What are the practical working limits of open circuit wreck diving?
For a while, I was really into asking people, ‘Where is this going to stop?’ I went to Billy Deans, I went to this guy and that guy, and just about everybody said, “The limits are right about where my feet are.” We’re limited by the technology to some degree, but I also think we are limited by our vision…
Of what’s possible?
Yeah. And looking at the limits of technology, I don’t think we have enough insight to say where the absolute limits are. There are still a lot of things to be done with open circuit and it seems like there’s always a new formula, a new recipe being cooked up in somebody’s kitchen.
Do you feel a lot safer when you’re diving a surface supplied system?
No. It’s different. I don’t feel a greater degree of safety. There are assets and liabilities to using either technology on a particular site. If I’m diving scuba, I’m diving solo. I’m not in direct contact with the surface. That’s a disadvantage, and I have to take into consideration important aspects of my dive, like navigation, gas management, things like that. When I’m on surface-supplies, those issues are much less important, but I’ve got to deal with other aspects, my umbilical, for instance. The umbilical could actually end up tethering me to the wreck. Generally, I prefer to rely on myself over a machine top-side. Maybe that’s why I like scuba as much as I do.
What would you say are today’s frontiers in self-contained ship wreck diving?
Shipwreck diving is becoming a more global activity. The oceans are getting smaller. When I first thought about the Lusitania, my reaction was “Wow. The Lusitania. It’s a shame that it’s too deep.” Well, depth is subjective. The Lusitania was a lot deeper on my first dive than it was on my last dive. People are beginning to look at wreck that they haven’t considered diving before and saying, “Hey, wait a minute. We can go there. We can do that. We can make it happen.” It’s a mental barrier; it’s not a technology barrier.
What are your personal exploration goals over the next year?
I want to focus on locating some specific wrecks. One is the U-550. Another is a liner called the Carolina that’s off the New Jersey coast. I’m very interested in the wrecks in my area that have been beyond sport diving until now.
Are both in deep water?
The U-550 is probably going to be about 325 f/100 m and it’s 125 miles offshore. I’m not certain about the Carolina. The problem is that is has been reported in several areas, but I believe it’s going to be as deep as 260 f/80 m, something like that.