by E.R. Cross
Last month Technifacts reviewed the nebulous depth record of divers using conventional surface air supplied helmet rigs. Shipwrecks, particularly treasure wrecks, have about the same nebulosity and are just as uncertain.
the wreck(s) of
The confusion over the Grosvenor exists because there were two vessels with the same name. One was an heroic but fictional ship that disappeared at sea. The other wreck is fabulously treasure laden. It became a legend after it grounded off South Africa in the late 1700s.
Written in 1899, The Wreck of the Grosvenor is a romantic novel about ships and the sea in an era of maritime hardships. It tells the story of a full rigged ship and a mutiny of the crew. The hero of the story and the mutinous crew save three doomed people from a second wrecked vessel, one of whom is the beautiful heroine of the book. The mutineers are tricked into leaving the Grosvenor. Later, while trying to make Bermuda, the Grosvenor sinks in deep water as the result of hurricane damage. The hero and the heroine survive, are picked up by a third vessel and sail off to London, riches and wedded bliss. While an exciting story, it is definitely not about treasure.
The fabulous treasure ship Grosvenor sailed from India and reportedly slammed into the rocks in the Ranskei area. For years, coins were found strewn on Ranskei beaches. This Grosvenor was an East India Company sailing vessel. When she sank in 1782, she reportedly carried a gem encrusted peacock throne valued at 5,000,000 pounds. In 1957, divers found and recovered cannons, coins and other material they said positively identified the vessel as the Grosvenor. Many attempts to locate the wreck have been made; some before and some after the 1957 report.
During the past 40 years there have been several reports that this treasure was found. However, no significant evidence indicates this to be true. Do Technifacts readers have any newer information on the Grosvenor and its cargo? If so, write to E. R. Cross, Technifacts, c/o SKIN DIVER Magazine, 6420 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515.
During the past global war and the cold war aftermath, undersea surveillance was essential for the protection of our nation. Today I suspect we are just as much at risk from various forms of underwater launched methods of invasion and destruction as we were during the supposedly riskier eras. A recent issue of Sea Technology, a publication of modern marine activities (Compass Publications, Inc., Suite 1000, 1117 N. 19th Street, Arlington, VA 22209), states there are additional threats that must be considered. These activities include illegal immigration, drug trafficking, terrorism, environmental pollution, fishing violations and even pirating. I could add: Detection of divers invading well mapped but off-limits wrecks and treasures. Also, divers using diver propulsion systems to raid fisheries installations and, possibly, scuba divers taking game in underwater preserves. Now, more sophisticated sensing systems are available that can detect even more difficult to locate invasion objects than those mentioned.
Diving and Hypothermia
Many divers are now into cold weather and cold water diving. Some are into ice diving. Loss of body heat is one of the most important hazards facing recreational divers in cold water diving. Recent studies have determined that divers do not always recognize the onset of hypothermia. When ice diving in the past without a heated suit, commercial divers would work for 15 to 20 minutes, then surface for an equal time to become reheated to a safe working temperature. Their motto was, If I feel cold, I am cold. It was their first indication of hypothermia. This should also be the way to go for recreational diving.
Here are some suggestions for recreational divers who enjoy cold water diving. First, wetsuits, no matter how well fitting or designed, prevent only an initial, rapid heat loss. Eventually a wetsuit clad diver may become dangerously cold. A drysuit is thermally more effective but the added, and not necessarily complete, protection from cold is offset by bulk and higher cost. Diving Unlimited International, Inc., (DUI) states in its brochure, Divers who wear our drysuits are able to concentrate on dive objectives. A warm diver is potentially a safer diver than a cold diver.
Hypothermia is defined as a reduction in body core temperature. A feeling of deep cold is a warning a diver is only a degree or so away from a hazardous condition. For years core temperatures were determined with a rectal thermometer. Fortunately, there is now a better and easier way. The electronic ear thermometer, used by nearly every hospital and clinic, provides a quicker and more accurate core temperature reading than most other methods. These thermometers are available in most pharmacies.
Go diving this winter; either at a destination dive site in the tropics or in an equally beautiful cold water environment. But, if the latter, go with adequate protection and monitoring for the onset of hypothermia. Be careful and you will be sure to enjoy many more years of diving.