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June 2000 Vol. 26, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The President and the Lady — Together Again!

from the June, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Er, no, not THOSE two… we’re talking about the Lady and the Unicorn sculpture in the wreck of the S. S. President Coolidge. Coolidge guru Allan Power first discovered this impressive ceramic plaque hanging from the fireplace mantel in the first class smoking room in 1982, and it had been a diver magnet ever since — until her recent accident. On January 31 the combined power of age, seawater, oxidation, and divers’ air bubbles — with a slight boost from an earthquake — collapsed the smoking room and part of the promenade deck above. The lady was unceremoniously dumped on her bum, and the ceramic icon that has become a Mecca for Coolidge divers cracked and broke.

The story could have ended there — but for the collaboration of Santo’s four competing dive operators (two in Santo itself and two smaller out-island ops), who managed to salvage the Lady. The Hotel Santo accommodated her in a small storage room where she was repaired, cleaned, and fitted with an aluminum frame fashioned by her new curators for her renaissance as the President Coolidge’s gracious, if silent, hostess.

On March 31, under the watchful camera of visiting videographer Stan Waterman, the honor guard of five divers from four dive ops escorted the newly made-up Lady through the sea doors on C-deck and into her new place of repose, the spacious first class dining salon. According to Nai’a’s Cat Holloway, “the divers carried twintank rigs of air and deftly coordinated ropes, bolts, shifters, lift bags, and torches. Their work stirred thick layers of silt inside the enclosed space and threatened the team to abort. But the mission was accomplished with air and visibility to spare.” The Lady now hangs vertically, bolted upright to the sturdy ceiling (the Coolidge lies on its port side), ready to receive her visitors. She remains at a depth of approximately 130 fsw so divers making the pilgrimage can still acquire bragging rights.

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