“Perfection? Impossible, but striving for perfection keeps us going.” – John Chatterton at the Advanced Wreck Diving Theory and Tactics Workshop - Bugfest-By-The-Sea 2016
Each year the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea hosts Bugfest-By-The-Sea, which is a celebration of the Florida Lobster Sportsman’s Season. The two-day “Mini-Season” always falls on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, before the main season opens on August 1st , and Bugfest is held that week with a series of events dedicated to SCUBA diving and the pursuit of the tasty Spiny Lobster, affectionately nicknamed “Bugs.” There are contests for lobster hunters, a lobster cook off, underwater cleanups, workshops and much more. The event is always a lot of fun and there are thousands of dollars in prizes for the lucky winners. Among the highlights of Bugfest are the appearances by celebrities in the world of SCUBA diving, who will often give presentations, seminars, and workshops. The 2016 Bugfest featured a wreck diving workshop and a dive with John Chatterton, who is one of the most well known wreck divers in the world. With food, fun, entertainment, and prizes mixed with some education and diving, it’s no wonder Bugfest has become the “must do” event each year in South Florida.
John Chatterton is a Northeast Wreck diver turned Florida resident who now calls Broward County home. After release of the bestselling book Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson, which chronicles his work to identify a mystery U-Boat, John Chatterton went on to host television shows and became involved in several exciting expeditions to wreck sites around the world. He is a skillful diver and accomplished wreck diver who now offers wreck and technical diving training. The wreck diving seminar was a great opportunity to learn from one of the best and we are fortunate to have John Chatterton here in Florida helping others to master their underwater skills.
Wreck diving is a specialized interest in the world of SCUBA diving that requires skill and discipline, presents hazards and risks, and bestows rewards upon those who pursue it with passion. Wreck divers experience the glory of human technology alongside the beauty of the undersea world and literally become immersed in the history and tragedy of the once proud ships now resting silently in the depths. Most wreck divers are content exploring the known local sunken ships and artificial reefs that dot our coastlines. Others seek more adventure and travel to exotic destinations to experience more historical wrecks. A small number of dedicated individuals search for unexplored sites to answer questions, solve mysteries, and to go where no others have gone before. One of these men is John Chatterton, whose work has made his name almost synonymous with wreck diving.
John Chatterton offered his wreck diving seminar during Bugfest as a two-day event with an afternoon in the classroom and morning dives on South Florida’s newest wreck dive, The Lady Luck, the following day. This gave attendees the opportunity to participate in the workshop, interact with him on the dive boat, and then follow him into the depths to explore an exciting wreck.
The classroom session of the workshop flew by too quickly as John Chatterton delivered the powerful subject matter in his charming and casual style. His delivery exuded confidence and his passion for our sport shone through as he related engaging personal stories and shared the secrets that make a capable and confident wreck diver who can, as he says, “Get in and get out safe.”
When talking about his philosophy for wreck diving John Chatterton says, “I want my dives to be creative. Every dive is an opportunity and there’s no such thing as a small dive.” He emphasized consistency and gave a list of his diving fundamentals that will help every diver. He allowed the group to thumb through a thick typewritten dive plan to explore the Britannic a deep wreck expedition dive and stressed the importance of historical research and planning. Overall, the workshop outlined a detailed and methodical approached with good planning backed up by excellent diving skills.
The workshop wrapped up with a question and answer session, some photo opportunities, and a few of us brought our copy of Shadow Divers for an autograph. Each attendee received a certificate of completion suitable for framing. We were ready for our dives the following morning.
Part two of the workshop was a “double dip” on the new Lady Luck Wreck just outside Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach. We were all there as John Chatterton’s dive buddies and there was a lot of laughter and camaraderie. We had a group of experienced divers who confidently explored the new wreck and practiced some of the skills we talked about the day before. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REPORT ON THE LADY LUCK
Learning from one of the most successful wreck divers was a memorable experience and the Wreck Diving Workshop is a wonderful part of Bugfest. We had a great group of divers and John Chatterton’s charming and easygoing approach added to the enjoyment. The workshop gave us all valuable insight into the techniques and skills needed to wreck dive safely and it would be worthwhile for just about any diver.