Paul Gacek's World


North Carolina 1999

 Rainbow

Welcome to North Carolina 1999!

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The annual pilgrimage to North Carolina has begun! Friday's drive down was tiring. Saturday turned out much better. Arrived safe and sound - the house is still here; the boat is still here and Captain Art is still here!!.
 Point II Point II on Highway 12 in Hatteras, North Carolina, forms the base of operations for this year's adventure. If this house were any more oceanfront, it would be a houseboat!!
June 13 - Dive 1 - Although the forecast calls for fifteen knot winds and four foot seas, we head out Hatteras Inlet. Its as flat as a pond! Off we go to the tanker British Splendour. Although surface visibility looks promising visibility on the wreck is only about 20 feet. The bottom temperature is a balmy 77 degrees - just like New England! Mother nature has taken its toll on the stern section. The engine room torpedo hole is now a tight squeeze as the stern section begins to collapse. Here a lone sand tiger shark patrols the interior of the wreck.  Sand tiger shark
 Surface conditions The ideal surface conditions as we head to our second dive site. The four foot seas never materialized! It should always be this rough!
Our dive boat, the Margie II operated by Captain Art "The Legend" Kirchner, has all the amenities any diver could want. Here Pete Civitarese enjoys the luxurious accommodations on the Lido Deck.  Pete Civitarese on the Lido Deck
 Dixie Arrow anchor chain June 13 - Dive 2 - A visit to the tanker Dixie Arrow brings only fifteen to twenty foot visibility, 76 degrees on the bottom and 77 degrees on the surface. Time is taking its toll on the bow section - the bulkhead skeletons at the rear of the bow section have now all collapsed giving the bow section a lower profile. Here the anchor chain is piled in the remains of the chain locker.
June 14 - Dive 1 - Although the forecast again calls for fifteen knot winds and four foot seas, again its as flat as a pond! We head south to the liner Proteus. Although surface visibility looks promising visibility on the wreck is down to 40 feet. The bottom temperature is a balmy 77 degrees. The stern section is teeming with sand tiger sharks. Here a sand tiger shark patrols the stern with a coterie of smaller fish.  Sand tiger shark on the Proteus
 Trigger fish on the Keshena June 14 Dive 2 - Moving inshore we visit the tug Keshena. With a bottom temperature of 77 degrees and visibility of twenty feet, the wreck is teeming with bait fish. Here a curious trigger fish checks out the intruders into the aquatic realm.
June 15 - Dive 1 - The forecast again calls for fifteen knot winds, four foot seas and now afternoon thunderstorms. Having been caught last year during a thunderstorm, we head south to the tanker FW ABRAMS for one dive. Visibility on the wreck is about 40 feet and the bottom temperature is a balmy 77 degrees. My video camera floods bigtime so instead of an underwater shot here is our fearless Captain Art, waiting to please!  Captain Art Kirchner
 Cape Hatteras Light Station relocation June 16 - No Dive - The weather forecast is again uninspiring but the radio calls from a local captain at the sea buoy advising other boats to turn around are enough to make us devote the day to visiting the Cape Hatteras Light Station which is in the process of being moved. Click on the image for more pictures.
June 17 - No Dive - The forecast calls for fifteen to twenty knot winds, five foot seas, rain and thunderstorms. Following the adage that "There are old divers and there are bold divers but there are no old bold divers", Mark Wetzel opts for a day at leisure.  Mark Wetzel relaxing
 Parting shot of first week's group June 18 - No Dive - The weather forecast calls for 20 to 25 knot winds from the northeast and small craft advisories have been issued for both the sound and the ocean! The group gathers for a parting shot at the Margie II with Captain Art and Mate Eddie before unloading their gear and heading for home.
June 19 - A day of rest - While members of the Delaware Underwater Swim Club wend their ways homeward, divers from the Fairfield County Diving Association start arriving for another week of wreck diving adventures on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A sand castle built by some children on the beach in front of Point II.  Sand Castle
 Rotten weather over Durant Station June 20 - No Dive - Another day of rotten weather marks the last day of spring in Hatteras, NC. A stationary front along the entire eastern seaboard produces torrential downpours and thunderstorms. Hopefully the first day of summer will bring a return to more reasonable weather!
June 21 - No Dive! - The first day of summer and Mother Nature continues to play with us. The stationary front hangs offshore right over the wrecks. As we leave the inlet, conditions worsen. A LORAN tower stops transmitting, the seas reach 4 to 5 feet and a squall blows up as we arrive at the site of the FW Abrams. Rather than tempt fate, we return to the dock.  Ominous sky
 Cape Hatteras Light Station on the move June 22 - No Dive! - The stationary front along the entire eastern seaboard refuses to give up! Inshore conditions are fine but as soon as you get offshore to where the wrecks are you get 20 knot winds out of the northeast and 4 - 5 foot seas. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a much needed change in the weather! On a brighter note, the Cape Hatteras Light Station has now progressed about 150 feet on its journey of 2900 feet to its new location.
June 23 - Dive 1 - We finally get to go diving! Inshore conditions are fine but the northeast wind whips up the ocean into 4 - 5 foot swells by the time we get 19 miles south of Hatteras Inlet to the tanker Dixie Arrow. A swift surface current disappears as we descend below twenty feet into the 78 degree water. Visibility is only about twenty five feet but the wreck teems with barracuda, stingrays and jacks. A quick tour of the wreck in a fifty-five minute dive passes all too quickly. A curious turtle swims by at the end of the dive and returns for a closer look! The surface conditions have not improved and the surface current has not abated so we decide to call it a day and return to the dock.  Turtle on Dixie Arrow

 Head of Turtle on Dixie Arrow
Proteus stern section June 24 - Dive 1 - Mother Nature finally cooperates! We head south to the Proteus on calm seas. As I jump into the 80 degree bright blue water the wreck looms into view from forty feet - visibility on the bottom is 75 feet. I quickly head for the stern with its massive propellor, rudder and steering quadrant. Sand tiger sharks slowly patrol the stern along with schools of jacks and baitfish. This is North Carolina wreck diving at its best!
June 24 - Dive 2 - For a second dive we head north to the tanker FW Abrams. The water temperature is 77 degrees with visibility of about twenty five feet on the bottom. A large stingray with his coterie of cobia and remoras rests beside the wreck. I head to the remains of the machine shop near the engine and excavate an assortment of brass nuts, studs and fittings.  Stingray on FW Abrams
 Manuela condensor June 25 - Dive 1 - A picture perfect day as we head out of Hatteras Inlet 34 miles south to the freighter Manuela. The bright blue water at the surface is 83 degrees with a thermocline at about a hundred feet where the temperature drops to 76 degrees. Although visibility is only about 45 feet a quick tour of the wreck reveals no major changes since last year.
June 26 - Another week has come and gone as we gather at the dock for a group picture before embarking on the 570 mile journey home. To be continued - next year!  Members of the FCDA

 Rainbow

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Last modified on Sunday, June 27, 1999 19:35:58