Gary Gentile Productions

Multimedia Presentations

USS Monitor: A Civil War Legacy

This combination slide and video presentation is a visual extravaganza for people of all ages, divers and armchair explorers alike. Sunk in clear Gulf Stream water off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the Civil War ironclad Monitor lies on a white sandy bottom in an area where the visibility often exceeds 100 feet. The wreck abounds with colorful fish and tropical marine encrustation. But what appears with such serenity is in actuality a dynamic process in motion, the forces of nature in collision, the best and the worst of man's character in opposition.

The Monitor's saga is long and ongoing. At the Battle of Hampton Roads she fought the CSS Virginia to a standstill: the first clash of ironclads, and a battle that spelled the end of wooden, sail-powered navies. Her loss in a December gale changed her from a machine of war to a monument depicting the futility of war. Now she fights her battles against the corrosive nature of the sea, and stands as an example of how freedom can be lost to bureaucracy if one refuses to fight for one's rights.

Gary's position with respect to the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is unique. Alone and at his own expense, he waged a five-year legal battle against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which refused American citizens the right to see the wreck site with their own eyes. His battle culminated in a widely publicized hearing in 1989 in which he emerged with a triumphant victory for divers across the nation, for NOAA was forced to concede that people have the right to look at the Monitor despite NOAA's wishes to the contrary.

He has visited the wreck site regularly since 1990, capturing the wreck on film and videotape as it disintegrates before our very eyes--as all shipwrecks do. This presentation combines the best of both media, and allows the author to examine the wreck in detail so the viewer can have a better understanding of the site and of the changes that occur on it.

Here is history at its best, and history in the making.

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Diving the Lusitania

See the future of technical diving -- today In June of '94 the author participated in an expedition to one of the most renowned shipwrecks in history, the Lusitania. Lying at a depth of 300 feet, the wreck is immersed in cold, dark water which is constantly swept by strong lunar tides.

In order to work safely at this depth, the dive team breathed exotic mixtures of helium, oxygen, and nitrogen. Each diver carried five tanks: back-mounted twin tanks containing bottom mix, two side-slung bottles containing decompression gases, and a bottle of argon for suit inflation. Divers entered the water during the 45 minute slack between tides. All decompression was conducted in-water on a decompression station which was cut loose from the down line when the tide picked up, and which then went adrift.

Of all the victims of World War One German U-boat warfare, the Lusitania is the most well-known. The ship sank only eighteen minutes after the U-20 fired a single torpedo into the British liner's hull. Nearly 1,200 people lost their lives, of which more than 100 were American, arousing American wrath over Germany's policy of unrestricted U-boat warfare.

Underwater slides show the wreck as it exists today, broken and sagging. Portholes lie scattered about the hull and seabed. The remains of the wheelhouse, which slid off the hull as the superstructure collapsed throughout the years, lies exposed on the rocky bottom. Clearly visible among the debris are the telegraphs and helm station.

The author also discusses the various gas mixes used, the decompression procedures, boat access, and all phases of preparation for what was a complex and highly technical dive operation, and which was conducted in a remote corner of Ireland, where all expedition gases and equipment had to be delivered. For those interested in the state-of-the-art of technical diving today, this presentation is an eye opener.

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Andrea Doria: Floating Italian Art Gallery

The author recounts the highlights the 200 dives he made on this most famous of shipwrecks, covering in detail everything from planning to execution, from sightings of unusual marine life to adverse weather conditions, from a tour along the immense hull to exploration of the vast interior, including the First Class Dining Room and Gift Shop, with rare underwater photos of china, glassware, jewelry, and the ship's bell.

After an overview of the 700-foot-long liner, and orientation of the various decks and the condition of the wreck, a step by step guided tour takes you inside, along encrusted corridors, over piles of debris, through inner doorways and stairwells, and into the dining room, where tables still stand on vertical decks, and where china lies partially hidden under years of accumulated mud. An exquisite collection of plates, bowls, cups and saucers, reveals the unique design of Richard Ginori gold leaf china, and the artistry of Italian painters depicting Oriental scenes. A cabinet is opened to yield a mixed pile of assorted stemware, unbroken: cocktail glasses, wine goblets, brandy snifters, tumblers, and shot glasses--all etched with "Italia" and the crown logo.

The Gift Shop uncovers treasures that have been hidden by some thirty years of silt and debris. From a ledge at a depth of 220 feet the author recovered hundreds of pieces of hand-made jewelry, including paired earrings, pendants, broaches, medallions, cameos, rings, bracelets, and charms. In addition were crafted items such as dishes and ashtrays, inlaid picture frames, bronze and porcelain statuettes, even a candelabra in the form of stylized sea dragons. Even more interesting is a collection of souvenir spoons whose bowls depict a painting of the ship and the name "Andrea Doria". In addition to underwater pictures showing some of the jewelry protruding from the mud, you will see slides of many of the pieces as they undergo the long process of cleaning and display.

You will also see the author's favorite items: perfectly preserved ceramic panels which were specially commissioned for the Andrea Doria, and which were created by the famous Italian artist, Romano Rui. These panels represent the best in Italian renaissance art. Included in this segment are pictures of the 700-pound ceramic panels created by Guido Gambone,recovered by a team of divers of whom the author was a member.

To wind up the program, the author will chronicle the adventure of the recovery of the ship's bell. An overview of the trip will be highlighted with underwater photos of the bell when first discovered hanging from its davit at 210 feet. The story of its eventual ascent to the surface is a milestone in the retrieval of artifacts recovered on conventional scuba.

This fascinating penetration into history, to the time of luxury liners and the era of transatlantic crossings, is the perfect evening entertainment, and the ultimate denouement to any film festival, symposium, or underwater conference. It took more than three dozen expeditions to the wreck site to accumulate the photographs for this special presentation. It's a show you won't want to miss.

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USS San Diego

Here is an in-depth study of the 500-foot-long WW1 armored cruiser, proceeding from bow to stern, inside and out, showing everything from officers quarters to the magazines. The wreck lies upside down in 110 feet of water; her keel rises to within 65 feet of the surface. On July 19, 1918, the San Diego struck a mine laid by the U-156, and sank in twenty minutes with the loss of six lives. The hull is intact, making this the ultimate wreck penetration dive.

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Shipwrecks of New York and New Jersey

This is an overview of various wrecks along the bi-state coast, from shallow water to deep, including histories of the singings and showing significant artifacts which were recovered and restored. Wrecks of nineteenth century vintage are juxtaposed with those which were torpedoed by German U-boats in WW2; includes Texas Tower #4, the U.S. Air Force radar installation which collapsed during a winter gale in 1961.

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Northern Shipwreck Marine Life

Artificial reef ecology is demonstrated from the world of the small, using macrophotography, to the life cycles of the large, including whales, sharks, sunfish, and a variety of game fish. The waters of New Jersey northward, and the many wrecks that about there, offer more marine life than most divers know about. Lobsters, that most delectable of wreck inhabitants, are covered in detail.

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Shipwrecks of North Carolina

A tour of this Gulf Stream state shows diving at its best: warm water, fantastic visibility, shipwrecks galore, colorful tropical fish, and luxuriant corals. See the lovely and mysterious octopus, and experience a sand tiger shark bite the photographer's lens. Visit the wrecks of two world wars, see awesome wreck profiles and a painter's palette of encrustation, beneath which lie naturally disguised artifacts, and be there when the author finds and recovers the bell that positively identified the Manuela.

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Shipwrecks of Bermuda

As a tropical island surrounded by reefs and shipwrecks, this is a holiday paradise for divers, snorkelers, and vacationers alike. Shallow water is combined with warmth and clarity, while deluxe accommodations are combined with British cuisine. It's as much fun topside as it is underwater. Because ships were wrecked by piling up on the reefs, every wreck dive is a reef dive as well. See wrecks that went down as long ago as 1848 (the 38-gun French frigate L'Herminie) to as recently as 1943 (the wooden schooner Constellation that will still sailing cargo during the war). Most of the wrecks lie at depths less than 30 feet, where the sun is bright and the water warm and lucid.

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Shipwrecks of Canada

Explore cold water diving at its best, from the fresh water wrecks of Fathom Five Provincial Park to the shore wrecks of Halifax harbor, and a different marine environment. Tobermory offers a unique statement in underwater preservation; wrecks exist in pristine condition because they are so well preserved by the cold fresh water. The salt water diving off Nova Scotia shows everything from the rigors of shore diving (some may call it cliff diving) to the much appreciated luxuries of boat diving, and covers wrecks such as the 44-gun British frigate La Tribune (sunk in 1798), the 1873 casualty of the passenger liner Atlantic, and a variety of WW1 wrecks.

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USS Wilkes-Barre

The most visually spectacular wreck ever, this upright and intact WW2 cruiser bristles with guns, turrets, searchlights, and a growing marine ecology. Sunk in an ordnance test in 1973, the 600-foot-long warship lies 250 feet deep off scenic Key West. While this is not a dive for everyone, it is a program that captures everyone's imagination. Swim along the decks at 210 feet; explore through the camera's lens the rooms and darkened corridors at a depth of 230 feet. Extraordinary visibility makes this one wreck you'll want to see again and again. For experienced viewers only.

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Two Freighters

This program takes a singular view at one aspect of maritime history: the shipment of war supplies during WW2. The American Liberty ship John Morgan, sunk off Virginia Beach, and the Russian freighter Kolkhosnik, sunk in the approaches to Halifax Harbor, offer a unique peek into this maddened time. Cargoes of tanks, trucks, jeeps, and airplanes like jumbled with arms and munitions bound for the front lines in Europe.

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U-boats off the American Coast

These are the hulks of the dreaded aggressors from Germany, who lurked along the east coast in order to disrupt the shipment of fuel and supplies for the Allied cause, and who caused so much pain and suffering by taking innocent lives in the name of world domination. A few of these "iron coffins" litter the seabed from New England to North Carolina, providing a stark view of the Nazi war machine for today's generation. The mud-filled interiors give a claustrophobic insight into the way of life and the pursuit of war from the lower end of an enemy periscope.

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Submarines

This program travels the entire east coast in search of sunken American submarines, from the pitch black waters of the Patuxent River to the crystal blue ocean of North Carolina, from Block Island to Key West, providing not only a unique opportunity to study the construction and operation of underwater warships, but providing a backdrop for the various marine conditions in which shipwrecks of any kind are likely to be found.. The highlight of the show is the discovery of the Tarpon, and a complete tour both inside and out, from building to sinking, and includes some evident insights into the inexorable and continuing deterioration under which all shipwrecks collapse. The preponderance of sand tiger sharks that inhabit the wreck is fully documented.

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Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

There are no wrecks like the Great Lakes wrecks. The cold, fresh water has preserved ships of iron and wood like you've never seen before. Ships sunk in the nineteenth century appear to be sitting in dry dock, with their decks clean and bare, and their hulls devoid of shape-obscuring marine growth. Cross the Straits of Mackinac, tour the coast of Lake Superior, touch the quiet shores of Lake Huron, and visit the shallows and depths of the greatest wreck diving in the world. See portholes, deadeyes, even carved figureheads. It's unbelievable.

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Shipwrecks of Isle Royale

This northernmost island in the United States is a National Park like none other. In addition to verdant forests, hiking trails, and wildlife, a dozen shipwrecks surround the rocky shore, providing a wonderful blend of primitive camping and wreck diving. Although the coast is battered by winter storms, the 41 degree water has retarded natural deterioration and left the wreck clean of the detritus of marine organisms. Several of the wrecks are intact and easy to penetrate. This is wreck diving at its most divergent.

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Empress of Ireland

One of the most terrible tragedies in maritime affairs occurred in the St. Lawrence Seaway, off the province of Quebec. After a collision with the tanker Storstad, the Canadian Pacific Railway passenger liner Empress of Ireland sank in fourteen minutes, with the loss of more than 1,000 lives. Today the wreck lies five miles offshore 130 feet deep (140 feet at high tide), where the summer water temperature rarely rises above 35 degrees. Ice diving without the ice! The 500-foot-long liner came to rest some 60 degrees> to starboard. The wreck is entered through hatches on the port side and through the skylights and collapsing superstructure.  Protruding from the silt are wooden beams, stairwells, furniture, and occasional human remains, all preserved in the cold, often turbid water. Here is a fascinating wreck to see: an adventure in history as well as in exploration.

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From the Mountains to the Sea

This is an "eye-opener" program, intended to introduce divers to more than the world of diving. In addition to a selection of wrecks from New England to Florida, the program climbs the heights of three mountains in that gorgeous state of Washington. From the snow-covered summit of Mt. Rainier you will see, and then visit, the results of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens: a moonlike landscape created by a tremendous mud slide, and an entire forest wiped clean by the wrath of explosive gases. Then, you will hike through a tropical rain forest until you reach the snow fields and heavily crevassed glaciers of Mt. Olympus.  This is a trek that brings adventure to all.

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Lake Ontario Shipwrecks - Point Traverse

Just a few miles west of Kingston Ontario lies a portion of Lake Ontario which is a veritable graveyard of lost ships: everything from iron-hulled freighters to wooden-hulled windjammers to paddle wheel steamers, from this century and the last, have made the lake bed their last port of call. See fast clipper ships in all their splendor, with masts and rigging and deadeyes galore; see intact hulls with their fittings in place; see storerooms still packed with lanterns and china. All nicely preserved in cool fresh water. This program will make you want to go there.

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Shipwrecks of St. Paul's Island

St. Paul's Island is an uninhabited islet off the coast of Cape Breton, the northernmost point of Nova Scotia. Because this small island lies in the approaches to the St. Lawrence Seaway, and bisects the shipping lanes, numerous vessels have run aground on St. Paul's rocky shore. Fierce winds and prevalent fog made navigation difficult, and continue to plague mariners today. On one expedition, we were stranded on the island for three days because of high wind and mountainous waves! Join me on a combination camping and diving trip to explore the shipwrecks of St. Paul's Island.

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Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands

The section of the St. Lawrence River that separates the U.S. from Canada is dotted with a multitude of tiny isles, some no larger than a good sized yard. Because this is the gateway to the Great Lakes, a massive amount of shipping traffic has passed along this route. Due to the close quarters, quite a number of maritime casualties have occurred among the islands, largely from collision and grounding. Visibility is little short of spectacular. Mammoth vessels pass so close to divers on shipwrecks that the engine noise can be deafening - and frightening. Depths range from 70 feet to over 200. Technical dives can be made from shore, with decompression conducted on rocky shelves.

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Shipwrecks of Scotland

The focus of this presentation is on the scuttled German fleet at Scapa Flow and the commercial casualties of the Shetlands. History abounds in these northern anchorages as divers visit World War One battleships, destroyers, and U-boats, plus a Russian freighter of recent vintage. The wind is so strong and so consistent that trees find it impossible to grow. Yet, the Orkney Islands that surround the flow offer protection from a long fetch, so that dives are practically never blown out. The same is true of the Shetland Islands. And the topside scenery is breathtaking - especially from the summit of the Ben Nevis: the highest mountain in the United Kingdom. From ocean bottoms to mountain tops, this show has it all.

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Treasure of the Brother Jonathan

The Brother Jonathan was a side wheel steamer that was lost off the coast of northern California in 1865. A large number of people went down to an unmarked grave, and a valuable shipment of gold was lost. The vessel was located by a salvage outfit, who proceeded to recover a horde of gold coins that was worth millions of dollars in the numismatic market. Join me and a commercial salvage outfit, and see how a team of saturation divers conducted operations in 250 feet of icy water, making excursions that lasted as long as six hours at a time. And see the results of their efforts - double eagles galore.

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