June 4, 2012 - Dive Drought Over

Photo of the Week
A sand tiger shark in the wreck of the W.E. Hutton aka Papoose. (New)
Copyright 2012©Mike Gerken

The dive season here in North Carolina with Olympus Dive Center has been underway for well over a month, but until this past week I have personally not been able to get in the water since Dec 2011! This was in part due to bad weather as well as a bad attitude. This past week changed all that. The weather improved as did my attitude and I am now able to deliver new photos and a condition report after making three dives this week.

     The conditions offshore have been stellar. Just take a look at the Photo of the Week up top that was taken only 24 hours ago and you will see what I mean. We did lose one day of diving on Wednesday due to a storm that flew threw here, but I will not dwell on that downer. We did dive on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off the Midnight Express. Let me give you the run down.
The stern of the WWI gunship, the USS Schurz. (New)
     We had some great divers visit with us this week, all of which I do not have the space to mention in this blog report. Two men of note that I would like to mention are Matt White and Tyler Anderson who are part of the Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba, also known as, SUDS. I wrote a piece on SUDS last year that you can read about at this link. This will give you some background as to the amazing work this organization is involved in.

SUDS diver Tyler Anderson being drilled by dive instructor, Bubba Flores. (New)
SUDS diver, Matt White emerging from
within the wreck of the W.E. Hutton
aka Papoose. (New)
     Matt and Tyler were here to do some dive training with Olympus instructors Bubba Flores and Danny Facciola and also to simply have some fun diving. I had the privilege to tag along with the four of them on a dive on the W.E. Hutton, aka Papoose and snap a few pics of them engaged in training. I'd have to say that this was inspirational watching these guys dive. They looked like pros down there. 

     After the dive was over, the training continued for Matt as he finished his surface skills towards his Rescue Diver certification. Bubba with the help of Olympus instructor Annette Papa simulated various distressed diver scenarios where Matt seemed to master all the skills and finish his course. It was impressive to watch. (See Photo Gallery below)

     SUDS weren't the only divers in town this week that I wanted to mention. The New York City dive club Sea Gypsies were here for most of the week to dive headed up by Mats Stahlkrantz and Renata Rojas. It is always a pleasure to have my NY kinfolk come down to dive with me at Olympus and this year went very well for them all. Well at least that is what they told me. They managed to dive the mainstay wrecks, the Papoose, U-352, Spar, and the Aeolus and have great dive conditions to boot. The optimal diving was a plus considering a tropical storm had barreled its way through here just last week with 35 knot winds and 10 foot seas.

2012 Sea Gypsies North Carolina
dive group. 
     All of the dives the Gypsies did yielded anywhere from 40 feet of visibility up to 80+ foot with 78 degrees on the bottom. Sand tiger sharks on the Spar are sporadic, but there was a population on the nearby wreck of the Aeolus and plenty to be seen on the Papoose. Many divers even reported seeing NST's (Non-Sand Tigers) on a few of the dives which leads me to think that the dusky sharks may be back this year. I'll keep you posted on that.

    As for myself, I managed to get in some diving this week on the Papoose and on the USS Schurz. The long diveless winter became a distant memory as I looked at my LCD at 120' after snapping some 'keeper' images. The feeling of finally getting back in the water and doing what I love the most was a relief. 

    For those of you contemplating coming diving, well now is the time to do it. The warm blue water is pushing in strong and there is loads of marine life out there to see. I for one am excited and optimistic for this 2012 season. 
A North Carolina lionfish.

    On a different note, I will be posting my final Dive Blog Report on my Top Ten Dives of all time within a few days. My last Blog was on my 2nd all time best dive with Manta Rays right here in North Carolina. My number 1 dive is the last to come and some of you may be surprised to read what it is.
Happy Diving!

-Mike Gerken

Photo Gallery

Carcharias taurus or the sand tiger shark.

I never tire of these amazing sharks.
Matt and Danny inside the Papoose right before
I temporarily blinded them with my strobes.
Tyler Anderson exploring the beautiful
W.E. Hutton aka Papoose. 
More drills for Tyler with Bubba.
Tyler receiving orders from Bubba. 
Matt White taking a tour of the Papoose.
Tyler and Bubba making an ascent.
Matt White looking like a pro.
SUDS secretary and Olympus instructor
& captain, Danny Facciola looking over Matt.
Tyler and Bubba taking a break.
The SUDS gang hangin' out.
Tyler performing surface rescue skills with Bubba and Annette. 
Perfect ring toss by Tyler.
Bubba getting a tow.
I'm diggin' those pink 'Chuck's' Renata!
Annette Papa looks to be having a good time.
A days catch. Yum yum.

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