Benefit dinner planned for Diver Ed

Bob Collier, aboard the salvage barge Tubby, moves part of the hulk of the grounded boat Seal onto the Bar Island bar so it can be hauled away.—PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT GERALD

Bob Collier, aboard the salvage barge Tubby, moves part of the hulk of the grounded boat Seal onto the Bar Island bar so it can be hauled away.—PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT GERALD

From The Mount Desert Islander – December 19, 2008

BAR HARBOR — When the M/V Seal was dashed against the shoreline of Bar Island in late November, the lives of owners Ed “Diver Ed” Monat and Edna Martin were tossed about like flotsam as well. Despite the storm’s ravaging effects, the couple’s spirits were buoyed by the community response when the time came for removing the remnants of their livelihood from the shoreline.

The support continues this Saturday, Dec. 20, at the Town Hill Community Hall when the West Eden Village Improvement Society (VIS) hosts a winter celebration and public supper with all of the donations being given to Diver Ed and Edna.

Richard Simis, whose wife, Lilea, is a member of the West Eden VIS, was available for comment. “Every month we put on a free public dinner and we have known Eddie and Edna for 20 years or so,” said Mr. Simis. “When we heard their boat sank we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a benefit for them?’ It seemed like the thing to do.”

Area establishments such as the Town Hill Country Store, Mother’s Kitchen, and others usually provide food items for the public supper, but the VIS is seeking other donors because they are “expecting a larger crowd than usual because it is for Eddie and Edna,” Mr. Simis said.

Many of the losses suffered from the devastating storm were not covered by the insurance on the boat. Mr. Monat had loaded the boat with supplies for a charter dive, a checkout dive for his students and all of his equipment for the Dive-In Theater. All of that gear was lost in the grounding.

“We lost about $50,000 worth of stuff that wasn’t covered,” Diver Ed said. “That was the hard part. We lost a lot of that stuff. We found our brand new camera smashed up. We had to have three of everything on the boat, backups for backups. That camera we hadn’t even used yet. We might have salvaged the cable out of it and that was the least expensive part of it, about a thousand bucks.”

The list of losses goes on from there. “It is hard even thinking about it. There was so much stuff that it is hard to even put a finger on it,” Mr. Monat said. “We had our whole shop down forward, the gear for students on board, we were trying to get all of that done before scallop season started. It is the time of year where we do a little bit of everything.”

In 2000, Mr. Monat established Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater, a tour in which the customer stays high and dry on the deck of the Seal while Diver Ed peruses the ocean floor seeking out various critters to talk about. Sometimes he brought the creatures aboard for the visitors to experience them up close and personally. Education about the marine environment was the primary motivation.

The Seal was also used for commercial scallop diving and chartered dive tours. The League of Underwater Superheroes is a loosely formed dive club comprising of a group of zany characters who gather on a regular basis to dive and explore the waters surrounding Mount Desert Island with the Seal as their base of operations.

The Town Hill Winter Celebration begins at 4 p.m. A bonfire and caroling by the tree is also on the agenda for the evening. Tractor rides and a public supper are also planned.

The public supper is scheduled to go from 5 to 7 p.m. The Town Hill Community Hall is next to the fire station on Route 102 in Town Hill.

The community outpouring has not gone unnoticed by the couple. “It makes me feel like I have been having the impact on people that I have been meaning to have,” he said. “The whole purpose of what we are doing is to educate people and have a good time at the same time. Obviously, there are enough people in the community that feel like that is an important thing so it makes me feel good to think that I am doing a good job of that.”

The details of the future are unclear, but the one thing for sure – Diver Ed will keep on going: “The worst part is that I lost my boat. The best part is that everywhere I go everyone has been supportive right from when we had to clean up the mess to now. No matter what we do we are going to have a long haul ahead of us getting ready for spring.”

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