Paul Gacek's World


North Carolina Wreck Diving

Rainbow


2004 North Carolina Expedition



NORTH CAROLINA 2004 IS HERE ! !


This years North Carolina expedition continues the departure from the traditional two week stay in Hatteras and consists of one week each in Morehead City and Hatteras. After a "weatherful" trip from Connecticut including rain, fog, torrential downpours, thunder and lightning from New Jersey to North Carolina we arrive in Morehead City to find Mother Nature smiling sunnily but blowing away at twenty-five knots!

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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Island Birds This years adventure includes our usual house - Island Birds - located right on the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic Beach. Hopefully we won't be able to enjoy all the conveniences of the house because we'll be off diving every day! A visit to Discovery Diving confirms that all the boats have been doing "dock duty" but the forecast calls for flat seas for Sunday.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sunday morning dawns and Mother Nature has relented! We leave the dock and head south to the tanker Papoose which was torpedoed on March 16, 1942 by the U-124. After a few bumps leaving the inlet the seas settle down and we arrive at the site to find blue water, flat seas and no current! To get any flatter the ocean would have to freeze! Flat seas!
Lionfish on the Papoose Visibility is in excess of 100 ft! From the anchorline you can see the wreck on the bottom and from the bottom you can see the boat on the surface! Bait fish, sand tiger sharks and groupers patrol the wreck keeping an eye on the intruders. A spotted moray eel guards the anchor from a nearby pipe. Here we see the Pacific lionfish which has found a new home in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.
Conditions are so good that we stay for a second dive rather than risking disappointment elsewhere. Sand tiger sharks continue patroling the wreck. As we head to the bow we come across a freeswimming spotted moray eel who has abandoned the safety of his hole and is out and about exploring his surroundings Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Captain Jerry Smith Captain Jerry Smith after making a dive on the Papoose. And how was it? The smile says it all! Captain Jerry who has four years US Naval Service experience, has been a certified diver since 1982, and has been licensed by the US Coast Guard since 1984. Captain Jerry has worked on or around the water for over thirty years and brings this experience to work every day.
Our mate, Justin Merrell, displaying his underwater prowess with a grouper he speared while diving the wreck. Justin is an avid scuba diver and is a student at Eastern Carolina University who will be finishing his degree as soon as he decides on which of his many marine interests to major in! In addition to his many other activities Justin is also working on a captains license. Mate Justin Merrell

Monday, June 28, 2004

Two boilers on the Schurz Monday morning dawns and Mother Nature treats to a performance of rain and lightning. Ominous skies and rough seas greet us as we leave the inlet. As we head south to the Schurz, a German gunboat sunk in 1918 in a collision with the SS Florida, the skies brighten but the seas continue unabated. Once again you can see the boat on the surface from the bottom at 105 feet. Here we see two of the boilers on the Schurz.
Here a frogfish attempts to find a perch after having been rousted by a diver. The seas continue to rise to 5 feet and only half the group elects to make a second dive. We are treated to a long bumpy ride home as the wind continues to blow. Again the forecast calls for light winds and flat seas for tomorrow. Frogfish on the Schurz

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Steam engine on the Tamaulipas Tuesday morning dawns as a gray and ominous day but the seas are much calmer. We decide to head east to the tanker Tamaulipas which was torpedoed on April 10, 1942, by the U-552. Blue 77 degree water extends down to 100 feet (you can see the boat on the surface) but then we hit green 70 degree water with only 60 foot visibility. The rear of the stern section has fallen apart leaving this massive steam engine rising from the bottom.
The Tamaulipas broke in two when she was torpedoed and the two sections drifted about a half mile apart. Sand tiger sharks like the one pictured here silently patrol the wreck guarding it against intruders. What better way to celebrate your birthday than diving on such a magnificent wreck! A sand tiger shark patrols the wreck
The skeletal remains of the Atlas For a second dive we head west to the tanker Atlas which as torpedoed the day before, April 9, 1942, by the U-552. The sun makes an appearance and the seas flatten even more as we dive into 77 degree blue water. This time we hit the 72 degreen green water at 90 feet. Although visibility is only about 50 feet an enjoyable dive is had by all. Here we see the skeletal deck beams which were the structure of the Atlas.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Wednesday dawns windless with flat seas. We head south again to the wreck of the tanker Papoose. The 80 degree water at the surface drops to 73 degrees at the thermocline at 90 feet while the visibility drops from 100 feet to 60 feet. Here we see one of many sand tiger sharks patrolling across the bow of the Papoose. A sand tiger shark guards the bow of the Papoose
The rudder and prop shaft of the Papoose As the ship sank in 1942 she turned turtle and now lies at 120 feet. Swimming along the hull some 400 feet toward the stern we come across the large rudder turned hard to starboard and end of the propellor shaft. The large bronze propellor was previously salvaged.
For a second dive we head north to a brand new wreck, the Coast Guard buoy tender Spar which was sunk as an artificial reef just two weeks ago on June 17, 2004. The wreck sits upright on a sandy bottom 250 feet off the Aeolus and has already attracted a substantial fish population. Here we see the bow of the Spar as we descend the anchor line. The bow of the ice breaker Spar
The phantom toe nail painter strikes! The insidious effects of nitrogen narcosis are exhibited when the phantom toe nail painter strikes during the return run to Beaufort Inlet. While several divers are resting their eyeballs an unknown party strikes and paints the toenails of several recumbents! More at eleven!

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Thursday dawns windless and gray with flat seas. We head south to the wreck of the tanker Naeco (ocean spelled backward). The Naeco was torpedoed on March 23, 1942, by the German submarine U-124. We arrive at the wreck sight as two storm cells head at us from opposing directions. Nevertheless the visibility is a respectable 70 feet. Here we see the tell-tale steering quadrant of the Naeco. The tell-tale steering quadrant of the Naeco
The conning tower of the U-352 The sun makes a reappearance and the storm cells pass through. For a second dive we head north to the German submarine U-352. Built in 1941, the U-352 was depth charged and sunk by the USCG Icarus on May 9, 1942 - one of our early successes in the war against German U boats. The wreck rests on its starboard side in 110 feet of water. Here we see the conning tower reaching toward the surface.

Friday, July 2, 2004

Friday dawns windless and gray with flat seas once again. We head east to return to the wreck of the tanker Tamaulipas which we visited on Tuesday. Today we head to the bow section which lies upside down a short distance from the stern. The 80 degree blue water with 100 foot visibility decreases to 73 degree water with 70 foot visibility once we reach the top of the wreck at 120 feet. Here we see a sand tiger shark on patrol along with a large school of Atlantic spadefish. A sand tiger shark patrols the inverted hull of the Tamaulipas
Nick and Mark peer into the dark recesses of the bow As we swim along the hull toward the bow numerous areas come into view where the hull plates have fallen off. Time and Mother Nature take their toll on these impressive underwater structures. Here we see Nick and Mark peering into one of these openings.
The group gets together for a farewell portait at the dock with Captain and mate before heading off to dinner and the long drive back to Connecticut on Saturday. The Connecticut contingent gets together for a farewell picture

Saturday, July 3, 2004

North Carolina ferry Thomas A Baum By 7:30 AM everyone has departed and we begin the trek to Hatteras by returning the house keys to the realtor. Then its a one hour drive to Cedar Island where we board a ferry for a two hour and fifteen minute ride across Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke. From there we drive twenty minutes to the north end of the island for another thirty minute ferry ride to Hatteras. Here we see the ferry Thomas A Baum departing Hatteras.
The changes to Hatteras as a result of Isabels visit last fall range from nothing at all to complete buildings being gone, new bridges and new sections of road. Our residence of previous years now sits alone without its former neightbors. Most conspicuous is the new dune line which has been created to replace the old dunes which were obliterated by the storm. Here we see the bell from the ocean liner Proteus which was recently recovered by Outer Banks Diving. Bell from the Proteus

Sunday, July 4, 2004

The steering quadrant on the Proteus Sunday dawns sunny and calm so we head south on the Bayou Runner from Outer Banks Diving with Captain John Pieno to the liner Proteus which sank in a collision with the SS Cushing on August 19, 1918. As we near the wreck the skies darken and as we begin the dive it starts to rain. The 77 degree water at the surface drops to 73 degrees on the wreck. Visibility remains a dark 70 feet. Here we are in the stern looking up at the famous steering quadrant.
The rain stops and we head north to the tug Keshena which struck an allied mine on July 19, 1942. Visibility on the wreck is a more modest fifty feet but the bottom temperature is 75 degrees and during the dive the sun actually returns from its hiatus. Here we see the bow of the tug. The bow of the Keshena

Monday, July 5, 2004

Condenser and steam engine on the Dixie Arrow Monday dawns sunny and breezy so we head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed by the U-71 on March 26, 1942. When we reach the site the seas are running 2 to 3 feet, a current is running and visibility is only about 60 feet. As we descend the water temperature drops from 77 degrees to 73 degrees. Here we see the condenser and the large steam engine in the background.
Among the effects of Hurricane Isabel last fall was to remove about two feet of sand covering the wrecks. The result is that many previously covered items in the debris fieldare now exposed. Here we see a portion of the stern which had fallen upside down and which had the letters "X I E" of the name Dixie Arrow. Stern of the Dixie Arrow where letters were recovered
Letters D I X I E Here are the letters "D I X I E" from the stern of the Dixie Arrow as recovered by Outer Banks Diving. The final I and E were recovered today.
For a second dive we head north to the tanker FW Abrams - a sister ship of the Dixie Arrow - in an attempt to escape the conditions on the Dixie Arrow. The FW Abrams sank on June 11, 1942, when she strayed into an Allied mine field. Since the wreck is inshore visibility is only about 50 feet and the water temperature at the bottom is 75 degrees. Here we see the tell-tale gears which mark the engine of the FW Abrams. The engine of the FW Abrams

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Chain locker on the Dixie Arrow Tuesday dawns sunny and calm so we head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed by the U-71 on March 26, 1942. When we reach the site the seas are running 1 to 2 feet, a current is running and visibility is about 70 feet. Today we are anchored in the bow section which continues to deteriorate. Here we see the anchor chain locker.
For a second dive we head north to the tug Keshena which struck an allied mine on July 19, 1942. Visibility on the wreck is a more modest 60 feet but the bottom temperature is 75 degrees and the current is still running. Several large female sand tiger sharks are circling the wreck. Here we see the steering quadrant on the stern of the Keshena. Steering quadrant on the stern of the Keshena

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Spare propellor blade in the debris field Another sunny and calm day. Reports of currents of 2 knots on Diamond Shoals and 3 knots at the Monitor Sanctuary help make our decision to head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow aboard the Margie II with Captain Art Kirchner. When we reach the site the seas are 1 foot, a swift current is running and visibility is about 60 feet. The Gulf Stream is moving in because the water temperature is 82 degreees from top to bottom. Here we see a newly uncovered spare propellor blade in the sand on the starboard side of the wreck.
Since reports from other areas indicate the current is a widespread problem we decide to stay at the Dixie Arrow and enjoy the visibility. Although visibility is only about 50 feet on the second dive we have another opportunity to explore the newly uncovered debris field. Here we see a porthole backing plate in a newly uncovered hull plate. Porthole backing plate in the debris field
Chris Dillon and Art Kirchner After a day of good diving we head off to the Breakwater Restaurant for dinner. Here we see mate Art Dillon and Captain Art Kirchner.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Another flat and sunny day! Since initial reports are that three dive boats are headed to the British Splendour we head south to the liner Proteus. After a bumpy ride through the inlet the seas flatten and we smoothly sail south. The water temperature of 81 degrees continues all the way to the bottom. Visibility is a healthy 70 feet but the current continues. The annual July green algae bloom has started. Here we see a turtle checking out the intruders into his realm. Turtle on the Proteus
Art Kirchner performs his unique underwater ballet As an extra added attraction Captain Art Kirchner performs his own unique underwater ballet to entertain the decompressing divers. Note the latest in technical diving gear.
For a second dive we head north to the tanker FW Abrams. The water temperature of 82 degrees continues all the way to the wreck. Although visibility is only 50 feet an enjoyable dive is had by all. Here we see a diver examining the propellor shaft running from the FW Abrams steam engine. Diver examines the propellor shaft on the FW Abrams

Friday, July 9, 2004

The two boilers on the Keshena Another calm and sunny day! As we head south reports come in of rough water offshore so we head to the inshore wreck of the tug Keshena. The blue water is in and the water temperature is 81 degrees from top to bottom. Visibility is a healthy sixty feet and the wreck is visible as you descend the anchor line. Here we see the two boilers located amidships on the wreck.
For a second dive we head north to the freighter Nevada which stranded on Diamond Shoals on June 6, 1868. The water temperature is 79 degrees all the way to the wreck. Visibility is only 30 feet except for the last ten feet where it is only 10 feet. Since the vessel was wood hulled the wreck consists of a boiler, steam engine, prop shaft and propellor. Here we see the top of the steam engine which rises some 15 feet off the bottom. Steam engine on the Nevada

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Crankshaft on the British Splendour Yet another calm and sunny day! We head south for one dive on the tanker British Splendour which was torpedoed by the German submarine U-552 on April 6, 1942. The water temperature is 83 degrees on the surface and 78 degrees on the bottom. Visibility is a healthy sixty feet. The stern section has substantially collapsed since last years visit. Here we see the crankshaft of one of the diesel engines under the overturned hull.
As we surface from our extended dive a homeless remora circles the decompressing divers looking for a new host. Homeless remora looking for a new host
Treasure Cove Watersports divers gather for a farewell portrait All good things come to an end! Divers from Treasure Cove Watersports gather for a farewell portrait with captaain and crew prior to departing on the long drive home. Until next year!

Links of Interest

First Week


Seaquest II The Sea Quest II is a 47 ft. Neuville aluminum dive boat. The Captain is Jerry Smith who has four years US Naval Service experience, has been a certified diver since 1982, and has been licensed by the US Coast Guard since 1984. Click on the picture for more information.
Island Birds Island Birds is an oceanfront cottage in Atlantic Beach located just east of our 2002 house. 5 Bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 2 half bathrooms, 2 showers, maximum occupancy 13, 1 King, 2 Queens, 7 Twins, central heat/air conditioning, dishwasher, washer/dryer, TV, phone, oceanfront deck near fishing pier. Click on the picture for more information.
Shark Teeth Discovery Diving Company - Your World Class Warm Water Wreck Diving Headquarters, 414 Orange Street, Beaufort, NC 28516 (252) 728-2265. Our base of diving operations for the week. Click on the picture for more information.
Cape Lookout Data Station CLKN7 Station - Cape Lookout, NC. The National Data Buoy Center provides real time meteorological and oceanographic data. Click on the picture for more information.

Current Weather Conditions at Morehead City, NC



Click here for North Carolina Local Doppler Radar


Second Week


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. Captain Art has been diving for the past thirty years. He is a veteran of the Andrea Doria, the Civil War ironclad Monitor, the Bianca C and many other shipwrecks. Click on the image to go to the Captain Art's Atlantic Wreck Diving web page.
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.
Diamond Shoals Data Buoy Diamond Shoals Data Buoy. The National Data Buoy Center provides real time meteorological and oceanographic data. Click on the picture for more information.


Current Weather Conditions at Hatteras, NC


Click here for North Carolina Local Doppler Radar


Rainbow

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Last modified on Saturday, July 10, 2004 19:10:58