History of the Wreck Diver
by Jay Chester
In the spring of 1960, Schwartz Marine and Iron of Manitowac, Wisconsin laid out the keel of a new boat. It was given the hull number 282720 and the name Ranger
. Later that year, it was delivered to the Pictured Rocks Cruise Lines of Munising, Michigan for use in the sight seeing business along the Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior’s south shore. This vessel was 30 foot long with a beam of 10 foot 6 inches and was powered by two inboard diesel engines.
It was used in the tourist trade until 1978 when the tour company purchased larger vessels and sold the Ranger
to the Tomasi family of Marquette, Michigan. The Tomasi family converted the boat from tour boat to dive boat and used it to escort groups of divers to the wrecks of the Munising Bay.
In 1985 the Tomasi family sold the Ranger
to Mike Kohut who sailed the boat off of Lake Superior to the straits of Mackinaw and changed the name to the Sraits Diver
. Here, the boat continued to take divers out to visit shipwrecks, but in the straits of Mackinaw between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Mike used the boat until 1987 when he bought a larger boat and sold the boat to Tom Boney of Chicago, Illinois.
Tom moved the boat to Calumet City, Illinois and changed the name to the Wreck Diver
. For the next three years, the Wreck Diver
took divers out to the wrecks of southern Lake Michigan. In 1990, Tom decided that he wanted a larger boat and sold the Wreck Diver
to Jay Chester of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Jay moved the Wreck Diver
back to Lake Superior in the fall of 1990. He had a special feeling for the Wreck Diver
because he had done his first Lake Superior wreck dive off of this boat in 1979, and it was finally back where it belonged on Superior. He brought it to Washburn, Wisconsin and for the next two years he ran charters in the Apostle Islands. In 1993, he and first mate Steve Lazer relocated the boat to Duluth. For the next eight years Jay and Steve, along with other friends, continued to take divers out on the wrecks of Minnesota’s north shore.
In 2001, Jay decided that it was time for a change so he donated the Wreck Diver
to the GLSPS. After talking to Bob Olson, and Bob talking with the directors of the GLSPS, they decided to accept Jays offer of a workboat for their projects on Lake Superior. So now a new chapter begins for the Wreck Diver
. I hope that it will be a wonderful new life for the boat with new owners and new challenges. Good luck and may friendly seas be always at your stern.