Paul Gacek's World

 North Carolina 2001


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Welcome to North Carolina 2001!

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The annual pilgrimage to North Carolina is here! Each June since 1987 I have headed south to the Ocracoke/Hatteras area of the Outer Banks to experience some of the worlds finest warm water wreck diving! Once again this year, June can't get here soon enough!
Bodie Island Lighthouse After driving past the Bodie Island Light Station every year since 1987 (some years more than once!), I finally made a long overdue stop to visit in 2000!! 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.
Having passed the remanants of Allyson in Norfolk Virginia on the way to the Outer Banks, we find that Point II has survived the vicissitudes of another winter. Although there has been some beach erosion since last year the house is ready to serve again as our base of operations. Here some members of the group enjoy the panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. Point II 2001
Captain Art  "The Legend" Kirchner Captain Art "The Legend" Kirchner eagerly awaits our arrival in Hatteras. 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.
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! Here he enjoys a "brief" moments rest from his duties. Eddie "Silver" Marzocchi
Sunday June 17, 2001

Shark on British Splendour Sunday dawns as a gray and overcast day but the forecast calls for reasonable conditions so we head south the the British Splendour - a tanker torpedoed in 1942. A surface temperature of 77 degrees, bottom temperature of 73 degrees and 50 foot visibility make for an enjoyable dive. A sand tiger shark swims over a piece of wreck to greet the diver.
For a second dive we head east to the Dixie Arrow - another tanker torpedoed in 1942. The flat surface conditions continue and we find a surface temperature of 77 degrees, a bottom temperature of 75 degrees and 40 foot visibility. A diver swims toward the stern of the Dixie Arrow - visible are the rudder and one blade of the propellor. Stern of the Dixie Arrow
Hatteras Sunset A great day of diving, a good meal with friends culminates in a brilliant Hatteras sunset. What more could one ask for?
Monday June 18, 2001

Turtle on Proteus Monday dawns as a sunny day but the forecast calls for soso conditions so we head south to the Proteus - a liner sunk in a collision in 1918. A surface temperature of 77 degrees, bottom temperature of 73 degrees and 60 foot visibility make for an enjoyable dive. A turtle, hiding in the stern section of the wreck near the nineteen foot wide propellor makes his escape from the diving intruder.
For a second dive we head north to the Keshena - an ocean tug which ran afoul of an Allied minefield in 1942. Since the wreck is an inshore wreck, visibility tends to be somewhat less than on the other wrecks. Here we find a surface temperature of 77 degrees, a bottom temperature of 75 degrees and 30 foot visibility. A portion of the stern section is intact and can be seen here with the steering quadrant. Stern of the Keshena
Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Condenser on the Australia Tuesday is another sunny day so we decide to try our luck to the east - on Diamond Shoals. We do our first dive on the Australia - a tanker torpedoed on 1942. Although surface conditions are excellent, visibility on the wreck is only about 25 feet. Here we see one of the condenser structures lying just forward of the stern.
For a second dive, we head west to the Hesperides - a freighter which foundered on the shoals in 1897 during a heavy fog. Although the water temperature is 77 degrees, visibility is a disappointing 20 feet. Here we see a wheel lying next to the steam engine. Our future plans are to return to the south to good visibility. Wheel on the Hesperides

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Steering Quadrant on the Proteus Another sunny day so we decide to head to the tried and true south - the liner Proteus. Surface conditions are flat, the water is a bright blue, surface temperature is 80 degrees and visibility on the wreck is 75 feet. Sharks and fish life abound. Here we see the steering quadrant atop the stern section of the Proteus.
For a second dive, we return north to the Dixie Arrow. Although surface conditions are similar to the Proteus, visibility is a more modest 50 feet. Here we see a large sand tiger shark swimming at us from between the boilers. A storm cell on the horizon sends us scurrying back to Hatteras Inlet. Tiger Shark on the Dixie Arrow
Thursday, June 21, 2001

Steering Quadrant on the Proteus "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". We decide to do a repeat of the Proteus and Dixie Arrow. Surface conditions are flat, the water is a bright blue, surface temperature is 80 degrees and visibility on the wreck is 60 feet. Sharks and fish life abound. Here we see a sand tiger shark swimming in front of the propellor and rudder on the stern section of the Proteus.
For a second dive, we again return north to the Dixie Arrow. Although surface conditions are similar to the Proteus, visibility is a more modest 40 feet. Here we have a large turtle swimming up to check us out. Turtle on the Dixie Arrow
Friday, June 22, 2001

Diver on the stern of the Manuela A dark and foreboding morning but we decide to visit an old favorite anyway - the Manuela - a freighter torpedoed on June of 1942. We pass through a rain squall on our way and arrive at the Manuela where we find green water and a good current running. Although visibility on the wreck is only 40 - 50 feet we have an enjoyable dive and challenging hang! Here we see a diver peering into the stern section.
Members of the Delaware Underwater Swim Club gather for a group picture at the dock to commemorate the exceptional "six days out of six days" dive week. Here's hoping for the same for next year! Members of the Delaware Underwater Swim Club
Saturday, June 23, 2001

A day of rest! Saturday dawns windy and dark - thunderstorms result in several power outages - the weather forecast has a small craft advisory! 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 24, 2001

Sunday dawns dark and wet - although sea conditions have subsided somewhat, charter boats offshore report that "it's not pretty". Downpours reduce visibility to almost nothing. After delaying our departure until 10:00 am without any improvement, we decide to hang it up for the day and wait until tomorrow when conditions should be back to normal. A dreadful day at the beach!

Monday, June 25, 2001

Atlantic manta ray on the British Splendour A calm and sunny morning so we wend our way south to the tanker British Splendour, torpedoed on April 7, 1942 by the U-552. A bottom temperature of 77 degrees and 40 foot visibility make for an enjoyable dive. At the end of a forty minute dive an eight foot Atlantic manta makes his appearance at the stern of the wreck and continues to pose for an additional ten minutes.
For a second dive we head north to the tanker F.W. Abrams which ran afoul of an Allied minefield on June 11, 1942. The green water is definitely in with the wind and current running in opposite directions makes for an interesting dive. Although the bottom temperature is a healthy 77 degrees, visibility is only about twenty feet. Here Atlantic spadefish swim past the gear atop the Abrams engine. Spadefish on the F.W. Abrams engine

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Windlass on the Proteus Another calm and sunny morning so we head south to the liner Proteus which sank as a result of a collision on August 19, 1918. Bright blue water extends down to about 95 feet below which green water has made inroads since our dives last week. Visibility is about 45 feet. Here we see one of the deck windlasses in the foreward portion of the wreck.
For a second dive we head north to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed on March 26, 1942 by the U-71. Although surface conditions are ideal, the green water is definitely in on this week - visibility is only about 25 feet. Nevertheless the variety of marinelife provides for an interesting dive. Here a curious amberjack poses for a picture. Amberjack on the Dixie Arrow

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Schooling fish on the British Splendour Another calm and sunny morning so we head south to the liner Proteus. En route we hear from a headboat that the current is running on the Tarpon so we detour to the British Splendour. The ocean is as flat as glass, there is little or no current and visibility is a respectable 40 feet. Here we see a school of baitfish obliterating the view of the hull.
For a second dive we head northeast to the tanker Dixie Arrow. The blue water is again back on the wreck and extends all the way to the bottom. Visibility is a healthy 40 feet with a bottom temperature of 77 degrees. Schools of amberjacks and spadefish cover the wreck. Here a sand tiger shark swims past the massive steam engine. Sand Tiger Shark on the Dixie Arrow

Thursday, June 28, 2001

Condensor on the freighter Manuela Yet another calm and sunny morning so we head south to the freighter Manuela which was torpedoed on June 25, 1942 by the U-404. Flat seas and blue water greet us at the site. Water temperature on the surface is a balmy 81 degrees while the water temperature at the bottom (155 feet) is 76 degrees. Here we see one of the Manuelas condensors lying amidships.
Friday, June 29, 2001

Yet another calm and sunny morning so we head south to the freighter Manuela. What better way to spend your birthday than on a great wreck dive? Flat seas and 81 degree blue water which extends down to 110 feet greet us at the site. Large schools of fish and sand tiger sharks patrol the wreck.Here we see the remains of the Manuela's pilot house which lies upside down in the sand. Remains of wheelhouse on the freighter Manuela

FCDA members gather for a group picture Another week has come and gone as members of the Fairfield County Diving Association gather at the dock for a group picture before embarking on the 570 mile journey home. Everyone is tired after diving five out of six days. But after all, that's what we come here for! To be continued again - next year!

Area Links of Interest

Margie II Captain Art's Atlantic Wreck Diving
The Margie II, under the command of Captain Art Kirchner, offers dive charters out of Teach's Lair Marina in Hatteras Village, NC. Click on the image to go to the Captain Art's Atlantic Wreck Diving webpage.
Outer Banks Diving Outer Banks Diving, P.O. Box 453, Hatteras, NC 27943 (252) 986-1056. Captain John and Amy Pieno run the dive shop located at 57540 Highway 12 in Hatteras Village. Full service dive center within walking distance of area restaurants, hotels and businesses. Rentals, air, nitrox, repairs, instruction and underwater camera rentals available.



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Last modified on Friday, June 29, 2001 18:05:58