August 29, 2011 - U352 "From Hunter to Hunted"

The U-352: "From Hunter to Hunted"
by Mike Gerken
The U-352 with her crew at port.

The U-352 as she is today.
          As the predator, Kapitanleutnant Hellmut Rathke, of the German submarine U352 peered through the periscope at his unsuspecting prey, his desire for glory and his overwhelming sense of duty to the Fatherland must have clouded his better judgment as he planned to make his first war time kill on a heavily armed enemy ship in broad daylight.  On this day, May 9th of 1942, approximately 28 nautical miles due south of Morehead City, North Carolina, the crew of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Icarus would prevail in battle and be responsible for creating one of the most compelling WWII shipwrecks on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
The wreck of the U-352 forward
looking aft. (stock)

            The U-352 and her crew of 46 men had only just arrived on the American coastline a few days prior without a single kill to their credit in the war.  The month previous had proven to be a highly successful time for U-Boat commanders operating off the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the war in what was dubbed as 'torpedo alley', due to the considerable losses of allied ships there at the hands of the German U-Boats.  By the time Rathke and the U-352 arrived, allied defenses of shipping had been stepped up considerably and successes for the U-Boats were scarcer and operations considerably more dangerous.  Regardless of the hazards, it seemed apparent that Rathke was highly determined to make a kill.

Illustration of the USCG Cutter Icarus. 
          The first signs that the cutter Icarus was being observed by the U-352 came in the form of sonar contact only 100 yards away.  Several minutes later a torpedo exploded in the sand some 200 yards off the port quarter of the Icarus leaving a plume of bubbles and sand from the sea bed marking the spot.  Rathke had taken his shot and dreadfully missed his target while tragically giving away his location at the same time.  The hunter now became the hunted.  It should be noted that the U-352 was operating in water of depths of only an astonishing 110 feet, which some experts would consider is suicidal considering diving deep as a means of escape was out of the question in this shallow of water.  In the next 45 minutes, Rathke would do all he could to avoid the barrage of depth chargers being thrown at him from the deck of the Icarus, but to no avail.  After sustaining terrible damage to his ship, with one crew member already dead, Rathke decided to surface his ship and evacuate the crew.  As soon as the U-352 surfaced, the crew began to pour out of the conning tower with the intent of abandoning the sinking ship. 

The USCG Cutter Icarus returning to Charleston
Port with survivors of the U-352. (NARA)
The crew of the Icarus had mistaken their hurried exit from the ship for attempting to man the deck guns and began firing upon the stricken U-Boat and her crew.  The U-352 received relentless fire the Icarus until the true intentions of the submariners became apparent and the commanding officer ordered a cease fire. Thirteen of the crew of the U-352 would not survive this attack with many of them never making out of the sinking sub.  The men that managed to escape were all equipped with life jackets and drifted in the current for up to 45 minutes while waiting for rescue from the Icarus.  The 33 survivors including Kapitantleutnant Rathke were all taken immediately to Charleston, South Carolina where they would spend the remainder of the war as prisoners.  Considering that nearly 80 percent of the sailors serving in the U-Boat corp during WWII were killed in action, these men were fortunate to have survived.

Prisoners of the U-352 being escorted
under guard to the prison camp. (NARA)
Kapitanleutenant Rathke standing in center at
the prison camp. (NARA)


Dive Vessel, Midnight Express.

       Today, I pilot the dive vessel, Midnight Express with a heading of due south from Beaufort Inlet making 17 knots right in to a 2-3 foot ocean swell. The bow pitches upward and gently drops down in to the trough of the next wave splashing water over the deck before repeating the process over and over again.  The eighteen passengers on board find a comfortable spot to hold on and enjoy the ride out to the final resting place of the U-352.  It's been more than 69 years after her sinking and 35 years after her rediscovery where divers still continue to come from all over the world to dive this enigmatic WWII ship.  There are very few German U-Boats in the world that are as readily accessible to sport divers as the U-352 is.  She sits in a mere 110' of seawater and is only a short 90 minute ride out from Morehead City via Beaufort Inlet.  Water temperatures climb in to the lower 80's F in the peak summer season making for a very comfortable dive experience.  Anyone holding a recreational SCUBA diving certification card with proper experience may dive the U-352 if they wish.

            As I approach to within 1000 yards of my coordinates, I slow down while my crew prepare to secure the vessel to the sub below.  Equipped with dive gear and a full face mask with a surface communication device, the mate stands fast along the port rail as I motor over the wreck.  The U-352 is being hunted once again, but with different intentions this time.  As soon as I see a clear sign of the sub on my depth sounder and my GPS indicates we are within 10 feet of my desired location, I signal for the mate to jump in with anchor in hand.  With a clank of the anchor chain and a splash he disappears from sight in to the 78F degree water.  As he makes his descent to the bottom, my other mate handles the anchor line while I maneuver the boat.  After less than a minute, my diver radios up to me and says "OK, OK, OK" indicating he has successfully tied us off to the desired location on the port side drive shaft on the stern of the sub.  Once the slack has been taken up and the line tied off, I call back down to my diver and say "OK, how does it look".  Today he replies, "all is ok, we have about 60 feet of visibility and a very light current heading from stern to bow".  "Excellent" I say to myself, "These are great conditions for my divers". 
More than 30 images were spliced together manually to create this composite photo of the
U-352. Photo taken in September 2010. 
I quickly head to the aft deck of the Midnight to give the good news in a form of a dive briefing.  I show them a composite photograph taken by myself that's made up of thirty separate images of the U-352 that when assembled displays the entire sub as she rests today.  Using this image I point out the highlights of the dive and go over the specifics in that she sits in 110' of water with a strong list to her starboard side. There are hatchways fore and aft on the hull that are open and accessible. Once inside a diver would need to navigate through a very small area with excessive amounts of silt.  As you swim through the sub you may be able to see well enough in front of you with a torch until you turn around to discover your fins have just kicked up the silt obscuring the visibility and your escape route.  I make it clear that only divers with special training and skills should attempt to enter the U-352.  Most everyone who comes to dive with me heeds my advice and is content on having a swim around the ship and maybe poking there heads in to the hatches for a look within.  After the short briefing, I ask if there are any questions.  Most at this point are anxious to get wet and abstain from saying anything that would delay their entry.   Within minutes all of my 18 divers vanish from site under the blue water and head down the anchor line to the historical shipwreck below.  Having dived the 'sub' myself at least 100 times, I can easily envision what the divers are encountering.

The U-352 with gun mount in foreground and
conning tower in the back. (new)
            Diving off the Outer Banks from June thru October means you will be diving in the warm clear waters of the Gulf Stream that surge up from the tropical Atlantic ocean.  As you hand over hand it down the anchor line the stern of the U-352 quickly comes in to view.  Dropping down to the sand and gazing upon this WWII artifact for the first time often gives one pause for thought.  A diver can easily identify the rudders, drive shafts that make up the running gear of the vessel.  If you look closely underneath the stern you will see the starboard propeller visible but half buried in the sand while the port propeller had been removed and salvaged in the 1970's.  Hovering over the top of the sub and swimming at a slow pace, you will come across the exhaust pipes where the diesel fumes would have been vented while the submarine operated surfaced.  While submerged a large bank of batteries would have propelled the ship at approximately 3 knots.  Past here the open hatches leading to within the aft section of the ship come in to view.  With a strong torch one can peer inside the blackness of the inner hull for a look inside the sub.  The sheer size of the tiny spaces these men had to live and fight in for weeks at a time is a wonderment.  After continuing forward for another few feet, the conning tower can be seen with a list to starboard that is reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.  Upon closer inspection a very small hatch at the top of the conning tower leads in to the command room.  The hatchway is so small it would be impossible for a diver donning full SCUBA gear to access the sub from this point.  One can only imagine the chaotic scene 69 years ago as the crew of the U-352, many of them barely twenty years of age, frantically evacuated the sub one at a time from this hatch as exploding shells erupted and machine gun fire from the Icarus riddled them and the sinking ship.  Upon further contemplation, the reality of war in the form of the remains of the men that never made it out, comes to mind for some.  Indeed the U-352 is deemed a war grave by the German government and they desire for it to be treated with such respect. 
Another composite view of the U-352 as shot looking directly down at the sub.
Photo taken in 2009.

            Once the conning tower has been reached and examined, a diver, if having sufficient bottom time and air supply remaining, may opt to continue on another 80 feet or so to explore the bow of the wreck.  The first thing to be seen on the swim down would be the gun mount for the forward cannon that once adorned the ship.  The gun itself was likely blown from its mount during the sinking and now lies somewhere buried in the near vicinity by decades of ocean sand and still awaiting to be discovered.  Passed the gun mount, there is another open hatchway leading to within and then yet another hatch only a few feet away. This one is on a 45 degree angle and would have been used to load torpedoes in to the forward torpedo room.  After analyzing the requirements needed to gain access within, most divers use prudent decision making and continue on with the tour from the outside.  Finally, after about a 200 foot swim from the stern, the tip of the bow and the torpedo tubes can be examined lying in the sand.  If the weapons that were fired from here had met their mark you would be reading a different story today.  One about how the Coast Guard Cutter Icarus and her crew had met her fate at the hands of a German U-Boat in 1942.

            Besides the historical significance, the U-352 has as a wreck dive the marine life that inhabits her today is yet another draw.  Amberjacks in their hunt for a meal chase schools of baitfish in to dense billowing balls around the conning tower.  This swirling action of the baitfish is mesmerizing to watch and on occasions the visibility is considerably hindered by the sheer magnitude of fish covering the submarine.  Other interesting marine sightings such as giant southern stingrays and loggerhead sea turtles as well as healthy grouper and snapper populations are but a few of the highlights.   Let me not forget to mention the intimidating and ever present fierce schools of barracuda that stand watch over the submarine in the currents above.  Once in a while we will even see sand tiger sharks on the U-352.  Sand tigers are a very common sight on the wrecks of North Carolina and a huge draw for sport divers to the region, but for reasons not understood they are not regularly seen on the sub.  For those who are lucky enough to see sharks swim along the hull of the U-352 is an added thrill.

The conning tower of the U-352. (New)
            Most divers who make it to the far end of the wreck will need to consider turning around very soon to make it back to the anchor line to regrettably begin making their slow ascent to the surface.  As much as we all want to stay underwater longer, the laws of physics indicate otherwise.  We are merely visitors to the underwater world and modern day dive computers remind us of this repeatedly through the course of the dive with there flashing and beeping warnings.  Hand over hand divers one at a time make their way up the anchor line, do their required safety stops and begin clambering up the ladders of the Midnight Express.  As each one climbs on board I log them in and of course ask "how was your dive?"  For most I get a very enthusiastic answer.  Many divers at this point even indicate that they have wanted to dive this wreck for many years and were ecstatic at being able to scratch this off their list of 'must dives'.  "I finally got to touch the U-352" one man says with water dripping from his smiling face as he climbs the stairs.  With all back on board it 's time to make our way home while during the ride excited divers tell stories about there trip down to the U-352.  As often as I have dived this wreck I never get weary of her and I thrive off of helping others get a chance to see with their own eyes this underwater relic that is a reminder of a time in our history when the world was at war.

A Few Words First
Hurricane Irene.
(Photo courtesy of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, NOAA)
         As Hurricane Irene approached Beaufort, NC as a category 3 storm with winds at better than 110mph I tried to find a reason to stay in my home with Annette for this event but could not find a single logical one. With the dive boats Midnight Express and Olympus pulled from the water and set on blocks at the local boat yard, I packed my computer hard drives in to a water proof case, propped our furniture up on chairs and headed to Raleigh to stay with friends. We kept track of the storm and the well being of friends from the internet and waited it out in comfort and safety. We even managed to take in a movie at the theatre and wander around a real shopping mall. Fortunately for everyone, Irene made landfall as a mere Cat 1 hurricane. I don't mean to downplay the storm or be disrespectful to those who lost or suffered during this but it could have been so much worse.  Annette and I returned on Sunday to find a few broken branches and the power off. Mind you Beaufort was in the eye of the storm as was Morehead City. My town home has a view of the intracoastal waterway and if you got on my roof you could see the ocean. We could find no signs of any major damage or flooding. As of last night the power came back on and life has begun to return to normal. Like I said a minute ago, we were lucky. If Irene came ashore as a Cat 3 with 130-140mph winds the outcome could have been much worse. With the Irene heading in to the history books and fading from the scene it is time to get back to business. Today, 29th Monday the Olympus will be placed back in to the water with the Midnight to follow today. Olympus has trips all this week while my boat will have to wait until Friday or Saturday before testing the waters out. Stay tuned for condition reports as soon as the first charter post 'Irene' is completed.

          Since the last Dive Blog Report the only diving that I have done has been in my bath tub. So for this weeks Dive Blog I will share with you a story I wrote on the U-352 for a Polish diving magazine, (apparently Poland's only dive magazine) Redakcja Magazynu Nurkowanie. The editor contacted the shop a few months ago looking for a story and accompanying photos of this famous WWII wreck and I thought it would be great writing practice to take them up on their offer. The magazine apparently is to be released this month but, unless you can read Polish, you might want to read the story below in English first. In case you are wondering, I didn't write the story in Polish. I wrote it in Mandarin and they translated it to Polish. I hope you enjoy this piece.
Keep your eyes out for a similar story to appear in SCUBA Diving Magazine in the Mar/Apr edition.

Happy Diving!

Mike Gerken

Photo Tip of the Week

The best camera and strobes with the perfect ambient light conditions and exposure settings will not yield a great shot by itself. The subject matter and how to compose it is extremely crucial in obtaining a great shot. Do your homework and research your dive site or wreck and have a plan before you enter the water. For example, I had a great idea for shooting the Sand Tiger Sharks inside the wreck of the Aeolus in North Carolina. From previous diving experience on this wreck, I was aware of a round hole in the roof of the super structure leading out to the blue water. I figured if I couldn't shoot a Shark I would shoot a human model posed beneath this round hatchway with Ambient light radiating down and from the sides.  A few weeks ago my mate had reported several Sand Tiger Sharks swimming about within this section of the wreck. Perfect. I had a model and I wouldn't have to pay it. Before I even got in to the water I had already composed my shot in my head. Now it was a matter of setting the right exposure and hoping the shark would swim where I wanted it to. As it would be, I was in luck. For thirty minutes I sat there composing different versions of the shot below and fired off maybe 75 to 100 photos before I managed to land one that I was very satisfied with (see below). With a little planning and observation I managed to compose, what I think, was a great shot. You can do this as well. Explore a wreck or reef, find a scene that appeals to your eye, compose the shot and try your luck. If the first time around doesn't work, go back and try again. I have so many great ideas for shots on the North Carolina wrecks that I am waiting to experiment with. It's a matter of waiting for the correct environmental conditions to arise or certain marine life behavior to do just what you want it to. No one ever said taking a stunning image is easy. If it were everyone would be doing it and then it would be less interesting.
This photo was not an accident. A lot of planning and
thought went in to getting this shot. Having a shark swim exactly
where I wanted it to may be contributed to a little bit
luck as well or maybe not.

To learn more of Mike's UW photo techniques contact him to learn more about his live online photo courses. 

Please visit my web site to see video excerpts from my documentary films and a complete underwater photographic portfolio of my work and purchase fine art prints and DVD's of my films.

If you wish to dive Graveyard of the Atlantic contact Olympus Dive Center for more information.

Olympus Dive Center, Morhead City, NC.
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Mike Gerken

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August 23, 2011 - "Ain't Over Till It's Over"

Visit to see video shorts from the 2011 season at Olympus Dive Center and click here for more info about myself.

Photo of the Week.
The Bow stem of the Caribsea. (New)
I have been happily slammed with work this past few weeks so I had to throw this blog report together rather speedily. I hope you enjoy it all the same.

Sunset before the Spar night dive.
Night diving 28 nautical miles from land in the open ocean on a wreck with sharks can be intense for the divers participating in such an event as well as the captain who must wait in the dark for all of them to return safely to the boat. On Monday, August 15 my vessel the Midnight Express took a boat load of anxious divers to the wreck of the USCG Cutter Spar for such a dive. Basically, we motor out to the wreck during the afternoon, hook in to it and conduct a day time dive on there followed by a night dive after a surface interval.  Diving during the day time in rough seas is difficult enough. Factor in darkness and logistically it can be a little hairy to say the least. For example, performing any kind of surface rescue at night is challenging for a rescue swimmer since they are doing a rescue the dark. Ladders bobbing up and down can clobber an unwary diver at night due to low visibility and the list goes on.
Snorkeling with Dolphins on the surface interval.
On this evening, to set me at ease, the sea conditions were very calm and the forecast promising. The first dive went off without a hitch on the Spar and the surface interval was more than entertaining when a pod of Dolphins swam around the boat while snorkelers tried to swim after them.  Only my mate, John Thompson, came close but still inches away from touching them. This is exactly how the Dolphins want it. "Look but don't touch", is the motto of most of them. Can't say as I blame them really. Once the surface interval was up and the sun set behind the calm ocean, I briefed everyone on how to safely night dive and opened the 'pool' for a night time of fun and games. Everyone made there way down in to the darkness without a hitch and returned as safe and sound as they had left. Sand Tiger Sharks were spotted on the wreck but not as many as had been in years past. That didn't seem to matter though.  All indicated the dive was great.
Joisey Boys, Rich, Joe and Brian waiting to dive the Spar at night
and then one of them under the dock.
Now it was time to head home under cover of dark to Morehead City. The ride in was fairly uneventful with the exception of a intimidating squall with heavy winds and a bit of lightning overhead. A short detour around the heart of this mess rectified this problem. We arrive back at the dock, I say good bye to everyone and indicate to watch there step departing the boat since the tide was full making the gang plank rather steep. Most heeded my words but for one individual. This is where it got interesting. As I stood at the fish cleaning table at the foot of the ramp cleaning a fish that I had speared during the day time dive I heard someone slip and fall.  As I spun my head around with a filet knife and fish slime all over my hands I see this nameless person slide down the ramp on his butt with a heavy steel dive tank in his hand twisting his arm backwards. If he continued to hold the tank it may have very well snapped his wrist and arm in two. So what did he do? He dropped the tank in to 15 feet of water beneath the dock. After a quick heart pounding assessment I realized the individual was ok and unharmed with the exception of his ego. With steam coming out of my ears I pretended like nothing happened and went back to cleaning my fish. I just travelled 28 miles offshore with 13 divers to dive with sharks at night and returned them safely to the dock to have someone almost break there arm getting off the boat on to the dock. "It's ain't over till it's over", the wise Yogi Berra once said. Man is that ever true. My crew, John and Mike looked at each other with eyes that said "I'm not going in for it". So I told the individual to don a tank and head down in the inky water to look for his tank if he wanted it back. The adventure continues. This person decided to jump in with only a back up tank called a 'Pony' bottle and a mask minus the fins and weight belt. After a few minutes of groping around in the muck with the threat of Bull Sharks ever present while trying to hold himself on to the bottom without a weight belt, he located his tank, placed a line on it and surfaced hugging one of the pilings until his head broke the water. After struggling back up on to the dock, the good natured man now feeling humility surging through him, dried himself off and hobbled his way back to his hotel with his friends ribbing him the whole way there, that evening and well in to the next day (and maybe even for the rest of his life). In the end no one was hurt (at least physically) and all equipment was recovered. End of story.

This guy was a little to far away for a quality shot but I
thought I would share with you anyway. (New)
On Wednesday we managed to dive on the W.E. Hutton aka Papoose with 50-60'  of visibility and water temps in the mid to upper 70's. I managed to sneak away from the boat for a little while and do a dive on her myself with my camera in hand. As I dropped down the last 40 feet I instantly saw a large Loggerhead Sea Turtle bouncing along the bottom with his head erect giving me his full attention. For a moment I had hoped that this turtle would be approachable and I could get a stellar shot of him along side the wreck but it became apparent that he was having nothing to do with humans on this day and slowly ambled his way back out in to the sand all the time never taking his eyes off me and giving plenty of distance between us. I did manage to get a few shots but with a wide angle lens I was way too far away for any kind of quality. 
Capt Robert Purifoy of Olympus Dive Center. (New)
Sometimes you can come across turtles that don't seem to care at all that you are present. Obviously, they make for great photo subjects but not today with this camera shy specimen. I then made my way down towards the other end of the wreck to see what was brewing keeping my eye open for the Dusky Sharks that have been present here throughout the summer. No sign of Dusky's but I did see Captain Robert Purifoy (my boss) of the Olympus. The Olympus was diving the same wreck at the same time. I snapped a few shots of him for posterity purposes before moving on to a covey of Sand Tiger Sharks hunkering down under the wreck. They looked awfully suspicious loitering under there as though they were hanging out in a dark alley. After a few photos of these 'bad boys' it was time to head up. I had a long swim back to the anchor line and my gas supply was getting a tad low.
Sand Tiger Sharks loitering under the wreck of the W.E. Hutton, AKA Papoose. (New)
Evan Kovacs and Maryann Morin on
the deck of the Midnight Express.
On Thursday, besides having a mixed bag of divers from all ends of the Earth diving with us we had a special visit by Evan Kovacs who is the director of 3D photography for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. If you watch much television chances are you have seen some of Evan's work at one point or another. He and his wife Maryann Morin who also works with Woods Hole was just finishing up a job for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who have been surveying the WWII wrecks off the Carolina Coast. (Check out the above link for more information on this since I do not have time to elaborate more). Evan was spending a few days scoping out a few of our wrecks off Morehead City for this project while testing one of his underwater 3D video camera systems that was custom built by himself and Woods Hole. As you can see in the photo this rig was fairly substantial and took a little bit of effort to get it in to the water from the deck of the Midnight. I have seen some of the footage that these cameras can take and it is truly amazing.
A custom made 3D underwater camera built by Evan Kovacs
and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
This baby is powered by a Flux Capacitor.
On this day we dived the Atlas Tanker which has been a stunning dive weeks past (see It Keeps Getting Better Dive Blog Report). Today however, visibility was only around 10-15 feet but these divers wanted to see sharks and they got to see sharks. With visibility this low it is downright creepy diving with dozens of Sand Tiger Sharks but everyone seemed to be pretty jazzed by the dive and not too put off with the 'viz'. In an effort to find better visibility though I relocated the 'Midnight' to the wreck of the 'Hardee's' which was sunk as part of the artificial reef program of NC some years ago. This time we were handed ripping current above the wreck but with 70-80 feet of visibility. I was sure to instruct all the divers to NOT let go of the anchor line on the way down otherwise they would go for a ride. All followed my advise to the 'T' and pulled themselves down the line until the current slacked off some on the bottom. Once again all enjoyed this dive thoroughly with some experiencing strong currents for the first time. If there was a day that bestowed some hearty dive conditions upon the divers it was this one.  First they get low low visibility with Sharks on the Caribsea and then they get a Six Flags anchor line ride on the Hardee's wreck. What a day indeed.
Mate, Mike Philips posing for a shot on the U-352. (New)
On Friday, it was time for our usual visit out to the German Sub, the U-352. This wreck was one that was on Evan's hit list and he for one was pleased to be heading there since he wanted to obtain some preliminary footage of the famous U-Boat from WWII. Hearing that the 'viz' on the Sub was pretty good the past week I too was looking to get some photos that I would be using for an article I am to write for SCUBA Diving Magazine early next year. (I'll keep you posted on when the article is to appear.) I am in need of shots that had divers in them since many of my other Sub photos do not have any. Quite often for a wreck photo to have greater impact on a viewer it requires the addition of the human element. Models can add scale to the image as well as perspective.
Another fine pose by Mike on the conning tower
of the U-352. (New)
Magazines quite often are keen to print photos with divers in them for this reason. Today, I asked my mate Mike if he would model for me next to the Sub where he happily said yes. Let me clarify that his participation was strictly voluntary. In the end I scored a few nice pics of Mike peering in to one of the hatches and hovering around the conning tower. I still need a few more photos but this was a good start.  Evan on the other hand had some technical issues with the camera and did not manage to record any needed 3D footage. Such is the case when you are dealing with an elaborate piece of equipment as this. He took the incident like a true professional and wrote it off as a trial and error experience. One good thing that came out of this day was Evan indicated he may be back to accomplish what he set out for. We would be happy to have him, Maryann and his crew back anytime.

The D2D group on the sun deck of the Midnight Express.
The weekend arrived with the arrival of the D2D group. D2D or Diver to Diver is an online SCUBA chat board through SCUBA Diving Magazines online site. This group of around 13 divers was a great bunch that could have a good time diving in muddy swamp water. However, the dives they did were a long cry from this. On Saturday, they managed to hit the U-352 once again as well as the wreck of the Spar. The conditions on both wrecks were 50-70 feet of viz.  Some said they could see the conning tower of the Sub from the stern which is at least 80 feet away. Pretty good if you ask me. The Spar has had some Sand Tiger Shark sightings this season so far and she did not disappoint. Most divers got to dive with at least three or four sharks.
D2D divers prepping for a dive.
Sand Tiger Sharks schooling over the wreck of the Caribsea. (New)

The bow stem on the Caribsea. (New)
The following day, hearing reports of decent dive conditions on the east side of Lookout Shoals, I decided to take the D2D's over to the wreck of the Caribsea to swim with yet more Sand Tigers. Sure enough upon arrival my mate added that the 'viz' was kind of low at about 15-20 feet but plenty of Sharks to be had. In short, all the divers seemed pretty excited about the first dive so we stayed for a second one. This gave me the opportunity to go in for a dive myself and take my time in the water. As I swam down the line I immediately saw a dozen or so Sharks in mid water swimming in all different directions with a batch of about 30 schooling in to the mild current. I started to snap some pics here before heading over to the bow stem or what's left of it and shoot the bait fish swirling about it with Sharks in the shot for added flavor. After about a 40 minute dive I called it quits and headed on up. No matter how many times I go diving with Sharks I never get tired of seeing and photographing them. It is more fun than one human should be allowed to experience. After I briefed many of the divers that the sharks were mostly on the forward section of the wreck I cut them loose on it. In summary, they all seemed to have a great dive once again.
More "Chuck's" spotted on the Midnight. 
Many divers had handfuls of sharks teeth that they found scattered around the sea bed. With the shark population such as it is here the pickin's were easy. D2D managed to get two great days of diving in and I was happy that I could show them a good time. I hope to see you all back here again soon.

All in all Olympus Dive Center had a very busy week with successful charters had on both boats. At press time on Tuesday night, tomorrow's charter is questionable due to foul weather although we will be checking it out in the morning. We are also tracking Hurricane 'Irene' at this moment and it does not bode well for the Carolina Coast. It looks like this weekends charters will be cancelled and the boats hauled out of the water for safety. This is not the first hurricane that has threatened Morehead City and it likely won't be the last. The great diving offered up by Olympus will be here when it blows over. Let me inform you that September and October are fantastic dive months here. The water is still warm and clear and openings on the boats are plenty. The weather is a bit cooler offering some beautiful days on the ocean and underneath it. Just because the end of summer fast approaches does not mean the diving is over. Call us up and check it out for yourself. See below for links.

Happy Diving!

Mike Gerken

See below for the shameless self promotion
section of this blog!

Please visit my web site to see video excerpts from my documentary films and a complete underwater photographic portfolio of my work and purchase fine art prints and DVD's of my films.

If you wish to dive Graveyard of the Atlantic contact Olympus Dive Center for more information.

Olympus Dive Center, Morhead City, NC.
Also, follow me on Facebook at Evolution Underwater Imaging (by Mike Gerken) and click like to receive the latest updates.
Mike Gerken