For me SCUBA diving is not just a job, but a way of life. So what am I doing when I'm not SCUBA diving in the Giant Ocean Tank? Diving out in the ocean of course! Over the past six years I've been training for one single experience - to dive on what's been called the "Mount Everest of SCUBA diving" - the wreck of the Italian cruise liner, Andrea Doria.
(Artist rendering of the current state of the Andrea Doria.)
Located deep in the cold waters of the Atlantic, 160 miles northeast of Long Island, the Andrea Doria is both a beautiful lady and a daunting challenge. A challenge I met on an expedition aboard the RV Garloo this past week.
(My dive buddy Micheal, a dive volunteer for NEAq, and I with enough gear for only two dives.)
Armed with 200 lbs. of gear, five tanks filled with four different mixes of breathing gases (including a helium mix that makes me sound like Donald Duck), a lot of preparation, and a little bit of courage, I dropped off the side of the Garloo and down to 250' for a pair of visits to a piece of history.
(My game face.)
(This type of diving takes a lot of gear and putting it all on is a slow process.)
(All that gear is heavy and cumbersome above water, but is actually pretty comfortable underwater.)
(And I'm away!)
(Doria, here I come...)
During the lengthy decompression process on the way back up to the surface, I reflected on how I had become one of only a handful of people to ever see this magnificent ship in her final resting place deep in the murky gloom, 250' below the relentless swells of the Atlantic.
(Getting out of the water is one of the hardest things.)
Still holding her 700' of luxury within her hull - mainly - she's a ship beyond normal comprehension, and she garners a humbling respect through her awesome presence. My trip was a homage to the majesty of such a vessel and a memorial to all the souls lost in one fateful day, and on subsequent ill-fated trips designed to uncover her secrets ...