Paul Gacek's World


North Carolina Wreck Diving

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2008 North Carolina Expedition



NORTH CAROLINA 2008 IS HERE ! !


This years North Carolina expedition follows the traditional pattern of several days in Hatteras followed by a one week stay in Morehead City. Leaving Connecticut midday on a Monday provides a more pleasant driving experience than the ususal weekend departures. We make it as far as Cape Charles, VA before giving up on any further driving. The next morning finds a short 200 mile jaunt to complete the trip.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hatteras Marlin Motel We arrive at our base of operations - the Hatteras Marlin Motel - located in the center of Hatteras Village and in easy walking distance of everything - shopping, a grocery store, post office, playground, library and restaurants (except the marina!).
And what to our wondering eyes should appear? - a brand new home for Outerbanks Diving! Just occupied about three weeks ago the shop is a great improvement over the original one! Even a ramp for hauling tanks instead of dragging them up the stairs! New home of Outerbanks Diving

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Flying Fish As we prepare to board the Flying Fish the forecast calls for increasing winds and seas and thunderstorms - not an ideal combination! The decision is reached to defer diving for the day. As the saying goes: there are old divers and there are bold divers - but there are no old bold divers!
Doppler radar shows the impending thunderstorms! Having "been there" and "done that" there are no complaints. Off for some sightseeing - tomorrow's another day. Sightseeing plans are brought to an abrupt halt by the arrival of thunderstorms at 10:00 AM. Time for an afternoon nap! Doppler radar July 9

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NWS Forecast Mother Nature continues to be incorrigible! The forecast calls for 15 to 20 knot winds and 4 to 6 foot seas. The small craft advisory is just frosting on the cake! Well, that's one of the reasons there are so many shipwrecks in the area. Maybe we'll get in some sightseeing at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in between the thunderstorms!
The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is a public, non-profit, educational institution. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation, advancement and presentation of the maritime history and shipwrecks of the North Carolina Outer Banks from the earliest periods of exploration and/or colonization to the present day, with particular emphasis in the periods from 1524 to 1945. Among the new features is a display on the Hunt for the Alligator. Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
The Hunt for the Alligator It's out there, somewhere off the North Carolina coast just waiting to be found. A green, 47-foot-long creature of the deep called the Alligator — an engineering marvel of the Civil War that helped usher in a new era in naval warfare. A secret weapon that captured the attention of a president and can claim a place in history as the U.S. Navy’s first submarine! In April 1863, while being towed south to take part in the attack on Charleston harbor, the Union sub was caught in a fierce storm and cut loose off Cape Hatteras.

Friday, July 11, 2008

In spite of a dismal forecast we head south to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed on March 26, 1942 by the U-71. Its a gray overcast day and we endure a lumpy ride through the inlet. As we reach the wreck the seas seem to calm down. Water temperature 77 degrees at the surface and 76 degrees at the bottom. Visibility is only about 50 feet due to the overcast. Here we see the massive steam engine rising twenty feet off the bottom. Dixie Arrow steam engine.
Dixie Arrow sand tiger shark After being torpedoed the Dixie Arrow remained afloat throughout the day, filling the sky with inky black clouds of smoke and soot that were visible for miles around. Official reports state that her actual sinking went unobserved. Today the wreck continues to slowly collapse since I first visited it in 1984. Here we see a well fed sand tiger shark patrolling the steam engine.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Time to begin the trek to Atlantic Beach! Even though the distance is only about 75 miles as the crow flies the process is more complex. First we take a 45 minute ferry trip across Hatteras Inlet. Here we see one of the ferries which regularly makes the crossing. This followed by a fifteen minute drive to Ocracoke Village. NC Ferry Chicacomonico
Cedar Island Ferry Terminal In Ocracoke we board another ferry for a two hour and fifteen minute trip to the Cedar Island Ferry Terminal. Here we see the Cedar Island terminal as our ferry approaches. After this we drive for another hour to actually get to Morehead City - our final destination.
We finally arrive at our base of operations for the week - Island Birds in Atlantic Beach. Reports on the days diving activities are not promising - two trips had to be aborted because of excessive currents. We'll wait and see what tomorrow brings! Island Birds

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sea Quest II crew Sunday dawns a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and expectations for a great day of diving. We arrive at the boat to be greeted by 17 year old mate Mark Nussbaum and Captain Jerry Smith.
We head south to the Papoose (actually the WE Hutton) - a tanker which was torpedoed by the U-24 on March 18, 1942. Although surface conditions are perfect (blue 78 degree water) we descend to the wreck to find 72 degree water with 15 to 20 foot visbility. Here we see one of the many lion fish which have overrun these wrecks in recent years. Lion fish
Beveled gear on U-352 bow. We head north to the German U-boat U-352 in search of better visibility. Although surface conditions are even more perfect we descend to the wreck to find a meager 10 feet of visibility. After a quick look at the wreck we terminate the dive. Here we see a large beveled gear on the bow of the U-352.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We head south to the Naeco - a tanker which was torpedoed by the U-124 on March 23, 1942. As we reach the wreck we run into a torrential downpour. Nonetheless we jump into the 78 degree water and descend to the bottom where the temperature is 74 degrees and visibility runs about 20 feet. Here we see a diver ascending past the signature steering quadrant of the Naeco. Diver and steering quadrant on Naeco
Beveled gear on U-352 bow. In search of better conditions we head north to the gunboat Schurz a commandeered German vessel which sunk in a collision with the SS Flroida on June 21, 1918. We once again run into a shower and descend to the wreck with a bottom temperature of 72 degrees and visibility of only 10 feet. It appears our search for good conditions will not be achieved today. Here we see two lion fish performing a dance maneuver for the onlooker.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In search of better visibility we head east to the bow section of the Tamaulipas - a tanker which was torpedoed by the U-552 on April 10, 1942. We jump into the 78 degree water and descend to the bottom where the temperature is 74 degrees and visibility runs about 40 feet a far cry from previous days. Here we see a large sand tiger shark patrolling the overturned hull of the wreck. Sand tiger shark on the Tamaulipas
Diver using line reel on the Caribesea. For a second dive we head west to the freighter Caribesea which was torpedoed by the U-158 on March 11, 1942. As we descent the blue 78 degree water at the surface becomes green 70 degree water at the bottom. Visibility is only about 10 feet - typical of our experiences for the week. Here we see a diver using a line reel to safely navigate the wreck.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Based on our success with the Tamaulipas yesterday we head east again to the stern section. Seas are considerably rougher than yesterday and when we jump into the 78 degree water and descend to the bottom where the temperature is 72 degrees and visibility is a very dark 10 feet. a far cry from previous days. Here we see a large sand tiger shark patrolling the midsection of the wreck. Sand tiger shark on the Tamaulipas
Large tanker docked in Morehead City. For a second dive we head west to the tanker Atlas which was torpedoed by the U-552 on April 9, 1942 - the day before sinking the Tamaulipas. Reports of dark green water at the bottom and 5 to 10 foot visibility are enough to persuade me to sit this one out. Here we see a large tanker docked in Morehead City as we return home.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

After yesterdays adventure we try heading south again to the wreck of the tanker Papoose (actually the WE Hutton). Although the Gulf Stream appears to have moved in - we actually see some sargassum weed floating on the surface - visibility and temperature drop dramarically below 70 feet. Here we see a lion fish patrolling the stern of the wreck. Lion fish on the Papoose
Bridge across Newport River. For a second dive we head north to the artificial reef Spar which was a Coast Guard icebreaker. Surface conditions are marginal enough to persuade me to sit this one out. Here we see the large bridge across the Newport River as we return home.

Friday, July 18, 2008

For our final day we head south to the Lobster Wreck - a fifty mile run. The wreck was recently identified as the Porta Allegra - a steam dredge with a 20 inch cutter built around 1908. What the dredge was doing this far off shore is not known. The water temperature of 82 degrees at the surface only drops to 77 degrees at the bottom. Visibility is a respectable 35 feet. Here we see the large steam engine rising from the bottom. Lobster Wreck steam engine.
Atlantic spadefish on the Lobster Wreck. We stay for a second dive to maximize the ideal conditions. The main relief on the 175 foot long wreck is four boilers, a large steam engine and the cutter. Here we see a large school of Atlantic spadefish obliterating the view of the wreck.
The name Lobster Wreck comes from the large number of crustaceans typically found at this and neighboring sights. Here we see a large spiny lobster recovered by Nick, Jim D and Jim G posing for a final picture before a trip to the grill on the deck. Delicious! Large spiny lobster
North Carolina 2008 group The group gathers with the Captain and mate for the traditional group picture before we begin the 650 mile trek back to Connecticut. Even though visibility was not at its best this year everyone can hardly wait to return again next year to dive the wrecks in the warm blue "Graveyard of the Atlantic".

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


Island Birds Island Birds is an ocean front cottage in Atlantic Beach. 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.
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


Rainbow

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Last modified on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 13:45:28