Paul Gacek's World


North Carolina Wreck Diving

Rainbow


2009 North Carolina Expedition



NORTH CAROLINA 2009 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 Pocomoke City, MD before giving up on any further driving. The next morning finds a short 230 mile jaunt to complete the trip.

* * CLICK ON IMAGES FOR A LARGER VIEW * *

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

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!).
Outerbanks Diving new home is waiting for us! Just occupied about a year ago the shop is a great improvement over the original one! Even a ramp for hauling tanks instead of dragging them up the stairs! Important as you become more mature! New home of Outerbanks Diving
Flying Fish The Flying Fish awaits us at Teaches Lair Marina. Mother Nature has been amazingly cooperative since June 20th (except for yesterday - Monday). We'll wait to see what she has to offer us tomorrow! Hopefully we'll get to dive the Proteus and the Dixie Arrow which I first dove on a trip to North Carolina 25 years ago!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday dawns partly cloudy and relatively windless. We head out through Hatteras Inlet and its as flat as glass! We continue south to the Proteus and it continues to be a lake. 81 degree water at the surface becomes 78 degrees at the bottom with 50 feet of visibilty. Here we see one of the many sand tiger sharks patrolling the stern of the wreck. Sand tiger shark.
Sergeant major waiting for a handout. For a second dive we head north to the tanker Dixie Arrow which was torpedoed by the U-71 on March 26, 1942. Anchored in the bow section we see that another large portion of the hull has fallen into the sand. Water temperature is 80 degrees at the surface but only 76 degrees at the bottom. Visibility is about forty feet. Here we see a sergeant major patiently waiting for a diver to dislodge a tasty morsel.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday dawns cloudy with an ominous forecast. Mother Nature always has the final say! The forecast calls for 15 to 20 knot winds as a front moves through the area this morning. Looks like a good day for sightseeing. As the old saw goes "there are old divers and there are bold divers but there are no old bold divers!" We head off to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Doppler radar July 9.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. If you can't visit the shipwrecks themselves, you can visit artifacts from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras. 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. The Museum preserves, researches, exhibits and interprets its collections for the benefit of the general public.
Among the new items on display is the bell from the LV-51 - the Diamond Shoals Lightship. She was built in 1897 at the Bath Iron Works Ltd., Maine for $70,700. The LV-71 was sunk by shelling from the U-104 on August 6, 1918 after the Lightship had alerted other ships in the area to the presence of a U-boat. All crewmen were allowed to leave the Lightship and made it to shore safely. She now rests in approximately 185 feet of water. Bell from the Diamond Shoals Lightship.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in the nation and famous symbol of North Carolina. The lighthouse site houses a visitors center that is open throughout the year and houses displays on the island's maritime history. The beacon from the light can be seen some 20-miles out to sea and has warned sailors for more than 100 years of the treacherous Diamond Shoals, the shallow sandbars which extend some 14 miles out into the ocean off Cape Hatteras.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday dawns partly cloudy with the dreaded "small craft advisory" in the forecast. Mother Nature always has the final say! The forecast calls for 15 to 20 knot winds with 4 to 6 foot seas. Looks like a another good day for sightseeing. Here we se see Capt. Milt Kemp, myself and Capt. John Pieno gathering at the dock for a farewell photo. Then its off to Ocracoke to do some sightseeing! Old men of the sea
Ocracoke Light Station. Ocracoke Light Station was built on Ocracoke Island in 1823 by Massachusetts builder Noah Porter. The lighthouse stands 75 feet tall. Its diameter narrows from 25 feet at the base to 12 feet at its peak. It is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina and the second oldest in the United States (the oldest being Sandy Hook Light in New Jersey). During the summer months visitors may enter the base of the lighthouse, but climbing is not allowed.
During the height of the German submarine campaign on May 14, 1942, the HMS Bedfordshire was torpedoed and sunk with all hands lost. Four bodies of the crew were subsequently found and buried on Ocracoke. Two of the gravesites are marked "unknown" and the other two bear the remains of Thomas Cunningham and Stanley R. Craig. The well-tended graveyard with bronze plaques on concrete crosses still stands today as a memorial to the Royal Navy. British Cemetery in Ocracoke.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

North Carolina ferry Croatan. We begin the journey to Atlantic Beach, NC. A short drive to the Hatteras ferry terminal followed by a forty minute ferry ride to Ocracoke Island and a thirty minute drive to the town of Ocracoke gets us to a two hour ten minute ferry ride to Cedar Island. Here we see the ferry Croatan which runs between Hatteras and Ocracoke.
Another way to view the Outer Banks is by parasail. Here we see two parasailers exploring the waters off the town of Ocreacoke. Parasailer in Ocracoke.
Cedar Island ferry terminal. We finally arrive at the end of our second ferry ride - the Cedar Island ferry terminal. From there we drive an hour to get to Atlantic Beach. Here we see our arrival at Cedar Island.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday dawns cloudy and windy - the forecast calls for winds of 15 to 20 knots. We head east in search of divable conditions. We make it to the Atlas - a tanker which was torpedoed bt the U-552 on April 9, 1942. Seas are running 3 to 5 feet and the visibility on the wreck is about 15 feet. Water temperature at the surface is 78 degrees and 76 degrees at the bottom. Here we see sea rods growing on the remains of the hull. Sea rods on the Atlas
Decompression stops on the Atlas. Although visibility is not what we have become used to in North Carolina an enjoyable dive is had by all. Here we see divers decompressing on surface supplied oxygen at ten and twenty feet before returning to the surface. Conditions do not improve on our way back to the dock so we make only one dive today.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday dawns cloudy and windy again - the forecast calls for winds of 15 to 20 knots and thunderstorms. Not good omens for a day of diving. Here the doppler radar shows the storms which are about to pass over the area. Doppler radar July 13th
Mate Mark Nussbaum and Capt Jerry Smith. Mate Mark Nussbaum and Capt Jerry Smith greet us with the news that today will not be a day to go diving. The forecast calls for improving conditions as the week progresses so we head back to the house to begin our sightseeing activities.
Its off to visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Here we see a three-quarter-size replica of the U-352 as it looks today at the bottom of the 306,000-gallon Living Shipwreck tank. The fearsome-looking sand tiger sharks, schools of colorful fishes and other animals that populate the Living Shipwreck are typically found around this wreck and others offshore. The weather begins to abate - hopefully we'll be diving tomorrow! Living shipwreck exhibit

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ladders inside the hull of the Tamaulipas. Tuesday dawns cloudy but windless and rainless! We head east to the Tamaulipas - a tanker which was torpedoed by the U-552 on April 10, 1942. The Bow section sits upside down in 155 feet of water. The water temperature st the surface is a balmy 78 degrees but we hit a thermocline at 110 feet and the temperature drops to 67 degrees. Visibility is a healthy 50 feet. Here we see a set of ladders inside the hull of the Tamaulipas.
For a second dive we head west to the Caribsea - a freighter torpedoed by the U-158 on March 11, 1942. The water is green and visibility is a less spectacular 20 to 25 feet here with a surface temperature of 78 degrees and a bottom temperature of 76 degrees. Here we see a curious trigger fish waiting for a diver to dislodge a tasty morsel to eat! Curious trigger fish on the Caribsea.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Steam engine on the lobster wreck. Wednesday dawns sunny and calm! We head south 50 miles to the Lobster Wreck which has been tentatively been identified as the Porta Allegra - a dredge which sank sometime after 1908. We descend in the blue 78 degree water but hit a thermocline at 80 feet and the temperature drops to 72 degrees. Visibility is a healthy 50 feet. The wreck is home to a fair number of lobsters and lionfish (some of which accompany us homeward!). Here we see the steam engine rising from the bottom.
For a second dive we head north to the U-352 - a German submarine depth charged by the USCG Icarus on May 9, 1942. The water at the bottom is green and visibility is a less spectacular 25 feet here with a surface temperature of 78 degrees and a bottom temperature of 76 degrees. Here we see the conning tower on the U-352. Conning tower on the U-352.
Booty from the lobster wreck. We anticipate our arrival at the dock thinking about the booty we recovered from the "Lobster Wreck". Here we see two spiny lobsters and two slipper lobsters which provided a tasty dinner for our group of divers!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another beautiful day! We make the most of it by heading south to the stern section of the tanker Naeco which was torpedoed by the U-124 on March 23, 1942. As we descend we see that visibility is about 60 feet here with a surface temperature of 78 degrees and a bottom temperature of 76 degrees. Here we see the large steam engine of the Naeco rising off the bottom in 140 feet. Steam engine on the Naeco.
Exploring the interior of the Papoose (Hutton). For a second dive we head north to the Papoose (aka W. E. Hutton) - another tanker torpedoed by the U-124 on March 18, 1942. Visibility at the surface is a healthy 50 feet while the water at the bottom is green and visibility is a less spectacular 40 feet here with a surface temperature of 80 degrees and a bottom temperature of 72 degrees. Visibility is a respectable 40 feet. Here we examine the interior of one of oil holds on the Papoose (W. E. Hutton).

Friday, July 17, 2009

With an ominous forecast we head south to the cruiser Schurz which was captured from the Germans during World War I and converted to our use. This was a shortlived victory as the Schurz sank in a collision with the SS Florida on June 21,1918. Once again we find blue 80 degree water at the surface with green 72 degree water at the bottom. Here we see a small school of Atlantic spadefish patrolling the wreck. Spade fish on the Schurz.
Sand tiger shark on the Spar. With conditions not deteriorating as expected we head in for a second dive on the Coast Guard buoy tender Spar which was sunk as an artificial reef on June 17, 2004. once again we find 80 degree water at the surface with 74 degree water at the bottom. Here we see a sand tiger shark patrolling the stern of the wreck.
After a great day of diving we gather at the dock for a group picture before we start unloading the boat. North Carolina 2010 can't het here soon enough! Until next year! The group gathers for a parting shot.

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 Sunday, July 19, 2009 15:30:28