It was not only enlightening but an education about fishing wrecks and maritime disasters off the New Jersey coast and to think the New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven (for those who do not know, the opposite direction from diving up to Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island. What you will see there will take hours to look through, and in the two and half hours we were there as we went through both floors of the museum, was barely scratching the surface of reading through the detailed historical information and exhibits.
One thing of note is the curator or Executive Director Jim Vogel who I spoke to well past closing time (4 pm), and the stories about the proverbial ground floor start of the golden tilefish industry in Viking Village, the vessels, the fish up and easily over 60 lbs which were brought in and the captains and crews as he mentioned with Captain John Larson, Louie Puskas (fv Gra-Cee, Olympic Javelin), Skip Gallimore (fv Lady Alice) and a number of other noted fishermen from that era. Thank you Jim for your time and some stories about golden tile fishing back in the day.
So what will be of interest to see....... noted ship wrecks with the history of the vessel, the maritime incident and any dive stories related to that vessel. There will be many notable tragedies amongst them with the most notable for many in the New Jersey and New York nexus with the General Slocum disaster at the turn of the 20th century. There is also a large exhibit of the SS Morro Castle which ultimately led to increased fire safety on vessels, and there is a picture on what one of the fire safety measures should have been - shocking as we know about this material and the health hazards from it (see image below).
You will also see other exhibits with one of the more interesting one being (at least for me) is the sinking of USS S-5 built after World War I, and watching the video at the exhibit is a "much watch" as it details the event of what was literally a new submarine going through sea trials and how all the crew survived. Quick note here....you will continue hear in the video about the S-5 going down in 30 fathoms, but where she ended up as many who know and fish the wreck, is a surprise.
One other last story I will pass along here is the exhibit of the Texas Tower and it is pretty neat to see an actual replica and a number of news stories as well as artifacts. A true maritime tragedy that became one of the finest offshore wrecks along our coast.
There is also a detailed history of some of the great divers from our area who made the first dives on these wrecks, and a notable portion of the displays especially on the second floor will list these divers with their dives, pictures and artifacts collected and donated to the NJ Maritime Museum who are literally a "whose - who" of deep sea diving legends. You definitely will appreciate what they have given to the museum when you look through numerous exhibits.
One last thing and in speaking with a local captain here last night, Roger Bing, he mentioned about the Long Island Maritime Museum. A difference is that the NJ Maritime Museum is FREE to the public, but one should at least put something, at least a 'Andrew Jackson,' as both my son and myself saw the care that the people who run the museum put in especially with their time.
It is one of the unique treasures we have here, and it will be fun and fulfilling day for those who are either wreck fishing mavens or dive fanatics, but more so in the historical maritime education that it gives to the pubic at large. Take a drive over with the family and some young people, and you will not be disappointed, and the parking is free too.....
Anyhow for those interested, information on the hours it is open can be found on their website: