Posted by: mcjangles | October 5, 2009


Sunday the Independence II headed out to the Shark River reef with RJ’s crew from Treasure Cove.  The MAKO MANIA (YW-127) (130 fsw) was chosen and it didn’t take long for divers to start hitting the water when we arrived on site.  I think the site of the shot dropping through clear blue water was enough motivation to get folks moving.  Dave coming back  after tying in and asking for his pole spear with a report of 40+ feet of vis and fish everywhere only seemed to fuel the fire.

Fish truly were everywhere and it felt like Florida for a minute.  The water was warm (high 60s) and vis spectacular as advertised.  Kneeling on the deck setting up my camera gear I looked up to see fish really were EVERYWHERE and for a minute I forgot I was in New Jersey since it seemed more like Florida or North Carolina.  Large schools of porgies and bluefish were swirling across the deck of the small tanker.  In the distance I could see large silhouettes of big blackfish milling about the superstructure while sea bass and pollack sat lazily on deck and in doorways.  I spotted some bubbles in the distance and headed off to find a model before I was left alone.  My tracking paid off and I soon found Bob hunting on the bottom and got a really cool shot of him below the sharp thermocline near the bottom while I was still in the clear water above.

After an outside tour (my first time on the wreck) and a visit to the prop which is in a washout at about 135 fsw, I decided to try and get into the engine room.  I took off one of my bailout bottles and other danglies (goody bag) and squeezed through a skylight.  After heading down another deck level I think I went through the galley and had fun playing around.  I think I found how to get into the engine room but it was tighter space than I wanted to be with the camera so I started heading out.  So far so good and I got to the last doorway before I was back under the skylight I dropped in when I seemed to be stuck.  I thought my bailout bottle was just making me too wide to fit so I turned and tried to swim/push with my fins… nothing.  Hmm, let me back up.  Nope not happening.  I try to reach back and with a grim realization knew my stupid mistake.  I sidemount my bailout bottles with bungee and when I dropped my one bottle outside the wreck I left the loop hanging out without clipping it in, and it was now snagged on something behind me leaving me in quite the precarious position.  With the problem identified, I stopped moving and was able to twist enough and twist my arm enough to run my hand up it and stretch it off the piece of wreck it was stuck on and out I went.  Lesson learned from a stupid mistake!

At the end of the day everyone had awesome dives and I think the menu for the day included scallops, sea bass, blackfish, and lobster.  It’s days like this that remind you why fall is the best time for local diving.

Bob hunting below the thermocline Inside the MAKO MANIA

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