Wreck of the Hilma Hooker

The wreck of the Hilma Hooker is one of the best wreck dive sites in the Caribbean. The story of how the 235 foot long by 36 foot beam Colombian cargo ship was sunk is a good story and a nice piece of history.

In 1984 the ship arrived in Bonaire and anchored close to Klein Bonaire in a little inlet on the leeward side of the island. This was unusual behavior as normally ships would dock at the Kralendeck harbor. The Customs Officials deemed this as suspicious behavior and proceeded to board the ship for an inspection. The captain protested the boarding and as the officials began their search, he pulled anchor so the ship would drift into international waters. The officials got wise to this and at that point seized the ship and had it towed to port. They did a thorough inspection of the ship, going so far as to bring in specialists from Miami to help, yet they found nothing. The captain further tried to swart their efforts by opening a valve allowing water into the ship trying to sink it.

Into the picture enters Captain Don Stewart (1925-2014) an American navigator and avid diver who moved to Bonaire in 1962. Captain Don was hired to inspect the bottom of the ship. He located a metal plate welded to the bottom of the ship that didn’t look right… in the hidden hold twelve tons of cocaine and marijuana were found. The ship’s captain was jailed, the ship seized but the ship’s owners couldn’t be located.

Now the ship was at the dock, in a bad state of repair and listing because of the water that had entered. While no water was still entering, the ship had to be moved off the dock to make room for other ships. It was anchored offshore while the authorities decided what they would do. Captain Stewart and the local dive community wanted to sink the vessel and make it a dive site but were not given permission. Somehow, the ship was moved and mysteriously sunk on September 12, 1984. It now lies perfectly positioned on its side in 100 feet in a sandy spot between two coral reefs. It is a short swim from shore and couldn’t be better positioned if Captain Stewart sunk it himself (which I suspect he did!).

For a good read, look up Captain Don Stewart on Wikipedia… a great story!

Texas Jack: Morgan Hawk’s Last Ride

A Western Adventure: Texas Jack Book 6

The Kansas/Missouri border was a dangerous place during the Civil War and in the years that followed. Kansas entered the Union as an anti-slavery State only months before the war started and was bordered by the Pro-slavery State of Missouri. ‘Border Ruffians’ like William Quantrill fought for the Confederacy while ‘Free Staters’ and ‘Jayhawkers’ fought for the Union. They were all guerrilla fighters led by men of often questionable morality. There was only some measure of legitimacy given to them by the Confederate and Union governments respectively because they claimed they were fighting for the same cause. The results on both sides was the same… people killed while towns were sacked and burned.

Continue reading Texas Jack: Morgan Hawk’s Last Ride

Texas Jack: The Ranger

The Ranger is the prequel to the novel Texas Jack!

This brand new adventure follows the story of a young man named Britt Logan who is a member of a wagon train on the way to Oregon in 1852. He and his parents are among just a few non-Mormons in a Mormon wagon train heading to the Salt Lake Valley. Their plan was to leave the train at the South Pass and head to Oregon with another train, but when Britt’s parents are killed by an influential member of the church, Britt finds himself on the run.

Continue reading Texas Jack: The Ranger

Underwater Photography

Back when I started diving… 50+ years ago, my primary interest other than exploring the undersea world was hunting. Spearfishing, lobster, abalone and scallop hunting were my main focus. As years went by I had visions of becoming a great underwater photographer. I’ve won a few awards for underwater photography over the years but back then it was a very difficult skill to master, which I never really did. I started with a Kodak Instamatic camera in a plastic box before moving up to a Nikonos camera and then 35 mm SLR cameras with large bulky housings. Strobe lights attached to the cameras made using them difficult to do sometimes and a complete underwater camera setup was an expensive investment.

Continue reading Underwater Photography

Catalina Goby

As the name suggests, the Catalina Goby (Lythrypnus dalli) lives around Santa Catalina Island. It’s about 1/2 – 3/4-inch-long and can be found among the crevasses of rocks down to about 75 meters. It’s considered a nano fish and lives in the west coast waters from California to Peru. They remain gender neutral until they establish dominance within the harem. The most dominant will then become male and grow a longer dorsal fin.

Texas Jack Rides Again…

Texas Jack rides again… and again… and one more time! Texas Jack, was originally released under Lizard Key books but last year I signed a contract with Outlaws Publishing to do five books under the Texas Jack story line. I’m sad to report that Outlaws has unexpectedly closed their operation. The closure came quickly and left not just myself, but several other authors without a publisher. No explanation was given but as of that time I was released from my contract. At the time, Texas Jack and Scalp Hunters, had been released in both paperback and Kindle versions. The week they closed down, The Bank Robbers, kindle version had been released.

The good news is, within a week of my contract release, I was signed by a division of ONCO Corporation, DUSTY SADDLE PUBLISHING. They have taken all three of the books, done new covers, and released the first two immediately. The Bank Robbers, the third book of the series has now also been released. So, as of now, all my western books will be released through AMAZON and DUSTY SADDLE PUBLISHING.

In addition, a boxed set of the first three books has now been released AND… the fourth book in the Texas Jack story line… ‘The Robber Baron’ is to be released very soon. Buy your box set now: Texas Jack Three-Book Series

All my other books, Lizard Key, Black Bart’s Treasure, Face the Lion and The Story of Rocky the Rodeo Pony are still available through AMAZON under LIZARD KEY PUBLISHING. I am currently working the third book in the Lizard Key series. 

COVID-19 has kept most of us indoors and close to home. It’s provided me with more time to read and write books… less time for fishing, hunting and golf, but things are slowly starting to open up and we’ve recently made a few fishing trips. We’re beginning to get outdoors a little more now although some restrictions and common sense apply… we hope things get better before hunting season!

We’re also updating the website to make it easier to access photos, prior newspaper stories, drink recipes, camping, fishing, diving and travels.

Stay safe.

Mark Marchetti