Paul Gacek's World


2000 North Carolina Expedition



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Welcome to North Carolina 2000!

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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!!
 Bodie Island Lighthouse After driving past the Bodie Island Light Station every year since 1987 (some years more than once!), I finally make a long overdue stop to visit!! The current lighthouse (the third in a series) was erected in 1872 and rises 150 feet. The current Bodie Island Lighthouse was built in the model of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, except for having an exposed granite base.
Disagreements over the location delayed the building of the first lighthouse for ten years. After one year, one side was a foot lower than the other causing the lamp to stop functioning; attempts to prop up the lighthouse were unsuccessful. So, in 1859 a 90-foot-high brick tower was built as a new Bodie Island Lighthouse. In 1861, Confederate troops slipped into the lighthouse and blew it up.  Lighthouse plaque
 Captain Art marshalling his resources! Captain Art has been diving for the past twenty-nine years. He is a veteran of the Andrea Doria, the Civil War ironclad Monitor, the Bianca C and many other shipwrecks. Here Captain Art is marshaling his resources to give us the finest Hatteras wreck diving experience.
To send mail to Captain Art, click here: Captain Art
Mate Eddie "Silver" returns each year from Long Island to mate under the watchful eye of Captain Art aboard the Margie II. Eddie tries to make each days diving experience an enjoyable and memorable one for the passengers. Thanks Eddie!   Mate Eddie "Silver"

Sunday, June 18, 2000


 The first class lounge. George Lock and Dan Blackwell relax in the luxurious first class lounge on board the Margie II as we wend our way out of Hatteras Inlet on our first diving adventure. The forecast is not promising - 20 knot winds are predicted. Radio reports from local fisherman tell of worsening conditions offshore and several boats are returning to port. We decide to turn back to dive again another day.
Our fearless Captain Art as we head out before receiving the offshore reports. The old adage of "There are old divers and there are bold divers but there are no old, bold divers" comes to mind. After years of diving, the thrill of getting beaten up again just isn't there anymore. We'll be back again tomorrow to try again! That's life in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic"!  Smiling Captain Art!

Monday, June 19, 2000


 The Hatteras Angels depart for the Lighthouse. Hatteras Angels Roseanne Kroeber, Dan Blackwell and Linda And Joe Racz prepare to depart for a ten mile ride to the Cape Hatteras Light Station. The forecast is again not promising - 20 knot winds are predicted. Captain Art growls "We're not going anywhere!", rolls over and goes back to sleep. Oh well, there's always tomorrow!
I head off to the Hatteras ferry to visit Ocracoke Village - a half hour ferry ride and fifteen minute drive from Hatteras Village. The Ocracoke Light Station, measuring sixty-five feet from the ground to the center of the light, was completed in 1823 and is still in service, making it the oldest operating light station on the North Carolina Coast. In previous years, we stayed at Cottage Station directly across the street from the light station.  Ocracoke Light Station

Tuesday, June 20, 2000


 Sand Tiger and diver on the Dixie Arrow. After severe thunderstorms Monday night, Tuesday begins as a gray dreary day but with NO WIND! We head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed in 1942 and lies in 90 feet of salt water (fsw). Visibility is a respectable fifty feet with a bottom temperature of 77 degrees. The wreck is teeming with marine life. Here a sand tiger shark glides past a distracted diver.
For a second dive we head to the tanker FW which also sank in 1942 due straying into an Allied mine field and lies in 80 fsw. Although visibility is only about thirty feet the wreck is home to several curious barracuda one of which tries to stare down the camera here. As I surface from my dive, the sun finally emerges to provide a fine end to the day.  Barracuda on the FW .

Wednesday, June 21, 2000


 Spadefish on the Kassandra. Another gray dreary day as we head east to the torpedoed freighter Kassandra on Diamond Shoals. Rough conditions on the surface and a strong current all the way to the bottom at 70 fsw make for an interesting hang and reentry into the boat. Here we see a school of Atlantic spade fish swimming past the load of general cargo.
On the way back to Hatteras, we stop at the streamer Nevada AKA Unis AKA Urn Wreck which foundered in 1868. This wreck is known as a "digging wreck" since the wooden hull has long since collapsed and the ships cargo is buried under sand. A few divers make a second dive before Dan "Scooter Boy" Blackwell reduces visibility to zero. Here we see the famous Captain Art getting ready to dive to retrieve the anchor.  Captain Art getting ready to pull the hook.

Thursday, June 22, 2000


 The lucky recipients of Captain Art's largesse. A beautiful day with the winds forecast for 15 to 20 knots and already blowing 22 knots when we get up. We see the local fishing boats coming back into the marina. The captain has installed a new prop and we get taken for a FREE test drive. The project is a great success - the Margie II's cruising speed increases from 14 to 16 knots! Here are the lucky recipients of Captain Art's largesse!
On the way back to the house, we stop at the future site for the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum which is slated to open in 2002. After years of talking and fund raising, construction has actually started. The museum is slated to be a repository for artifacts and history of the area's submerged cultural resources.  Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum construction site.
 There's a house coming down the road! A cry rings through the Point II - "There's a house coming down the road!". Sure enough, when everyone rushes out to the road, there's a house preceded by the Sheriff's Department, a utility truck and a pay loader to remove roadside signs and followed by a host of other vehicles! The house spans both lanes of Highway 12. Here's a shot of the house as it passes our trash can!
Later in the day we hear of a local fishing boat which did attempt to go out Hatteras Inlet in the morning. A rogue wave managed to do considerable damage to the Reliance. Here we see the Reliance awaiting repairs in a boat yard in Buxton, NC. Discretion is the better part of valor!  Reliance vs Hatteras Inlet.

Friday, June 23, 2000


 The happy adventurers from week one. A day of leisure. The day dawns gray and relatively windless - perhaps today will be the day for some diving. We motor south to the passenger-freighter Proteus. As we head further offshore, conditions prompt us to stop at the Dixie Arrow. As Eddie the mate jumps in to set the anchor, it appears that there might be some current. Although he had planned to make a dive, his early return leads us to suspect something is afoot. He reports that there is a raging current all the way to the bottom requiring you to pull yourself hand over hand down the anchor line and that visibility on the bottom is only about ten feet. We decide to head inshore since the current further offshore will likely be worse. We arrive at the tug Keshena and find the same current. Back to the dock! Here the happy adventurers from week one gather at the dock for a final portrait.

Saturday, June 24, 2000


 A day of leisure. Saturday dawns sunny and windless - it's the best day of the past week! 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. Hopefully Mother Nature will give us a break this coming week!

Sunday, June 25, 2000


 Large swell on the Keshena. Saturday's beautiful conditions are off for the rest of the weekend! We set out to pound our way to the Proteus. After an hour and a half of steadily worsening conditions the diehards among us opt for a quick dive on the tug Keshena since we have another hour of pounding to go to get to the Proteus. Four to five foot seas with occasional larger waves make exiting the water a challenge. After recovering everyone, we head back to Hatteras viewing the helicopter evacuation of another diver from a dive boat in the distance. All in all, a better day for the beach than for diving.

Monday, June 26, 2000


 Cape Hatteras Light Station. The winds are already blowing 17 knots when we get up. Captain Art checks with boats that are heading offshore and the report is that it's more of yesterday and scheduled to get worse. This provides us with an opportunity to visit the relocated Cape Hatteras Light Station. When built in 1873, the light station was 1700 feet from the ocean. By 1999 beach erosion had reduced that distance to 100 feet. In June and July of 1999, the light station was moved 2900 feet to the southwest so that it would again be 1700 feet from the ocean.
Here our motley crew mugs for the camera after climbing all 258 steps to the top of the 203 foot light station (left to right, Doug Kitchen, Nick Ricciardelli, Mel Rich Jr., Paul Gacek, Dave Rieger, Mike Curley and Jim Anderson). The observation deck at the top provides a panoramic view of the area west to Hatteras and north to Avon.  The motley crew atop the Cape Hatteras Light Station.
 Light Station move path and new entrance. The view from the observation deck atop the light station in its new location. The new visitor center is located at the lower left of the picture while the dark area in the center is the new parking lot. The white area in the center of the picture is the 2900 foot path cleared to move the light station from its former location at the very top of the picture. After recovering from the ascent we climb down all 258 steps hoping that tomorrow we may actually get to go diving!

Tuesday, June 27, 2000


 Small Craft Advisory. The small craft advisory in effect says it all. Captain Art checks with boats that are heading offshore and the report is that it's more of yesterday again. The gang has breakfast and then wanders off - one pair goes crabbing, another goes beaching, some visit Ocracoke and some go shopping. Here we see the breakers and whitecaps from our deck. Shades of 1994 when the boat didn't leave the dock for seven days!

Wednesday, June 28, 2000


 The Kinnakeet bound for Ocracoke Island. The small craft advisory is still in effect. Captain Art checks with boats that are heading offshore and the report is that it's not a pretty picture. The gang wanders off while Nick Ricciardelli and I make the pilgrimage to Ocracoke - a forty minute ferry ride and a fifteen minute drive. Here we see the M/V Kinnakeet bound for Ocracoke Island.
The state of North Carolina maintains a ferry transportation system a large part of which is free including the ride between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. Here Nick manages to find a special vantage point from which to observe the action. Obviously the sign is not applicable to divers.  No admittance Nick.
 British Cemetery on Ocracoke Island. The British Cemetery on Ocracoke Island contains the remains of four British seamen from the HMS Bedfordshire - a converted armed trawler - which was on patrol out of Morehead City, NC and was torpedoed on May 12, 1942. Two days later on May 14, two bodies which were identified as crew members of the Bedfordshire washed ashore on Ocracoke Island. These were interred along with two other unidentified bodies in a plot which was subsequently deeded to the British government.

Thursday, June 29, 2000


 The North Carolina 2000 group  shot. The small craft advisory is still in effect. The winds are already blowing 26 knots at the Diamond Shoals Light Station and it's supposed to get worse! The gang gathers at the boat for the annual group shot (non-divers of 2000!) before sadly loading the dive gear into their vehicles.
Even though the forecast for Friday is the best in the past two weeks (10 to 15 knot winds and three foot seas) the bulk of the group decides to depart for Connecticut ahead of the holiday weekend traffic leaving me to hold the fort by myself. Here the caravan departs Point II on its 570 mile journey back to the Nutmeg state.  The caravan to Connecticut.
 The cold front passes! The promised cold front passes through Hatteras at about three o'clock with a sudden temperature drop, shift in wind direction, thunder, lightning and torrential rain. In between power outages, I work on this page. Here we are looking south toward Hatteras Inlet just before everything hits the proverbial fan. Oh well, there's still tomorrow!

Friday, June 30, 2000


 Sand Tiger Shark patrolling the Proteus. Friday dawns sunny and windless! This is finally the day! We set out for the Manuela about 32 miles south of Hatteras Inlet. The wind and sea remain calm until we get within ten miles of the wreck and then it starts to blow! Plan 37B is to head for the Proteus which is only three miles away to get in a dive. Although the surface is lumpy, there is no current as I jump into the 82 degree blue water. Here a sand tiger shark silently patrols the wreck.
Visibility is easily 75 feet (to match the bottom temperature which is also 75 degrees!). Several sand tiger sharks swim stealthily around the wreck along with large schools of bait fish. Here we look toward the stern of the Proteus at the huge propeller, rudder and steering quadrant. Since my first dive here in 1984 the stern section has been slowly collapsing toward to the sand. After forty minutes its time to start the long journey toward the surface.  The stern of the Proteus.
 The moment Captain Art has been waiting for! The traditional Friday group shot is a bit light since the entire group is the Captain and myself! Here Captain Art accepts the none too large check for the weeks attempts at diving. I suppose there wouldn't be so many shipwrecks here if the weather was perfect all the time!
A gorgeous sunset over Hatteras Village marks the end of the week's interesting weather! The forcast for the weekend calls for variable 10 knot winds and 2 foot seas! Clearly a case of "You should have been here next week!" Its time to depart until next year's adventure in the Graveyard of the Atlantic!  Sunset over Hatteras.


Current Weather Conditions at Hatteras, NC

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Last modified on Tuesday, July 4, 2000 17:00:58