|CLASSIC DIVE BOOKS
The wreck of the "Empress of Ireland".
Please note: The books are listed for collectors interest only, and not offered for sale.
The Empress of Ireland
was safer than the Titanic. She was an extra fine ship with Edwardian
elegance. With her sister ship, Empress of Britain, they were the
best of the Canadian Pacific's Atlantic fleet. In 1912 the giant Titanic,
the so-called unsinkable ship, went to her grave with 1,5 13 passengers
and crew. The Titanic boasted every luxury, but carried lifeboats for only
a third of her crew and passengers. The Empress' lifeboat capacity was
for 2,000, more than enough for everyone. She was very modern, designed
to stay afloat even if any two adjacent watertight compartments were flooded.
But she was struck amidships by the collier Storstad on her starboard
side. Like an axe, the-collier's bow cut the Empress' plates and through
twenty feet of steel deck. In less than fourteen minutes, at about 2:00
am May 29, 1914, the Empress of Ireland with over 1,000 passengers
and crew went down to the bottom of the St. Lawrence River.
TRAGIC STORY OF THE EMPRESS OF IRELAND
An Authentic Account of the Most Horrible Disaster in Canadian History, Constructed from the Real Facts Obtained from Those on Board Who Survived.
Logan Marshall. Ed. W.H.Tantum.
Patrick Stephens, London. 7 C's Press, Connecticut, USA, 1972.
From the inside blurb:
Originally published in 1914.This book is primarily a facsimile reprint of a report and book, originally published in 1914, which today is a collector's item. This edition contains new specially written preface, epilogue, editor's notes and illustrations. The Empress of Ireland made a significant impression on both Canadian and maritime history. Strangely, this inland sea disaster is almost forgotten. This revised and enlarged edition is certain to appeal to the current generation of dedicated shipping enthusiasts.
And I should add - divers. Although not particularly deep when it coms to modern day advanced sport diving, she is a treacherous wreck claiming many lives - not due to her depth, but due to the inhospitable conditions wjhere she lies - in cold, murky and fast flowing waters. [ps]
Diving and the Deadly Allure of the Empress of Ireland.
Kevin F. McMurray.
McMurray has already made his reputation as an excellen author through his history and descriptions of diving the Andrea Doria in 'Deep Descent'. But if you thought that was a difficult dive (thirteen lives claimed so far), try the Empress of Ireland in the Gulf of St Lawrence. It may be a comparatively shallow wreck at around 120 ft, but when you consider the freezing cold waters, strong currents, near zero visibility, and French-Canadian bureaucracy, you wonder why anyone would bother. But such is not the thinking of true wreck divers, and The Empress remains one of the most challenging of recreational sport diving wrecks in the world. McMurray overcame all obstacles, including the bureaucracy, and describes his and several other much less satisfactory dives in which not all who descended in good health remained that way after ascent. McMurray captures the terror of shipwreck with the fear of visiting a gravesite in such in hospitable conditions. A great read.
Hardcover, dustjackt, 270 pages, mono prints.
Currently in print. Available from Oceans Enterprises. [ps]
LUSITANIA CONTROVERSIES. Two volumes.
I was attracted to read these books because of a fascination with the Lusitania, which, as you probably know, was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland in 1915. But, as the cliche says, dont judge a book by its cover. Although the two volumes contain an interesting account of the loss of the Cunard liner, and an even more fascinating description of diving the ship, these books are an authobiography of one of most experienced and influential deep wreck divers in the world. I was initially disappointed at the sparcity of historic Lusitania facts, but Gentile's excellent writing drew me in to a world of incredible deep diving, pioneering new techniques, and virgin wrecks at over 300 feet. Of particular fascination, and one in which we can at times relate, is the petty-mindedness of government officials and the sheer bitchines of dive boat skippers and fellow divers. There seems to be a nasty rivalry betwen fellow deep-wreck divers in seeking the rewards of relics to be raised and taken into personal posession. Well, been there, done that! But Gentile pulls no punches in his condemnation of divers who lack the skills and the mental attitude to be ‘real wreck divers'. Here we have entwined superb diving with tragic episodes on the Andrea Doria, the Empress of Ireland, the Lusitania, and many other deep shipwrecks and submarines not so well known. The death toll on some of these ships is staggering for a recreational activity - thirteen at least so far on the Andrea Doria. Gentile's writing absorbs you into the scenario like a good work of fiction - which this is most assuredly not. And to make matters even more remarkable I that Gentile was shot through the chest whilst on duty in Vietnam, taking many years to recover, but not fully. This is a book(s) for the serious wreck, deep and technical diver, or, like myself, someone fascinated by the pioneering exploits of these adventurers. And all the action has taken place within the last few decades. A remarkable read.
Two volumes, hardcover, dust jacket, 312, 392 pages, mono and colour plates.
Currently in print. Available from Oceans Enterprises. [ps]
|TILL WE MEET AGAIN
The Sinking of the Empress of Ireland
Herbert P. Wood. Image Publishing Inc., Toronto, Canada. 1982.
Printed boards (softcover), 186 pages, no index, a few mono prints.
"The Story of Canada's Worst Marine Disaster", and indeed one of thew world's great shipwrecks. "In the early hours of May 29 1914, fog enveloped the two sships when the coal-laden Storstad rammed into the side off the Emnpress of Ireland, giving her captain only fourteen precious minutes to save his passengers and crew. Most of them perished." The location was the freezing waters of the St. Lawrence River, which claimed "over a thousand souls".
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