Bill Cleary, 40, is a Hackensack personal-injury lawyer with some serious hobbies. He co-owns Shipwreck Grill in Brielle with chef Terry Eleftheriou. And he’s a salvage diver with his own Pt. Pleasant-based salvage business, Depth Charge Expeditions, which has located and recovered several significant Jersey shore shipwrecks.
Cleary can be found trawling the local waters every weekend on his custom-built, 46-foot salvage boat, Depth Charge. “The Jersey Coast is known as ‘Wreck Alley’,” notes Cleary. “There are thousands of shipwrecks out there from Sandy Hook to Cape May.” These cover “wooden English ships from the 1600s, German subs from the First World War, and ocean liners filled with passengers’ loot.”
Cleary is currently hot on the trail of a package ship—a commercial delivery vessel—that went down in a collision off Jersey’s south coast before the Civil War. “That was a chaotic time, when people would ship entire households,” says Cleary, who believes that the wreck shelters a cargo rich in gold and jewels. He is hoping that the new sonar mapping method he is developing will help pinpoint the wreck.
The usual haul in “treasure diving,” says Cleary, isn’t gold bricks but everyday objects used by the ship’s passengers. These china teacups, ivory combs and glass bottles “provide a glimpse into how people lived back then,” says Cleary. He adds, “These are lives that the shipwreck cut short or changed forever.” Cleary’s proudest recovered object to date is displayed in Shipwreck Grill: a planter-sized 1600-year-old granite bowl from what was then Iberia. “It was salvaged from the S.S. Vizcaya, a South American ship that went down in 1896 off Barnegat Light,” he reminisces.
Cleary doesn’t take passengers on his boat, but the shore hosts numerous charter operations that ceter to thrill-seeking, treasure-hunting certified scuba divers. He recommends diving with Blue Fathoms and Gypsy Blood. —Karen Tina Harrison
The Belmar Sand Castle Contest is the biggest in the state, drawing 300 entrants last year. This year’s 21st annual event starts at 8 am July 18. Professional sand sculptor Chuck Feld, of West Chester, PA, will try to outdo his amazing 2006 demo—Godzilla, complete with backwards baseball hat, sunglasses, and a bottle of suntan lotion.
It would be unfair for Feld to compete in the Belmar contest. People pay him $600 to $1,000 a day to build sand sculptures for events and parties, even trucking sand to inland events. Feld turned pro 30 years ago after an Ocean City lifeguard saw him making dinosaurs in the sand with his ten-year-old son and urged him to enter the local contest, which he won.
The best sand for sculpting on the Shore, Feld says, is on the southern beaches, where a small percentage of clay or silt helps hold it together. Feld’s sculpting tips:
- Only wet sand can be sculpted. Contestants sometimes tire of running to the surf to fill their buckets, so get fit for the challenge (or find a buff helper). “The biggest mistake people make,” Feld says, “is they don’t use enough water.”
- For the big stuff, use a spade or rounded shovel instead of one with a flat point.
- For detail work, a butter knife is too thick for sculpting, so use a three-quarter-inch cake icer or a palette knife. 732-681-3700, njsandcastle.com.—A. V. Neglia
Admittedly, the 2004 TV docudrama Twelve Days of Terror didn’t pack the dramatic punch of Spielberg’s Jaws. But it was our scare film—based on Close to Shore, Michael Capuzzo’s factual 2002 account of the great white shark attacks that claimed four lives in Beach Haven, Spring Lake, and Matawan Creek in 1916. (Peter Benchley drew on these attacks as background for his 1974 novel.) Twelve Days of Terror is on DVD—a must-rent for Shore parties. Shark hysteria has subsided since a 2005 Surf City incident in which a Forked River surfer lost a foot. These are actually tough times for sharks. Overfishing has put many populations at risk.—Jon Coen
Davey Jones’s locker is chock full near our coast. According to njscuba.com, about 2,000 vessels are submerged there. Several dozen are well-known dive sites. One of the most popular is known as the Dual Wrecks: The 550-ton Dutch schooner Adonis sank in shallow water off Deal in March 1859. Another March maelstrom sixteen years later claimed the 300-foot, steel-hulled English ship Rusland, which ran aground on the remains of the Adonis and shared her fate.—JC
In 1909, J.D. Estes of Philadelphia invented a kind of cross between darts and bowling—rolling wooden balls up a ten-foot ramp to land in holes in a concentric target. In 1932, Atlantic City hosted the first national Skee-Ball Tournament. The game is still a Boardwalk fixture, now with electronics and color. Eilleen Graham, marketing director of Skee-Ball Amusement Games, says that in the 1932 tourney it was illegal to bank the ball off the side of the alley. But it’s fair play now—and, she says, still the best way to land a ball in the 100-point bullseye pocket.—A.V. Neglia
In Atlantic City, the Borgata’s ritzy Spa Toccare (theborgata.com) offers services up to a $575 massage and healing-stone treatment for two called the So Happy Together. Long Branch’s Ocean Place Resort & Spa (oceanplaceresort.com) offers the Spa Indulger package, which includes a one-night stay. The Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa (seaviewmarriott.com), in Absecon, outside Atlantic City, has a 12,000-square-foot Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon. Fusion Wellness Center (fusionwellnesscenter.com) is an intimate Barnegat facility with massage, organic skin care, and yoga with the Sivananda-certified instructor Jenn Kretzer. —JC
The 1898 pier in Atlantic City, where the Diving Horse used to plunge, has been given at least one more season before Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns it, knocks it down to build a condo-plex. The Kiddie Coaster is just right for tots, the Ferris wheel affords a fine ocean view, and the go-karts give the pre-teens a thrill. 609-345-4893, steelpier.com. —Jen A. Miller
From channels, jetties, back bays, and bridges to the surf and sod banks, when the water temp drops, its on! Nothing mobilizes the New Jersey fishing community like fighting striper. This member of the temperate bass family is a migratory fish, following food from the Gulf of Mexico to Nova Scotia, with a local blitz between October and December. The Division of Fish & Wildlife does not allow the commercial netting of “stripers” in order to protect populations for recreational fishermen. Current regulations allow each angler two fish per day, and each must be above 28-inches, to protect the the most reproductive fish. —Jon Coen
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how long you can stay in the sun, depending on your skin type. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Regardless of your skin tone, 30 is good for up to an hour of exposure. Use 45 or higher if you’ll be outside longer. Apply the lotion before heading out, because if it soaks in, it’s less likely to wash off. Reapply every two hours.—Michael Moran
This 40-minute evening guided tour of Cape May’s gaslit streets shows off the Victorian architecture and fills you in on Victorian courtship—a good excuse to smooch with your sweetie. For a more authentic Victorian experience, take a horse-and-carriage ride. The Cape May Carriage Company has been clip-clopping along since 1983. In 2001, owner Beverly Carr and “Bob,” one of her favorite horses, capered in President George W. Bush’s