Posted by: mcjangles | June 18, 2007

Overdue Hatteras report


We booked a couple days of diving a couple months in advance to get a couple familiarization dives in with Capt JT Barker and his boat the Under Pressure out of Cape Hatteras, NC. Originally we were booked to do the Manuela (160fsw) followed by an overnight trip of strictly recreational type dives. Well the weather had other plans (this is Hatteras in May we are talking about). Early in the week we were supposed to head down 25′ swells were rolling through and the area was getting hammered by a big storm so it looked like the trip would be a wash. We talked with Capt JT who was very accommodating in trying to get us early word of a blow out to save us the 8 hour drive if he could. Finally the decision was made to cancel Thursday but still dive the Manuela on Friday so that at least if we drove down for one day we would get the main wreck we wanted to dive.

We made the leisurely drive down on Thursday and arrived with plenty of time to BS with the Capt and get familiarized with the boat (which is set up very nicely), cut some tables, and also take note of the fact that it was a beautiful day and we could have gone diving. After a good nights rest we woke up ready to dive and headed out to the Manuela a freighter torpedoed by the U-404 on 6/25/1942.

Dolphin and Danny cut tables

Bedford and Dolphin cut tables

We arrived on the site and it was immediately obvious that the current was ripping along at about 1.5kts. Also since the plan was changed to dive the Manuela there was a change up in the crew and Danny and I were asked to tie in which we agreed to do. It was questionable whether we would be able to dive at this site, but it was decided that we would try it and if we could get down it was a go, otherwise don’t be a hero and if the current is too rough call it. Danny jumped in and could not get past 20′ because of some allergy related sinus issues, but said the current was manageable. He was going to give it another shot getting down and I splashed right behind him. I hauled my way up the granny line to the anchor line where I met up with Danny. He said his ears were still a no go and he was heading up so I was going to go down and tie in by myself. I was fighting to get down but it wasn’t that bad. I got to 50-60′ and the current still wasn’t letting up and I was about to turn when a school of BIG amberjacks came flying up from the bottom and gave me some reassurance that the wreck was near. Visibility was about 40′ and the wreck came into view just past 100′ and I saw a great upturned steel hull. The hook had snagged the very lip near the sand of the turtled hull and when I got to it there wasn’t much to wrap the chain around. With the current pulling hard against it I got a little wrap around a plate and figured it wasn’t going anywhere.

Swimming down the edge of the hull you could see up and in the wreck, and I was surrounded by some very large amberjacks as well as some barracuda. I got to the end of the section we were on and it was a break in the ship and it was very easy to get inside. I didn’t want to go to far since I was planning on cutting my dive short so I wasn’t hanging in the current, but I took a quick peek inside. I saw back in the dark some white “tentacles” waving at me and I thought they were lobsters but upon closer inspection I found 2 large lionfish huddled together in a deep recess of the wreck.

For dive 2 we were going to hit the Proteus but another boat was already there and lying on the wreck such a way that we couldn’t hook it. We did snag something and Dolphin went in to dive but found we were on a small piece of junk away from the wreck. The decision was made to head in to the Dixie Arrow. I has happy to hit this wreck since I hope to be diving her sister ship the India Arrow at the end of June. The Dixie Arrow was another U-boat casualty of the second great war. Capt JT was gracious enough to divulge some intel with on on the whereabouts of 2 portholes. I went in armed for the mission and found the grapple secured to one of the massive links of the ships anchor chain which made my orientation with the wreck easy. We were at the very bow, which is partially intact and rises a good bit off the bottom. I had no trouble locating the first porthole but it wasn’t near as ready to come off as I hoped. I instead opted to check out this wreck which is pretty outstanding. I saw more amberjacks (which if you haven’t figured out I really like) and even shared some time with a large turtle. I got back to the bow ahead of time and decided to whack on the porthole a little bit. No dice. Getting back to the tie-in (I had run my reel) I was a bit dumbfounded to find the anchor line missing. I was already running a bit late at this point and didn’t want to waste any time. I took a quick spin around the area to see if I somehow missed it, then shot my SMB and tied it off. I did my ascent and got on the boat and everyone was looking at me funny and asking if I was ok. I thought they must have known the boat pulled out but they said it didn’t. ??? So long story short it turns out there was a very “helpful” diver on the boat who thought he would get in the Capt’s good graces by saving us all some time and pulling the hook at the end of his dive. WTF?!?! Anyway it all worked out and I had 2 really good dives.

Seas were beautiful

Capt JT does have the Under Pressure set up real nice. It is only a 6 pack and there is plenty of space. He even has individual headsets for each bunk and grills during the surface interval.

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