A familiar face to many Lake Erie divers, Sam Genco is a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Captain and acts as Captain/Mate on Osprey Charters out of Barcelona, New York.  Sam is a member of the Chautauqua County Water Rescue Team and an Ice/Cold Water Rescue Instructor. 

He has been scuba diving since 1982, but more notably has been freediving Lake Erie shipwrecks deeper than many divers have ventured on scuba.  As a driving force behind the project to raise the Sea Lion, Sam has already put in countless hours towards her raising and restoration.  Many more lie ahead.  Sam’s presentation will take us back to her beginnings, with her building, sailing, sinking, raising and restoration to date. 

The Sea Lion Comes Back To Life


The Sea Lion is a reproduction of a late sixteenth century British three-masted, square-rigged sailing vessel, faithfully built in the same manner as actual ships of the time.  This multi-year, multi-person effort was spearheaded by Ernest Cowan of Maryville, NY, and culminated in its official commissioning on Chautauqua Lake in 1985.  Area residents, businesses, and foundations contributed nearly all of the materials, labour, and funds for the project.


The ship was sold in 1992 to the Buffalo Maritime Society, transported overland to Barcelona, NY, and then towed to Buffalo, NY, where it operated until it sank at its moorings in 1999. 

In a totally volunteer effort, local divers and other concerned citizens raised the ship in 2000 and towed her back to Barcelona, with the intent of restoring her to her former glory for the public’s benefit and enjoyment.  The ship will be drydocked while being restored, but the goal is to have her sail again.

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