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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

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Rosemary Lunn

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Ian and Gemma chat among themselves and are also are joined by well-known Dive Industry Professional Rosemary Lunn.

We talk about dive fitness and entering the CrossFit 2021 open games and being members of our local CrossFit Box. You can also listen to our new member of the team – Rosemary Lunn – answer some scuba diving questions.

Find out more about Rosemary at www.tumc.co.uk.


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

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Erebus – The story of a ship (2019)

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In a title of six words, Erebus: The story of a ship, Michael Palin tells us precisely what his book is all about. Through a comprehensive analysis of the Ship’s Logs and crew reports, personal letters, private and naval journals, books, papers and newspaper articles he documents the life of the ship and its crews. He traces their histories from the launch of the ship at Pembroke dock in 1826, via unremarkable Mediterranean patrols, lengthy voyages to Australia to bone chilling Antarctic and Arctic expeditions. They culminate in the last crew abandoning the ship, trapped in Arctic pack ice, in 1848.

However, Erebus: The story of a ship is more than a mere chronology of dates, actions and events. Michael Palin tells us a complex story. It’s an evolving story of the interpersonal relationships of those men serving on the ship; relationships that blossom and those that deteriorate. It includes accounts of influential men and women who shaped the voyages and crew selection. It also notes the impact of sponsors and suppliers who may have contributed to the final tragedy. It’s a story illustrated by Victorian photographs, other colour photographs and paintings, sonar images, maps and sketches. They all serve to provide a picture of the life and death of those on board HMS Erebus.

In 1846, during the heroic but ill-fated Franklin Expedition, HMS Erebus, her companion ship HMS Terror, captained by Francis Crozier, and a total of 129 men, “vanished off the face of the earth whilst trying to find a way through the Northwest Passage” (ppxii – xiii). This was the prized northern route to China and India via Arctic waters. HMS Erebus wasn’t seen again until one hundred and sixty-nine years later under thirty-six feet of Arctic water. Divers found the wreck remarkably intact as their description and photographs reveal.

Palin describes how the search for Erebus and her crew extended over decades – often suggesting missed opportunities as well as shocking findings. His summary account of the last desperate months and weeks of their survival, as the expedition disintegrated, is poignant in the extreme.

It’s tempting to describe the book as a slow burn that builds into an inferno – but words like ‘burn’ and ‘inferno’ are at odds with Palin’s descriptive account of the mind numbing cold of Arctic winters and a ship entombed in pack ice for years. Certainly, the pace of the early chapters appear relatively slow when compared to the final crescendo – but they provide an invaluable background to an understanding of the unfolding drama.

You don’t have to be a historian or a marine archaeologist, a sailor or traveller to marvel at the story of HMS Erebus and her crews. You don’t have to be a sentimentalist to read: ‘The one comfort from the whole unmitigated disaster was the news that bodies had been discovered far enough south to prove that Crozier had led his doomed men to the last link in the chain of marine connections that made up to Northwest Passage’ (p. 261).


Erebus: The story of a ship (2019)

  • By Michael Palin
  • London: Arrow Books        
  • ISBN 9781 784 758578     
  • 334 pp

Michael Palin has written and starred in numerous TV programmes; perhaps Monty Python is one of the most famous. He has made several acclaimed travel documentaries to the North and South Pole as well as the Sahara desert and the Himalayas. His books include Hemingway’s Chair (1998) and The Truth (2013). Between 2009 and 2012 he was President of the Royal Geographical Society. Michael Palin was knighted in 2019 and lives in London.


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

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