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March 2016

“There Is Society Where None Intrudes, By The Deep Sea, And Music In Its Roar” -Byron

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“A shipwreck gave a man limitless opportunity to know himself if only he cared to find out. He could always press further, dig deeper, find places no one had mastered. To Chatterton, there always seemed to be opportunity on a shipwreck, even the simple wrecks: the opportunity to confront the problems really worth solving, and this meant everything to him, this was the act that made his life feel worthwhile.”

Inside the wreck is the most dangerous place divers can find themselves; and artifacts represented an opportunity for limitless exploration. An opportunity to embrace a sentimentality that had been lost, not merely a monetary gain. Deep shipwreck diving is the only way to find these lost treasures but also happens to be one of the world’s most dangerous extreme past times. For every thousand certified scuba divers there is but one deep wreck diver. In a world of adrenaline sports consumed by land speed races, skydiving, and motocross; deep sea diving reigns supreme for true epinephrine junkies and those that would rather experience and not wonder about the great unknown. There are many variables at play when deciding to make the dive to the depths of the blackened sea. Some factors like equipment, environment, and biology can be learned beforehand through education or practical evaluation. Other factors such as psychological elements and natural instinct to potential external troubles can be anticipated and visualized, but never fully understood until faced with such circumstances. There is no way to simulate the effects of mind altering nitrogen narcosis or a clouded sense of time when decompression sickness or extreme panic sets in to place. A million years of evolution theory have preached the fight or flight response when approached with negative stimuli, this theory has never held more true than that of being three hundred feet deep in the water below with little senses to rely on. You will once again have more respect for body and earth sciences after reading this book. The only way to truly learn is to dive in, have faith, remember to breathe and if all else fails be accepting of death because you’re never truly safe until you’re on the deck of the dive boat.

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“A diver lost or tangled inside a shipwreck has come face-to-face with his maker. Corpses have been recovered inside wrecks – eyes and mouths agape in terror, the poor diver still lost, still blinded, still snagged, still pinned. Yet a curious truth pertains to these perils: rarely does the problem itself kill the diver. Rather, the diver’s response to the problem – his panic – likely determines whether he lives or dies.”

Three friends in wet suits embark on a journey that will rewrite a piece of history that has never been documented nor appreciated before. What initially appears to be a typical barge commonly found resting on the sea floor off the New Jersey shore ends up being so much more than they could’ve ever hoped. This blip on their radar could provide answers for family and friends of unaccounted for loved ones lost at sea during World War 2, and give these divers reinforcement in their purpose in life as divers and as human beings as well. Awaiting them is a 230 foot dive ahead with one foot visibility, silt playing games with whatever vision you happen to have and the only thing you can see is only your mind playing tricks. Take heed of their instructors advice from years ago; don’t panic because they were born to dive.

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The discovery of the German U-boat was an arduous process to proper identification, with identification meaning anything and everything in constituting history. A six year journey into the shadows of the Atlantic Ocean that changed many lives and took some in the process. Bill Nagle’s boat The Seeker was built to go to the most dangerous shipwrecks across the sea. Bill is a legend shipwreck diver with a willingness to sacrifice his own life for the advancement of the technology and the skill level for all the enthusiasts that followed. He was a pioneer during a time when the sport had many limitations, he wanted to prove that the only limitations were the ones you placed on yourself. Unfortunately for Bill his limitation was the one he placed on himself when he was out of his wetsuit and on dry land but was never truly completely dry. From childhood John Chatterton always had exploration at the forefront of his mind, a man who took risks in his search for answers to a variety of life’s questions. A medic for the army in Japan for a few years, he later transferred to Vietnam in spite of his family and friends disapproval. He wanted to see the world, have his own war story, and earn the respect of warriors from the battlefield. After his four year term John thought he had all the answers but he was a shell of his former self, something was missing. It wasn’t until he got a job on a boat as a scallop fisherman that he would truly be centered. Richie Kohler was a renegade diver who belonged to a deep sea gang that got drunk, pulled pranks, and we’re addicted to pocketing lost artifacts. They were essentially pirates of the shipwreck which irked John and his ideology with respect to his love for history and maintaining the integrity of the wreck as much as possible. After spending valuable time together John would realize that they were more alike than they were different which would prove to be beneficial in their search for answers.

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“Most of all, he and Nagle shared a philosophy. To them, diving was about exploration, about aiming for the everywhere of the unknown. There were a lot of impossible places to go when the world was as big as Chatterton and Nagle saw it, but for God’s sake you had to try. You were required to try. What were you doing alive, these men thought, if you didn’t go and try?”

I am not an experienced reader when it comes to non-fiction novels which is a little odd for me because I am more of a realistic type of person than one that enjoys the imaginative. There’s nothing more authentic then reading a book written from the minds of the master class whatever the trade may be. With Shadow Divers it had everything you could want when devoting time to a book and more. It had suspense, danger, mystery, character development, intrigue, and I learned many things along the way. I suppose there is a misconception about non-fiction that it tends to get a little too far into the subject at hand leaving the uninitiated lost in the process. I never felt overwhelmed by the science, the processes or the verbiage, it was very readable and I truly was compelled from beginning to end. There is also the inborn desire in humans to know the answers to many of the world’s unanswered questions, which in itself is enough of a trigger point for me and my tinfoil hat wearing, cryptozoological frame of mind that made this a satisfying endeavor. Let’s satisfy my zoological needs now shall we!!!!!!!

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When things are easy a person doesn’t really learn about himself. He spread his hands across the sledgehammer’s smooth, long handle. It’s what a person does at the moment of his greatest struggle that shows him who he really is. He lifted the sledgehammer against his chest. Some people never get that moment. He breathed deeper than he had ever breathed.       The U-Who is my moment. He thrust the head of the sledgehammer toward the cap of the oxygen tank. What I do now is what I am.” 

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