Sorry that there are no recent dive reports here for the 2012 season. We have been using the Facebook page to keep divers posted on the current conditions and things that have been going on. The limitations of the FB environment may move us to post more updates and info here again in the near future. But take a look at some of these dive reports that go back as far as 2003 and you will get a good idea of just what goes on when you go Dive Hatteras with us.
2011 Dive Reports
Sunday, October 16, 2011 - After a long time with no diving, thanks to Hurricane Irene and the damage she did to the Outer Banks, we finally got back out on the ocean for some diving. We had a trip planned for both days, but the weather for Saturday looked just plain horrid (and it was), so that day was canceled but then the forecast for Sunday made a dramatic turn for the better. We quickly arranged a trip out to the Manuela with a group of highly experienced divers from Virginia who came down on short notice with a truck load of rebreathers and some big doubles too.
We left the dock just after sunrise and scooted out to the area of the Proteus at 18kts. The ride was only slightly bumpy in the dying South swell as there was a North breeze and wind seas behind us. Near the Proteus we slowed to a fast troll speed of 14 to 15kts and set out some high speed lures to try and catch a Wahoo, but we had no luck before we arrived at the Manuela. The anchor set did not take too long and soon we were diving into blue 79 degree water. There was only a very slight surface current setting to the east and none in the water column or on the wreck. The anchor line descent took you directly over the amidships section which contains a cargo hold and the machinery areas. This entire hull section could be clearly seen along with the debris field beyond where the anchor was located as the vis was easily over 120 feet. In fact, once down at the anchor at 152 feet I looked back up the line and clearly saw the Lion's Paw at the surface above me!
The first dives went really well with the CCR divers making a run time of right at 90 mns and the rest of us somewhat less. With the anchor just forward of amidships, the divers could explore both directions fairly easily. With the large amidships section right next to the anchor, most of us explored that area taking a look into the engine room as well as the debris field nearby. Diver Charlie Bulloss recovered a very nice china bowl during his first dive and here he is proudly displaying it after the diving. It is a really nice piece and in great shape.
The first dive was so good we decided to double dive the Manuela so we buoyed off the anchor and went fishing around the area for a few hours to gas off. We caught one Blackfin Tuna which Charlie got to reel in (not a bad day for Charlie is it?). Then we picked our anchor line back up and found that even the light surface current had dropped out as had the wind and now it was almost dead calm. The second round of dives went by way to fast and I did not find another piece of china even though I looked right where Charlie told me too, could it be I was misled?
The ride back in was really nice, but long as we were 30+ miles out. We got back to the dock just before the sun set and packed up the dive gear in the falling light. It was a great day on the Ocean for us and we hope to get a few more like this in before the long chilly winter is upon us.
Aug 20/21, 2011 - We have been going out diving every weekend, but I am not too consistent on posting the dive reports. Might be that I am just to tired at the end of the diving day to sit down and punch out a few words or just that it has all been standard Hatteras conditions with just a few more or less fish and wave action tossed in there. This last weekend was an exception to the normal flow of the diving and was some of the nicest sea and diving conditions of the past month. The forecast for the period was decent but not exceptional and then as the weekend got here it became very good with less then 5kts of wind predicted. Saturday morning there was no wind at all and the seas were almost glassy except for the 3 foot swell rolling in from the SE. But where should we go?
After looking at all the available info I decided that the desired trip up to the U-701 was not a going to happen due to the probable 2 to 3 knot current at that site, so we went South towards the Proteus. With less than 2 miles left to go we got a radio call from JT on the Under Pressure telling us to turn back. He had arrived at the wreck site first and tried to anchor up but found over 2 kts of current. The hard edge of the Gulf Stream was just inshore of the Proteus and ran up East to the Diamond Shoals.
Both dive boats motored the 8 miles back into the Dixie Arrow where we found the current to be under 1/2 knot and the bottom vis in the 55 to 65 foot range. Lots of sea life at the site with a large number of southern sting rays in the 3 to 4 foot range scooting around. Big fat sandtigers were also present, not in large numbers but enough to give all the divers the shark encounter experience. We left the DA and went over to the FW Abrams for our second dive and had about the same current but vis in the 40ft range there.
The next morning we headed South again but this time to the wreck of the British Splendour. While enroute to the wreck I keep watching a big line of thunderstorms on the NexRad weather download as they formed near Cape Lookout and headed our way. Luck was with us as they moved off towards the east so we skirted the worst of them and only had a little rain and some increased seas. Once they passed, the wind and seas calmed as we anchored up into the wreck just about amidships. The current was running in the mid-water but on the wreck it was light enough to swim the wreck with ease. The vis was an easy 75 to 80 feet and all sorts of fish action was happening to include a very active cleaning station right at the anchor point. I pulled the anchor at the end of my dive intent on going to another site. However, after checking with the other dive boats over the radio realized that we had the best conditions right there at the BS and we decided to stay. This time we anchored the boat closer to the bow and on the other side of the of the wreck to more easily explore the bow section. The forward end of the Splendour used to be not a very interesting dive as it was mainly an upside-down hull with both gunnels buried into the sand. In the recent past this has changed due to the deterioration of the structure. Now there are lots of holes in the shell plating and the storm surge has scoured out the sand exposing areas that allow entry into the hull interior. Inside the hull is now the hiding place of thousands of fish and I saw everything from little bait fish to a small sandtiger up in there. Lots of small groupers and even some very large ones played hide and seek. You need a good light and caution, but it is a really cool experience to explore these spaces.
After the second dive, the winds picked up just as predicted and we headed home in a following sea under a Carolina Blue sky with smiles on our faces. Too bad Hurricane Irene is headed our way to ruin the coming weekend's diving or I would certainly be going back to the Splendour again for more of the same as it was truly that good.
July 28, 29, 30 and 31, 2011 - We made a four day run with a group of very experienced NC Wreck Divers. The period right before this trip had some very stiff SW winds that had persisted for many days calming just before we ventured out on Thursday the 28th. We motored South to the Proteus into a sea that had little wind chop but the occasional 5 to 7 footer left over from the prior week of wind. This made for an interesting ride for the last few miles as we entered into the offshore current near the wreck but by slowing down it was not as bad as it may sound. Once anchored up the divers explored the stern of the site while I stayed topside dealing with the rocky boat. On the bottom the vis was well over 80 feet and the sandtigers present everywhere they looked. For a second dive we came inshore to the Keshena where the seas where much calmer and the vis almost as good. Some of the divers spearfished and got some Flounders, Triggers and a large Cobia
The second day found us back out near the Proteus, anchoring into the Tarpon wreck. The wind was lighter at 5 to 10kts from the SW, the seas now only 2 to 5 with a slight mid water current. The dives were going along well, when the anchor tore out of the wreck even though tied in. Half the divers were already on the line, and the others upon discovering this, ascended safely using their SMBs and were quickly picked up. It is important to plan for the unexpected and these guys did a great job with this unexpected event.
We then went to the British Splendour and had an exceptional dive there. No current and superior visibility with lots of sea life. The boat was anchored almost amidships and was parked above the stern. When you jumped into the water you looked down and saw the wreck below you. Once down the anchorline the horizontal vis was even better and looking up the boat could be seen above you. This pic of the stern section shows where it is broken in half. This piece is about 25 feet high and 60 to 75 feet wide.
On the 30th we made the long run up to dive the U-701. The sea conditions had calmed to less then 2' and the current appeared to be slight when we passed the Diamond Shoals tower on the way to the U boat site. At the U boat the current was indeed light for this site at under 1/2 knot. This current was present throughout the descent making it a tuff hand pull down the line to about 80 feet then it slacked off and you could swim the site without too much effort. Many of these divers had been making a try for this site for a few years and they finally had a great dive on it. Another group tried to dive the U-boat on Sunday and encountered over 2.5 knots of current so it really is a site that takes a bit of luck to hit it just right. From there we went to the Australia stern site where the top water was very warm, but fairly thick and green as it was coming off the north side of the shoals. But once down to about 40 feet, the water got cooler, which felt really great, and much clearer. On the wreck there was little current and vis of around 60 feet so it was also a great dive.
For the final day of this excursion we went back to the Proteus. This time the surface conditions were almost dead calm with a light E wind and very small waves, the water super blue. Sharks were in great abundance as were a lot of other fishes. One dive there and into the Dixie Arrow where we found some of the best conditions I have seen at the site this season - the water was so blue and clear it seemed transparent. Lots of schooling fish and many small stingrays scooting around, just a pleasant dive experience; a great way to end four days of diving. Let's hope the rest of the season is this good.
July 11, 12, 13, 2011- We hosted a group of dive buddies that came from as far away as California to dive with us for the week. On Monday the 11th we had the perfect conditions to make the trip up to the U-701 but I was a bit worried as we crossed the shoals and found cool green water from the North there. After passing the Diamond Shoals tower we crossed several temperature changes and by the time we got to the site were back in warm blue water. There was no current on the surface but on the bottom a light current ran from the bow to the stern of the Uboat. We anchored just forward of the stern and the divers could easily explore the entire site. The surface and diving conditions were so good we stayed there for two dives. By the time a good SI had passed a surface current had showed up and was about 1/8 knot, which was present through the entire water column with the upside being the water was more clear for the second dive. The dives went great and the ride back in was smooth and easy.
Tuesday the 12th found us heading the boat out to the Proteus in a sea that was building from an increasing SW breeze. Got there to find good viz and lots of sandtiger shark action before we left and headed into the Dixie Arrow where we anchored into the stern section for the second dive. While there, the wind continued to pick up and the seas increase and they followed us home and threatened the next day's diving.
As Wednesday dawned the wind was still up but there was a promise of calming conditions so we delayed our departure and left the dock at 1100. We cleared the inlet into a dying sea from the South and were actually able to make better time into the sea than we had yesterday making it back to the DA and this time anchoring into the Bow section. The divers reported good viz along with sighting several eagle rays swimming the site. We then went over to the Keshena for the second dive and at the end of the dive a school of Mahi made an appearance when John Ratay was doing his deco and he speared one. This prompted one of the divers (now known as "fish slayer") to jump right in with a pole spear a take another one of the schoolies. One or two more got speared and another came aboard by hook and line making for a great dinner just a few hours later. The sea had almost completely calmed by the time we headed in and it was great end to a few days of diving as we could not go out as scheduled on Thursday as the wind came back up from the NE and it blew hard for the next day too.
June 22, 2011 - I have been remise in posting the dive reports as I have been too busy diving, not a bad excuse at all if I have to have one, so here is an update.
We headed out for one day on the 18th with a group from Virginia intent on the Proteus. However, heading into 4 to 5 footers with the promise of more offshore we decided to go short and anchored into the Dixie Arrow instead. The surface water was blue, very clear and had some current in it. Once in the water and headed down you could see the bottom and the wreck well, but then as you got to depth the horizontal vis fell to about 35 feet. There was still a lot to see and it made the encounters with the sandtigers even more impressive as they just suddenly appeared near you and then glided past. We then motored over to the Keshena wreck and had another dive with similar conditions minus the large sandtigers. Not bad diving in spite of the rough surface conditions. We had to cancel the Sunday diving due to the increasing winds and building seas.
On Tuesday the 21st, we headed back out to the Proteus in much better conditions with just light winds and a 2 foot sea on top of a big long period East swell. At the site we found the water to be super blue and very clear all the way down and once at the bottom 125 feet deep you could look up and see the boat. The current was about 1/4 knot on the surface but lighter on the bottom, the wreck was loaded with sea life and many, many sharks. We then went fishing for a few hours and boated 20 medium sized Mahi along the Sargasso weed lines that had formed nearby.
The next day the group decide they wanted to head back to the Proteus since it had been so good and they were not disappointed as the conditions were even better. The current had greatly reduced and was now from the East at the surface and non existent on the bottom. The vis was even better, well over 120 feet horizontal on the bottom. It is hard to end the dive on time with these type of conditions as you just want to stay down there forever. But I pulled the anchor on time anyway and drifting off the wreck in such clear water allows you to see the various pieces of small debris that litter the bottom nearby and continue the sightseeing for most of the ascent. We then motored into the Dixie Arrow for a second dive in almost identical conditions and everyone had a great dive there as well. The blue Gulf Stream waters have moved into Hatteras and are even over the inshore sites. I hope that they stay for the rest of the season.
June 5, 2011 - What a difference ten knots of breeze can make to the Ocean! This morning the wind had turned to the SW and was a steady 15 kts as we left the inlet and headed East to the Lancing. The seas had picked up from the near flat calm of yesterday to a steady supply of 2 to 4 footers from the SW. No real problem for the Lion's Paw as she actually runs a bit faster when there is a small sea to surf down and this was the perfect point of sail for her so we made the Lancing in just over an hour travel time. The Lancing is a WWII casualty that now sits upside down in 170 feet of water with the keel of the hull rising to just over 120 feet, so the relief of the wreck is very impressive. We anchored the ship very near the stern hooking the blast hole on the Port side, where the torpedo that sunk her hit. Descending the anchor line the hull came into view at about 80 feet deep and the first thing you could see was the large prop and rudder at the very stern. Upon passing over the keel on the anchor line you found yourself at the blast hole and the entrance into the aft compartments. Swimming inside the hull is an experience that you do not get on most of the wreck sites we dive as being shallower, they are not in the same intact state as the Lancing. Once in the interior of the ship, there is little light filtering in and you rely upon your dive light to navigate the maze of machinery and hull structure. There are several holes thru the hull to the Starboard side that allow some light to enter and might provide emergency exit, but they are small and would be difficult to use. You must use caution as you venture into the hull as if you make a mistake, you will not be coming out.
Other divers of the group explored the engine room by access it from the amidships cut where the hull is also broken open. This space is equally impressive with the large steam engine and all of the other machinery still present but has many tight areas that the diver must navigate around.
While at the Lancing site, the wind shifted to the North and calmed then the seas fell out quickly. We moved over to the Australia stern section for our second dive and found there was slightly more current than at the Lancing, but it was still very light by Hatteras standards. The top water vis was only about 40 feet but it opened up on the bottom to around 65 to 70 which made for a really good dive and if the day had not been overcast but sunny, the vis would have been even better. The Ausi wreck is a bit more sanded in this year than last, but still provided a lot to see. Unfortunately, the North breeze also brought with it more of the smoke from the Stumpy Point forest fire and there was actually ash falling on the boat during our stay here. The smoke cleared as we headed for the inlet and we enjoyed a smooth ride home after a weekend of some really excellent deep tech/wreck diving. After seeing some of the bottom times the guys using the CCR units are able to get even on back to back deep dives, I just might be tempted to go the the dark side and join them some day...
June 4, 2011 - We had predictions of very stable and calm weather for the weekend once again making for perfect conditions to make a try on some of the more challenging sites. So we left this morning in very good sea conditions and headed east to the tip of the Diamond Shoals. We made the 21 mile trip in just over an hour and located the wreck of the Diamond Shoals Lightship in just a few minutes. There was little to no surface current and only a light NW wind of about 5kts so the surface conditions were optimal. This small wreck is just over 125 feet long and sits 180 to the deck and 200 to the sand wash, so she is hard to hook. It took two tries and then we were anchored right into the stern at the aft hatch. The top water was very clear and blue but descending the anchor line you encountered a layer at about 110 feet where the viz dropped to about 40 feet, then at around 140 it cleared dramatically, the water got a good bit colder and the wreck was clearly seen below. It seemed like it was right there in front of you, but it was really still almost 50 feet deeper. Descending the final 50 feet I hit the deck at 182 right at the very fantail which sits proud of the sand at least 10 feet or more.
The hull of the wreck is very intact and the deck beams and pillars still support some of the structure. All along the gunnels you can still see the various fittings such as rope fairleads and bollards. There are many very interesting bits of machinery visible to include a large electrical switch panel which lays just forward of the stern on the starboard side. Continuing forward to just aft of the actual bow you reach a very large windlass that is the largest piece of equipment on the deck. All along the wreck you can look down through the deck beams and view the contents of the interior of the hull where many interesting object are laying having come loose from their original positions. There is simply so much to see it is difficult to take it all in during the course of one short dive and that is just the wreckage. The sea life here was also of interest to include large amberjack that swarm you the entire dive and one very large Grouper that made it’s presence know to all the divers following them around. Overall a great dive if you are willing to do some deco…
For a second dive the group decided to make the run up to the U-701 as the current was so light and conditions so good. Due to the light wind against the light current it took a few tries to anchor the u boat as well, but once we did we were rewarded with a great dive. Though more current than at the Lightship, it was still very light for this site and the bottom vis a very nice 75 feet or so. Again, swarms of amberjacks accompanied you down the line to the wreck and stayed the whole dive. The conditions at the 701 site are some of the best I have ever seen. More of the structure is now exposed and much more sand is scoured out from the bow and stern making this dive even more impressive. I swam the entire boat and saw features that I have never seen exposed before. This is the year to dive her if you can.
Two great dives on two historical wreck sites. You simply can’t ask for more except to have some more great diving tomorrow.
May 28-29, 2011 - Until the previous weekend I had only had sporadic interest in divers for chartering the Memorial Day Weekend, usually one that is booked way in advance.. The divers that were on board for the previous weekend found this out while diving with us and asked to jump on board. We went out and dived The Empire Gem, then the Kassandra and followed that with a dive at the Hesperides. On Sunday we chose to hit the Proteus and then ran down to the British Splendour. Nothing but great dives at all sites and again the seas were very calm and the day a really good one to be on the ocean.
May 21-22, 2011 - As this weekend approached I was watching the weather predictions do something that is the opposite of what normally happens, they kept getting better and better and then the prediction of light winds and slight seas actually came to fruition. This was exactly what we needed to accomplish the long runs to the dive sites this group of divers wanted to visit. The boat made the trip out to the Manuela into the falling head seas a smooth ride and by the time we got there the Ocean was very calm. Everyone was very excited to see that we had no current and the water was very blue and 77.5 degrees - really good for early May.
Several of the group were using CCR units of various brands and the others large high capacity tanks allowing for long exposures. The CCR divers had run times of over 90 mns and the open circuit divers about an hour or so. We anchored into the wreck just behind the bow section and unfortunately the great viz of the top water had fallen to around 40 to 50 feet on the bottom and navigating this large wreck was more challenging than on a really clear dive. That did not stop the divers from having a great dive as the site was loaded with sea life and even in lower vis the Manuela is still a spectacular dive.
We then went to the Proteus for a second dive and again had very good conditions with clear top water, light current and the bottom vis here of about 60 feet.
On Sunday we ran the 48 miles to the Tamalipus wreck, also known as the Far East Tanker. The wind was less than 5 kts and the seas a gentle 2 foot swell. At arrival we found very light to almost no current. We anchored into the site on the top of the high debris of the mid section just forward of the engine room. The divers had no trouble swimming the entire stern section in vis of 70 to 80 feet. There were large numbers of big fish on the bottom but few sandtigers present. Being the last ones in, Marc and I pulled the anchor and we slowly drifted off the site. Just after completing the deco obligation, I turned around to see a 8 to 10 foot Bull Shark approaching. I made an rather loud involuntary exclamation into my regulator and this obviously startled the shark as it reacted then turned and swam off. I thought "That's Good!", but it then turned and came right back at me then veered away and it did this a few times when a second one shows up and did the same thing. Now there are two Bull Sharks swimming towards and then away from us and now I can see a third one circling about 70 feet away, just at the edge of the vis. OK, I think I have had enough deco and we got out of the water promptly. I have about 10 seconds of very jerky and fuzzy video of this. Surprising how hard it is to hold a camera steady sometimes...
The below reports are from 2010
December 31, 2010 - The bleak winter weather that the East Coast has been suffering with the past month has worked it's way down to Hatteras as well. It has brought a lot of North wind and big seas and it was in the 20's several times over the past few weeks. Something happened that I have not seen in years, there was ice forming on the shallow salt pond behind the house.
All of this has pretty much put an end to our diving season and now we will be getting the boat ready for the upcoming season. There will be many improvements to Lion's Paw to make it and even better dive boat. The GPS system has already been upgraded with the addition of another networked screen and the system is being interfaced with a new VHF comm radio capable of Digital Select Calling and Automatic Identification System outputs. This will show the position of other boats and approaching ships on the displays allowing us to make sure they are not going to cause a safety problem for the divers. This system also passes our identity and position information when we communicate to the Coast Guard. Things like this add a great deal to the safety and security of the operation.
We also just added an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) to our safety equipment package, something we hope to never have to use. Lots of other stuff is going to be done during the off season to make the dive boat even better for next season and I will try and keep you posted on the progress.
Hope you all have a really great New Year celebration and we dive together many times in 2011.
November 21 & 22, 2010 - The weather moderated from two weeks of heavy gales; the prediction for the weekend was light winds and slight seas and the weatherman was right! We sailed with a group of divers that had been waiting for just this type of opportunity to Dive Hatteras just once more before the long cold winter sets in. The need to put just one more memorable dive under your weight belt is a strong one and they were not disappointed - they got four.
The surface conditions were excellent; just 5 knots of light breeze and less than a 2 foot sea but we knew that from the last two weeks of hard North wind that it would be best to head as far south and offshore as we could. So we set a course for the Manuela and ran the 28 miles to the wreck site to find that the water changed from the cool 60's to the 70's just inshore of the site. Maneuvering around prior to anchoring the wreck we saw several large loggerhead turtles and then we were swarmed by a large pod of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. The Dolphins swam with the boat for more than ten minutes and video and photos were taken by several divers. Just as we began to anchor up one of the divers, Bruce, spotted something big splashing about 25 yards from the boat. This turned out to be not one, but two Manta Rays. These rays were right on the surface and were flapping their "wings" making some big splashes. However, we couldn't get the boat over to them in time to take any good photos. They continued to frolic in the area for some time, but never came right next to the boat so no manta rides or good pics. Unfortunately, the Mantas were not seen during the dives.
We anchored the wreck in the debris field right at the wheelhouse and the divers were able to easily swim the entire midsection of the site. The water conditions were very good with the top water a bit cool at 68 and a little green with about 35 ft of vis. Going down the line the water warmed to 78 and the vis popped open to around 75 ft or more. 40 foot from the bottom, which is 155 to 160 feet, there was another thermal layer and the temp dropped to 72.5 and the vis dropped to about 45 ft. After all, it is the week before Thanksgiving and not the middle of our summer season so lower vis should be expected. The dive site had a number of large fish there to include big Gag and Scamp groupers and several of the large Cubera snappers. The invasive lionfish were everywhere as were the Sandtiger sharks. The dive was so good we decided to stay for a second. After a long SI we did another dive and found that the water conditions actually improved to the point that the surface water was now 78+ and had about 60 foot vis. At the bottom the water vis had increased to around 60 foot. Close to the end of his dive, diver John Ratay spotted a huge Scamp and took a clean shot that stoned it.
At the end of the dives, the last three divers pulled the anchor and rode the anchor line off the wreck. During the drift off, the boat pulled them through what Diver Bruce Novak described as "a big cloud of sharks". At about 80 feet there was a "herd" of large Sandtigers that numbered at least 80 to 100 and the divers went right through them middle of them. The sharks politely moved just slightly aside as the divers drifted through. It was a cool thing to experience.
On Sunday, dawn came with absolutely no wind and a light patchy ground fog that vanished as the sun rose while we were motoring out. The sea conditions were even better than Saturday's and we again went South and offshore. Nearing the Proteus, our original destination, the water was still mixed green and in the 60's, so we decided to continue out to the Manuela again. This decision turned out to be the right one as the water had improved from the day before and the surface was 78 with over 60 to 70 foot of vis. There was a mixed layer during the descent that had lower vis, but at the bottom it opened up and the vis was between 80 to 100 ft. It is interesting how the conditions can change so from day to day, and even between the dives. The photo to the right shows Diver Cliff Cason with one of the fish that he took with his Omer gun - just before the bands broke.
Many of the same type of creatures were seen again, but today there were many more turtles swimming around or tucked into holes sleeping. I saw at least 6 different ones during my near 20 minute BT. During the SI, they kept popping up all around the boat until we almost got tired of watching them but by then it was time to join them in the water for the second dive.
The second drop to the Manuela was limited in time due to the RNT from the previous dives here, but the few minutes you got to spend on the bottom was well worth the effort and the deco time.
Overall, not too shabby diving for the weekend just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Now is it appropriate to substitute Grouper and Scamp for Turkey?
October 9/10, 2010 - The fall diving has been a bit sporadic as several weather systems have kept us in port but this second weekend of October everything aligned and perfect diving weather moved over Hatteras and the offshore waters. A group of highly skilled divers chartered the boat for a try at some of the deeper Hatteras sites. Saturday morning we left just after dawn and headed to the Tamalipus which is also known as the Far East Tanker. The divers hit the water and had plenty of time to explore most of the stern section with a run time of just over an hour on the 160 foot deep wreck. One of them spotted a prize in the area of the engine and brought up a very nice example of a cage light. We then went to the Proteus wreck and had a decent dive with moderate current and vis of around 40 to 50 feet.
On Sunday, we left the dock just before sunrise and made good speed on very flat seas out to the Manuela, a wreck that sits 165 feet deep. The water conditions continued to improve as we approached the site and once there found 82 degree crystal clear deep blue Gulf Stream waters. We anchored the wreck and found the current to be a respectable 3/4 to 1 knot on the surface, enough to leave a wake behind the tag line buoy. However, with experienced divers on board, this proved to be no problem other than slowing the descent down the anchor line. The slow decent was not wasted as there was plenty to see. Once 40 to 50 feet deep you could see the sand below and the wreck was clearly in view on the pull down the anchor line. The visibility appeared almost unlimited, in excess of 120 feet. The current fell out near the bottom and swimming the site was easy. Anchored in the debris field next to the stern section, some divers explored the engine room area and several others swam the entire site making their way up to the bow section. As the dive ended for each of the buddy groups, they began the slow ascent up the anchor line. The photo to the left was taken from the bow pulpit as the divers paid the decompression price for the dive they just enjoyed. The diver in the foreground is at the ten foot stop, the deepest diver is at 80 feet with the exhaust bubbles being swept away by the current. During my dive I spotted a school of about 30 to 40 very large Cubera Snappers that stayed around me the entire dive which is unusual for this normally skittish fish. There were also large numbers of big Groupers as well as numerous Lionfish. A large turtle was present the entire time as well.
We then moved over to the Proteus site for another dive there and found much less current, but also much less visibility. Though the top water appeared fairly clear the water clarity fell dramatically at depth leaving the divers with around 10 to 15 foot on the wreck - what a contrast to the Manuela site which is only 10 miles distant.
Aug / Sept 2010 - Sep 18, 2010 - For the past many weeks, we have been getting in a some very good diving in the blue waters. But it is Hurricane season and there have been a few interruptions to the diving. So far Hatteras has been spared a direct hit but we have felt the effects of several distant storms and one that passed very close to the Banks.
The distant storms, like the one we have this weekend, create large ocean swells that have a great deal of energy. This energy reaches deep into the ocean and stirs the sand which quickly reduces the visibility to zero. They can also create a very dangerous inlet that is not safe to navigate. All of this makes for conditions that blow out the diving, even though the storm may be 500 miles away. It happened again this weekend and we cancelled the diving due to another Hurricane, Igor.
These storms are part of the ocean and living along the Outer Banks. They have created some of the wrecks we dive and can change them with every passing. Once they pass, the good vis will return as the ocean calms and we will be diving again soon. Come join us and see if the swell has turned up anything new...
July 2 thru 11, 2010 - This is a larger range of dives than I have normally made a dive report on and during this period we saw some very dramatic change in both the surface and diving conditions on the wreck sites. We started out the July 4th holiday weekend with dives to the Proteus, Dixie Arrow and the Katherine Monohan. The surface conditions on the weekend were excellent and very calm, especially on Sunday. The dive at the DA on Sunday was especially interesting as divers reported seeing not just the normal Sand Tiger Shark on the bottom, but also Lemons. On the boat during the surface interval some action was noted at the tag line buoy and then it was discovered that there were several silky sharks playing bump the buoy. They did this for several minutes then disappeared to wherever they had come from and were not seen again. However, we were treated to a quick drive-by (maybe should be swim-by) view of a good sized Bull Shark when on the hang line at the end of the next dive. The DA was certainly very sharky that day but that was not the only sea life to view as the wreck had a very large number of other fish present as well.
On Tuesday, July 6, we took advantage of the flat calm seas and headed to the Shoals area. The Australia was the chosen site and we had almost no current and vis in the 50+ foot range on the bottom with more in the top water. The divers going down the anchor line were suddenly swarmed by a pod of 10 to 12 Atlantic Spotted dolphins that swam with them as they descended. I had to be content with watching from the bow pulpit. Diver John Ratay had a great dive and speared a large 40 to 50 lbs Cobia and when he was ascending the anchor line back to the boat felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. Thinking it was a dive buddy he turned around to see a large dolphin right there beside him, very interested in the big fish he was carrying. The dolphin stayed with him several minutes swimming close by and looking over the fish John had, then just swam off. We then dived the Northeastern and made a brief stop at the Hesperides before heading for the dock. Overall a great day of diving and a cool experience for John!
On Wednesday we again went to the shoals area and this time stopped at the Liberator. There the top water was very still, calm and clear but this all changed about 10 feet above the bottom. The vis fell off dramatically to just about 15 feet - very disappointing. However, knowing the wreck well, I was able to swim the site and leapfrog from one section to the other as you could make out the shadow of the next section. There were a lot of fish present and on the high spots of the site the vis was actually not too bad, but overall far from the most pleasing dive I have had at this site. We then moved over to the Australia since it had been so good the day before. We were again treated to decent vis of well over 50 feet. However, today there was a good current from about 40 feet down to the bottom making the dive a bit more of a challenge. It is surprising that two sites so close to each other (about 3.5 miles apart) can have such different conditions. It is really all about the location of the wreck and the surrounding underwater typography and the very changeable nature of the Diamond Shoals area..
We ran south for the dives the next day and stopped at the DA and what a change in conditions since our last visit on Sunday. The water was 82 and very, very blue. At 25 feet down the current was around 1/2 knot running from the stern towards the bow, but the surface almost dead still. The sand on the bottom was clearly visible as soon as you jumped into the water and lots of sea life of all description swimming about. From the bottom I could look up and see the boat - the great summer conditions had finally arrived! .
One thing the current and blue water will bring is the big African Pompano. Diver John Ratay took advantage of their appearance and got off a good shot on a very big one. These fish are no easy task as they are powerful swimmers and fight long and hard. After some struggle, he was able to rodeo ride it back to the boat and got it on board.
There was no diving for us on Friday due to scheduling and the Saturday trip that was to go to the U-701 was scrubbed. We left the inlet in the morning and quickly realized that a run to the 701 was not going to happen and started south towards the Tarpon. It took about 4 miles for me to really get convinced that the only site we should be visiting was the dock, so the boat was turned back and we surfed the 5 to 6 footers back home. The winds did indeed pick up and the cold front moved through as predicted. The next morning we again climbed on board and headed back out into the now dying 5 foot seas. At 15kts the Lion's Paw takes this type of head sea well and we made it to the Tarpon in just about 90 minutes. There was absolutely no current at the Tarpon at all and the water was 84, the vis seemed unlimited. During the descent, there was a water change at about 80 feet and it did get a touch cooler and the vis dropped just slightly, but the wreck was in view by then and the dive was nothing short of spectacular. Lots of big sharks in a herd just hanging out in the sand off the bow, big groupers and lots of cool things to look at on the boat as well to include a really large spotted eel hanging out of his lair right at the very top of the wreck between the bow planes. I could have stayed for hours, but the computer kept beeping and I eventually gave in an headed up to pay the price of staying there too long at the granny line. But the deco was easy without the current and the seas were in fact dying out - plus it was worth it for the dive that had just happened. We headed into the DA for a second dive and the conditions there were just great as well with lots of turtles and rays to dive with as a bonus. It appears that the long awaited clear water is finally here - let's hope that it stays around this time. By the time we motored for the inlet and home, the sea was going flat again and the only wind was from the boat moving along at 20 knots...
June 12/13, 2010 - This dive weekend had some great weather with a flat calm sea on Saturday that allowed us to make the long run up to the German U boat, the U-701. Stopping at the Hesperides wreck on the shoals to gauge the current, we found there was none, and that was confirmed again as we passed close by the old Diamond Shoals Tower and the water was again almost dead still.
It took two tosses of the anchor to hook into the submarine. Once in the water, the divers found that the top water was very clear and 78, with a distinct layer at around 80 feet that took the temp down to 72 and the viz fell off as well to about 40ft. On the bottom there was some current that was running straight down the wreck from the bow to the stern. This is not very typical for this site as the "normal current" runs directly across the beam of the wreck, but it worked for us as we had anchored the very stern section and this allowed the divers to swim up current to the bow, then drift back to the anchor at the end of the dive.
The U-boat is very uncovered this season, more than I have ever seen it before. At the stern the port side prop and gear are now fully exposed and at the bow the sand is scoured out so deeply that a diver can swim under the keel for about 25 feet back from the bow. The torpedo doors and anchor are all visible as well as the port side bow plane.
All the divers had a great time and were glad to have had such a good opportunity to dive the boat in calm seas and low current conditions. We then moved back south to the shoals and stopped at the Kassandra Louloudis for a second dive. Top water conditions were very nice, warm and mixed blue water, but at the bottom it was a cold 62! Clear water, but it felt really cold in a 3mm suit. Lots of fish and sand tigers about and tons of wreck junk to explore make this a great dive even if chilly today. Next we went to the Hesperides and did a third dive there with one diver commenting that he could not believe such a fabulous wreck was in such shallow water.
On Sunday we went south due to the weather forecast of building winds and seas from the SW. We dived the Proteus and had really clear top water. At 44ft I could look down and see the big sharks and tops of the boilers they were swimming over. However, the last 20 feet to the bottom the cool green water was present and the temp dropped to 72 and the viz down to 40ft. Still a great dive, just not as clear as expected. Dive boat mate Cliff shot himself a very nice Pompano on his dive.
We then moved inshore to the DA and as predicted the winds began to increase. The DA unfortunately had some very poor viz of just 10 to 20 feet on the bottom making the dive there not as rewarding as had been hoped for. The trip back in was made with rising winds and a building following sea pushing us home to the inlet. Overall a great weekend of diving on the Lion's Paw.
Dive Reports for 2009
October 4th, 2009 - It is the fall already and the change of season comes to Hatteras in the form of cold fronts that clear the humidity from the air, but as they pass can bring with them some wind and rain. The one that showed up late Friday was a good example. When it arrived there were thunderstorms all night long, some with Hollywood style light and sound effects that wake you from the deep sleep dreaming about good diving. In the early morning, the T storms had all moved just offshore and the wind having hit 30kt gust overnight was now down to the single digits but the sea was still up and the rainstorms just offshore. So we all went back to bed for a short while and regrouped at the boat after 10am. The front and rainstorms now far offshore, decision was to go out and try a run to the Proteus. The trip out was not the best of boat rides as the SE swell was still fairly big and every now and then one would top 6 feet, but we could hold 16 to 17kts and made the Proteus in reasonable time. At the wreck the seas had calmed and continued to do so through out the day.
The ride out was worth the effort as the underwater conditions were the best I have seen at this site all season. There was absolutely no current and the visibility was easily better than 100 feet. The sea life was varied and plentiful and with no current many of the fish just seemed to hang in space around us like life-sized versions of the plastic fish tank variety anchored by a weight and string. Even the ever-present sharks were in the chill out mode and enjoying the clear still waters. During the dive we saw an unusually large number of Morey eels of different sizes hanging out of their hiding holes, all of them different colors and sizes. Back under the stern there were a good number of sharks as well as large groupers. Just a great dive all around and the divers made long dives with the CCR divers running almost two hour total in the water. With the late start and anticipation of another long deep dive tomorrow, we made for the inlet after this dive and found the ride back in with the waves much better than the ride out. The Proteus rarely, if ever, is a disappointing site and today it was far better than it usually is - spectacular is the word that describes it best.
September 5, 2009 - Though we have dived many times since the last dive report, I was just too busy with the boat and other things to get out a trip report but today's diving was just too good not to brag about! We left the dock at around 0900 after waiting for some divers who were running late. After the briefing and talking about what the divers wanted to see as well as the weather forecast - which was for 10 to 15 kts NE with a 3-4 foot sea - we decided to head South and try for the Proteus, with a fall back of going to the Dixie Arrow. Once out of the inlet we made a quick and easy ride out and at the DA it was still fairly nice going as the wind sea was on the port quarter and the swell just about on the beam so we continued out to the Proteus. Once there, we found little surface current but the seas had gotten a bit larger. We anchored in just to the port side of the engine and when the divers descended the line I could see them almost until they made it to the bottom. The water was 85 degrees, very clear and deep blue, and the bright sunshine gave us visibility of over 100 feet on the bottom. There were thousands of baitfish schooling on the wreck with scores of jacks and mackerels taking advantage of them in blazingly fast charges through the schooling baitfish. This went on the entire time of my dive and many times I was in the middle of the bait ball with the jacks zooming right past me in pursuit of their lunch. A really cool experience, if you are not a 6 inch long baitfish. Meanwhile, a few of the resident sandtiger sharks patrolled leisurely about the wreck but I did not see as many as has been normal. That changed when I swam to the stern of the wreck and there stacked up in a large school were at least 75 to 100 of the sharks all just fining slowly into the current. When the vis is this good you can really see just how many of these large sandtigers hang out on this wreck site and for some reason today they all seemed to be in one big bunch gathered at the stern. This dive ended all too soon and we pulled the anchor and watched the wreck recede into the haze as we drifted off.
Our second dive was at the FW Abrams wreck, which took us about an hour to get to. It is a good thing the the Lions Paw is a well designed sea boat as the seas were now bumping up to an occasional 5 to 6 footer. Descending the 75 feet to the wreck the divers passed through water that was definitely much cooler and a bit greener than out at the Proteus. But at the bottom, the water was actually warmer and clear with about 40 to 50 feet of visibility. The last two tropical storms and the big swells they generated have cleared away a lot of sand from the wreck and many beams, plates and other pieces of structure are now visible that had been covered earlier in the season. Again, lots of baitfish are concentrated on the wreck and their numbers will increase into the fall season bringing more of the predator fish to the sites. Here at the Abrams, it was a school of fairly large Spanish Mackerel that were working the baitfish. I couldn't get a good shot at the large Spanish and settled for a good sized Gag that came my way and provided us a very good diner that night. We made for the inlet as the wind was picking up and the forecast for the next two days of diving beginning to not look so good. During the night the wind continued to increase and in the morning we canceled the diving for both Sunday and Monday and this turned out to be a very good decision. Too bad as the underwater conditions are just perfect. If we could only get to the dive sites without having to travel on the surface....
August 3rd, 2009 - After two days of blowouts over the weekend we finally got to leave the dock and go to sea. We made 16 knots out to the Proteus into the head seas left over from the weekend blow, but the wind was no longer behind them and the seas fell out throughout the day. When we arrived at the Proteus we found very little current and stratified layers in the water column. During the descent you went through a couple of layers of very different colors and visibilities, but at the bottom even though it was several degrees cooler, the water was very clear with a light current. Anchored aft of the engine, we toured around the stern area and made a pass under the transom, past the many sharks hanging out in the deep hole there. This is the place for the "money shot" if you are doing film or video as it makes an impressive picture with the sharks and the large identifiable wreckage to frame it all. During the pass around the stern Ann scored some really nice shells as well. We then moved back to the engine area where big groupers, an octopus and many eels were spotted, while all the time scores of sharks finned slowly into the current overhead. Lots of big fish, sharks and then even the small stuff - the Proteus rarely disappoints us.
We then traveled to the Dixie Arrow and even though the vis was significantly less there, the diving was really very good. The DA had scores of smaller rays swarming around the sandy areas just off the stern and thousands of bait fish that were ringing the dinner bell for the jacks plus the required half dozen sandtigers swimming about. A really fun dive to end the day and it all made sitting on the beach waiting out the weather worth it.
July 20~23, 2009 - We hosted a group of divers that dive together often, even though they live scattered around the country. They traveled from California and Pennsylvania to experience our brand of East Coast Shipwreck diving and they were not disappointed. On Monday 20th the seas were very calm and winds light. After the briefing and discussion of what the group wanted to see, we headed to the Tarpon. The conditions there were excellent with little to no current and lots and lots and lots of sharks to be seen. The ascent was not boring either with large schools of Amberjack and African Pompano swarming the divers. The second dive was at the Keshena and it had little current as well but less vis but a good amount of sea life at the site..
Tuesday's diving was at the Proteus and again with little current, but the overcast sky lowered the vis to around 60 feet at the bottom. There was a cool thermal layer in mid water and many of the sandtigers were hanging above the layer and this put the sharks just below the boat so as the divers entered the water they were just ten to fifteen feet above the sharks, which they swam past to make the descent to the wreck. On the bottom brass fever almost took hold as they spotted a nice intact porthole, but it remains firmly in place. On the way to the Dixie Arrow for a second dive, a pod of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins showed up and the divers snorkeled with the pod for about 30 minutes before the dolphins got bored and moved off. At the Arrow we dived the bow and had a great show from the large schools of Jacks and False Albacore that were feeding on the bait fish - it doesn't look like fun to be a 6 inch fish in the ocean.
On Wednesday, 23rd, when I asked the group where they wanted to dive they had one answer - back to the Proteus! Even though the ground swell was slightly bigger the ride to the wreck was fast and smooth and this time the bright sunshine made the vis pop to around 100ft. The sandtigers were still there in big numbers but most were down at the bottom this time. The divers had a bit more current to deal with and by the time we left the site rain clouds were forming on the horizon that followed us to the Monohan wreck. Though the vis on this inshore site was only about 50ft, it was a great dive with octopus and many other reef creatures being seen. When the divers were in the water the rain came and went past, so I was the only one to get rained on and the ride back to the dock was pleasant and mostly sunny. A great way to end a three day dive trip and guarantee some new converts to NC Wreck diving!
July 4th, 2009 - The best weather of the July 4th holiday weekend was actually on the 4th itself and that found us heading up to the Diamond Shoals area for the first time this season and we were not disappointed with the conditions. The first dive was on one of the wrecks that is rarely visited, the Liberator, with visibility that allowed you to see most of the wreck site during the anchor line descent. On the bottom there was little current and the divers swam the entire site without any problems -except for the small sandtiger that showed up and tried to take a speared fish! There were several other sandtigers on the site but they stayed inside the hold section of the amidships hull and just seemed to ignore us. We then moved over to the Kassandra Louloudis on the backside of the Diamond, trolling along the way catching some nice Mahi and a King as well. Once at the wreck the divers found the water conditions different with mixed blue/green surface, a cool Labrador in the middle and clear blue water across the bottom with about 65 ft of vis. The Kassandra was loaded with sea life to include several turtles and with the light current we swam the whole wreck easily. We then went over to the Northeastern and had a dive at this tanker wreck before heading for the dock and some much needed 4th of July BBQ. Too bad you missed this great day on the ocean.
June 13, 2009 - We took the Lion's Paw out for a great day of diving to the British Splendour and it was so good we stayed there for two dives. The trip to the wreck site was made in a little over an hour as we worked into a fairly good sized swell that died out throughout the day. Once at the site, we anchored into the starboard side of the wreck, just forward of the engine room area. The water was clear blue and 79 on the surface with a slight thermal layer at 65ft that dropped the temp to 76 and the viz to about 80ft. The wreck was covered with life from the numerous sandtiger sharks to large schools of amberjack and spadefish that swarmed around the divers. The wreck also had some large grouper and snappers swimming about and a couple of them made the ride back with us. This wreck has had some changes to it over the winter with more of the engine room hull plates being pealed open and more of the interior exposed. The forward end of the upside down hull has also collapsed more so there is not the large overhang that once existed there. Even with the changes, this is an impressive wreck site that still allows penetration through the engine room where great numbers of fish hide out and artifacts are to be found. Can't wait to go back!
It's the beginning of a new 2007 dive season in Hatteras.
We will try and post periodic updates to the dive reports to keep you abreast of the conditions and sea life sightings:
Sept 3rd report:
The dates surrounding Labor Day saw some rough sea conditions, but no current in the Diamond Shoals area so we were able to dive the Australia Wreck site for the first time this season. The water was slightly cool and just a bit green, but the reward for the journey was diving with a very large Manta Ray for about ten minutes as it circled the wreck checking us out. A Manta encounter is an unbelievable experience, but one that happens in Hatteras this time of year and throughout the rest of the fall diving season.
The diving in August has been generally very good with all the trips going to the Southern wrecks, Proteus and British Splendour providing exceptional conditions and sea life. Several dates were lost to unusually windy conditions for August but every time we did go it was worth the effort. The Proteus has remained true to it's reputation as a shark wreck with numerous Sand Tigers being on site during each visit. The inshore wrecks have all held good vis of at least 60 feet on all visits and at all sites the numbers of small bait fish have been growing throughout the month and now the schools are so dense that on occasion they interfere with the visibility.
We have been diving and the conditions are excellent. Most of the diving has all been on the Southern wreck sites with very good viz and lots of sea life. The sandtigers have been present on all offshore sites and the swarms of baitfish are now beginning to appear along with larger schools of those that feed upon them. The August dog days are here and the seas are finally flattening out a bit. The Gulf Stream has pushed in fairly strong and large masses of Sargasso grass are everywhere and last Sunday we encountered a large sea turtle floating in one big patch. At first we thought it to be dead, but when the boat stopped alongside to investigate it looked up lazily and then just totally ignored us as we took photos. Later that same day Rich speared a 51 pound Cubera Snapper on the Keshena wreck, which is one big fish! I have been too busy (or lazy) to update the dive reports much. Sorry about that - I will try harder for the rest of the season..
June 2, 2007
The forecast for the weekend was really looking good until Thursday night when tropical storm Barry was added to the forecast and it came through as predicted on Sunday. The storm left us with just Saturday and we did go out and have a couple of very good dives. We launched from the dock with the members of the NASA Goddard Dive club and had a fairly good ride south to the Dixie Arrow. We chose the DA as the current offshore was reported to be fairly high and the WX for later in the day to build. We anchored into the bow section and just as soon as the divers jumped in they could see the sand 90 ft deep and at the anchor line they could see the wreck. Current was present down the water column and on the bottom it was flowing from the stern quarter across the wreck to the bow, but not too strong to swim against and many of the divers swam to the stern and drifted back with the current, touring the whole wreck site. The viz was spectacular and you could see across the entire beam of the shipwreck and beyond into the blue. A few sandtigers and several large snappers swimming about made the dive complete. The offshore water conditions are as good as they get, so don't miss out this year.
No dive reports are available for the 2006 season.
Dive Reports from 2005
June 13~17th 2005
"Lions, Sand Tigers but no Bears...."
The "Old Canadian Divers" made the long trek south to enjoy some warm water diving for a change. Even though our temps are down a few degrees for this time of year it still beats the 30's they are used to in the Great Lakes. Most of the week the conditions were best on the Southern wreck sites, so that is where we concentrated the efforts. We visited the Proteus a couple of times and were treated to light currents, good viz of about 75' and large numbers of Sand Tiger Sharks. A dive to the nearby Tarpon had even better water clarity with sightings of Lionfish and a good sized Jewfish as well. Lionfish were also seen on the Dixie Arrow which we visited three times during this expedition with all three providing a different diving experience due to the changing water conditions and various sea life present. A dive on the Keshena proved to be very exciting for she held a surprise for one diver that had speared several very large flounders. The small shark that he scared away from his catch came back with it's big brother and the two were last seen with mesh bag in hand (actually in mouth) cruising off into the sand to enjoy their free picnic lunch, just like Yogi and Booboo taking a Picnic Basket from the tourists at Jellystone...
A good week of diving fun was had with only one day at the dock due to rough conditions.
June 18th, 2005
BFDC Divers had a great dive on the Proteus. The ride to the wreck was smooth and fast with a NE breeze that built throughout the day. On the wreck we hooked just aft of the engine and the light current allowed exploration of any part of the wreck a diver wanted to swim to. There was a great number of Sand Tigers hanging off the bow section in stacks as far as you could see and I counted over 50 in the area around the stern. There were large numbers of Red and Silver Snappers, Groupers and many other schooling fishes on the wreck too. It was a classic Hatteras Blue Water dive with lots of sea life action and great viz. It was hard to leave the site and travel inshore, but the seas were building. The second dive was at the Dixie Arrow with conditions of cooler water and about 50ft of viz. The NE wind picked up during the afternoon and continued all night so we cancelled the diving for Sunday due to rough sea conditions.
Below are the few 2004 Dive Reports that we posted.
July 4th, 2004
Divers: Tom Darone Group
We had some great weather develop for the July 4th holiday weekend and we went out every day on ever calmer waters. The sun was very bright and the water was clear as well, giving some of the best conditions of the season. During this three day trip Tom and his group enjoyed the Arrow, British Splendour, Monohan, Keshena and Proteus.
June 26th, 2004
Sea Ventures Dive Shop
The weekend dive trip was looked forward too, but the weather for Saturday had plans of it's own. There was a stiff breeze that caused a short chop on top of a SE swell resulting a a very bumpy ocean. The group made a good decision to sit it out for the day and try a bit of fishing in the sound. We drift fished in the inlet, down the ferry channels and even made one trip out to the sea buoy and promptly turned back to sheltered waters. Everyone caught a fish - and everyone threw their monsters back to grow into adult fish! The breeze shifted overnight and we sailed in the morning for the Arrow and had a great dive there.
June 19 & 20, 2004
The weekend weather prediction was for 2 foot seas. With great optimism we headed out to find a two foot wind sea on top of a two to three foot swell. By now I should know better than to trust the weatherman when it comes to this, but they often hit it fairly close. A report from a local fishing Captain of over 2kts of current on the shoals came to us by radio, so we headed to the south and dived first at the Monohan. The water was 80 on the surface, with no current present and we found the viz to be superb of at least 80'. The bottom at 109' could be seen immediately upon jumping in. After a great dive on the KM, we went to the Dixie Arrow where conditions were even just a bit better. The water clarity was very good and large schools of spadefish swarmed around the entire dive. Several of the divers reported a large manta ray circling the bow section. But having the camera with us prevented us from seeing it... Early Sunday morning the cold front arrived and the wind blew 25kts from the NE. So we cancelled the diving for the day but it was a hard decision because the "80's" (80 degrees and 80ft viz) are back in Hatteras..
Below are the 2003 dive reports from last year.
Dive Report: Aug 29, 30 &31
Divers from Sea Ventures Dive Shop; John Mahoney, John , and Toby
The weather has not been better than what these lucky divers ordered up for their weekend at sea. We had light winds and slight seas for all of the days we sailed. The swell from the SE didn't even slow us down as we made our way to the
Dive Report: Aug 23&24
Divers: Jim Willis, Tom & Paul Wash, John Mahoney & some guy named Ralph
We sailed on Sat into a stiff but falling West breeze that created a 2 foot wind chop on top of the SE swell. Not the best of boat rides, but we slugged it out to the Bow of the DA and hooked in for two dives there. The water was green and clear down to 25', then warmer and clear blue down to 65', then back to green and not so warm on the bottom. In the cooler water on the wreck were large schools of baitfish and jacks, with a large number of Barracudas and a school of African Pompano swarming in the warmer blue water above (photos to come). Occasional eddies of warm water washed over the divers as they explored the bow section. During the SI between dives, that guy named Ralph showed up a few times, but the divers rallied and jumped in for a second look at the DA. The current had increased and the vis dropped to around 25 on the bottom along with the water temps that went down from the 78 of the first dive to around 72! On Sunday, the winds had shifted to the NE and were light, so we went to the shoals area and dived the Liberator. Seas were calm, but the vis was low in the 20' range - when will we get back to normal?
Dive Report: Aug 11 thru 15th
Divers: Paul Blanchette and the MA divers
Paul arranged a week of Hatteras diving for his group of divers and they had some of the best weather conditions we have experienced this season, with the exception of Monday. On Monday, we ventured forth but turned back in short order, choosing to try again another day. This was to be an excellent idea as Tuesday with the winds light and seas almost calm we went to the Dixie and had a very good dive. Wed Am found us headed for the Proteus were conditions were good and the seas again calm, The next day of diving found us at the Tarpon with calm seas, visibility of at least 60 to 80 feet on the bottom - no current either. As the sea conditions were very calm and reports of decent visibility on wreck sites near the shoals, we tried the Liberator for the first dive on Friday. Luck had run it's course and the vis on the Liberator was under 20 feet with a current to boot. We then tried a dive at the Kassandra, but found low vis there as well. A retreat to the Hesperides on the shoals finished the day and the week. Overall, a good week of diving.
Dive Report: Aug 9&10
Divers: Herman And his Dive Buds
High winds and seas kept us from diving this weekend
Dive Report: Aug 2-3
Divers: NASA Goddard Sea Ventures
We really, really wanted this to be a great diving weekend for NASA; they have listened to us endlessly describe Hatteras diving as warm and clear. Well, it was a good weekend for other reasons than warm & clear diving. The colder, green waters (66 degrees) are still here, at least on the bottom layer; however - soaring between both the deeper water and the warmer (75-78 degree) upper layer of water were a pair of manta rays. Saturday, we dived the bow of the Dixie and were treated to 2 magnificent mantas circling the divers. Each manta had a cadre of cobias, shark suckers, and amberjacks following them - a very memorable dive.
Sunday, given the heavy seas, we ventured back to the Dixie - again, the same conditions but this time we dived the stern section. All the sharks that normally hang out in the stern, like us, were cruising in the warmer layer to stay warm. It was a great dive just hanging out on the anchor line (to keep your point of reference) and watch the sharks swim by.
We heard on the radio that the divers on the EM Clark had top-to-bottom warm, clear water. The Clark is further offshore and is fairly deep. We can only hope that this water will push its way inward.
The excitement exhausted the NASA divers!
Dive Report July 26-27
Divers: BFDC except P.Hudy
We (except P. Hudy) set out for the Shoals this weekend - only the second time this year. We anchored into the Australia. Although the water was warmer (about 75 degrees) it wasn't as clear as we would have liked - but hey - it wasn't green and cold so we're not complaining. This wreck continues to get more sand. At some point, it may join the Veturia unfortunately. The second dive was the Kassandra Louloudis.
Sunday, we headed back to the shoals (again without P. Hudy) and visited the Liberator. In my mind, an under-dived wreck. The wreck was clear enough to actually see large pieces of it. The Liberator can be a dirty wreck plagued with high currents which is probably why it isn't dived. At any rate, we saw the biggest jewfish yet in these waters - this Hummer was at least 6 feet long. Next we went to the Northeastern, a wreck in very shallow water. Boy, this wreck is really sanding in - a big portion of the mid-ships is completely sanded over and the stern is almost filled in. At the rate P. Hudy is diving, it will be entirely gone by the time he gets back in the water.
Dive Report: July 19-20
Divers: NASA Goddard Sea Ventures
At the beginning of the week, the NWS was calling for 2-3 ft seas on Saturday. After getting blown out the weekend before, this was music to our ears. Of course the predictions and the seas changed by the week's end. Saturday and the forecast was for 3-4 ft seas but what we found once we poked our noses out of Hatteras Inlet was more like 6 ft seas; therefore, we turned back to shore. The day wasn't a total loss for me - I jumped aboard Capt. Bud's boat and trolled the back bay for trout. Amid the waves of torrential downpours, we gaffed and boated a whopper, a 12" trout.
Sunday conditions were the total opposite - Lake Hatteras. Gorgeous day, calm seas. We headed toward the Proteus and anchored into a dark blue ocean. Kind of weird for July diving; it was dark and cold, 69 degrees on the bottom. Though the water was fairly clear with apx 80 ft viz, the lack of bright sunshine left it dark looking. I saw a lionfish with a white fin arrays (maybe frostbite!). Dave pointed out a nice size jewfish - 3 ft long and wide. The wreck was blanketed by large schools of bait fish trying to dodge succeeding layers of the food chain. Despite the numerous sharks patrolling the bottom, at least two free-diver groups were working the Proteus on Sunday - I wouldn't be surprised if they had a good day.
The second dive was the Keshena. Weird flashback: am I in Hatteras or Ocean City, MD diving the Washingtonian?? Cold green water with milky white floating stuff and low visibility (10 ft). Ick. for unknown reasons Hatteras has been on and off this season with the viz and water inshore. At least we do not suffer alone, Morehead dive boats report the same issue.
Dive Report: July 12-13
High winds and seas kept us from diving this weekend.
Dive Report: July 4,5 & 6th, 2003
Divers: Lee Whaler, Ed White, Rob Tarkington, Mac, Tomasz, John Mahoney
The Fourth of July weekend weather was predicted to be a bit windy in the wake of ex-tropical storm Bill that had come up from the Gulf of Mexico. The storm had lashed NC with a great deal of rain in the days prior, but was now well to the north. What Bill left behind was a strong Bermuda high and a steady SW wind flow which influenced the diving for the entire weekend. On the 4th we set out for and made it to the Proteus. We found the water blue, but a current that exceeded 1.5kts. After several attempts to hook the wreck, the group decided to go back into the Dixie Arrow and there we found the water not so blue, but no current. Two dives were made on the Bow section and numerous sharks and turtles were seen along with a large octopus in the 50 to 60ft vis.
On Saturday, the 5th, the destination was the British Splendour. We motored into a stiff head sea for over half the distance to the BS, but upon crossing into the blue water the seas became more robust and the decision was made to turn again towards the Dixie Arrow. We had about 75 to 90 feet of visibility while diving the stern section. A large amount of sea life inhabits the wreck, to include numerous sand tigers. We went to the F.W. Abrams for a second dive and the vis was around 35 to 45 feet with no current. The 5 foot following seas made for a smooth ride back to the inlet.
We chose to bag it on Sunday morning as the winds had been blowing a steady 20kts most of the night and the sea was still fairly rough. The drive home proved vexing for some due to the holiday traffic. Hopefully the memories of the great diving they had just done made it easier to deal with the frustration of the traffic.
Dive Report June 28 & 29, 2003
Divers: Tom Darrone Group
We headed to the British Splendor and were treated to a splendid dive. After the first 5-10 feet of cool, greenish water, the water turned blue and warm and I could see the wreck below. I was fortunate to see a few very large rays - all of which were followed by cobia. I also saw a healthy size yellow/black spotted moray eel toward the end of the dive. This wreck really attracts the marine life.
Second dive was the Abrams; sorry to say, we have not hit the wreck yet on a good day this season. The water was 71 degrees on the bottom, cool and green plus 15-20 feet of visibility.
Because of these conditions, on Sunday, we dived the Dixie Arrow twice and were not disappointed.
I snorkeled while the divers were in the water. Again, the first 5-10 feet were greenish/brown and then completely opened up to very warm, blue water. I could see all the divers below me at 90 feet down.
After Dave and I jumped in the pool (I mean ocean), a sea turtle glided gracefully by and stayed in the area for bit so that we could swim next to her.
Plenty of sharkage on the Dixie for Sunday's dive. At one point, we must have counted a good dozen or so. They were nice size, too. I couldn't help but to feel like I was really diving in the Baltimore Aquarium. The water was clear and the sharks just swam in their endless circles around the stern wreckage.
We also saw what (according to Dave Bader) was possibly a scorpion fish sitting on the top of the engine. I photographed it but it blends too well with the wreck.
Anyway, as an added bonus, the seas calmed to the point that we could have been on Lake Hatteras and not the Atlantic ocean. Best two days of diving so far this year IMHO.
Dive Report June 26 & 27, 2003
Regional SCUBA of New York
Dive Report June 21, 2003
Divers: Lee, Ron, Dori, Rich
Conditions: sunny, 5-10 knots, waves 2 feet
We dived the Dixie Arrow, which was still cold and green. Lots of marine life including this large octopus we found scurrying along the port side hull. Good sea conditions for a change.
Second dive was the Abrams; still cold and green. We saw some cobia and lots of amberjacks.
Dive Report June 22, 2003
Payback day for all the bumpy, rainy, cold weekends we have endured. Sunday was sunny and calm. When we pulled up to the wreck site (Dixie); something was very different - the water was blue (as can be seen from the picture at right) and Capt Dave confirmed that it was warm (80). Was this the same place we had just been not 24 hours earlier?? Schools of spade fish were visible from the surface and you could see the wreck: TOP-TO-BOTTOM-VIS! Finally things are back to normal. Loads of schooling fish blanket this wreck. Each diver lengthened their dive by spending time hovering over the wreck Beautiful day, beautiful diving.
Dive Report: June 14, 2003
Divers: BFDC Wrecks: Dixie Arrow and Keshena
Conditions: water: 5 ft seas, 71 degrees bottom, 75 degrees top; slight current, breezy, gusty 15-20kts
Our group set out amid sunny skies (for once) but choppy seas. Once past the sea buoy, we headed south toward the DA; it was a long and bumpy trip. At the Arrow, we easily anchored to the wreck and started throwing divers in. The DA had about 50 ft visibility – it’s still cool and green on the bottom and milky on the top layer. There was an abundance of sea life with several large sharks swimming around the stern section. We also saw plenty of juvenile life; notably small toadfish and sea cucumbers. One diver reported a large sea turtle.
Keshena was also cool and green. No sharks. The huge
anemone residing in the boilers seems to have vacated. Lots of juvenile fish of
many species schooling there today. This is a good shell wreck so I found some
goodies. Cliff bagged his first keeper of the season.
Sunday was a wash for us; June seems to be May II this year.
Date: June 7&8, 2003 Dive Club: NASA Goddard
Wrecks: Son of Tug Boat
The Goddard Sea Ventures Dive Club clamored aboard
and the dive crew was briefed and we set off for the Dixie Arrow.
The inlet was rough as usual for a falling tide and the bow dipped
into several waves that almost swept the deck, but smoother water lay
beyond the sea buoy.
Shortly after the boat cleared the rough water of the
inlet we picked up speed. The
bright warm sun and the throbbing, melodic beat of the diesels soon had
everyone nodding off into pre-dive naps.
Everyone except Ross, who had chosen to ride on the bridge deck for
a better view. A few miles
later something caught Ross’s eye and he directed the boat to where both
dolphins and manta rays were leaping from the water… What, you want to
know the truth? Ok, here it
The gentle Hatteras trade winds kicked up a four-foot
sea in the morning that was right on the bow with much more predicted for
the immediate future. It was
also raining periodically and just plain nasty with not much hope of
getting better so we changed plans mid-ocean.
The DA was replaced with the closest available site, the tug
wrecks, which are just 5 miles out. Even
that short distance took over ˝ hour – a very long one if you ask
The rough seas made hooking the wreck a two-attempt
affair, but once anchored in all hands rallied for the dive.
The wreck was the smaller of the two tugs – Son of Tugboat – at
81 feet to the deepest spot and the vis was green hazy 25’ sorta like an
OC MD dive but with warmer water and sharks you could actually see.
Everyone got to see several Sand Tigers fairly close along with
schools of spadefish and triggers. Overall,
not a bad dive, just not up to the Hatteras standards. The wind blew
stiffly into the evening with more rain and left the ocean too rough for
diving on Sunday.
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