1999 Choapa Photos I

All images on this page 1999 by Christina Young.

Welcome to the world of perpetual midnight -- the New Jersey Mud Hole! The Mud Hole is the deep, silty ocean trench running from the mouth of the Hudson River to the abyssal dropoff of the Hudson Canyon, over 80 miles offshore. Being in smack in the middle of the approaches to New York Harbor and the Port of Newark, it is filled with shipwrecks from the past 300 years. Most of these wrecks are difficult dives -- they are deep (ranging from 150 fsw to 250 fsw), covered with nets and monofilament, and very dark due to both the usually poor visibility (most of the time just a few feet) and silty bottom which absorbs most of the remaining ambient light. For these reasons, the majority of the wrecks here don't get visited very often and still have many interesting artifacts.

The Choapa lies in 205 fsw, and is one of the less visited Mud Hole wrecks. This is because it is a very difficult dive due to the fishing nets which cover parts of the wreck, extreme amount of monofilament, and usually poor visibility. Because she is seldom visited, there are still some very nice artifacts waiting to be recovered, such as crates of fine wine. :-)

The Choapa was a Chilean freighter rammed in 1944 by the British tanker Voco. It lies intact in one piece, and is 292 feet long.

The following pictures (all images from video) are from the Choapa trip on the dive boat Sea Lion, Sunday, August 22, 1999.

Out over the Choapa, looking west at Long Branch, New Jersey. Freighter traffic passes all day long.
Enrique Alvarez waits to get geared up, prior to tieing into the wreck.
Capt. Al Pyatak, with a carrier pigeon he retrieved off the Choapa. ;-) Actually, sea gulls chase other birds out to sea, hoping the wear them down and then eat them. This exhausted pigeon took refuge on the Sea Lion until we got back to the dock.
Enrique Alvarez ties into the Choapa, George Hoffman style. George Hoffman pioneered a method of tieing into a wreck, specifically for the Mud Hole, in which the diver descends down the anchor line with a second line, ties this line into the wreck with a piece of sisle, and then sends the grapnel anchor to the surface on a lift bag. This way, no one is required to go and free the hook at the end of the day. The sisle is simply broken using the force of the boat's engines.
This is a ladder on the Choapa. You can hardly see it because it is covered with anemones and other sea growth!
Enrique Alvarez explores the Choapa.
It's scenes like this that give the Choapa its bad name. When you dive this wreck, you must go in extremely clean and dive with finesse like a ballerina, because entanglement is a major hazard.
The beautiful and colorful anemones of the Mud Hole.
Get out your sword!!
This is the fishing net draped over the Choapa's forward mast. It used to be stretched out over the wreck like a circus big top, but now it is more decayed, eaten away, and not really a major hazard anymore.
Looking up at the Choapa's picturesque forward mast.
Looking up at Enrique Alvarez. Visibility wasn't too bad for the Mud Hole!

Go to page 2 of 1999 Choapa photos

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