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November 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Setting the Hook

from the November, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Setting the HookAdd another volume to the pile of books about the mystique of the Andrea Doria, the 240-foot-deep wreck off New York's Montauk Point known as the Mount Everest of diving. Setting the Hook: A Diver's Return to the Andrea Doria is a personal account of Peter Hunt's explorations of the wreck beginning in 1983, and his compelling urge to return to the ship many years later. It brings a unique perspective to a well-covered subject.

In the "pre-tech" days before dive computers, when only commercial divers were using mixed gases, these early pioneers battled nitrogen narcosis and other perils to retrieve precious artifacts such as Andrea Doria china. Hunt reveals some of the mysteries behind the collision that sunk the ship, and how the early divers tried to unravel them. It's his personal relationship to the ghost ship that makes this book unique. For instance, he compares the isolation of solitary wreck diving to the stories of passengers trapped in the crippled hulk -- some of whom never made it out.

Hunt later became a fighter pilot, eventually settling down with a family and a job as a commercial pilot. In 2000, he found himself missing the "sense of exploration of wreck sites few to none had experienced." By then, technical diving had evolved, and Hunt undertook the rigorous, expensive pursuit of training and equipping himself for one more visit to the now-deteriorating hulk. Ironically, he points out, there have been more fatalities on the wreck among trimix divers than in the compressed-air era.

A gripping subplot is touched on in the first chapter: While preparing for his return to the Andrea Doria, Hunt was dealing with the onset of Parkinson's disease, adding both poignancy and urgency to his quest to recapture his daring youth. You'll need to read the book to see whether he achieves his goal.

Click on the "Books" tab at www.undercurrent.org to order a copy through us, and you'll get Amazon's best price -- plus our profits will go to save coral reefs.

Reviewer Larry Clinton is co-author of There's a Cockroach in My Regulator, a paperback filled with bizarre, unusual stories from the pages of Undercurrent.

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