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  Field Notes From
Steuben Wreck

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Steuben Wreck On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Marcin Jamkowski

Steuben Wreck On Assignment

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From Photographer

Christoph Gerigk

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale (top) and Fernando Pereira

Marcin Jamkowski is the editor of our Polish Edition.


Steuben Wreck On Assignment Author Steuben Wreck On Assignment Author
Steuben Wreck

Field Notes From Author
Marcin Jamkowski

Best Worst Quirkiest
    The best part of this assignment was that we survived it. Over the past 60 years, fishermen have lost a lot of nets that now litter the Steuben wreck. They're a deadly danger to divers.
    On our last day at sea, the captain and the chief diver convinced us to cancel a dive because of rough waters. Even though we were sorry to lose another opportunity to explore the wreck, they helped us avoid what might have been an untimely end.

    Two weeks before the expedition, I found myself without a ship. It had taken two months to arrange for a military vessel from the Polish Navy, but at the last minute they canceled. They had been ordered not to hire ships out to civilians. That happened on a Monday, and I needed to go to Germany on Wednesday for my interviews. So I had only two days to find a new ship.
    I called tons of friends with cries of, "Help! Do you know of a good ship?" And I called several institutions. When I contacted the Polish Marine Fishery Institute, I got a good response from the start. The manager was very pleasant and helpful, and he wanted to hire out his ship. I sent part of the team to the seaside 218 miles (350 kilometers) from Warsaw to see the ship and determine if it was good for the expedition. They agreed that it was. I negotiated an agreement with the institution, achieving in two days what had taken two months with the military. It worked out, but it was very stressful.

    We had a difficult time receiving some very sophisticated lights that National Geographic sent us in Poland. After being stuck in a U.S. airport, they finally arrived in Europe. But the lights accidentally got shipped to Denmark instead of Poland.
    I called the customs office in Poland, told them about the situation, and asked them what we could do. "No problem," they said. "We'll have Denmark put the lights on a plane to Warsaw." But the package was too big for the airplane. So they hired a truck. We expected it to arrive in Warsaw on Friday evening, just in time to start our expedition on Sunday. Trucks, however, are forbidden to drive in Germany over the weekend. So, with the weather deteriorating, we postponed the expedition until Monday.
    I called the shippers and asked that the lights be brought directly to the seaside. But the package didn't arrive until Tuesday. By then we were already 50 miles (80 kilometers) offshore. So we called a nearby friend and asked him to retrieve the package and hire a boat to ferry it out to us.
    We finally got the lights two days after the expedition began, but the strangest part of the story is that we never used them! They were too big and heavy to operate in deep depths and strong Baltic conditions.


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