Archive for 09/23/2011

Vicki Wawerchak – 

I could hear my Mr. Coffee beginning its drip in the room next door and I knew it would be mere minutes before the repetitive chirp from my bedside alarm would alert me that it was 5:30 a.m. It had been a few rough weeks at work; long hours at the aquarium and my body resisted the notion that I needed to get out of bed.

Not many things get me up at this hour—a plane ride to a distant exotic location, an early morning training walk (albeit begrudgingly), a drive to pick up out of town friends—but this morning I was diving the Star of Scotland, a former gambling ship that sunk just off the Santa Monica Pier in 1942.

There is a romantic eeriness surrounding the subject of shipwrecks that has piqued my interest since I saw a Titanic exhibit at the Queen Mary when I was eight years old. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by wreck diving and allowed my imagination to soar as to what went on before the ship found its final resting place at the bottom of the sea.

I wondered about the conversations that took place behind the closed cabin doors, the shoes that were worn while ascending stairs to reach different decks, the food served to satiate the crew and guests, the color of the hand towels used by people decades ago and the unfortunate lives that were sometimes lost during its descent through stormy waves.

I first heard of the Star of Scotland about a year ago and was even more surprised to hear that it was situated so close to the Santa Monica Pier. We had talked about organizing a collection dive on it for months, but schedules had never cleared until now.

Our dive team included Jose Bacallao (HtB senior aquarist), Seth Lawrence (HtB aquarist), Sarah Sikich (HtB coastal resources director), and Zack Gold (longtime aquarium volunteer, Santa Monica High recent graduate, activist and friend).

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i09 – 

We recently saw how James Cameron built the undersea set for the 1987 filming of The Abyss at the unfinished Cherokee Nuclear Plant outside of Gaffney, South Carolina.

Cameron’s crew constructed one of the largest underwater film stages ever built and — because of the sheer cost of disassembling it — were forced to abandon it to the elements for 20 years.

Even though the seven-million-gallon, forty-foot-deep set was eventually demolished in 2007, we’re lucky to have photographic evidence of this cinematic monolith. A tipster has generously provided us with dozens of pictures from urban exploration missions to The Abyss’ rusting Deepcore seabase. These shots were taken from 2003-2004.

And just for kicks, here’s how the place looked in 1994. I imagine if you slept there at night, the ethereal visage of Ed Harris warbled a sweet siren song, tempting you to take a dip in the stagnant water.

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Heather Sorentrue – 

A Lake County diver set a new world record Friday for spending more than five days underwater.

People gathered around Groveland’s Lake David to rally around diver Allen Sherrod, 47, as he stepped foot back on land.

Around 9 a.m. Sherrod broke the world record for the longest freshwater dive by just about 15 minutes.

“This was like amazing. He’s tried this two times before. This whole week we knew he could pull it off,” said Nicole Plussa, 17, who attempted the women’s world record but had to resurface after about 13 hours.

Sherrod walked out of Lake David with a bottle of champagne and his sense of humor still intact.

Sherrod started his dive Sunday at 8:46 a.m., 10 years to the minute since the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

He emerged five days, 14 minutes and 32 seconds later.

Sherrod dedicated this third attempt to helping veterans pursue diving by raising money for Wounded Warriors.

“I feel good. I’m glad I did it,” Sherrod said. “I’m the only one that’s made 3 dives in 13 months that total almost 300 hours at one time in three dives. So that’s an accomplishment on its own.

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