Paul Gacek's World

North Carolina Wreck Diving


2007 North Carolina Expedition


This years North Carolina expedition reverses the traditional one week stay in Morehead City followed by a one week stay in Hatteras. After a relatively easy trip from Connecticut with only one slowdown in Norwalk, CT we arrive in Hatteras to relatively sunny and cool weather.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Helm stand from the Proteus This years find is the helm stand from the Proteus which was recovered in June. The Proteus was a passenger liner which sank as the result of a collision with the SS Cushing on August 19, 1918. Here we see the helm stand on display at Outer Banks Diving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tuesday morning dawns bright cool and clear! We head off to the marina for an early departure to find that the boat has mechanical problems. Stay tuned for breaking developments!

UPDATE: The mechanic has the necessary parts and is arriving from Nags Head this afternoon to repair the engine. Unfortunately - no diving today!

FINAL UPDATE: The mechanic arrives at 4:00 PM and works until 1:00 AM to make the repair!
FLying Fish
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum When you engage in wreck diving in the Outer Banks you have to be resourceful and have backup alternatives. There's always a visit to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum which opened in the summer of 2003 and focuses on the maritime history and shipwrecks of the Outer Banks emphasizing the period from 1542 to 1945.
The museum currently features the fresnel lens and pedestal from the 1854 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. In 1853 Congress had authorized raising the original lighthouse to 150 feet and equipping it with a first order fresnel lens. During the Civil War Confederate forces removed the new lens from the lighthouse but Union forces prevented a Confederate plan to destroy the lighthouse which was restored to operation in 1862. 1854 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Fresnel Lens

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Stern of the Proteus What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than to go wreck diving in the Graveyard of the Atlantic? A beautiful flat day finds us heading south to the Proteus - a passenger liner which sank as the result of a collision with the SS Cushing on August 19, 1918. Water temperatures range from 78 degrees at the surface to 77 degrees at the bottom with 80 foot visibility. The wreck is patrolled by the usual complelement of sand tiger sharks - here we see a sand tiger checking out the massive rudder and prop.
For a second dive we head north to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed by the U-71 on March 26, 1942 and burned overnight before finally sinking. The wreck sits upright in 90 feet of water. The 78 degree water temperature holds with a more modest 40 foot visibility. Likewise sand tiger sharks patrol this wreck. Here we see the massive steam engine rising between two of the ships three boilers. Dixie Arrow engine
Fourth of July Fireworks No Fourth of July is complete without a fireworks display. Hatteras Village puts on an impressive show for a community of its size. Here we see an aerial dislay over the ferry docks.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

After a bumpy ride through Hatteras Inlet we lump our way south to the tanker FW Abrams (a near sister ship to the Dixie Arrow which we visited yesterday) which met its demise by wandering into an Allied mine on June 11, 1942. Water temperature is 78 degrees and visibility about 35 feet. Here we see the telltale gears atop the engine which serve to uniquely identify the wreck. FW Abrams gears
Fourth of July Fireworks The wreck is fairly broken up with the engine and three boilers being the highest points. The bow and stern sections are separated by a thiry foot gap which on days with good visibility can be easily navigated. Here we see a large school of Atlantic spadefish obliterating the view of the wreck.

Friday, July 6, 2007

After a bumpy ride through Hatteras Inlet things settle down for a smooth ride to the tanker British Splendour which was torpedoed on April 7, 1942 by the U-552. Visibility is a respectable 50 feet and water temperature is 77 degress at the bottom and 78 degreees at the surface. The wreck continues to deteriorate - Here we see a previously intact portion of the forward hull where the external hull plates have collapsed exposing the interior to view. British Splendour hull
British Splendour crankshaft The remains of the tanker lie upside down in 100 feet of water. A moderate current continues to run through the day. The wreck is frequented by schools of baitfish, Atlantic spadefish and sand tiger sharks. The signature of the British Splendour is the crankshaft of her diesel engines which we see here spilling out from the overturned hull.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

We begin the journey to Morehead City! In order to avoid a drive of several hours and several hundred miles we utilize the North Carolina Ferry System. A short drive to the Hatter Ferry terminal, a forty minute free fery ride to Ocracoke Island followed by a 15 minute drive gets us to the town of Ocreacoke. Here we see the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Ocracoke Lighthouse
Army Corps of Engineers dredge Pamlico Sound is fairly shallow and the Army Corps of Engineers has a full time job keeping all the channels and inlets navigable. From Ocracoke we board another ferry (not free) which takes us on a two hour fifteen minute ride to Cedar Island on the mainland. Here we see a dredge clearing the channels around Ocracoke Island.
Finally we arrive at Cedar Island! From there it's another one hour drive to get to Morehead City - our final destination. We slowly get settled checking in with the realtor and the dive shop. Here we see the ferry terminal at Cedar Island. Cedar Island Ferry terminal

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Crew of the Seaquest II We begin a week of diving aboard the Seaquest II. The crew of the Seaquest II ( r to l): Mate Brad Johnson who just graduated from Eastern Carolina University, Mate John Smith who is entering his junior year at North Carolina State and Captain Jerry Smith.
For our first wreck dive from Morehead City we head south to the Papoose (aka WE Hutton) - a tanker which was torpedoed by the U-24 on March 18, 1942. Visibility is a healthy 80 feet and water temperatures are 78 degrees at the surface and 77 degrees on the bottom. Here we see one of the navy anchors hanging from the upside down bow section of the Papoose. Papoose anchor
Papoose rudder The wreck sits upside down at a depth of 120 feet. Swimming along the 412 foot length of the wreck we get to the stern section. Here we see the rudder - the propellor was long ago salvaged for scrap metal.

Monday, July 9, 2007

We head south to the wreck of the taker Naeco which was torpedoed on March 23, 1942 by the U-124. En route we pass through a squall and arrive at the site with gray overcast skies. While we're in the water the sun makes its appearance and it turns into a beautiful day. Here we see the massive steam engine of the Naeco rising from the bottom. Naeco engine
U-3523 conning tower For a second dive we head north to the German submarine U-352 which was depth charged and sunk by the USCG Icarus on May 9 1942. Visibility is a healthy 80 feet and the water temperature at the botton is 78 degrees. Here we see the conning tower of the submarine pointed skyward.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

In spite of the predawn lightning show and small craft advisories we head out to go diving anyway. After an hours travel it becomes apparent that the only problem we'll having is getting back into the boat! We wisely turn around and head back to the dock for a day at leisure. There's always another day to go diving in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic". Doppler radar

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mother Nature at work Mother nature continues to remain recalcitrant! Small craft advisories are in effect throughout the day. After the ritual trip to the dock we head back to a local restaurant for a real breakfast only to meet another group of divers from Connecticut who have likewise been blown out!. Tomorrow's forecast calls for calmer conditions.
When life hands you lemons - make lemonade! Jim decides to make the best of the situation and go boogie boarding. Members of the group head off to the beach, sightseeing, shopping, catch up on email and relax. Tomorrow is another day! Jim and his boogie board

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Boilers on the Schurz Mother nature finally begins to cooperate! The forecast calls for calming seas so we lump our way south to the Schurz - a World War I German gunboat captured and converted to American use. The Schurz sank as the result of a collision with the SS Florida on June 21, 1918. The sun makes an appearance and the seas calm. Here we see two of the ships boilers on the bottom.
For a second dive we head back to the to a relatively new wreck, the Coast Guard buoy tender Spar which was sunk as an artificial reef 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 sand tiger shark patrolling the wreck. Sand tiger shark patrolling the Spar

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lionfish on the bow of the Cassimir Mother nature continues to cooperate so we head south to the tanker Cassimir which sank as a result of a collision with the SS Lara on February 26, 1942. The wreck is noted for a thirty foot section of the bow which points skyward. The ship was carrying a cargo of molasses from Cuba to Baltimore when she met her untimely end. Here we a lionfish patrolling the bow of the Cassimir.
For a second dive we return to the perennial favorite the U-352. Good visibility with little current enable us to explore the wreck from bow to stern. Here we see divers exploring the wreck. As we head back to the dock we cross a squall which catches up with us again after we arrive at the dock. Divers exploring the U-352.
NC 2007 group All good things come to an end and we must bid farewell to the "Graveyard of the Atlantic". The captain, mates and members of the group pose for a farewell photo (inside the dive shop because of the squall outside) to provide memories until we return to the Outer Banks again next year!.

Links of Interest

First Week

Hatteras Marlin Motel The Hatteras Marlin Motel is centrally located in the middle of Hatteras Village and is within walking distance of marinas, shopping, a grocery store, post office, playground, library and restaurants.
Flying Fish The Flying Fish is a 65 ft. dive boat. The Captain is John "Johnny" Pieno - a licensed Master Captain, NAUI divemaster, commercial diver and experienced treasure hunter - as well as being an avid (and successful) spear and sport fisherman. Before moving to N.C, Johnny was partner in a Virginia Beach dive shop, and a commercial diver active with a special interest in working with wreck salvage operations.
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

Second Week

Dunescape Villas Dunescape Villas are located directly on the beach. Four on-site swimming pools offer you a short walk to sunbathing. Centrally located, the drive is short for any island activity!
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.
Discovery Diving 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


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Last modified on Friday, July 13, 2007 21:25:58