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Book Review: Lake Erie Technical Wreck Diving Guide by Erik A Petkovic Sr

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In many ways the title doesn’t – and perhaps can’t – really do this book full justice. This is so much more than a technical wreck diving guide. Even if you don’t dive, the book is an exciting read with Erik’s in depth and meticulous research taking the reader through the fascinating history of each wreck and the crew.

I am not a technical diver but, even so, read the book with intense interest from cover to cover. This book is far greater than a list of technical information on how to dive these particular wrecks. It is a template for all wreck diving, technical or not. If you want more from your wreck diving than just bringing up old bits of brass or rusting iron then this book is an absolute must.

Wrecks are more interesting than lumps of iron and wood on the sea floor. They are encapsulated segments of marine history, of ship building and design, of historical circumstances that led to the launching and ultimate sinking. Imagine the passions of the crew and owners, the terrible moments as it becomes clear the ship is lost and the crew are in perilous danger. It’s all here and almost reads like a novel. He tells us of salvage attempts and cargoes that still lie at the bottom of the lake.

As well as the concise and fascinating history behind each wreck, Erik writes about his diving experiences and how best to go about planning and executing your own dives with descriptions of the best routes to take, depths, terrain and points of particular interest. He also describes the conditions of the wrecks and any hazards you are likely to encounter. He does this, and more, with the aid of excellent photos and illustrations.

A great read and I highly recommend it for divers and non-divers.

About the Author: Erik A. Petkovic, Sr. – Maritime Historian and Technical Wreck Diver

Erik began his diving career in 1997. In 20 years of diving, he has logged many hundreds of dives on the shipwrecks along the East Coast and Great Lakes regions of the US. An expert in shipwreck research, Erik is contracted by other authors to assist in the intricacies of disaster and shipwreck research. Erik has been published in multiple international dive magazines and publications including Wreck Diving Magazine, Tech Diving Mag, Deco Stop Revista(Brazil), and others. He is the author of the highly successful and well praised book Shipwrecks of Lake Erie Volume One.

Published by DIVED UP Publications. Lake Erie Technical Wreck Diving Guide is available now in hardback – RRP £30.00 ISBN 978-1-909455-30-6 – and just released paperback – RRP £19.95 ISBN 978-1-909455-27-6. Available from www.divedup.com online and from retailers.

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Last Man Off (2014)

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It was his first job after graduating as a Marine Biologist. Matt Lewis joined a deep sea fishing trawler, the MFV Sudurhavid, in Cape Town as an independent observer. His job was to sample whatever they caught on their long line – a three kilometre length of rope with thousands of baited hooks attached. In his own words he was ‘a university upstart recording the conduct of hardened fishermen.’ (p.6) He was also performing his work thousands of miles from land in the notoriously turbulent and cold Southern Ocean between Cape Town and the South Pole.

Matt vividly describes the daunting sea conditions; Force 8 winds and driving sleet, ten metre swells and sub zero sea water. In detail he recounts the exhausting monotony of eating, working and sleeping on a boat ‘rolling and pitching like a rodeo bull’. (p. 78). By any standards the working conditions were appalling as men were swept off their feet by ice-cold cascading water only to find themselves awash in the blood and guts of processed fish.

On 6th June 1998 the over laden MFV Sudurhavid began taking on water. Hatches and chutes designed to protect the workers and boat had been ‘modified’ to speed up the work. It allowed seawater from mountainous waves to penetrate the boat. Drains became clogged and pumps failed as the boat was pummelled by massive waves. Requests to cut loose the long line to help manoeuvring… warnings and then pleas to the captain and senior officers to stop fishing and seek shelter were ignored. A deteriorating situation rapidly got worse. Matt asks: ‘How could the most experienced men on the boat just ignore what was going on?’ (p. 92).

In a minute by minute, hour by hour account Matt Lewis describes the unfolding disaster. He provides a vivid account of the mounting chaos and selfish actions of individuals, the lack of leadership and how poorly prepared crew had to abandon ship in terrifying conditions. Thirty-eight men took to life rafts but many wouldn’t survive the bone chilling cold. Inside a flooded life raft Matt explained how he was ‘…balanced not on the floor of the raft, but on the corpses of colleagues, but I was too cold to care.’ (p. 159)

Few of us will have experienced the fury of a storm in the Southern Ocean. Probably even fewer of us have experience of deep sea fishing or survival in ice-cold water inside a life raft. However, the account by Matt Lewes will bring you uncomfortably close to the real thing. He acknowledges that his account of the sinking of the MFV Sudurhavid, years after the event, is a compendium of accounts from other survivors. However, this doesn’t detract from the impact it provides. The crew lists, pen portraits of crew members and numerous photographs makes their survival and deaths more poignant.

Accurately describing life and work inside a long line deep sea fishing trawler isn’t easy. Recounting the dramatic event of it sinking and harrowing events in a life raft is a personal challenge. It is one that Matt Lewis achieves with some skill. His provision of glossary of terms, boat plans and maps make the account both credible and readable. Furthermore, the forty colour photographs visually take you to these places. They bring people to life and acknowledge their death. Matt Lewis wanted his book to be an honest memorial to those on board the Sudurhavid when she foundered. It may not be the most comfortable reading but it is certainly worth the effort.


Last Man Off (2014)

  • by Matt Lewis
  • London: Viking
  • 229 pp
  • ISBN 9780241002780

Matt Lewis lives in rural Scotland near Aberdeen with his wife and children. His daughter, Camila, is named after the Chilean fishing boat, the Isla Camila, which saved his life.


Find out more about the reviewer, Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Freediving Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… Dive into the future with Blue Abyss

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The BiG Scuba duo, Gemma and Ian chat to John Vickers and Emma Farrell.  John is the Chief Executive Officer of Blue Abyss and believes passionately about connecting our marine evolutionary heritage and future space exploration.  Emma Farrell is one of the world’s leading freediving instructors, author of the book ‘One Breath, a Reflection on Freediving’ and owner of Go Freediving Limited and a freediving consultant for Blue Abyss.

Have a listen here:

Find out more at: www.blueabyss.uk


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 04 – 11 November 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

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Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

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