Posted by: mcjangles | June 25, 2007

Oil Wreck (porthole)

Independence II –6-24-07 – Ayuruoca (Bridge) dive report

Today I joined a group of 10 divers from Diver’s Den on a trip to one of New Jersey’s best wrecks. The more we dive the Oil Wreck this year the more apparent it is how much she has changed since last year. After seeing how much the stern section has broken down and opened up it was decided to hit the bow section of the wreck and see if the bridge superstructure had also undergone a facelift. We were soon tied into the top of the bridge at ~135 feet courtesy of Capt. Terry Martzall and the divers were off. Coming down the line on my dive I was surprised to see the wreck materializing below me at about 115’. The visibility on top of the wreck was quite nice and probably pushing 20’ with lots of ambient light. Arriving at the railing it didn’t long to see that the bridge has been altered just as much as the stern. The top deck which used to be perfectly level is now lying at about a 45 degree angle. I dropped down one deck level and looked for someplace to enter the wreck but due to the collapse most of the corridors that used to be wide open now fade down to low ceilings. I decided to drop down another deck level and look for something a little more accessible. Dropping down to about 150 feet the visibility also dropped down to maybe 10 feet or less. Here the decks were not collapsed as much so I tied off my reel and I was able to easily swim into the wreck even with two stage bottles. Looking around inside it looks like walls have been collapsing as you could easily cut in between rooms this way and that. About 30 feet inside I came across a large porthole backing plate just like the one Capt Dan recovered a few weeks ago. It was lying loose on a piece of the steel wall. There are still many backing plates on the Oil Wreck because they were sealed with lead and very difficult to recover. Until now.

With the deteriorating condition of the wreck they are now falling off the walls and easier to get. After some miscommunication via light signals with my buddy (I might as well have tried to build a fire and send smoke signals) to come help me lug it outside the wreck so I could shoot it to the surface I put my bag on it inside to lift it. I was a little stupid here as I didn’t tie my choker on that well and had a length of rope that was too long and let the bag hit the ceiling of the wreck. So I had to alternate between pushing the bag down to get past obstructions on the ceiling and dragging the porthole and plate all while trying not to lose sight of my line. Finally I got it out and wished it well on its way to the surface.

What a great weekend of diving!

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