A hearty thank you to all of the customers of the John Jack who made our 2014 dive season a screaming success. It was a pleasure to provide our friends, both old and new, the opportunity to dive some of the best shipwrecks on the east coast. Fun aside, we are proud to have provided a safe and comfortable platform for divers of all levels.In 2014, the John Jack sailed to shipwrecks from South Jersey to Block Island, Rhode Island. These waters are littered with shipwrecks claimed by wars, storms, and accidents. When sailing from our home port, Carl Lamanna's Canyon River Club in Point Pleasant, the John Jack put divers on many notable shipwrecks, including the Varanger (90-140 fsw); RP Resor (100-135 fsw), Pinta (50-80 fsw), Stolt Dagali (60-130 fsw), Algol (70-140 fsw), and the submarine S-5 (120-160 fsw).On our Block Island trip, we dove by day and then dined by night at many of the fine restaurants on the island. This trip included dives on the submarines USS Bass (120-170) and the German U-boat 853 (110-130 fsw). Our trip north also included expeditions to the Mount Everest of Scuba Diving, the Andrea Doria (195-250 fsw).In 2015, we will offer our customers the same great service they have come to expect from the John Jack. Once again, most of our dives will be on wrecks at recreational depths. More recreational dives, and for our technical friends, more Andrea Doria trips. The John Jack is proud to be a safety-oriented dive boat with a knowledgeable and helpful crew, comfortable indoor seating and a spacious rear deck. We will continue to offer hot meals and great foods from our large on-board galley which has comfortable dry-table seating for 12. Downstairs, the John Jack has comfortable bunks for those between-dive naps, and our overnight trips.We are looking forward to seeing you on the John Jack next season. For now, the crew of the John Jack, my family, and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.Capt Rich
Welcome to the John Jack Homepage
The John Jack offers a variety of activities for folks who enjoy being on the water – or under it: fishing trips, cruises, and of course, scuba diving. The John Jack provides a safe, full-service dive platform for divers of all ages and abilities.
We visit dozens of shipwrecks lying off the NJ, NY, and DE coastlines (e.g., Stolt, Algol, Pinta) suitable for recreational divers with advanced open water certification as well as deep shipwrecks (Andrea Doria, U-869) that require advanced technical certification. Some divers sightsee; others grab “bugs,” spear fish, or gather scallops or artifacts. For a complete list of the dive trips organized by local dive shops and clubs, consult the schedule on our website.
More details about these trips can be obtained by calling Captain Rich (201-321-6924) or by visiting the websites of the dive shops and clubs that have reserved the boat.
Patronizing these dive shops, joining a dive club, and diving just once a month enriches and preserves the vitality of northeast wreck diving. We hope you will include the John Jack in your dive plans for 2014.
Have fun and dive safe!
With the Block Island trip complete, the John Jack began its preparations for the 2014 Andrea Doria Expedition. This trip would run for three days, including the 58th anniversary of its sinking. The Andrea Doria, a luxury ocean liner that lies on its starboard side in 250 fsw of water, is almost twice as deep as the limit for recreational scuba diving. Located almost 100 miles off shore, the Andrea Doria is a very formidable dive, even when the weather cooperates. We left Point Judith, R.I. in the late evening under dark skies with a shaky forecast that left me wondering if I angered the sea gods in planning this anniversary trip. The crew quickly fell into their on-board routines as watches were posted and the scrum for sleeping accommodations began. A following sea made the trip comfortable as the big Cat engines hummed their happy tune as we slowly steamed southeast, escorted periodically by pods of dolphins playing in our wake. By dawn, we were on site, which is marked by the puddles of iridescent oil that still leak from the Grand Dame. The weather was holding. Capt. Terry and crew member Rick Simon “set the hook” in near record time, despite having strong currents at depth. It's always a good feeling when this difficult process goes so well. Great job Capt. T and Rick! Finally, the call, "pool's open" was made over the PA system and the divers began their elaborate, step-by-step process of gearing up. All of the divers would be breathing trimix on their dives. Trimix is a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium that minimizes the narcotic effects of nitrogen and avoids the toxic effects of oxygen. After the dive briefing by Capt. Sharky, the trip's leader and dive coordinator, the divers began splashing in groups of two or three. Although it was dark on the wreck, the viz was 20+ ft and the current had subsided. Upon their return, the divers were greeted with a hot breakfast prepared by our chefs Jeff and Tom. With a surface current ripping on Day 2, I closed the pool in the hope that conditions would improve by late morning. The divers were antsy, but safety comes first. By about 11AM, the ocean had settled and the divers were sent in. Back on board, we spelled the surface interval with tales about old times and older friends, diving, and great food and movies. This trip, we added two names to the rolls of the men and women who came, saw, and conquered "The Mount Everest of Wreck Dives.” By Day 3, our luck with the weather had run out so we bugged out, opting to make a quick dive on the Bass on the way home. Flat seas, playful dolphins, plenty of artifacts, great Doria conditions made this an unforgettable trip.
Special thanks to the men and women who make every trip a success, the dedicated crew of the John Jack. The crew for the Andrea Doria Expedition: Capt. Terry Martzall, Head Chef Jeff Schwartz, Sous Chef Tom Sarnacki, Chief Medical Officer Doc Tom Pritchard, equipment specialist and Doria tactician Rick Simon, electrical specialist and first time Doria diver Bryan Cunningham, Shawn The Spicy Diver Sweeney, and new to the crew of the John Jack, Captain Mark "Sharky" Alexander.
The John Jack’s Rhode Island dive schedule included two forays to the shipwrecks off the coast of Block Island. The second Block Island trip began with two dives on the U-853 which refused to be one of the few U-boats to survive WW2. After the end of hostilities was declared, the captain of U-853 decided to sink one more ship, the collier Black Point. Bad idea. A flurry of 200+ depth charges sank the U853, which lies upright at a depth of 130 fsw off Block Island. Although penetration of the U853 is possible, divers must remember that this is a war grave with human remains. After the dives, we spent the night moored at Block Island. For those who have never been to Block, it’s a playground for the rich. The marina is stuffed with pearly white, multi-million dollar yachts and mega-yachts – and one Big Red Boat. It was the marine version of the movie Pretty Woman. The beautiful people who strolled by the John Jack came in three flavors: 1) wow, that’s one helluva dive boat!; 2) there goes the neighborhood; and 3) would you please leave? It wasn’t clear if the latter two groups were more offended by our boat’s hooker red paint, the quiet roar of the 1600 hp Caterpillar diesels, or the endless array of dive underwear drying on the wheelhouse railings. On Day 2, we dove the USS Bass, a massive submarine that ended its service as an artillery target. At 160 fsw, most of the Bass lies beyond recreational depths, but within reach of the capable divers we had on board. Much to the chagrin of the beautiful people, we spent the night moored at Block Island again. On Day 3, the weather turned on us as the ocean became too lumpy to dive either the Grecian or the Black Point. Even with the loss of Day 3, it was a great trip. The folks from Albany were a fun group of top notch divers that we would love to have on board again.
Diving Mount Everest.
When the cruise ship Andrea Doria was launched in 1951, it was the flagship of the Italian line. For the next 5 years, the Andrea Doria set the standard for luxurious trans-Atlantic travel; for the last 58 years, the Andrea Doria has set the standard by which technical wreck divers measure themselves. The Andrea Doria’s reputation as a deep, dark, dangerous. and deadly shipwreck has earned it the nickname The Mount Everest of Scuba Diving. As wreck divers recovered the ship’s china, silver dinnerware, and portholes, the ship’s bell eluded them. Finally, in 1985, Captain Bill Nagle with a Who’s Who team of divers including Art Kirchner recovered the ship’s bell at the stern of the Doria. Fast forward to the July, 2014 Andrea Doria Expedition, which is being led by Mark “Sharky” Alexander, a member of the New York Explorer’s Club. Divers on the John Jack will explore the Andrea Doria for three days, including the 58th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, July 26.Accompanying us on this expedition will be Art “The Legend” Kirchner who will share stories about the bell recovery during the 1985 expedition. In case the divers need additional motivation to search for artifacts, the bell of the Andrea Doria will accompany us on this expedition.
With the ocean all mussed up this Saturday, I have some time to tell you about the great trip we had to the Stolt just two weeks ago. The John Jack was proud to have DUI’s own Faith Ortins demo their new Blueheat Heated Dryware System (http://www.dui-online.com/blueheat.html) for an animated group of divers. On top, it was a beautiful spring day with warm temps and a near flat ocean; below, where we store the shipwrecks, it was a less than balmy 46-48 degrees, depending upon whose dive computer you believed. Visibility was either 20 feet or 40 ft, depending upon who you listened to – or who you were swimming behind. Even hardcore divers will admit that after about 45 minutes, temps in the mid-high 40’s start to get your attention, and if you have a deco obligation after that - well, you get the idea. There’s a word to descibe the condition of the divers who used their regular layered undergarments: cold. The divers with the Blueheat Dryware had no complaints about the water temp, unless you count having to listen to the cold divers whine about the bottom temps. Just kidding. All of the boys and girls played nice; some were just warmer than others. The Stolt surrendered a few bugs, but we saved them for supper. Lunch was provided by Faith and good folks at DUI. The John Jack may not be going out Saturday, but rest assured, we’ll be hitting the wrecks hard this season. Join us for a good time diving some of the best shipwrecks on the east coast.
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