Wednesday, May 24, 2006

REALLY into shipwrecks now.

(Photo stolen from

I just finished reading this fascinating account of the discovery of a mysterious U-Boat wreck off the coast of New Jersey in the late 1980s. Took the divers years of research, countless dives, the ruination of their marriages and the deaths of three fellow divers to finally figure out which U-Boat it was, so they could straighten out the history books and inform the families of the lost men why they disappeared in the final days of World War II.

Like "The Perfect Storm," "Dead Men Tapping," and "The Hungry Ocean," I was consumed completely with this one from start to finish. Now I'm looking for more books of its type, documentaries to rent, and museums to visit. Can't get enough of it.

This 'mystery U-Boat,' finally revealed to be U-869, it is believed, was destroyed by one of its own torpedoes. I learned this: A torpedo whose navigation system goes haywire, eventually turning upon the sub that fired it, is known as a 'circle-runner.' I guess they happened pretty frequently on U-Boats, necessitating an immediate dive after firing, and there are countless stories of a boat's torpedoes whizzing by a mere few feet above or below. Can you imagine how the crew felt, firing, going into that dive, and the 30 seconds of absolute TERROR as they waited to know whether the little fucker would come home to blow them all to pieces?

Anyway, the whole point of this post: Isn't Circle-Runners the best band name you've ever heard? I call dibs! If I ever get my shit together to form a band, that's what I'm calling it.

The Circle-runners. Kickass.


Anonymous Leslie said...

John Chatterton has a show on the History Channel called Deep Sea Detectives where he and Richie Kohler dive other mystery sites and look for answers. If you loved the book as much as I did, you'll love the show. I also HIGHLY recommend the book 'The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition' by Caroline Alexander. One of my favorite true adventure books of all time. And because the expedition was sponsored by National Geographic, there are plenty of amazing photographs and shipmate diary entries.

24 May, 2006 15:11  
Blogger Andraste said...

Hiya Leslie! Welcome to the pub and Thanks for the tip.

I knew about Deepsea Detectives, but I'm always on the lookout for new books to check out.

24 May, 2006 16:03  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

When I did my OutwardBound, I was in Shackleton watch.
It's a very tenuous link I know, but I am feeling particularly unproductive this morning.

4 "I" s. Enough about you let's talk about me.

25 May, 2006 04:22  
Blogger finn said...

30 seconds of absolute TERROR as they waited to know whether the little fucker would come home to blow them all to pieces?

i should think just being cooped up in a submarine (unless it were yellow and i were under the influence of massive amts of hallucinogens) 20,000 leagues under the sea would trigger absolute terror. i don't know how the crews do it without going complete apeshit.

25 May, 2006 08:21  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Are yu going to go see Poseidon, then?

25 May, 2006 10:19  
Blogger Andraste said...

Doc - My high school guidance counselor thought I was a good candidate to do outward bound. I was interested...until I found out it was 7 days on a boat with no flush toilets. Erm...No.

Finn- see my response to Doc. I don't generally get claustrophobic, but considering on a U-Boat, flushing at the wrong time could cause backwash to fly into the sub and sink you (eugh)'re right. That's no way to live, or wage war, for that matter.

FMC - eh, not a fan of disaster movies in general. Now...if they do a 'mockumentary style' film about divers investigating the wreck...I'll pay to see that!

25 May, 2006 12:37  
Anonymous windymeadow said...

Didn't I recommend this book to you? Is it my copy you have? Give it back. What I found so compelling was the characters and how their personal journeys resonated throughout. And the haunting tribute paid to the submariners, on a futile quest, as well as their loved ones, left to wonder.

25 May, 2006 20:56  
Blogger Andraste said...

windymeadow - you did recommend this book, for which I thank you. YOu did not lend me your copy, however. I bought it on

I still have your copy of The Falls - it was very good, and will be returned next time we're in the same place.

26 May, 2006 09:34  

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