Last week’s highly-anticipated Wreckfest in Key Largo found divers riding ripping Gulf Stream currents while making deep descents to some of the best shipwrecks in the Keys.

Based out of Silent World Dive Shop, the Fourth Annual event brought some of the biggest names in diving to the hallowed, coral-filled halls inside wrecks like the U.S.S. Spiegel Grove, USCG cutters Bibb and Duane, and the Eagle.

Mounting deep and technical explorations, these underwater junkies popularly known as ‘Wreckaholics’ journeyed from around the world to dive what’s essentially a 9-day, coral-encrusted buffet of Florida Keys “wrecksploration.”

“I don’t think there’s anything in North America, probably not in the world, where there’s this many days of diving and this many deep wrecks done all in a row,” said Wreckfest organizer and Silent World owner Chris Brown, excitedly summing up the week’s deepwater mayhem.

Then, sharing a bit more of his philosophy, he added “It’s basically a way to recruit more interested wreck divers and add to the spectrum of overall dive industry— and the Florida Keys are a great place to do it.”

Based out of Silent World Dive Shop in Key Largo, Brown’s rampant schedule of wreck diving events also included topside evening sessions focused on shipwreck discovery, maritime archaeology, diving technology, training, and safety.

On hand to deliver expert guidance and knowledge on each of these topics: acclaimed underwater explorers like wreck detective Richie Kohler, IANTD tech guru Tom Mount, and world-record cave diver Jarrod Jablonski.

Also present to deliver the news on hard goods: major equipment manufacturers and training agencies such as Aqualung, Halcyon, Global Underwater Explorers, IANTD, PADI, and TDI, offering equipment demonstrations, gear giveaways and opportunities to find out more about rebreathers, technical diving, and dive medicine.

However, the event’s major highlight came in the form of Deep Sea Detective Richie Kohler who illustrated his 2007 record-setting descent to mysterious wreck of the H.M.S. Britannic, the Titanic’s similarly ill-fated cousin.

Kohler, who co-hosts the show Deep Sea Detectives with John Chatterton on the History Channel, also led a number of excited student divers in an advanced rebreather class on the U.S.S. Spiegel Grove

Between dives the took time out to interview with the Weekly.

Matt Standal
Richie, What type of diving equipment are you using today, and can you explain this type of equipment to both divers and readers who might not have heard of it before?

Richie Kohler
What we’re using here is an Evolution Rebreather with Vision Electronics. It’s arguably one of the finest rebreathers available today because it has the most safety features.

A rebreather is a device that captures a diver’s exhaust and re-circulates it. Most scuba divers carry a tank of compressed air, and as they’re swimming around, the bubbles come out of the regulator and go to the surface—not so with a rebreather.

With a rebreather, a diver actually captures those bubbles and brings them to a scrubber that takes out the cabon dioxide. You also have a small bottle of oxygen that is added to the replace the oxygen that is metabolized by the diver.

Matt Standal
That sounds complicated. Why would divers want to use this piece of advanced equipment?

Richie Kohler
Rebreathers are fantastic for people who are interested in underwater photography, specifically of animals. If you’re interested in getting close to marine life nothing is better than a rebreather. It truly is silent diving. There’s no bubbles, no mechanical noise, and fish come right up to you considering you like one of the denizens of the deep.

Other things that are really wonderful about a rebreather for technical diving— like Deep diving, wreck diving, and cave diving— is the fact that this little rebreather will keep you underwater between 6 and 8 hours on just one charge. Most tanks used by sport divers keep them underwater for roughly 45 minutes.

Matt Standal
Why bring it to Key Largo’s Wreckfest and try it out here?

Richie Kohler
The uppermost key is the wrecks we have here.  The Spiegel Grove, the Bibb, the Duane and the Eagle, are some of the best, not only enjoying wreck diving, but for training divers to used the skills on other deeper, more dangerous wrecks like the Andrea Doria.

It’s all about the Keys.

Matt Standal
Thanks Richie, and good luck diving!

Wreckfest 2009 is scheduled to take place next August once again, with exact dates to be determined.

For more information, call Silent World Dive Shop at 305-451-3252 or visit

Deep Sea detective Richie Kohler leads a group of Evolution Rebreather students on an underwater checkout dive on the U.S.S. Spiegel Grove. While traditional scuba divers are hard-pressed to reach 30 minutes on the popular dive, Kohler and his students stayed for more than 90. Using this advanced technology to its fullest, the group could have lasted for up to six hours.

Utilizing pure oxygen, breathing gas, and a unique chemical CO2 “scrubber,” rebreathers actually clean the carbon dioxide out of the air breathed by divers underwater.

Instructor Tom Mount, and Richie Kohler congratulate Silent World Dive Shop owner Chris Brown for a job well done.

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