This had been an ongoing project of the HRFA since 1997. The concept was originally suggested by HRFA member Tom Bromilow to then HRFA President Charles Stamm (Chas). Chas thought it was a great idea to give something back to the resource. Contribute something that would last a lot longer than the current members and Executive Board of the HRFA.
Something that would have the name HRFA NJ for a long time. A sunk ship would do that. A ship wreck who's name would be on the charts that fishing boats would go to and report catches from the "HRFA Wreck."
The project was debated for months at the Executive board of the HRFA. Some members were against the project from the start. They only wanted a ship if it could be sunk in or near the Hudson River. They wanted their own personal fishing spot. This was not the point of the project. The point was to give something back to the resource without necessarily getting anything personal in return. Some just did not like the idea at all. Others wanted to put the money into other projects. The vote to go ahead with the project was a close one but it did get passed. HRFA Director Jim Campbell volunteered to take the project and lead it to it's conclusion with a ship sunk off the Jersey Coast.
Jim gathered up all the information and contacted Mr. Bill Figley of the NJ Artificial reef Program. Our options were several. We could sink different types of objects offered by the program. All with different costs. Old tires seemed to be the least expensive. This was not an option for us. Old tires just did not seem like something we wanted to place in the ocean. "Reef balls" were also not an option although they were great habitat for migrating fish. Old military tanks and jeeps were also considered but we wanted a ship. A ship deserves a burial at sea. Not a jeep. Not a tank.
Our biggest obstacle, other than some of the members of the executive board, was raising the funds to sink the ship. We knew this was to be a long term project and those members who were in charge had no problem with that. Contributions were collected from various sources. Chas Stamm, who wrote the HRFA Access Brochure "Fishing the Hudson" donated all of the funds from this book, which sold from the HRFA Web Site to the project. Additional contributions to the "HRFA Wreck Fund" were made through membership renewals. A plaque with your name on it would be sunk with the ship if you gave a donation of $25.00 or more. It took three years but the $3,000.00 needed for a ship was achieved.
HRFA Club Members who witnessed and recorded the sinking:
Tom Paciorkowski / Gil Hawkins / Walter Weglinski / Bruce Halstater
NJ Officials Present: Bill Figley / Jennifer Daetsch / John Makai
Chartered Boat: Diversion II (dive Boat) Captain Steve Nagiewicz
Photos: Capt. Steve Nagiewicz