This past weekend the gang headed down to Cape Hatteras for three days of diving on some great wrecks in the clear warm Gulf Stream waters with Capt JT on the Under Pressure. Friday we hit the Proteus. This 390′ passenger freighter sank in 130 fsw in 1918. Hitting the water the visibility was incredible and continued down to the wreck. I was greeted by large numbers of sand tiger sharks and a sleepy green sea turtle who didn’t seem too impressed by my intrusion. Large schools of baitfish swarmed the wreck making wide angle shots difficult and I found myself cursing at them repeatedly into my DSV throughout the dive. I headed off to the stern and found a huge school(?) of sand tigers congregating aft of the majestic rudder and propeller. I crossed paths with Danny who pointed out a porthole and although a little bent up had enough sand blasted shiny brass poking through the growth to seduce us into a second date. Back by the boilers schools of baitfish were swarming between them with schools of hungry jacks on their tails.
After some surface interval fishing Danny and I headed back in to try and get the porthole. It posed a tougher challenge than we originally thought but after 30 minutes of pounding we had it on a bag.
Saturday and Sunday the plan was to dive the E.M Clark. A tanker torpedoed in WWII and (allegedly) one of the best dives off the East coast. Alas as is often the case in Hatteras plans didn’t play out as well as they did on paper. Saturday we had good seas and even hooked into the wreck but you could have heard a pin drop as JT announced it was undivable. To prove it to us he dropped a 15 lb weight over the side which was promptly waterskiing horizontally off the stern in the 3kt current. With heavy hearts we headed in to the paddlewheeler where we found the current “better” but still kicking at around 2kts. Eventually we ended up on the Keshena. This small wreck was an ocean going tug that sank during rescue of the torpedoed J.A. Mowinckel during WWII. As the wreck is in only 90 feet of water the open circuit guys weren’t too thrilled about blowing an expensive Clark mix (a nice advantage of the rebreather), but JT and Bill were nice enough to lend some doubles so everyone could get a dive in.
The vis on the Keshena wasn’t as good as the Proteus but still a nice 30 feet or so. The wreck is pretty broken down except for the bow which rises about 20 feet off the bottom. It is still continuous so navigation is easy. Sand tigers were also present here along with lots of trigger fish.
Sunday the wind was still blowing out of the south and with rougher seas we went with JT’s judgment that the current over the Clark would probably still be kicking and decided not to risk being in an area with not many other options and headed for the USS Tarpon.
The Tarpon was a US submarine that sunk in 140 fsw while under tow to the scrapyard in 1957. The seas were a little bouncy on the ride out and we were given the option of stopping at the Dixie Arrow, but we opted to soldier on and give it a go. On site the conditions were again spectacular and most of the sub could be seen laid out before you around 70 feet. We were tied in near the conning tower which has fallen/been pulled into the sand. I wanted to give a go at making a panoramic composite image of the sub and spent most of my dive snapping shots down the hull. Many sand tigers surrounding the wreck along with lots of other life which made for an incredible dive.
We pulled hook and trolled over to the Dixie Arrow for dive 2. Must not have been my day because “I trolled for 2 hours and all I caught was this sunburn”. Oh well, it was fun. On the Dixie Arrow the visibility was around 40 feet and i nearly crashed into a sand tiger descending the line which terminated between the boilers and huge engine. Danny and I swam forward towards the bow passing some large barracuda and BIG sand tigers. Most of the mid section is pretty flattened out until you get to the bow which still stands high off the bottom. A great dive and a great way to end out the trip. Can’t wait to get back!