Posted by: mcjangles | October 6, 2008

Virginia Beach report

October 4-5 2008

It’s rare that I use the word “perfect” to describe a weekend of diving in the Mid/North Atlantic, but this past weekend’s Virginia Beach offshore trip on Capt JT’s Under Pressure was just that. The weather conditions in October can be spotty and judging by the forecast last week the weekend was going to be no exception but it improved last minute and we gave it a shot. Good thing we did! Seas were nearly like glass and only got better as the weekend progressed. Our target destination was an unidentified wreck in 280-300 fsw that has only been dove a handful of times. I got a small taste of her last fall and was anticipating the trip back all year. The wreck appears to be a large (>400 feet long) tanker that is sitting intact (mostly) and pretty much upright except for a slight list to port.

We pulled up and hooked into the stern of the wreck as the sun was rising Saturday morning. It was hard to judge the surface visibility through the reflection off the “glass” but it looked promising šŸ˜‰ The group was split with 4 CCR divers (I was the only one without some form of Hammerhead) and 2 OC divers, so it was decided that we’d go in 2 groups. After a bubble check at 20 feet we started the long way down the line, passing through a thermocline at around 110 feet where the water dropped from 73F to 60F and the visibility opened up to… a lot!. Around 150 feet the wreck came into view and it was absolutely incredible. It was apparent the grapnel had dropped down by the large superstructure and looking forward you could see cargo holds stretching as far as the eye could see and aft the stern was completely blown apart leaving a large debris field. We hit the highest point on the wreck at about 235 fsw and greeted by a large Mola Mola circling the wreckage in the distance. After checking the hook we set about exploring and looking for something to possibly identify this nameless hulk. The huge boilers lay exposed, framed by the superstructure and towering above the seabed and debris field spread out below making a truly impressive sight in the unbelievable vis. Last year the temperature was in the 40s, this year the temperature never fell below 60 making for an immensely enjoyable dive. Time flies by way too quickly at this depth and with the conditions as they were it was tough to tear away from the bottom.

Deco entertainment was supplied by the co-captain Mark who was knocking the sea bass dead one after another (along with a couple tile fish). Every couple minutes another fish was zipping past on it’s way to the cooler which was nearly full by the time we surfaced from our long hang.

While we did out interval JT and Tom did a dive to get some video of the wreck. I don’t think they believed us when we told them the conditions but their faces when they got back told a different story.

After a healthy interval we jumped back in. JT asked me to get some pictures of the steering quadrant and I happily obliged. I didn’t seem to be throwing much light and sure enough one strobe was out (I’m pretty sure it’s flooded), oh well ambient light was so good I got away with one. I turned my primary light on for the first time all day at the 20 foot stop as daylight faded and the sea went from blue, to gray, to black.

From the unknown wreck we headed over to the OCEAN VENTURE where JT coerced Tom into doing a night dive. I crashed for the night and didn’t get the report until morning. JT didn’t get the lobsters he was after but he said the conditions were nice and that we were tied in near the “cathedral”. I decided to tote the tripod along on this “shallow” (160 fsw) dive, as there were a couple shots I had in mind. The conditions were the same temperature wise as the previous location but the visibility was not quite as good. Actually it was still really good at 40-50 feet, it just seemed paltry after being spoiled the day before. I had a good time snapping away for half an hour waiting for models to pass by. Chip, Andrew, and Mark all played along and I was able to get some pretty sweet shots. Thanks guys!

Unknown wreck (280 fsw) gallery

OCEAN VENTURE (160 fsw) gallery

Topside gallery

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