2000 Swedish Steamer Photos

All images on this page 2000 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 unidentified wooden and steel steamer known as the "Swedish Steamer" lies upright in 210 feet of water, right smack in the middle of the Mud Hole.  Most of the wreck is broken up and low lying with boilers that rise about 10 feet off the bottom.  George Hoffman first dived this very old wreck in the 1980s, with the pioneer Atlantic Wreck Divers club diving it once and reporting two boilers.  Those were the days before trimix came along for the deep wreck diving community, and the one time it was explored back then it was done on air.  Tom Packer told me that it got its name when was needed working the anchor line on the bow of the Sea Lion (George Hoffman's dive boat), and George yelled, "com'on guys, we need some more Swedish Steam up on the bow!"  The wreck was dived next in 1998 from the dive boat Hunter, when Enrique Alvarez, Darren Lynch, Bill Cleary and Christina Young explored it and saw the boilers and other assorted wreckage, including heavily overgrown (with anemones) equipment.  We have been planning to go back and spend more time on this wreck for a while.

The following pictures (all images from video) are from the voyage of the new, 33-foot private dive boat Independence to the Swedish Steamer, Sunday, June 18, 2000.

The Independence leaves the dock and heads to Manasquan Inlet.  On board today are Dan Bartone, Steve Lovas, Enrique Alvarez and Christina Young.
Steve Lovas pilots the Independence to the Mud Hole.
When we arrive on site, we are excited to find a huge profile of 22 feet off the bottom.  Hmmm... last time I was here, the boilers rose only 10 or 12 feet off the bottom.  Did we find another part of the wreck???
Dan Bartone hooks the wreck.
Enrique and I go down to tie in.  Here is the reason for the huge profile -- there is a huge net caught on the wreck, and held up by ball floats and steel cable, about 10 feet above the wreck!  Our grapnel has hooked this net and has become completely entangled in it!
Here is a close-up of the net.  The grapnel's in there somewhere!  Our plan was to tie in "George Hoffman" style, with sisal, and then freeing the grapnel.  Unfortunately, the piece of sisal we have won't reach down to the wreck from the anchor chain, and the grapnel is caught 10 feet off the bottom.  After cutting for more than 15 minutes, we decide that the next team will finish the job.  The grapnel's not going anywhere.  We drop to the wreck, only to find that bottom visibility is less than one foot (you won't see any video from there)!  This poor visibility was caused by the heavy rains during the previous week, washing river sentiment out into the Mud Hole.
Now here's a scary site:  A huge net billowing in the current!  If you ever go to the Swedish Steamer, be sure to hook the piece that rises 10 feet from the bottom (the boilers), not 22 feet from the bottom (the net)!  The boilers are actually away from this net a ways, not below it.  The wreck felt very interesting, like there's a lot of stuff there (you couldn't see it with the bottom viz)!
After Enrique and I come up, Dan Bartone gets ready to go and finish the job of cutting out the grapnel, with Steve Lovas (who's gearing up behind him).
Steve Lovas climbs back on board the Independence after successfully cutting out the grapnel with Dan.
Enrique Alvarez always has a great day diving, even if the visibility sucks and we hook a net! 
I'm not the only one taking pictures with my video camera.  Dan's new video camera will produce instant still photos and stickers!  (Enrique took this shot).
The Independence back at dock.  I hope you have enjoyed these images of our trip to the Swedish Steamer.  Hopefully visibility will be better next time and we won't hook the net!

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