The Niagara Divers' Association

SHIPWRECKS '96


THE LUSITANIA & TITANIC HIGHLIGHT SHIPWRECKS/96

The second annual symposium on Shipwrecks, organized by the Niagara Divers' Association, a Niagara-based dive club of about 50 members, was held on Saturday, March 2, 1996 in St. Catharines, Ontario. The one-day event attracted an audience of 365, who came to listen to presentations on Shipwrecks, ranging from recreational through to technical and scientific requirements.

Gary Gentile (Philadelphia, PA), in his first speaking engagement in Canada, gave a slide presentation on the 1994 Lusitania Expedition. Steve Blasco (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Nova Scotia), chief scientist involved with the IMAX filming of the Titanic, outlined the unique challenges of the project. Reg Creighton (Vancouver, B.C.), National Director of IANTD Canada, presented the Transpac 95 Expedition of the Canadian Deep Wrecking Crew, the first fully-sponsored group of its kind in Canada. Cris Kohl (Chatham, Ontario), popular author and speaker, opened and closed the show with Dive Ontario Two and Shipwreck Tales: The St. Clair River. Dan Lindsay (Seaview Imaging, Brantford, Ontario) premiered a video on Tobermory, which explored the attractions above and below water of that mecca for divers. Niagara Divers' member Marc Beaudry (Maple, Ontario), also premiered a video on the Frontenac, a newly-discovered steam tug which sank off Kingston, Ontario in 1929.

A hot lunch and refreshments, along with door prizes donated by sponsors Ed's Pro Dive of St. Catharines and IANTD Canada, were some of the extras enjoyed by attendees. Speakers freely mingled and were available for discussion, book signing and video sales throughout the day and into the evening.


Following are excerts from our 1996 flyer listing last yeats speakers and topics.

Gary Gentile

The Lusitania

Gary Gentile started his diving career in 1970. Since then he has made more than 1000 decompression dives, over 100 of them on the Andrea Doria. He has specialized in the fields of wreck diving and shipwreck research, concentrating his efforts on wrecks along the East Coast, from Canada to Key West, and the Great Lakes. He has published hundreds of photographs, written dozens of articles, and is the author of twenty books: ten novels, and ten nonfiction works on diving, and nautical and shipwreck history. He lectures extensively on wilderness and underwater topics, and conducts seminars on advanced wreck diving techniques.

Of all the victims of World War One German U-boat warfare, the Lusitania is the most well-known. The ship sank in only eighteen minutes after the U-20 fired a single torpedo into the British liner's hull. Nearly 1,200 people lost their lives, of which more than 100 were American, arousing American wrath over Germany's policy of unrestricted U-boat Warfare.

In June 1994, Gary was part of the Lusitania Expedition. Over a ten day period the dive team,consisting of eight Brits and four Americans, conducted 120 dives in depths of up to 300 feet without incident. Each diver carried five tanks: back mounted twin tanks containing bottom mix, two side-slung bottles containing decompression gases, and a bottle of argon for suit inflation.

Gary will present underwater slides, which show the wreck as it exists today, broken and sagging. Portholes lie scattered about the hull and seabed. The remains of the wheelhouse, which slid off the hull as the superstructure collapsed throughout the years, lies exposed on the rocky bottom. Clearly visible among the debris are the telegraphs and helm station. He will also discuss the various gas mixes used, decompression procedures, boat access, and all the phases of preparation for what was a complex and highly technical dive operation, and which was conducted in a remote corner of Ireland, where all expedition gases and equipment had to be delivered. For those interested in the state-of- the-art of technical diving today, this presentation is an eye opener.
 


MARC BEAUDRY

The Frontenac

In September 1995, several Niagara Divers club members had the good fortune to be aboard the Brooke-Lauren when Spencer Shoniker of Suspence Charters discovered one of the lost ships of the area, the Frontenac. This ship was a 95 foot long steam tug which foundered in a storm on her return from shifting freight on a grounded freighter. Seven crew members were rescued by a second tug. Missing since December 12, 1929, she is in just over 100 feet of water and had laid undisturbed since that time. As the silt of sixty-six years was dusted from the transom, the name Frontenac of Kingston became visible.

Marc Beaudry has been diving since 1976 and holds ratings of Divemaster, Full Cave and Trimix. His passion for underwater video photography has taken him to locations in the Caribbean, Mexican cenotes, Florida fresh water caves and Great Lakes wrecks. Marc has documented the Frontenac in her still virgin state: intact hull and deck, cabin and wheelhouse collapsed off the port side and upright mast. Plates, bottles, compass, bell, wheel, anchors and running lights are still laying on the deck, with much still to be discovered. Marc's video presentation will be of our second day of diving.
 


STEVE BLASCO

The Titanic

The very mention of the name, Titanic, conjures images in every one of us, whether they be of a magnificent passenger ship, a horrific tragedy, or a breathtaking yet shattered wreck seen in images relayed from 4000 metres. Many have seen the IMAX film, Titanica, but only a handful have had first hand knowledge of the production of this film and accompanying challenges. In 1991, Steve Blasco was chief scientist on a joint Canada, United States and Russian scientific/commercial expedition to film the Titanic wreck site using state-of-the-art Russian MIR submersibles and Canadian large format IMAX filming technologies. He will be sharing with us those experiences, as well as images of that expedition.

Steve Blasco received his Honours Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Engineering Geophysics from Queen s University, Kingston, Ontario and for the past 18 years has been employed as a marine engineering geophysicist with the Geological Survey of Canada, at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

His research focuses on marine environmental and engineering geology studies. Seafloor and lakebed geological investigations are related to offshore oil and gas exploration in the Canadian Arctic and environmental problems in the Arctic and Great Lakes, and has involved the use of Canadian unmanned and manned submersibles. His research has taken him to the Beaufort Sea, High Arctic, Lancaster Sound, the Caribbean, Georgian Bay and even the North Pole.

In 1987, Mr. Blasco received the distinguished merit award from the Government of Canada for leadership in conducting geological and engineering investigations in the Beaufort Sea.
 


REG CREIGHTON

Transpac 95

Reg Creighton will be presenting the Transpac 95 Expedition. The Transpac was a 180'commercial vessel that was lost 9 yrs ago due to collision in November, 1986. The wreck lies off the coast of British Columbia in an almost vertical position of 70 to 80 degrees. Diving starts in 122 fsw and extends to a little over 300 fsw. The wreck looks straight up at the surface, with the bow being the first thing seen on descent. The divers on the Expedition will utilize air, nitrox, trimix, oxygen, argon, full face masks and underwater communications to complete the dive safely.

The wreck is being dove by the Canadian Deep Wrecking Crew in the hopes of promoting it to the public and promoting technical diving in Canada. The Canadian Deep Wrecking Crew is sponsored by IANTD Canada, Zodiac Watches, Abysmal Diving Inc., AquaCorps Journal and Orcatron Communications.

Reg Creighton is the current National Director and Director of Training for IANTD Canada. He is also one of the current leaders for the Transpac 95 Expedition, as well as technical diving in Canada. Reg is a fully certified commercial diver, hyperbaric chamber operator, hyperbarics instructor and instructor trainer/trainer for all levels (except Cave) within the IANTD organization.
 


CRIS KOHL

Dive Ontario Two & Shipwreck Tales: The St. Clair River

Cris is back for a second year with Shipwrecks. He will be presenting two topics this year, Cris, a long time resident of the central Great Lakes region, has been a very active and avid scuba diver since 1974. He has written several books on diving in Ontario, including Dive Southwestern Ontario, Shipwreck Tales: The St. Clair River (to 1900), Dive Ontario and his most recent venture, Dive Ontario Two, which takes a look at many new dive sites across the Province of Ontario. He has also written many articles on maritime history and scuba diving, which have appeared in Diver Magazine, In land Seas, Ontario Divers Digest, Diving Times and numerous other publications.
 


DAN LINDSAY

Tobermory

Tobermory has always been the scuba diving capital of Canada. Every diver in Ontario who is first introduced to the sport has visited the pristine waters at the tip of the Bruce. Originally settled and named Collins Harbour, Tobermory's surrounding waters have provided an important route for transportation and trade. Therefore, the inquiring diver can explore the remains of 21 known sail and steam vessels that lie within the boundaries of the Five Fathom National Marine Park. The video that Dan has produced on the Tobermory area illustrates many activities that the diving visitor can find there.

Dan Lindsay has been diving for 23 years. Six years were spent in the commercial diving industry , working as Diver - EMT with Canadian based companies in the Beaufort Sea, Davis Strait and the Great Lakes. Dan is now an Electronics-Electrician by trade, but his greater love is the time spent underwater in deep water wreck exploration, videography and film-making. Through his company, SeaView Imaging, he has created video from the Red Sea, the Andrea Doria, The Empress of Ireland, and right here in our backyard, Tobermory. We also welcome Dan back in his second year as a presenter at Shipwrecks.


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