden remains of a century old schooner barge that was our target. We put two divers on three different locations to search for the wreck but they came up with nothing but sand. After a few bounce dives we decided to head to the wreck of the Pinthis as we were in her neighborhood. As usual we had a great time diving the Pinthis with 30 plus feet of vis and calm conditions. I surfaced from my dive to be greeted by a dozen fin-clad legs dangling around the bow of my boat above me while on my 10 foot stop. A Charter boat had pulled up and was sending its divers down our line. After watching the wetsuit wrapped bodies descend into the depths I wondered how long they would remain submerged in the Pinthis' notoriously frigid company. It turns out that they were not down long. Between the NDL and the cold, some were back on the surface in 15 minutes; even before I got out of my rig.

On our way back in I couldn't help run over the numbers again to see if we could spot ANYTHING. Harry even decided to jump in and have a look but with no luck. Perhaps there was an error in writing the numbers down, or in how they were read . . . who knows? The gentleman that provided them is known to be a stand-up guy so my bet is that there was a mistake made in communication. We also have the loran TD's which he provided so we have another tool to use in search of this "secret" site. Stay tuned . . . we'll let you know as soon as we find something.

 

Friday, June 30th "Wreck Week"
This was to be our last day of diving with Gary before he was off to meet other "accomplices" in his quest for locations of, and aid in diving wrecks throughout Massachusetts. With the forecast for strong southwest winds we headed for the lee of Cape Cod, to Sandwich, Ma and launched Cetacea in our search of Cape Cod Bay for the wreck of the Catherine Marie. According to Donald Ferris, in his book Exploring the waters of Cape Cod, the Catherine Marie was "a commercial Eastern rigged dragger, she sank on June 22nd, 1985". We found her with a combination of Mr. Ferris' loran numbers and GPS coordinates that Gary had acquired. In short order she was showing up nicely on our depth recorder. As per our SOP, Gary and Harry dived first with yours truly going in last to do my dive and toss the hook; and wouldn't you know it, they returned from their dive to inform me that we were hooked into a net . . . again!  At only 80fsw, dealing with this net would not be as much of an issue as the net we were hooked into on the Colbrook at 160fsw, but it did give my "crew" a chance to have a chuckle at my expense.

What we found was a wreck of partially decomposed wood over or mixed with metal framing. she is listing to starboard with no wheel house upon her decks and the vestiges of her steel fishing framework and drum lying in the silt like sand abaft of her port quarter. There is an abundance of marine life present with numerous Fluke, Hake, Sculpin, and Cunners about. There was even one lone scallop! While on this day the visibility was low at 6 to 8 feet, there was good light penetration. On a day with better visibility the Catherine Marie would be a very nice dive. We plan to return and investigate this wreck further.

 

Wednesday, June 28th "Wreck Week"
With the threat of truly crappy weather, we set out early to try to sneak in a dive at another near-shore site off of Hull, Massachusetts. We were in search of the wreck of the Mohave. Again, we were directed by Bill Carter to the location at which we would find this wreck. When I say we were directed; we had Bill on the phone while I maneuvered the boat to where he told me to go! It was as if he personally took us there. The Mohave, according to Bill's notes which he graciously copied for me, was a U.S. Navy steel hulled, ocean tug which sank on February 13th, 1928. She was 122 feet long by 24 feet wide with a draft of nearly 13 feet. She ended her career on the east side of Harding's Ledge. Bill describes her bones as "broken and scattered, fused in [the] crevices". Which is exactly how Gary found her! She is spread out in various cuts and crevices about the ledge in 10 to 25 feet of water. Please! Be extremely careful while navigating in this area. The are many large boulders waiting to reach out and snack on any out-drive or running gear that ventures too close. Gary made the only dive at this site as the sky opened up and all h*ll broke loose when he returned. We barely got him back into the boat and the hook freed while almost losing Harry in the process due to near blinding rain and gale force gusts of wind. Under those conditions, we called it an early day and returned to the dock for lunch!


Tuesday, June 27th
"Wreck Week"
Today we put the boat in at Winter Island in Salem, Massachusetts to seek out and dive the wrecks of the Alice M. Colburn, Albert Gallatin, and the U.S.S. New Hampshire. If sea conditions would have permitted, we would have hit the Poling (Bow) or the Northern Voyager but unfortunately it was too snotty for our little vessel to venture away from shore, so we took aim at some near-shore sites to cross them off of Gary's list. Before I go on, please note that regarding the Colburn, Gallatin, and New Hampshire; these are actually wreck sites as very little wreckage actually remains. Also, my descriptions of the sites is second hand as I chose not to dive today.

The Colburn and the Gallatin are each located on or about ledges just off the Manchester shore line. The Colburn is located on the Northwest corner of Great Egg Rock. No traces of wreckage was found by Harry and Gary on this day, however the abundant marine life and dense sub-aqua vegetation made for a beautiful and enjoyable dive in only 15 to 25 fsw. We believe that we were in the correct spot, as we were personally instructed by Bill Carter as to where to dive. He did state that he would not be surprised if we found no wreckage as there was little to be seen the last time that he dived there several years ago, owing the the fact that this ship was made of wood and the presence of dense kelp and assorted other marine vegetation which may hide any remnants of the wreck. It is said that there may be more wreckage on the southwest corner of the rock as well.

Next we motored over to the Gallatin which is located off the North Western side of Boo Hoo Ledge. While they are only separated by 1/2 of a mile in distance, the sub-surface conditions are oceans apart. Where the Colburn site had a lush variety of vegetation, the Gallatin site was barren rock and the water temperature markedly colder while only being 20 feet deeper. Here the guys did find wreckage in the form of steel plates and beams. As one can imagine, the wreckage was spread out and flattened due to years of relentless pounding by the surf along the shallow ledge. Both divers stated that this was a pretty dive as well, and worth doing even without a wreck present!

Lastly, to cap off a relaxing day of diving, we checked out the USS New Hampshire. As most people know that have visited the site, the only remnants of this once massive warship are charred wooden timbers strewn along the gravely bottom. However, one must always keep an eye open to spot copper fittings or spikes that can make an appearance in the shifting sands.


Monday, June 26th
"Wreck Week"
On this day the weather cooperated and allowed us to get a bit off shore to dive the wreck of a small Tug Boat in Cape Cod Bay. This wreck first piqued my interest when I read about it in Donald Ferris' book Exploring the waters of Cape Cod many years ago. There are Loran coordinates in Mr. Ferris' book but no GPS #'s. Several weeks ago my dive partners and I headed out to locate the wreck using a Loran unit that I installed during the winter. Fortunately Mr. Ferris provided accurate TD's and we found her in short order. We did not dive her that day as the weather was a bit too crappy for our liking to be doing a fairly deep dive. I wanted to know more about this wreck so I asked around.

Heather Knowles of Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions was kind enough to share this information with me in an e-mail.

"The COLEBROOK was originally thought to be the June K, but was later identified to be the Colebrook. The June K is a distinct wreck and is to the west of the Colebrook -- it was a wood tug -- low lying debris now, not much there. The Colebrook is a 55-foot long intact steel tug. It sits upright in about 150 feet of water with some good relief. It sank while towing a deck scow barge when it began taking on water in the engine room. Eric Takakjian used to dive it years ago when he ran the Grey Eagle. I have not been on it but have seen video -- vis can be very good there, but it can also be very dark. Have fun and let us know what the present condition of the wreck is."
-Heather Knowles

She was right on with her description of the wreck! However, the visibility was low at about 8 feet or so. It was over 40 until we got below 120fsw then it closed in dramatically. We had good light penetration but there was a lot of particulate matter in the water. The wreck is still intact and upright with some possible penetration into the wheelhouse, which is SMALL, as is the whole wreck. This may sound odd, and not very "manly" but its small size had some of us commenting that it was . . well . . . cute!

Its diminutive size makes it a difficult target to hook which is how we got on the wreck knowing that it was steel and not wood and thus we would not damage it with our smallish boat. On the 3rd try we hooked a hunk of net balled under the stem of the vessel. Next time we will drop a shot line and tie in onto the "H" bitt aft of the Wheelhouse. It is just a bit deeper than 150 as I hit 159fsw while crawling in the washout and scraping the screw to see what it is made of.

It is Bronze.

 

Sunday, June 25th "Wreck Week"
To kick off the week of surveying wrecks with Gary for his upcoming book, we dismissed the forecast of poor weather and set out from Weymouth, MA to dive the Herbert and the Kiowa, two wrecks that Harry and I dived a week earlier. On this day the visibility was no where near what we had on our past dive. Perhaps that was due to the overcast conditions and the stormy weather during the prior few days. However, even with the lousy vis - less than eight feet - Gary was intrigued by the twin vertical boiler and single piston engine arrangement on the Herbert, something that his readers will become familiar with when the book is published.

The Kiowa was interesting due to its mass and vast area of wreckage. The shallow depth of under 50fsw provided Harry and Gary ample time to survey the site. All things considered, it was a successful start to our week of diving shipwreck sites in Massachusetts.

 

Saturday, June 17th
On this day we decided to explore a couple of sites in Boston Harbor that we looked for last year using land ranges - with no success. This year we were equipped with Loran coordinates from a guy that many consider a legendary wreck diver; Bill Carter, as well as GPS numbers provided by Captains Pat Breen and Jim Sullivan of Boston Harbor Diving Company. Pat kindly provided the numbers for the Kiowa and the Herbert after I made a request for them on the ScubaBoard website.

After launching the boat in Weymouth, Harry, Mike D. and I settled in for a leisurely "no wake" cruise down the river until we hit open water where we could fire up the Yamaha and head for the Kiowa. The Kiowa was a freighter that sank in 1903 after being run down while at anchor just outside of Boston Harbor. With both Loran numbers and GPS coordinates we made short work of finding the wreck. However, we would have to return later as there was a stiff current running which was strong enough to be pulling the pot-buoys under. We would dive this at slack water in a few hours. We then proceeded to look for the Herbert. The flat water made the nearly seven mile run to the site pleasant and quick. 

Oh how great it is to have good numbers! As soon as we hit zeros on both the GPS and Loran we looked at the depth recorder and saw the sure image of wreckage. Once we tied in, Mike and Harry were on their way to the bottom in record time. They returned with a report of visibility in the 12 foot range. When I finally got down to the Herbert I was at first confused as I could not find any evidence of the hull, all I could see was gravel. We were tied into a boiler, but I could not see any remnants of her wood hull.

Then it came to me that she had gravel in her holds. She was a wooden steam lighter that sank after being hit by another ship while in fog about two miles east of Nahant, MA. today she rests in about 105fsw. The hull was buried under the gravel. The Herbert had two vertically positioned boilers and aft of those were two single piston steam engines. those four pieces and a large winch at the bow make up the bulk of the remains of the vessel. There was a section of keelson that I could follow forward towards the winch. There are also two large metal discs lying on the starboard side of the keelson, just aft of the winch. I could not figure out what they were until a few days later while talking to Bill Carter he explained that they were the tops of the boilers that had blown off when the water hit them during the sinking. Upon returning to the boat we hightailed it to the Kiowa to catch slack water which was to occur in less than an hour.

We arrived in time and simply tossed a hook on the numbers and easily caught on one of the myriad pieces of wreckage strew about the bottom in less than 50fsw. The Kiowa was a freighter that sank in December of 1903 after being run down by the Admiral Dewey while she was at anchor waiting out a storm. She was a menace to navigation so her bones were demolished with dynamite to clear the area to a navigable depth and produce the vast debris field that she is today. Harry and Mike splashed in and spent nearly 45 minutes exploring the wreckage, each running a line so as to be able to return to the anchor line. In an area of changing currents and heavy boat traffic as the one we were in, it was a good idea to do so. They returned with a description of "wreckage everywhere" and visibility around 15 to 20 feet. Mike also scored a couple of lobsters. The trickiest part of the dive for Harry was tossing the hook in the sand clear of wreckage so it would not fowl and "hook" again. 


Saturday, June 10th
With the forecast of south-west winds kicking up the seas off the coast of RI, we decided to head back to Cape Cod Bay and look for an obscure little wreck of a Tugboat called the Colebrook. We did not have numbers for the GPS but we were armed with Loran coordinates from a local diving guidebook. Over the course of the winter I managed to get my hands on a used Loran unit. While very few units are manufactured anymore, the Loran system is still in operation and units can be found in the "used" market on ebay.


Once I figured out how to use this new piece of old technology, we merely went were it told us to go and there she was; showing up nicely on the bottom finder! We went over her a few times, marked her in the GPS and decided it would be best to dive the site on another day when we had a bit of sunlight. It was quite cloudy and we didn't think we would have any visibility at 150fsw where this little gem lies. So . . . we headed back to the Pinthis where we had been only two weeks earlier. This time the wreck - which lies at about 100fsw - came into view when I was at about 60fsw! The vis was at least 30 feet, probably closer to 40.

 I found that the winter had taken its toll on her. She was noticeably settling lower onto the bottom. Her bow was severely beaten down and barely recognizable from last year. While she is wide open and easy to penetrate I would be extremely careful doing so as she is very unstable. Several years ago while I was inside with my dive partner and brother, Jim, he brushed against a solid looking steel beam. We watched in amazement as the beam swayed back and forth like a breeze blown weathervane. On another dive a few weeks later, that beam had crashed to the bottom. Even though the Pinthis is slowly decomposing and becoming part of the ocean floor, she will always be one of my favorite sites.
 

Saturday, May 27th
Growing weary of waiting for the rain to quit, Harry Jan, and I headed out to dive the Pinthis, even though the weather service was warning of possible showers. When we arrived at the marina we were greeted with flat calm, albeit foggy conditions. Harry simply fired up the radar and keyed in the coordinates to the Pinthis in his GPS and we were on our way.

Upon arriving at the site we set the hook and as soon as we were tied in we were joined by the charter vessel Daybreaker commanded by Capt. Fran Marcoux. He graciously offered to set a mooring on the wreck and offered to us the opportunity to tie off to his stern. We declined since we were already tied in and didn't know how long we would be staying. I'd like to say we had a great dive but with the expected good visibility that is typical on the Pinthis sorely lacking, we were a bit disappointed.  On this day the visibility was about 8 to 10 feet. By the time I got in to do my dive there was a fairly strong current running from the bow towards the stern. That worked out fine as my plan was to send the hook up on a bag to save dragging it across the wreck and end my dive by coming up the newly installed mooring line. Harry would then pick me up abaft of the Daybreaker. The limited visibility did not allow me to get a good look at the condition of the wreck. I typically look forward to my first annual survey of the Pinthis to see how she faired over the winter. On this dive I could barely find the mooring.
 

Saturday, May 6th
With a questionable weather forecast, Harry, Jan, Mike, and I decided to stick close to the RI shoreline and dive the Heroine, formerly a 110' trawler that sank in 1920 and now lies in 80 feet of water. Our decision was based primarily due to the weather forecast which called for heavy seas off shore. We were pleasantly surprised when we headed into the pond at Point Judith and were met with near mirror calm conditions. We made short work of finding and hooking the wreck and before long Mike and Harry were headed to the bottom. They returned with a report of decent vis in the 8 to 10 foot range. When I reached the wreck the clouds had cleared a bit and I was treated to about 15 feet of visibility. There was little to no current to contend with, and with the great -by RI standards - visibility, I had a very pleasant and relaxing dive to kick off the boating season.

 

© 2006 to Present, Secret Squirrel Divers Inc. All Rights Reserved