Diver conveys heights and depths at RARI’s January conference
by Maxine Williams
On Saturday, January 28, over 100 people gathered at Rhode Island College to learn, firsthand, what compelled divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler to make repeated dives to a mysterious sunken vessel off the coast of New Jersey and to contact numerous American and German military authorities to determine its origin.
It looked like a German U-boat, but there was no record of such a vessel sinking or being lost anywhere in the area.
Their investigation below water and above ground – and its impact on their lives – is recounted in Shadow Divers, first published in 2004 by Robert Kurson. This book was selected last September as the Reading across Rhode Island (RARI) book for 2006, and its many dimensions were explored at the January kickoff event. Diver Richie Kohler, the keynote speaker, recounted the amazement he and Chatterton felt at discovering the submarine, and spoke of some of the ethical, practical, and personal questions they faced.
In addition to hearing the Kohler presentation, each attendee could choose two out of 10 workshops. Topics included “The Battle of the Atlantic” (the German submarine war against shipping); “Dive New England and Beyond” (dive techniques, photography, safety and equipment in various environments); “Songs of War at Sea,” and “Take the Dive! Non-Fiction and Your Book Group.” One person who went to “Take the Dive!” said, “I continue to be amazed and excited at how many new ideas I get from the conference!”
Lt. Governor Charles J. Fogarty, honorary chair of the event, and Mattie Gustafson, president of the Rhode Island Center for the Book, greeted the attendees and presenters.
The conference luncheon, in keeping with the Shadow Divers theme, included submarine sandwiches and goldfish crackers.
Craig Edwards of Mystic Seaport, Sea Chanties
Richie Kohler, Louise Moulton and Carrie Kohler