Paul Gacek's World


North Carolina Wreck Diving

Rainbow


2005 North Carolina Expedition



NORTH CAROLINA 2005 IS HERE ! !


This years North Carolina expedition continues the traditional one week stay in Morehead City and a one week stay in Hatteras. After a fun trip from Connecticut including gridlock Friday afternoon in New York City we arrive in Morehead City to find Mother Nature throwing a temper tantrum including wind and rain.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

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 the weather has been flakey but that the front is expected to move through tonight.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sunday morning dawns and Mother Nature is still misbehaving! A southeast swell and grey skies greet us as we pound our way to the tanker Papoose which was torpedoed on March 16, 1942 by the U-124. We jump in to find 76 degree blue water at the bottom and visibility in excess of seventy feet! Here we see the stern of the Papoose with its large rudder hanging and the missing propeller - a victim of salvors! Paoose stern
Bow of the Papoose Rather than risk disappointment at another site we decide to stay on the Papoose for a second dive. Sand tiger sharks continue patrolling the wreck. Although visibility has dropped to sixty feet the water remains clear and blue. Here we see the remains of the bow with a large Navy anchor hanging upside down.
Captain Jerry Smith skillfully pilots the Sea Quest II back to Beaufort. 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. Captain Jerry Smith
Mate Justin Merrell Our mate, Justin Merrell, relaxing after a strenuous day of mating. Justin is an avid scuba diver and is a student at Eastern Carolina University who will be finishing his degree in Physical Education and Business in order to pursue a career in the diving industry. In addition to his many other activities Justin is also working on a captains license.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Monday morning dawns with Mother Nature on much better behavior. We head south 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 of the U-352 looming from the hull. Conning tower of the U-352
Turtle on the Schurz The day turns into a beautiful sunny day and for a second dive we head north to the Schurz, a German gunboat seized by the United States during World War I, converted to our use and sunk in 1918 in a collision with the SS Florida. The wreck lies in 110 feet of blue 76 degree water. Here a friendly turtle awaits the arrival of fish to clean his shell.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tuesday morning dawns with gray skies. We head south to the tanker Cassimir which was sunk in a collision with the steamship Lara on February 26, 1942. The wreck rests in 120 feet of water and generally broken up with a small portion of the bow and stern relatively intact. Visibility is a respectable 60 feet. Here we see the bow section of the Cassimir pointing skyward with its two anchors hanging down. Conning tower of the U-352
Turtle on the Schurz We stay for a second dive to further explore the wreck. Due to the distance from Morehead City this wreck is not visited that often. Large schools of fish inhabit the wreck including large groupers not seen as often on more visited wrecks. Here we see a large school of bait fish partially obliterating the view of the wreck.
While historical artifact recovery is minimal we do manage to recover some tasty culinary artifacts! The spiny lobster and slipper lobsters you see here were delicious!. Conning tower of the U-352

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Stern of the Atlas After a night of torrential downpours we lump our way east under gray skies and rain to the tanker Atlas which was torpedoed by the U-552 on April 9, 1942. The wreck is in green water with 10 foot visibility at the surface opening to 50 feet at the bottom at 120 feet. Here we see the remains of the rudder and steering quadrant at the stern of the wreck.
For a second dive we head in to the freighter Caribsea which was torpedoed by the U-159 on March 11, 1942. The wreck lies in 90 feet of water and is once again in green water with a turbid layer at the surface, fairly respectable visibility of 40 feet all the way down to the last ten feet. Here we see the massive steam engine rising above the muck at the bottom. Engine on the Caribsea
Sharks on the Caribe Sea Cruising the wreck about twenty feet above the bottom are 25 to 30 sand tiger sharks of varying sizes. Since they are not feeding (at the moment) schools of bait fish surround the sharks for protection against predators. Her we see two healthy specimens one of which bears a scar - perhaps from and amorous interlude!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

An overcast day but with flat seas finds us heading south to the tanker Naeco (Ocean spelled backward) which was torpedoed by the U-124 on March 23, 1942. The wreck lies in 140 feet of blue 78 degree water except for the last thirty feet which are greenish and 72 degrees today. Here we see the signature steering quadrant in the stern of the wreck. Steering quadrant on the Naeco
Lionfish on the Naeco Among the abundant marines life on the wreck which includes sand tiger sharks, groupers, lobsters, jacks and numerous schools of bait fish is the Pacific lionfish which was introduced to the North Atlantic by unknown circumstances and has now begun to thrive in North Carolina waters. Here we see a lionfish patrolling the wreck.
For a second dive we head north to the Schurz, a German gunboat seized by the United States during World War I, converted to our use and sunk in 1918 in a collision with the SS Florida. The sun finally makes its return and considerably brightens the underwater panorama. Here we see the steering quadrant located in the stern of the Schurz. Steering quadrant on the Schurz

Friday, July 1, 2005

Diver swimming past the bow of the Tamaulipas. For our last hurrah we head we head east to the bow of the tanker Tamaulipas torpedoed by the U-552 on April 10, 1942 the day after torpedoing the Atlas. This section lies upside down in 155 feet of water. Visibility is a respectable seventy feet and the bottom temperature is 75 degrees. A large number of sand tiger sharks patrol the wreck. Here we see a diver swimming past the bow of the Tamaulipas.
The group gets together for a farewell portrait at the dock with the mates before heading off to dinner and the long drive back to Connecticut on Saturday. They'll be back again next year for more adventures in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." The Connectciut group.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Ferry terminal on Cedar Island. Time to begin the journey to Hatteras! First we drive an hour to Cedar Island where we board a ferry for a two and quarter hour ride to Ocracoke Village on Ocracoke Island. Next a fifteen minute drive to the end of Ocracoke Island where we board another ferry for the thirty minute ride to Hatteras Village. Here we see the terminal at Cedar Island as we depart.
The state of North Carolina operates an extensive ferry system in the Outer Banks - much of which is free. Here we see the the ferry Cape Point - one of the ferries on the Hatteras to Ocracoke run. Cape Point ferry.
New Construction on Hatteras Island. As we pull into Hatteras we see some of the extensive new construction which has occurred recently.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Our base of operations in Hatteras for the first part of the week is the Bayou Runner commanded by Captain John Pieno. Here we see the Bayou Runner at the dock. Bayou Runner.
Crankshaft on Australia engine. We begin our week in Hatteras by heading east to the Australia - a tanker torpedoed by the U-332 on March 16, 1942. Arriving at the wreck we jump into lumpy green seas and find that water temperature from 20 feet to the bottom at 110 feet is only 59 degrees! A quick twenty minute swim around the stern section is enough for me! Here we see the crankshaft on one of the diesel engines.
For a second (and hopefully warmer) dive we head west to the freighter Hesperides. The Hesperides was a freighter which stranded on Diamond Shoals on October 9, 1897. She lies on the edge of the shoal in 40 feet of water and is an excellent dive when blue water is in and the current is not! The water temperature is a more respectable 65 degrees. Here we swim through the stern section of the Hesperides. Swimming through the stern of the Hesperides.
Steering quadrant on the stern of the Hesperides. The signature mark of the Hesperides is its steering quadrant which rises from the stern to a depth of ten feet. On a clear day you can see the quadrant and the wreck from the surface. Here we see the steering quadrant rising to the surface in blue water. The rudder and propeller below were in dark green water.

Monday, July 4, 2005

After yesterdays chilling experience we head south to the tanker British Splendour. We recieve reports that three fishing boats have commandeered the wreck and detour south to the liner Proteus which sank as the result of a collision with the SS Cushing on August 19, 1918. Water temperature is a more comfortable 75 degrees at the bottom at 125 feet. Sand tiger sharks vigilantly patrol the wreck. Here we see the steering quadrant on the stern. Steering quadrant on the Proteus.
Engine on the Dixie Arrow. For a second dive we head north to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed by the U-71 on March 26, 1942. Visibility is about 40 feet as we descend to the bottom at 90 feet. Large schools of fish blanket the wreck and the bow section continues to slowly collapse on itself. Here we see the steam engine from between the ships boilers.
Of course no Fourth of July is complete without a fireworkd display and Hatteras Village is no exception to the rule. Here we see a shot of one of the extravagant displays. Hatteras July 4th fireworks.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Flat! We head south to the tanker British Splendour on flat seas with no wind. And how flat was it? Here we see sea conditions which could only be flatter if the ocean were frozen!
The British Splendour was a tanker which was torpedoed by the U-552 on April 7, 1942. Visibility is a healthy 70 feet as we descend to the wreck at 105 feet. The overturned stern section has collapsed to half its former height. Sharks, stingrays and groupers patrol the wreck. A shark swims into my camera housing. Here we see the engine crankshaft protruding from overturned hull as we ascend the anchor line. Crankshaft protruding from overturned hull.
Boilers on the FW Abrams. For a second dive we head north to the tanker FW Abrams which sank in an Allied mine field on June 11, 1942. Visibility is a more modest 50 feet as we descend to the bottom at 85 feet. The wreck is split into two sections but the visibility today makes jumping between section easy. Here we see the two of the three steam boilers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Another flat day - well not QUITE as flat as yesterday! We head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed by the U-71 on March 26, 1942. The blue water is in and visibility is a healthy 70 feet. As you descend the anchorline you can see the forward third of the wreck. Swimming around the bow section we see the anchor chain locker with links of chain ready to be played out. Chain locker in the bow of the Dixie Arrow.
Large Atlantic spadefish onn the Dixie Arrow. When conditions are this good why risk moving to another location. We stay for a second dive. Visibility continues to hold and we tour the entire wreck checking out changes since last year. other divers report seeing a large turtle and a sunfish. Here we see a large Atlantic spadefish silently patrolling the wreck.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Time to switch boats for the second part of the week. We board the Margie II commanded by Captain Art "The Legend" Kirchner. I join a group from Treasure Cove Divers in New Jersey. Here we see the Margie II at the dock. Margie II.
Propeller and rudder on the Dixie Arrow. A dense fog blanketing the the sound and inlet greets us in the morning. Eventually we inch our way out of the marina and cautiously head for the inlet. The fog lifts once we are several miles offshore. We head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow for a return visit. Conditions are not quite as flat yesterday and visibility is only about 60 feet. On the first dive we explore the stern section. Here we see the rudder and one blade of the propeller.
For a second dive we explore the bow section of the same wreck. Schools of baitfish and Atlantic spadefish patrol the wreck. The bow continues to deteriorate since my first dive on this wreck in 1984. What the German torpedoes didn't finish, Mother Nature will! Here we see a hull plate which was uncovered by Hurricane Isabel and contains a porthole backing plate which has managed to resist divers' efforts at recovery! Porthole backing plate on the Dixie Arrow.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Mother Nature finally has her word! As the remnants of tropical depression Cindy pass through the area Hatteras Inlet become ugly. Two local fishing boats from our marina attempt to navigate the inlet - one has the curtains blown off the flying bridge by a wave and both boats return to their slips. Time for some "above water" sightseeing! We head off to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Here we see the lighthouse in its new Location (moved in 1999).
This historical marker commemorates the large number of ships sunk by German U-boats off the Outer Banks at the beginning of World War II. An even more amazing number is the over four hundred ships which were sunk off the eastern seaboard (Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico) during the first six months of 1942. Diamond Shoals historical marker.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Steering quadrant on the Keshena Mother Nature changes her mind - a sunny day with no wind and flat seas! Except for a few bumps passing through the inlet we glide to our first dive - the ocean tug Keshena which struck a "friendly" mine on July 19, 1942. Visibility is only about 40 feet as we head to the wreck at 90 feet. A lone sand tiger shark patrols the wreck. Here we see the steering quadrant on the stern of the Keshena.
For a second dive we return to the nearby tanker FW Abrams which sank in an Allied mine field on June 11, 1942. Again visibility is only about 30 feet on the 85 foot bottom with a water temperature of 78 degrees. Abundant fish life swarms over the wreck. Here we see the distinctive gears atop the FW Abrams steam engine. FW Abrams engines.
Treasure Cove Divers from New Jersey After the conclusion of a successful trip divers from Treasure Cove Divers in New Jersey gather at the dock for a group picture before they begin to wend their ways homeward. Before long we'll all be back to dive the "Graveyard of the Atlantic".

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 ocean front 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/drier, TV, phone, ocean front deck near fishing pier. Click on the picture for more information.
Lionfish 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 9, 2005 22:15:58