To all those who are new to my blog to get the gist of it please read "Welcome Aboard" from the May 1, 2011 posting and peruse a few of my other Dive Blog Reports. Click here on Mike Gerken for more info about myself.
|Photo of the Week|
Sand Tiger Shark Extraordinaire.
|A resident of the Atlas Tanker. (new)|
|Annette Papa on board the Midnight Express.|
They started to arrive early in the afternoon on Friday, July 1 while the bulk of the group got in later in the day. Some like to beat the rush so they can get a good spot on the boat and irk those that didn't have the forethought to get there earlier. There really isn't a 'best' spot on the boat though but, some divers have there 'fave' location on the bench and you can't tell them any different. A few of these guys stand pretty tall so they can sit anywhere they want as far as I'm concerned as long as it isn't in my helm chair.
|A busy dive deck with Ocean Explorers from New Jersey.|
|Ocean Explorer, Rob, loves to go diving. Two thumbs up!|
After I go through my usual routine of prepping the boat and warming the engines up I sit and wait for the gang to arrive. One after the other they begin to march down to the end of the dock. The familiar faces Glen, Rob, Joe, Mark, Rich, Vu, Jay, Deborah and Karen appear and make their presence known. Some newer faces Amanda, Cheryl, Hideki and Scott (My apologies to those I forgot to list) arrive as well with some of them wearing that look of "what am I getting myself into" written on their faces. Not so much due to the unknown diving that lay so near ahead but from having to share a 48' long dive boat with the antics of the animated veteran NC divers from 'Joisey'. She is a spacious boat but sometimes not spacious enough (and you guys know what I mean). In a few hours they will have a clear answer to this question. All the hard work, travel, expenses and dealing with rambunctious passengers (I'm trying to be polite) become a non issue when your at 100' diving on a historic 475' long wreck with a 8'-10' Sand Tiger Shark swimming under your nose. In fact on this day there would be dozens of Sand Tiger Sharks to be seen.
|Just a few of the dozens of denizens of the Atlas Tanker, Outer Banks, NC. (new)|
Jim & Donna show up with a mental agenda that they know like the back of their hand. They have been on this trip and many others around the world and are travel experts as well as dive experts. Being organized is important step in adventure seeking and they know how to do it right. We talk a little on the dock about where to go diving today and I tell them the weather is looking very good with light winds and near flat seas. "The ocean is our oyster" I indicate and I can take them to anywhere they want to go within range. As Jim & Donna are thinking it over my crew and I prepare to get underway on schedule. Roll call is made, last call is announced and dock lines are cast off. Everyone, including myself, settles in for the beautiful ride out to Beaufort Inlet. Before I get there it was decided by all that we would be going to the Atlas Tanker where the best shark action so far this year has been. (see previous blog dive report, "Sand Tiger Shark Invasion" from May 30th.) Many of the group wanted to dive the German U-Boat the U-352 but since the weather forecast was very promising it was decided to hit that dive site the following day.
|Sand Tiger Shark on the Atlas. (new)|
|Yet another Sand Tiger Shark or do I keep seeing the same over and over? (New)|
|Instructor, Karen returning from a dive|
with her trade mark smile.
Pretty soon piles of Sand Tiger Sharks teeth that the divers recovered from the wreck and a handful of NST teeth (Non Sand Tiger) were out on display with tales of the dive. There were plenty of great stories from the veterans and of course many of the new divers to NC were ecstatic and officially addicted to the diving and it only took one dive. Mission accomplished. Now we can head over to our second dive site, the wreck of the Caribsea but, not before I got my shot at the Atlas. Since the visibility was a little hazy and I had already shot some still images here but 48 hours ago (more on that later) I would take my trusty video camera in to get some more shark footage. You can never have too much shark footage by the way. I get to the top of the wreck and as expected there were numerous sharks milling about as well as large schools of Spade Fish, Amberjacks and Spanish Mackerel not to mention the usual masses of bait fish.
|Jay posing for a shot on the swim deck.|
VIDEO LINK HERE: Atlas Tanker July 2, 2011
|A regular at Olympus Dive Center, Rich|
returning from a dive.
Our second dive of the day on the Caribsea also proved to be a big winner with the group even though the visibility was only around 20 feet and dirty. These northeast divers who are used to diving in cold dirty dark water were not put off in the least and most everyone by my indication had expressed a great dive when they returned to the boat. Some said they saw some sharks while others said they hadn't but there was plenty to see on this wreck and with a max depth of a mere 90 feet there was more bottom time to be had as well. After the last diver was aboard it was time to make the run back to the dock. All in all it was a very successful day. I don't think there was as single diver who did not enjoy their self to the fullest. Once all were satisfied the crew and I turned the Midnight for home.
|Oodles of bait fish under the stern section of the W.E. Hutton, aka Papoose. (new)|
With the conditions as they were there is no way I would miss this dive on the Papoose. I would try my hand at some still photography today. Although I had limited success I managed to get one decent photo of the bait fish crammed inside the stern section of the wreck. Visibility at times was only a few feet due to the sheer numbers of fish and I wanted to capture an image that reflected this. On my way up from the dive I hung on to the anchor line and gazed upon the wreck below me in the clear blue water with its rich marine ecosystem encircling it and fell into a state of bliss. The woes of the topside world no longer existed, I have no bills to worry about and the aches in my body are gone. In moments like these all is right in the world. Even after my head breaks the surface and I once again have the responsibility of 23 passengers and crew to be concerned about my mind is more level now and I can approach my job and my life in a more positive way. Diving is the best therapy I know.
|Mark sporting his chic hood from 'Joisey'.|
|Joe returning from another stellar dive.|
|Deborah showing us she got what it takes to dive NC.|
The 'Joisey' gang is to scratch off the U-352 from their bucket list today. As you have heard me say before in previous blogs the U-Boat is a must do dive for anyone coming to NC. The Midnight anchors up on the bow of the U-Boat and my mate radios up and says "there is dirty water and only 30 foot of viz down here". "Oh well", I say, "Thirty foot is plenty to enjoy the sub experience". As it would be, John dived down in to a pocket of brown dirty water which soon past over the wreck with the current and was replaced by the same beautiful blue water we just experienced on the Papoose. Returning divers from the sub told stories of how they could see the conning tower from the bow 80 feet away! This kind of viz on the U-boat is a bonus. To be able to see large sections of this historic WWII wreck is fantastic. Everyone including a diver or two who were sea sick participated in this dive and all spoke very highly of their experience on it.
|Glen climbing out of his gear after a dive|
on the Caribsea.
|No shortage of smiles from Peter after|
That night the entire Ocean Explorers group, there friends, families, myself and Annette included all attended Floyd's 1921 restaurant in Morehead City for a fantastic dinner. Floyd's by far has some of the heartiest and tastiest foods in Carteret County, NC. It is Olympus Dive Centers favorite eatery and many of our loyal customers become Floyd's customers as well. If you sit in the front room to dine you will also be surrounded by some of my framed photographs that the owners Floyd and Shana Olmstead have graciously allow me to hang there. The next time your in town try their food out and if you disagree with me then I would welcome your comments and maybe even challenge them.
|The entire Ocean Explorers group from Edison, New Jersey dining at Floyd's 1921 in Morehead City, NC.|
Pardon the blurry photo I neglectfully left my camera at home and shot this with an iPhone.
Lastly, the Midnight Express managed to get out for a dive on the Atlas Tanker and the Caribsea on Thursday June 30th with the same conditions as just described within this blog as well as a two tank inshore dive on Friday to the Titan Tug Boat and the USS Indra. Both were 60 foot dives with about 20-30' of visibility and temps in the mid seventies. Thank you to all those divers who ran with me on those days. I hope you enjoyed yourself and will come back soon. The season here is shaping up very nicely with blue water pushing closer and closer in and plenty of great diving to be had all over. I'll see you all sooner than later.
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