Paul Gacek's World

North Carolina Wreck Diving


2010 North Carolina Expedition


This years North Carolina expedition features several days in Hatteras. Leaving Connecticut midday on a Sunday provides a more pleasant driving experience than the usual Friday or Saturday departures. We leave New Haven shortly after 1:00 PM, hit the New Jersey Turnpike at 3:00 PM, the Delaware Memorial Bridge at 5:30 PM, the Maryland state line at 7:45 PM and make it as far as Pocomoke City, MD at 8:30 PM before giving up on any further driving (345 miles). That leaves a short 240 mile jaunt to complete the trip on Monday.


Monday, July 12, 2010

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 (but not the marina!).
Outerbanks Diving's almost new home is waiting for us! Occupied for the first time in 2008 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! I guess its time to change the name of the boat on the sign from "Bayou Runner"! New home of Outerbanks Diving
Flying Fish The Flying Fish awaits us at Teaches Lair Marina. Mother Nature has finally started to cooperate and warm water is arriving on the wrecks. We'll see what she has to offer us tomorrow! The marine weather forecast is calling for a small craft advisory toward the end of the week but we'll have to wait and see what really happens.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No need for an alarm clock this mornning! Mother Nature provides a light and sound show as thunderstorms pass over the area at 5:00 AM. The Diamond Shoals data buoy reports winds of 15 to 20 knots and five foot waves. The small craft advisory has arrived early! Time to see what's new at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum! Doppler radar.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum entrance. The entrance to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is framed with wooden timbers evoking the ribs of a ship. In addition to the light from the 1854 Cape Hatteras Lightstation and the bell from the Diamond Shoals Lightship LV-51 new items on display include artifacts recovered from the Queen Anne, a partially restored Enigma encoding machine from the U-85 and exhibits on the USS Monitor and the USS Alligator.
The popular shipping lanes off the Outer Banks made piracy and warfare an integral aspect of the region's maritime history. A new exhibit hall includes displays of shipwrecks related to piracy and warfare off the coast from the late 17th century through 1945. Visitors learn about pirates that roved the seas plundering ships of every nationality. Legends of Edward Low, Ann Bonny, Blackbeard, the naming of Nags Head, and ships mysteriously lost are brought to life. Doppler Radar.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doppler radar. Mother Nature has it her way again! Another series of thunderstorms pass over us. The small craft advisory continues through tonight. Winds continue to blow at 20+ knots with gusts up to 27 knots but at least the seas have declined from 7 feet to 6 feet. A reminder why the area has so many shipwrecks! Perhaps tomorrow will be the day. Off for more sightseeing after the rain passes.
Finally after 2:00 PM he rain stops long enough so that it's safe to go outside. We head north to the iconic Cape Hatteras Light Station in Buxton. The light station is closed to climbing today due to thunderstorms in the area - who wants to be 208 feet above the ground when lightning strikes? It's nice that they have a discounted rate for seniors but how many disabled people are going to be able to make it up the 268 steps to the top? Cape Hatteras Light Station.
Cape Hatteras Light Station. Congress appropriated $80,000 to the United States Lighthouse Board - a federal agency under the direction of the Treasury Department - to construct a new beacon at Cape Hatteras in 1868. The Cape Hatteras Light Station which was completed in 1870 cost $167,000 and was the highest brick lighthouse tower in the world (approximately 1,250,000 bricks). It was relocated some 2900 feet inland in 1999 in order to save it from the ravages of the sea.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finally the rains have stopped, the winds have subsided and the small craft advisories are gone - now we need the seas to settle down so we can go diving. Here is a graph of the significant wave heights from the data buoy for the past week. Our arrival occurred at the middle of the chart. Clearly a case of you should have been here last week! There's always tomorrow! Off to do some more sightseeing! Significant wave height.
NC Ferry Ocracoke. We head south to neighboring Ocracoke Island aboard a free ferry run by the state of North Carolina. Most of the island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore except for the town of Ocracoke located at the southern end of the island. It is also the location of the reputed pirate Blackbeard's death. Here we see the appropriately named ferry vessel Ocracoke which makes the crossing in about 40 minutes.
There are many theories about how ponies found their way to Ocracoke Island. Some say they arrived on English ships during 16th-century exploration, others say they were victims of Spanish shipwrecks and some say they were simply livestock for the locals. However they got here, the ponies roamed the island freely for at least two centuries and were very much a part of the island lifestyle in days gone by. In 1959, The National Park Service developed the Ocracoke Pony Pasture, a 180-acre pasture area that today houses about 24 ponies. Ocracoke Pony Pasture.
Ocracoke Lighthouse. We head south to visit the Ocracoke Light. In 1822, for a charge of $50, the federal government purchased two acres at the south end of Ocracoke Island as the site for a new lighthouse. Constructed by Massachusetts builder Noah Porter and finished in 1823, the tower still stands today. The lighthouse stands about 75 feet tall. Its diameter narrows from 25 feet at the base to 12 feet at its peak. The Ocracoke Light is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well today is not going to be a day to go diving either. The winds continue to blow out of the southwest at 15 to 20 knots with a small craft advisory posted for this afternoon. Haven't had this much fun in Hatteras since the last week of June in 1994 when the conditions kept us dock bound for a whole week - seven days. Since conditions are supposed to get even worse tomorrow there's no point in hanging around an extra day in order to finally get in a days diving so we begin the homeward trek.

Update - Sunday, July 18, 2010

After a relatively traffic free drive we arrive in Connecticut on Friday night no worse for wear. Watching the weather conditions over the weekend we see the winds continuing to blow from the southwest at 20 knots with gusts to 25 knots and seas from 5 to 7 feet. The small craft advisory is extended through Tuesday morning! Shades of 1994!

Update - Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unbelievable! The winds are still blowing at 20 knots with gusts to 25 knots and seas of 7 feet. The small craft advisory has been extended through Thursday morning!

Links of Interest

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


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Last modified on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 13:15:28