This page contains details of recent dives as reported by club members.
Dive Report: Key Largo 8/20/04, the Jules Undersea Lodge by Grant Matthews
After a morning dive on the Duane, bro and I were delighted to spend the night in the world's only underwater hotel, the Jules Undersea Lodge (25 feet down in Key Largo). The hotel has two bedrooms and a living room equipped with DVD and cooking facilities. In the center is the moon pool, the only way in or out of the hotel. The movie shows me leaving the moon pool, swimming out to look into our bedroom. In total we did 6 excursion dives with a total of 22 hours underwater (got a nice picture of my dive computer telling me I am now dead). We both fell asleep watching Apollo 13 and eating popcorn 5 fathoms down, nice!
Dive Report: Key Largo 8/16-19/04, the Spiegel Grove by Grant Matthews
My brother and I spent 4 days exploring the interior of the Spiegel Grove, a Landing Ship Dock (LSD 32) sunk in 2002 and the largest ship ever sunk as an artificial reef. We pretty much did all of the upper decks and fully explored the well deck. I was keen to find my way into the corridors behind the cafeteria as I did in 2002 and see if the Spiegel emblem was still there (Snoopy riding an alligator). Two years on its side had taken its toll and the entrance to the corridor was more obstructed (see opening shot in the movie). By the third day bro and I had managed to worm our way through the obstructions. To my delight the emblem was still there (although it could use a spring clean!).
Dive Report: VA Beach,7/3/04, The Morgan, by Grant Mathews
Video by Grant Mathews, move mouse over to start
Calm seas and clear skies made for a beautiful day of diving Saturday, July 3. Great for diving and also great for small boaters to fish at our destination (Lillian Luckenbach). When we arrived at the Luckenbach there were already two small fishing boats anchored there with lines in the water. Captain Gary chose to move to the John Morgan, which is about 1 1/2 miles away, where he anchored about 15 feet from one of the tanks. Visibility was 30+ feet, the water temp around 50F, and no current.
Dive Report: VA Beach, 7/3/04, Luckenbach, by Robb Myer
Calm seas and clear skies made for a beautiful day of diving Saturday, July 3, 2004. Great for diving and also great for small boaters to fish at our destination (Lillian Luckenbach). When we arrived at the Luckenbach there were already two small fishing boats anchored there with lines in the water. Captain Gary chose to move to the John Morgan, which is about 1 1/2 miles away, where he anchored about 15 feet from one the tanks. Visibility was 30+ feet, the water temp around 50F, and no current.
The next River Rat VA Beach dive is Saturday, July 24, also to the John Morgan. The Morgan is a 423 foot long Liberty ship resting in 100 feet of water. It collided with the Montana in June 1943. Army tanks were among the cargo, a number of which are sitting upright with barrels and turrets in tack. Based on this past weekend's dive, I'm really looking forward to this dive. So far the 2004 season has given us the best VA Beach conditions I can remember for many years.
To reserve a spot call Dive Quarters at 422-DIVE. Show time at the Flying Fish, docked at Rudee Inlet is 6:30AM. From now until after Labor Day the boat will be filled, so do not procrastinate or you'll be left at the dock.
Dive Report: VA Beach, 6/27/04, the Hanks, by Robb Myer
Video by Grant Mathews, move mouse over to start
Conditions for the Sunday dive on the Hanks (depth 62 feet) were almost perfect. Visibility was more than 30 feet, water temp was up to 56F and there were lots of sea bass and flounder. On the second dive Grant Matthews acted as tour guide and found a number of conger eels as well as taking me places I'd never been before. A slight current on the first dive was gone when me made the second dive. Look for some of Grant's images on the web site soon.
The next River Rat VA Beach dive is this Saturday, July 3 to the Luckenbach. This 448 foot long freighter rests in 100 foot of water on her port side. There are truck tires, airplane wings, and assorted machinery spread about her as well. To reserve a spot call Dive Quarters at 422-DIVE. Show time at the Flying Fish, docked at Rudee Inlet is 6:30AM.
Dive Report: Lake Rawlings, 6/19/04, by Robb Myer
Saturday was beautiful at Lake Rawlings. We noticed a lot of shelf divers (~25-30 feet) wearing shorty wet suits, although the water temp at 55 feet was in the 53F, so you still need a hood if you were going to dive deep. We made two 45 minute dives and were on our way home by 2:30PM
Lots of campers. Likely taking advantage of the new "Weekend Special Package". For $50, you can arrive anytime before 5PM Friday and stay through Sunday, or arrive Saturday morning and stay through Monday (i.e. 3 days diving / 2 days nights camping). This would make a good Labor Day option for the River Rats. Please let me know if you'd be interested and we'll add it to the schedule.
Dive Report: VA Beach, 5/16/04, the Schooner, by Robb Myer
Great first VA Beach dive of the season. Seas were less than two feet for the 31
mile trip from Rudee's Inlet to the Schooner. This unidentified wooden sailing
ship is in 107 feet of water, and is believed to have sunk over a hundred
years ago. It lies about 1 1/2 miles from the Morgan. We could easily see from
one side to side at mid ship which was measured to be 35 feet, so I'd estimate
the visibility at greater than 40 feet. Water temp on the bottom was 45F, but a
warm 55F on the hang bar. More of the wreck was uncovered during the
winter, making it a good artifact recovery day. I found a brass spike on the
first dive and my buddy a corked bottle on the second. It was also a great day
for fishing, as the wreck was covered with lazy sea bass and taug. I picked up
several with my hand and could have stuffed them direct into a collection bag as
several divers did. Captain Jay overhauled the engines of the Flying Fish over
the winter and we made 18+ knots. As usual soda, chips and hot dogs were
provided. Among the 18 passengers was a group of Korean-Americans from NOVA who
shared some of the 20+ sea bass and taug they brought up.
Our next VA Beach dive is Sunday, June 13 to the Powell. Contact Dive Quarters (422-DIVE) to make your reservations.
River Rat Dive Report: Cape Hatteras, 5/1/04, by Robb Myer
Jeff Hewlett, and Robb Myer joined a dozen other divers aboard the Miss Lindsey for a four hour yachting adventure out of the Odin Marina in Cape Hatteras, NC. On Friday afternoon the forecast was for 7 knot wind and 2 foot seas Saturday, with the both building late Saturday. Sunday's dive was questionable, but we anticipated good dives for Saturday. Unfortunately, the wind and sea state change occurred earlier than forecasted and Captain Charlie called the dive a couple miles short of the Dixie Arrow. It was still an enjoyable cruise and an opportunity to share dive tales with new and old friends. The water temp and visibility were 72F and 45+ feet the day before. We are looking forward to the 2004 dive season.
River Rat Dive Report: Lake Rawlings, 4/24/04, by Robb Myer
Three River Rats spent the day at Lake Rawlings, VA. Air temperature reached the low 70s with water temp around 50F at 60 feet and a comfortable 60F in the training area. Although there were about 100 divers at Lake Rawlings, most stayed in the training areas and we made 40 minute dives without seeing other divers once we left the first platform. Visibility was greater than 40 feet in the deep water.
River Rat Dive Report: Bow Mariner, 4/17/04, by Jeff Hewlett
I missed the Get Wet, hope all had a good time. However, I would like to pass on to you all a brief dive report. On 17 Apr, a few of us just made a run out to the BOW MARINER, the Greek oil tanker that sank off our coast in the beginning of March this year. A lot of press and a lot of info on the Internet for those interested.
She is up right, you can reach the top of the stern bridge assembly at 115 FSW, the next two of seven decks down will take you 130 FSW. The mast and stack reach up to approx 90 FSW. From there you can continue cycling down decks, one at a time, until you reach the main deck at 205 FSW. Over the side brings you to 258 FSW.
The fire / explosion damage could be seen from the top deck, it basically gutted the ship; peeling her open on both sides for over 300 feet until you get to the bow. Heavy crude covers the front of the rear bridge area. The back area is fresh white paint. Doors are open; almost everything is "as it was" when they abandoned ship. A small radar antenna on one of the mast is still spinning; due to the current. No real marine life yet, too soon and she is still oozing oil. It is a most impressive site, worth a ride out and a look even for those staying above the 130 FSW decks. Note: a few Jersey divers are already pulling things. Half of the name, on the rear bridge area, has been removed.
The site is 105 mile from Rudee Inlet, a 6.5 hour run. Right now, the water is a wee bit cool ... 40 degree top to bottom but should get better as summer approaches. Suspect the Miss Lindsey will be making a few runs out there and then hitting other wreck sites on the way back in ... check it out.
River Rat Dive Report: Get Pool Party, 4/17/04, by Robb Myer
Five River Rats attended the annual Get Wet Party at the Dive Quarters Pool. As usual this was a good opportunity to skills refreshing, checkout equipment, and catch up with old dive buddies.
River Rat Dive Report: Aqua Cat Liveaboard, 1/24-30/04, by Robb Myer
Happy to report that Charles Howell and I missed last week's snow storm and made 23 dives in the Exuma Islands (Bahamas) aboard the 102' catamaran Aqua Cat out of Nassau. Average air temp was in the low 70F with the water temp a few degrees warmer. Seas were calm and visibility averaged 75 feet. Lots of sharks, groupers and rays. We made several non-diving excursion as well. Charles was engulfed by hundreds of Sergeant Majors and Yellow Tail Snapper while feeding them Rice Krispies. Look for more images on the River Rat web site soon.
River Rat Dive Report: Lake Rawlings, 5/27/03, by Robb Myer
With a break in current recent monsoon season, Dave Bowman and Robb Myer headed to Lake Rawlings on Memorial Day where they ran into Jeff Hewlett who had the same idea. Clear skies, 70 degree air temp, 50 degree water temp, 35 foot visibility and low attendance all made for a good day. The dive season is officially opened. Check http://scuba_rat.tripod.com for upcoming Lake Rawlings, VA Beach, and North Carolina dives. It's also time to make reservations for the Aruba trip the end of September.
River Rat Dive Report: Morehead City, 9/14-15/02, by Roger Grimes
Well, the Rats descended upon Morehead City again, on September 14th and 15th. This time it was Pete Spence, Robb Myer, Marty Kotch, Robert Neece, Matt Rhode, Eric Roback, Ray Schmidt, and Roger and Tricia Grimes. Pete and Roger brought along their video cameras on the dives so there is lots of diving proof available.
We met 6:30am Saturday morning at The Pelican. Capt. Ray has been a great host of the Rats for many years, although his two mates, Clint and Jamie, were new additions. Bryan has apparently gone onto other things. Another club joined ours, including a few guys we had met on trips last year, but our larger group of 9 allowed us to dictate where we went. Tricia was the "token" female someone said. The weather forecast called for relatively strong winds and bumpy seas, and this held true. While it was far from the worst seas I've encounted at Morehead the ride was bumpy and wet (if you were not below during the driving). Although we were not going to be able to make the Papoose wreck as we would have hoped, we did make a solid 14-16 knots out to the Aeolus wreck. Once anchored the seas remained bumpy, but not threatening. Marty, partnered with Pete, and was always first into the water, followed by the rest of the Rats. Water was very warm (79-81F top-to-bottom, depending on who you talked to) and almost no current. No current almost always doesn't happen in Morehead City, but is nice when it does because you can "hang" in the water and not worry about floating away from the boat. Many of us did our safety deco off the hang bar and didn't have to be pulled up and down with the wave action.
The Aeolus was a 407ft long cable layer intentional sunk as an artificial reef in 110 feet of water in August 1988. Initially it landed on its side and was dove that way for many years. Hurricane Fran broke it in half and the stern and mid section now sits up on its keel...making a small broken section to transverse if a diver wants to go stern to bow. We were anchored on the stern. The visibility was not the greatest...maybe 25-35 feet, but it was full of sea life. The wreck was covered with bait fish.
On all wrecks of the weekend, we saw millions of tomtate bait fish, small and mid-sized Queen Angelfish (the most beautiful neon fish in the sea), large jacks, large barracudas, purple-faced grunts, trigger fish, a filefish (kinda a cross between a triggerfish and a cow-nose fish), yellow four-eyed butterfly fish, silver butterfly fish, yellow-tailed snappers, sea bass, small groupers, hinds, belted sandfish, wrasse, eels, and more.
Tricia and I penetrated the wreck a bit by swimming into a 6-8 foot oval opening on the top deck that went progressively deeper with smaller and smaller oval openings as the compartment went deeper between decks. The whole time we could see the exit hole and the millions of bait fish in the blue-hole opening. If you've never penetrated a wreck in blue water or gone cavern/cave diving it's hard to describe how beautiful the "blue-hole-glow" is at the exit point of a penetration dive. Basically, the exit point seems like an overexcited azura rainbow with the beautiful blue water highlighted by the sun's rays...awe inspiring to say the least. I got good video footage of the oval compartment and the 40-foot of blue water column above. Everyone loved the dive.
Two River Rats got slightly disoriented on the dive and not finding the anchor line easily did what they were supposed to do. They came up off the wreck (they were on the bow section), did a safe stop, blew a bag to the surface, and then signaled the boat to say they were okay. They then swam back to the boat. They did a picture-perfect text book ascent when they could not find the anchor line. That happens to everyone once or twice in their dive career, and so many people don't follow the basics...but the Rat's did and everyone just raz them awhile.
During the surface interval we decided to dive another wreck to see if we could get increased visibility. We then dove the Suloide wreck, which isn't much of a real wreck anymore, but always a nice fish haunt. The Suloide is an 1890's freighter. Visibility was improved...but only by 10 feet or so. Lots of fish life, including a few ocean triggerfish and more Queen angelfish, and a few beautiful Cocoa Damelfish. These are beautiful yellow and purple fish...usually a little shy, but not on this wreck. One was apparently defending its nest as it kept whipping back and forth to protect a small hole in some wreckage. It was the most aggressive I've ever seen one. I also saw a large yellow goby (well large for the species) protruding out of a hole. When I put my camera in for a closer shot, a sea bass came in to block my way. This was pretty cool because Tricia and I had read/or seen something that said gobys were often symbiotically protected by sea bass, as the goby protected the larger fish's eggs...or something like that...and now I've got it on video.
The dive went well, and we all sat down for the bumpy wet ride home. The weather was predicted to get worse so we all mentioned meeting the next morning, but we all figured we'd be eating breakfast together at Capt. Ray's house instead. The other dive group decided not to dive and Tricia decided to get some shopping done. Turns out it was an excellent day of diving.
The next morning the winds died down instead of picking up. The seas were smaller, and although the ride out was still wet and bumpy...it wasn't bad as the first day...and Capt. Ray made 17 knots out to the Schurz wreck. The Schurz wreck was a 295-foot German unprotected cruiser built in 1884 as a German escort vessel and later commissioned in 1917 to the U.S. Navy. It was June 1918 in a dense fog off Cape Lookout, the American tanker Florida, running without lights accidentally rammed into the Schurz and sank her in 10' (36 meters) of water 28 miles from the Beaufort inlet. Capt. Ray had heard that the Schurz had better visibility and it did. Visibility was 70-foot plus and anything within 50 feet was crystal clear. Beautiful diving conditions...blue water...no current...warm water...etc. We dove the Schurz twice.
I've seen lots of bait fish before...but this wreck is covered in them...literally billions and billions. Throughout the dive I would be in such a cloud of large tomtates and bait fish that I could not see more than a foot or two in any direction...I took some nice video footage of the bait fish and 360 degree panaramic views where all you could see is fish. All one had to do is drop down 10 feet or rise up 20 feet to clear the cloud of fish...but it was too fun to swim into and be surrounded by millions of fish. When I first got down to the bottom I busied myself shooting the most un-shy Queen Angels I'd ever seen and when I turned my shoulder to look for Pete I saw that a 8 foot sandtiger was hanging about only a few feet away. Nice surprise and shot. He was covered in bait fish himself with a small remora hanging on. He was to hang around the wreck the whole time and was the only shark of the weekend. Pete got some great footage swimming along with the shark and I got some great footage of Pete swimming with the shark. At one point when Pete was filming between two boilers the shark hovered just 2 feet over Pete...Pete unaware to his curious visitor. The shark was never threatening and provided many photo ops. Capt. Ray came down with a speargun and gently corralled the shark closer to me during a swim by...into a perfect video shoot for me. The shark seemed 8-10 foot, fat and large to most of the divers...but on video review might just be 6- foot...hey must be that mask magnification thingy. Eric and his partner found lots of large moray eels in the boilers, and I got a some nice long close-up footage of a smaller moray nearby.
I also noted that Pete, who normally wears doubles...was able to stay deep as long as I was using only regular aluminum 80's...I have steel high-pressure 120's. Pete said he was surprised too, at first, but realized he was using less air because he had less weight to wrestle with underwater. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
On the hang bar Marty decided to catch some floating by sea weed to see what little creatures it might contain...and he found a sea horse...just slightly larger than a pea. Way to go, Marty. I found a Venus Girdle jelly fish...which looks like a tapering belt with electrical activity going through it. Fantastic way to end a summer dive season.
Thanks Rats! Some of the best days of my life.
River Rat Dive Report: Hatteras, NC, by Pete Spence
We had a great weekend (8/24-25/02) of diving off Cape Hatteras, NC this weekend. Matt Rhode, Marty Kotch, Doug Muller, and myself dove on the Proteus and Nevada on Saturday. The conditions on the Proteus were 78 deg on the bottom with about 80 feet of visibility. There were some big Sand Tiger sharks lurking around the mild thermocline at about 80 feet. One attacked me and tore my leg off, but I got better. The Nevada was about the same temperature, but with less visibility. Johnny Pieno, captain of the Bayou Runner, dug up a clock and a hand blown glass globe from the circa 1880’s wreck Nevada. Sunday morning, we had windy conditions, so the Bayou Runner headed east for Diamond Shoals. "We" made two dives on the Northeastern. It was pretty surge-y and a strong current on the second dive, but it was worth it for all the sea life. (Actually I wouldn't know because Doug and I sat out Sunday due to respective back "issues", but Matt and Marty told me about it.) It was a great weekend and we had a lot of fun.
There are still openings available for the 14-15 September weekend in Atlantic Beach on the Pelican. Please contact me if you're interested.
River Rat Dive Report: Lake Rawlings Dive Fest by Robb Myer
The six River Rats that attended the August 23-25 Dive Fest for DAN at Lake Rawlings unanimously claim it as the "Best Dive Fest Ever". Water temp to 32 feet was 81F (I made 4 dives wearing bathing suit and tee shirt). Visibility was 40-50 feet, which was in part the result of restricting the large student training groups.
River Rats won the top prize in both the scavenger hunt (Myron Ware - regulator) and the treasure hunt (Dave Bowman and his daughter Karla - regulator and dive computer console). The value of these prizes is over $1000. Not a bad return on a $10 donation to DAN. In addition Myron finished fourth and Terry Scott sixth in the kayak race. This was the second time in three years that Dave won the treasure hunt, this year by more than one minute over the second place buddy team. In contrast Myron finished 11 seconds behind the winner in the kayak race. First prize in the kayak race was an Islander kayak, valued at $600.
River Rat dives to Lake Rawlings are planned for September, October and November. Check http://scuba_rat.tripod.com/schedule.htm in a week for the dates.
Dive Report, Speigel Grove Wreck Dive, by Roger Grimes
Tricia, Richard, and I just got back from the Florida Keys and dove the Speigel Grove...awesome...awesome "wreck" dive. Large boat (looks like the Andrea Doria or Titantic it is so big...like 500+ feet long...vis was "horrible" at 70-100+ feet in blue water (captain was apologizing saying it was the worst he has seen). Ship is laying on its side...top part around 50 feet from surface...bottom is 110ft...got fantastic prop shots...sea life all over it already. And only 20 minutes from shore.
Dive Report, Paul Myer Memorial Dive 7/27-28/02, by Dave Bowman
I've been waiting a few days for the dive report from this past weekend (7/27-28/02) at Lake Rawlings that paid tribute to one of our most active members, a good man and a good diver, Paul Myer. Since I'm the president maybe I should report. I didn't make the two arduous dives Saturday that placed the memorial clown head at the bottom of the lake. But I arrived as Brian and Tim were heading back to the deco stop (trailer) in scuba gear. Passing them with a quick hi, I headed for the waterfront where Jeff and Linda were dealing with their heavy gear on the bank. Then other faces began popping to the surface. First I saw Robb and Annett Myer and with them came Tucker followed by Charles and Pete. Later Bob snuck up behind me. Their faces looking taxed but satisfied that they did a good thing.
Most all of us went out for dinner and joining us were Pauls's wife, Muffy and Tucker's wife, Jeanette. When we finished dinner, we watched the video Pete made in the lake that day and another he made of different dives with Paul. Pete and I both remarked to Muffy afterwards how easy it was to photograph Paul because he was a good balanced diver and took no notice of us and just did his dive.
That night three of us went back to the quarry and did a night dive; swimming back to the clown’s head and touring the swallows areas. After the dive, we all left Robb camping at Rawlings.
I returned to Lake Rawlings the following day with my daughter, Karla to find Robb writing in his log book after finishing a dive he made that morning. Robb and I suited up and took more flowers to the memorial and covered the base with rocks. The Clown’s head isn't hard to find but does have the security of a serious thermocline of 61 degrees. The surface temperature was 81.
To see the memorial, swim to the left side of the lake to the triangle wrecks area. Swim to the deepest boat and follow the line southeast toward the Zack. The clown’s head is midway.
Thanks to all who came out and helped with the memorial. And a special thanks goes to Robb and his family for giving all of us a chance to say goodbye to a friend.
Dive Report, Miss Lindsey River Rat Dive 6/12-14/02, by Roger A. Grimes
Divers: Jeff Hewlett, Linda Banish, Pete Spence, Brian Berkley, Sharon Links, Duane, Roger Grimes, Richard Collier, Hugh Bergeron, Karen Franke, Rebecca Adams, Eric Stevens Crew: Capt. Charlie, Capt. Becky, and mate
Kudos to Jeff Hewlett for getting us all together for a few days and nights of diving, and thanks to him for working harder than the mate blending air and O2. We left the dock 8pm Weds. night and returned Friday around 5pm. Weather was nice, pleasant, and very Spring-like for most of the trip, although the waves always kicked up at night only to start settling down in the morning. If you haven't read my trip reports before...they are more like books...you'll either hate them or love them. Most of the wrecks were full of black sea bass, spade fish, tautog, small numbers of Ocean/Gray triggerfish, conger eels, and lots of other stuff.
There I was...
Weds. Night:4A DryDocks (max. depth-77,vis-30-40)
Everyone got excited about the first night dive...or so Linda and I thought...but then we were the only divers/fools that decided to enter the water. Can anyone say shark bait? Well, once I got through blinding Linda by shining my bright camera lights in her eyes the rest of the dive went uneventful. I've haven't dove the 4A Drydocks before, but I plan to again.
It was a nice contiguous wreck with lots of swim throughs, gear, and machinery all around. Covered mostly with red coral, red sea fans, and black sea bass, it also had some Flamingo Tongue coweries hiding in the fans. If you haven't seen these sea water snails before you're missing something. The ones I've found are pretty small...around an inch, but their white shells with black-surrounded orange spots make a distinctive picture. We came across a single curious Spadefish that was not camera shy. I missed most of the good shots because this was my first dive with my new underwater video camera rig. I have the best collections of fish tails and dorsal fins that you'll find this side of the ocean. Really spectacular. <grin> Probably the funniest part of the dive was when Linda and I were back on the hang bar trying to figure out where the back of the boat was. There was a dim glow near the rear from the Miss Lindsey's rear flood lights, but not enough to make out open water vs. ladder. It was interesting to see Linda, who knows all the latest diving hand signs...try to say underwater, "Where's the ladder?" Somehow I understood, but I didn't have a clue either. But like mom said when I had sleep apnea as a small child, "follow the glow". And luckily Linda and I appeared mysteriously on the dive ladders. We got back on board around 11pm and not surprisingly many people were in their bunks for the night and asleep. Seas started getting rough as everyone tucked in for the night. The Miss Lindsey rode the next 4-5 hours to anchor on the Benson wreck.
I got up around 5am to take a look at the morning and the seas. Notice that I didn't say awoke because I didn't sleep much the first night. Brian said the same thing. Seas were still rolling and I could see many big tankers around us several miles away. I finally went back to my bunk, snored, and woke back up at 8am to film the rising sun. A fast moving pod of dolphins strafed the boat, but they were gone as quickly as they came and I wasn't able to catch anything on film. We all ate a nice breakfast of bagels and eggs and hit the next dive. This time almost everyone went.
Benson (max. depth-104)(first sighting of abyss creatures)
We did two dives on the Benson. Lots of sea bass, lots of jacks chasing each other or something, circling the divers. Although not exactly contigious, the Benson still looks like a ship wreck. I found the bow (I called it the stern until corrected by Jeff). It had broken off the wreck and turned sideways...so that the end sticking out of the sand looked like a square bow. It rose majestically about 30 or 40 feet off the botton. Also caught some Spottail Pinfish and lots of sea bass milling about.
It's also worth mentioning that Pete and I began to see some small sea creatures in the water column, some a depth, but most between 70 and 40ft, floating with the current, that we could not identify. Since neither Pete nor I are trained fish ichthyologists this is no surprise. They seemed to be the translucent larval stage of some other sea creature. I found them small as ¼-inch, but most were about an inch long. They had roundish-heads with feathery antennas like you would see on a monarch butterfly. Their main body was clear and shaped like an ice-cream cone, ending in a pointed taper at the bottom. The bottom taper was usually a rust-colored red and if the sea creatures had any food in their system it appeared as orange (or maybe this was sex organs...we don't know). The most incredible thing about them was that on their upper backs they had fins shaped like wings on an angel. They also had some intelligence as they would battle the current to either avoid us or try like hell to get to us. After Pete and I began discussing them most of the others saw them too. I said they reminded me of the creatures that save the diver at the end of the movie The Abyss and everyone agreed. Pete and I also discussed that why we were say how cute they were, they probably were some blood-sucking intestinal parasite that we were inviting to swim towards us. <grin> We ate a lunch of cold cuts and munchies and dove the wreck again. Then we moved to the York wreck.
York (max depth-104)
The York is a fantastic wreck, very contiguous and wreck-looking. Both large anchors are in the hawsers at the bow. Beautiful. I swam to the top of the bow and found some hiding Spadefish with small bits taken out of them. I wanted to tell them that the smart fish didn't hide high on the wreck...but hey, they're half-eaten and apparently not smart fish. Duane, Brian, and Sharon saw the lone shark of the trip, a 6-8 sand tiger. Sharon and Linda watched a sea turtle swim over Jeff's head as he tied in the anchor. Jeff and Linda cruised all around on their scooters...got some great footage of them cruising by. Jeff even took the time to come get me and point me in the direction of the bow so I could get some shots. After the dive, we moved and anchored on the Mexicano. We ate like kings and queens at dinner that night...feasting on the best steaks I've had in my life, salad, a mash potato and sour cream concoction (delicious), and Karen supplied the wine. I think most of us sleep well that night.
As we were preparing to dive the Mexicano (140 bottom) a storm started moving in with lightening and waves picking up. Like the smart fish, we decided to call the dive and just get up early tomorrow morning. I think only Jeff was partially disappointed. Right before sleep the mate got my attention and we saw large schools of luminescent squid hanging out at the back of the Miss Lindsey attracted to the flood lights. Very beautiful (no I didn't get it on tape, darn).
Mexicano (max. depth-140)(tons of bass under stern)(squirrel fish)
Woke up Friday morning to see that the seas had gone down a bit, but the current was ripping on the surface. And sure enough when I dropped in the water, it was a struggle to get to the hang bar and hold on. Instead of me using the first minute or so to adjust my gear and get my camera ready, my mask was flooding and I couldn't stop the leak. Turned out that the current was so strong that my mask couldn't get a good seal. So I quickly went down hand-over-hand on the anchor line and once below 60ft the current was almost non-existent.
Jeff actually discovered the true identity of the Mexicano years ago and has made dozens of dives on it (he has a multi-page magazine article written about him about the story). He said it was a beautiful wreck and he was right. Visibility was great at depth, perhaps 50 feet. Wreck is what all wrecks should be...big ship, lots of places t swim, big deck to keep you oriented. I found a lone conger eel, but I understand that Jeff and Linda went to the bow section and found a bunch of them that live there. Besides the usual seabass, tautog, and spadefish, I saw a few deep water squirrelfish. I went back to the stern, that was about 40 feet off the sand and went over the deck. I found about 50 sea bass just hanging out together. Pretty cool site and for once, I did get it on tape. All the divers came up raving about the dive. Next we moved several hours back toward home and anchored on the 1800 Line wreck.
1800 Line Wreck (max depth-86)(anchor moving incident)(vis low)(vis-10-25ft)
The 1800 Line wreck is basically an inverted hull buried deep in the sand. Richard and I went down first and I was to tie the anchor hook into the wreck. I was pretty proud of being able to do this as it would be my first "tie-in", but I had watched it enough to think I could do it well and do it in the right place. When Richard and I got down there the hook was barely hooked on a long piece of metal plate, merrily skipping along the plate ready to let loose at moment. I looked around for a better location, but everything remotely close was worse. I decided to do a good tie-in, but I couldn't even find a good place to tie in to. I eventually found a rusted out I-beam sticking out of some misc. wreckage and even though that was not the best spot, it was the only spot, so I tied in. I figured Jeff would see the mess I created, cuss, and put it somewhere else...and I was right. Only I didn't know that while Richard and I were in the water, the loose anchor had allowed the boat to move and for a few minutes nobody was allowed to dive per the Captain...but once they did, Pete and Jeff spent the first five minutes of their dive finding a better spot, which to my relief, they too said was very difficult to find.
Visibility was only 10 feet, maybe 15-25ft at times...but definitely down. I ran a wreck reel line and headed off to the wreck. I followed the right side the hull until I found a gap big enough to penetrate. Richard and I went into the wreck a bit (there was big hole to the other side so I wasn't like we were in an dangerous enclosed environment)...and I found a large anchor. Since the 1800 Line wreck is thought to be the Congor (or something like that) wreck, but has never been positively identified, I began to dig around the anchor looking for some wreck clues. I found none, and then I realized the big anchor (maybe 4 feet wide) was probably too small to be an original part of the 1800 Line, and probably in the wrong position (not far enough up the bow...unless it was a spare or extra anchor), so I stopped digging. Richard signaled that his Nitrogen level was maxing out so he called the dive. When we turned we saw that there was zero visibility...not only where were digging, but most of the way back out and halfway back to the Miss Lindsey anchor. I can only say that it definitely helped having a wreck line run...the 1800 line wreck is so small that not being able to see is probably not a life-threatening event...just swim out the hole and surface if you have to...but getting back to the right anchor spot was definitely made easier and prevented stress. When I did get back to the anchor, Pete and Jeff were busy trying to find a new spot for it and busy swimming to and fro. My wreck reel line got all fouled up about 10 feet away and I had to wrap it up in a knot and fix later on the boat. Dive went well, actually, in spite of the additional activity. When I was ascending on the anchor line, I saw a flat 60-foot wide perfectly circular disk/iron plate next to the wreck's boilers. I would love to know what that was.
Everyone got back on deck and Becky had cooked Lindsey dogs and burgers. We again ate like royalty. We rode back to the dock, a ride of a few hours, and most everyone slept, satiated from a few days of diving and good food. Everyone enjoyed each other's company, the wine, the talks on physics, and of course, the two camera guys. If anyone wants a copy of the edited tape I produced, just send me an email (and $5-$10 to cover tape and postage costs).
Dive Report, River Rat Dive 9/29/01, by Roger A. Grimes
There I was...in 20-foot waves, with 20-foot sharks, and serpents...oops...wrong story. Sixteen or so River Rats again descended upon Morehead City to dive off Capt. Ray's Pelican ship. Mate Brian was onboard as has been the usual for us for years, and his friend Andy assisted. Always a good time. In no particular order, the following Rats showed up: Robb Myer, Pete Spence, Dave Bowman, Richard Dixon, Tim, Marty, Dave, Kevin, Brian, James and his dad, Art, Michael, Tricia, Richard Collier, me, and Micha. I apologize to whoever I left out, for botched names, and to everyone without a first or last name (I gotta write that stuff down next time).
Weather and wind was not predicted to be good on Saturday, and Sunday was supposed to be worse, and it was. So, we were all hoping the strategic angle of Morehead City would block some of the strong North winds, and it did. Seas were rolling between 2-5 feet most of the way out, but a following sea and Capt. Ray's excellent handling made it seem easier. A cool October morning with a stiff wind made the chiller air a bit colder and we were all eager to get warm on our wreck of the day, the Hutton in 70 feet of water.
The W.E. Hutton is a 435-foot tanker sank by the U-124 on March 18, 1942 with a loss of 13 men. Because the big ship was sunk in relatively shallow water and was a navigation obstacle (proved by the successive ramming and sinking of the Suloide), the Navy wire-dragged and dynamited it several times. Very little remains that looks like a sunken ship, besides the boilers. Some of these "demolished wreck sites" can be boring to dive because one just hovers over all types of twisted metal wondering what may have been. Others are full of sea life and coral, with swim-throughs, and lots of holes and crannies for things to live in. This is just such a wreck. Because this was a good wreck and the weather was sour, we dove it twice.
Brian tied the hook in on the top of boiler, the highest relief, making the descent a quick one. A diver only had to go down about 20-30 feet from the hang line to touch the top of the wreck. Water was about 78F (much warmer than the air) and visibility was a semi-cloudy 20-35 feet. Actually, the visibility wasn't too bad and I've got lots of video footage to prove it. The shallow depth was actually nice because most of us were able to get 40-60 minutes of bottom time, unlike the 10 minutes we usually experience on deeper wrecks.
The Hutton had lots of medium-sized Atlantic Spade fish, and Kevin speared a few to prove it. Large excited Jacks were screaming around and Andy shot one of those. Tim shot a few fish, but the large barracudas were faster than he was. His recounting of the story was "bam, bam"...illustrating how quickly the barracuda ate his catch. I was on my way up on the second dive when I noticed a 4-foot+ barracuda intent on some sort of prey. I went back down with my camera and caught it pursuing Kevin and Brian, just waiting for someone to catch something. The barracuda was so intent on watching the divers, he did not care that my large bright, yellow camera was inches from his face. Usually they are a little skittish, but apparently not when hunting. He had a fishing lure, hook, and weight hanging from his gills. (So how do you tell a fish that you want to grab it, clear the line, and not have him freak?) The fish were so thick all around the wreck that Capt. Ray came up with a Spanish Mackerel sticking most of the way out of his BC pocket. Everyone concluded that the fish just recognized the superior competitor and gave up the painless way. There were clouds and clouds of bait fish swimming all over the wreck, going back and forth, as larger predators chased.
Besides all the fish talked about above, I saw Chubs, Juvenile Cocoa Damselfish (these are some of my favorite little fish, only a 1-3 inches big, always hiding in the coral, beautiful purple tops, bright yellow bottoms, with a black spot near the tail. They are on every wreck I've dove in Morehead City, but very shy), tiger-striped young grouper sitting along the bottom (very approachable, didn't run at all), a Belted Sandfish (the first time I had seen these), juvenile Parrotfish and Wrasse (all over), sea bass, schools of Spottail Pinfish, white spotted sea cucumber, starfish, Slippery Dicks, Sheepshead Porgy, an arrow crab, Grey Triggerfish, thousands of feather duster worms, yellow rope sponge, soft and hard corals of all types, and a bunch of fish I couldn't remember, didn't film, or couldn't identify. You know, typical boring, didn't-see-much-of-anything-Morehead City-dive... <grin>and this was not a perfect day for diving.
Robb saw an eel, and Art and Kevin saw the lone shark, a 4-foot sand tiger. Art was excited about seeing his second shark in the open ocean, made a bit more exciting by the fact that he was alone at the time. The shark went from just being big to over 22-foot (along with a serpent) by the time the drinks had been served in the Mexican restaurant later that night. Art is new to the River Rats, but his stories are already making him a favorite part of the team.
The Sunday dive was called the next morning, but nobody left until everyone had sat around harassing one another for part of an hour. The River Rats are sad to leave the summer season behind us and we are definitely looking forward to Spring. See you at Morehead!
By the way, if anyone wants a copy of the tape I shot on the dive, send $15 my way. Although it is my first video shoot, I've got lots of footage of the boat, wreck, and all the fish I mention above. A great tape to study if you are interested in identifying fish types, as I tell which fish is which (usually). This is a blatant plug so I can tell my wife that all my new video gear and accessories is not just a hobby (she already knows I'm lying).
Dive Report: Diving the U-1105 Buoy, by Roger A. Grimes
Well, we dove the buoy.
Mark Bednar, Robb Myer, Dave Bowman, and myself attempted to dive the U-1105 "Black Panther" U-boat sunk in the Potomac River. Mike Olsen had his nice-running center console boat and with the help of Drew Mullinax, probably gave us the best boat crew any of us had been party to. Mike and Drew spent more money preparing for the dive and buying odds and ends for it that they surely went negative in the money. I like Drew's comment, "Hey, we aren't doing for the money, we just wanted to have a good time, hang out, and doing something different." That probably sums up the whole experience.
Robb, Mike, and Drew drove up the night before and camped at Coles Plantation. Dave and me drove up together (trip was scenic and only about 2 hours long) in the early morning. Mark arrived a little later. Coles Plantation looks like a great place to camp, a nice restaurant, good bathroom and shower facilities, a big swimming pool, and even rustic cabins. Anyone trying this again, should probably camp up at least a night and bring the family.
High tide was supposed to be around 1pm (best for visibility and current), but the winds were kicking, staying steady around 20-25 mph. Waves were mostly 1-3 feet, with 4 foot breakers occasionally challenging the low draft skift. Although I won't say attempting the dive was dangerous, the locals kept asking us if we were really sure we were going out? It was only when the small crowd gathered to watch us disembark that I wondered if they were watching brave divers, or complete idiots.
We went out earlier in the morning to scout the U-1105 buoy location. The boat got out there quickly and Drew was the first to spot the buoy. Because the night and morning was a bit chilly, fair weather gear was nice to have on the trip. I especially enjoyed the warmth wet wool gives and I'll recommend it to anybody. The buoy is fairly large, and has lots of official lettering saying it is the U-1105 buoy and other stuff like that. It has a short line attached to it to which boats can moor. The second buoy that is usually on the site was gone, which confirmed information Robb had already learned. After figuring out all the different ropes that would be needed, we departed back to shore, got the gear into the boat, and headed back out.
We had expected the wind to die down, but to our surprise, it picked up to a steady 25 mph. White caps were now covering the River. I was a little worried about how the boat would do with more divers and all our gear (large tanks, pony bottles, dive lights, etc.) in the boat. Mike and Drew drove excellently, and although we only made half speed out to the site (about 2 miles from Coles Plantation), we made it safely and calmly. Once onsite, Mike maneuvered the boat and Drew attached us to the mooring line, wrapped another loop around the buoy almost cowboy style, and attached lines above and below the water line which we could use to pull ourselves into the current and down the buoy line to the sub. We also dropped several stern lines, with dive flags and drift balls in case someone came up down current. We had already discussed our dive plans and emergency procedures.
Robb and Mark geared up and entered the water first. As planned, me and Dave entered in about 10 minutes later (to spread out the entering boat process at the end). I did a back roll into the water and was immediately hit by two thoughts. First, water was very warm (and stayed so to the bottom...probably over 70 F, and second, there was no current, not even at the bottom. Our slack tide plan had worked, plus the winds and current were fighting against each other making it even better.
I made my way to the buoy and began to pull myself down. The first six feet of the buoy line was covered in fishing line, sinkers, and hooks. Although we all worried that this would be the case on the rest of the line or wreck, we found no evidence. The water down to 25 ft had 5-10 ft vis and a strange opal green coloration. Dave must have been impatient as I was admiring the water color as he rushed down past me and we quickly headed down. I like fast descents anyway.
Unfortunately at 50 foot, vis was so bad that it became as dark as midnight. Worse yet, although we all had two or more lights (including some big watt primary lights), they were only visible inches away at most times. Shining my light at my pressure gauge inches away only helped 15-45 seconds after you stopped moving so that the silt could settle. I kept heading down, having lost sight of my well lighted dive buddy (he had on three lights) and kept expecting to hit the metal of the sub. Suddenly I was in the middle of Robb and Mark who were on the mooring line (a chain). I didn't see Dave at first. I kept expecting to hit bottom now, but at 87 feet (the maximum depth possible in the River supposedly) we were all in 2-3 foot muck bottom. It was like the lightest mud you could imagine. I ran my hand down the buoy line so I could find an attachment point. I put my whole hand into the muck and never felt anything, although Robb did the same and found an eye hook and concrete, evidencing that the buoy was not on the wreck but on a cement block elsewhere.
Noting that vis was non-existent and muck was thick I rose up a bit to get off the "bottom" and I ran back into Dave. (Now, remember all four of us are hanging onto the mooring chain within 5 foot of each other probably, and we did not see each other most of the time. It was even difficult to make out who was your dive buddy because the limited vis didn't even allow me to pick up the diver's colors and equipment, like I am used to. I learned to pay more attention to the diver's mask next time as we could see who was who by concentrating on each other's eyes and mask.
Robb eventually rose up to 70 foot to run a line and look for the wreck at that depth. Dave rose up a few feet and started to run a wreck line as well. I followed "O'ing" the line with my fingers as we had discussed in our dive plan. And even though I was following right behind Dave, I could not see him. I made sure not to drag on the line, but just 10 seconds later I felt no tension on the line and even noted it was going backward. Turns out that in the complete darkness Dave had accidentally dropped the reel into the muck. I saw Dave briefly almost in back of me, so I made my way back down the line back to the buoy chain and Dave was there shortly thereafter. He had his reel, but the line was a little mixed up in his gear. Both Mark and Dave said that they need to practice their reel skills in Lake Rawlings in the dark. In the darkness of the vis, it was sometimes took a few seconds to figure out what way the reel was pointing and which side had the handle, etc. Mark had also run a line and found it difficult going without being able to see your reel and dive light. I remember thinking, this is what cavers are probably used to, but it was a bit new for most of us.
At that point, we all decided to call the dive. We had been in the water 10-15 minutes and even if we found the wreck, the 2 inches of vis would not allow much to be seen. We were worried about possible entanglement scenarios as well in the low vis, but only a little bit. We all made a slow ascent on the mooring line, did a minor safety stop, and got back on the boat. With Mike's boat, you had to remove your BC and gear, which they picked up or put on a hang line. Then you put one foot on the swim ladder and belly-flopped over the boat edge and into the boat. All-in-all, it was much easier than expected.
Although we missed the sub, we all agreed that we would do it again. We would have done it again right there, but most people didn't have enough gas in their tanks. We ran the boat over the wreck's location and marked it with the the depth finder and get an idea of how it is located in relation to the buoy. It is probably about 40 feet from the buoy, or about 20 feet away from the bottom of the buoy chain. Robb's plan for the next dive on it, makes the most sense. At 70-75 feet, we need to run a line, using a compass heading that will make sure we hit the sub, without disturbing the bottom muck.
We ran back into port, all happier than you would expect for a missed dive opportunity. But then again, we were getting most of what we wanted anyway, which was an opportunity to see friends, meet new ones, and just do something besides work. We had a nice lunch/dinner at the Cole's Plantation restaurant. Food was pretty good and big portions. Robb learned that a second ship wreck is located close to Cole's Plantation, that of a Civil War prisoner's ship that sunk because of an exploded boiler. Next time we go, we plan to dive both. After our two hour lunch, we noted that winds were almost non-existent and it looked like a whole different river. Less winds would haven't definitely made it an easier dive.
Hope to see many of you at the end of the month on the River Rat's last summer dive fling in Morehead City.
Hatteras River Rat Report, July 21-22, 2001 by Roger
River Rats made the Hatteras trip last weekend, to joined a Richmond club for
the weekend. It was full of excitement and lots of big sand tiger sharks,
although the sharks were not making the excitement, luckily.
We met Capt. Johnny and the Bayou Runner at 6:30am with the wind
blowing strong. Although most of the East coast was blown out, the particular
geography made Hatteras weather just divable.
On Saturday, we dove the Dixie Arrow and the F.W. Abrahams.
Seas were rough, running 3-5 foot consistently, but not very white cappy
(heh, I made up a new word). Hookings
at all wrecks were quick. Water temp was 80-82F with slight thermoclines on all
down to all wrecks proved to be slightly challenging as the top current to about
20 foot was screaming, maybe 2 to 3 knots.
The only way to get down was to go quickly hand over hand from the down
lines to the anchor lines. The
current pulled the hang lines up to the surface, so it was strange hopping in
the water down to 10-15 feet, and following the hang lines to the surface where
it attached to the anchor line. Once
down, currents on the wrecks switched from not there to moderate.
In most cases, currents on the wreck were not that bad. Getting back on
the boat proved to be challenging as the whipping current strung out divers on
the hang line like a kite. While
hanging on the line at the normal 25 ft depth, we were often elevated to 8-10
ft. Getting to the ladder was a matter of
swimming under the middle of the boat and drifting back to catch the ladder.
The River Rats handled this without problem.
The Dixie Arrow was full of large sand tiger sharks, although vis was down at 30-40 ft. The Dixie Arror is a contiguous wreck with lots of relief (every wreck over the weekend seemed to have three large boilers located at our anchor line to make navigation easier). The wrecks provided lots to swim over, around, and occasionally through. The Dixie Arrow was covered with lots of bait fish, tropicals (wrasse, angel fish, etc.), very large barracuda, spadefish, and the most sea cucumbers I've ever seen. It was also strange to see all the Atlantic spadefish, which I normally see on top of the wreck, hidden in the wreck. I later learned this was because they were hiding from the sharks. Sure enough in every group of spadefish we saw, there were several with chunks taken out. Pete, and several others, got to play around with the "killer turtle". Apparently, a turtle used to human-intervention had fun biting Pete's camera and harrassing (or loving) Jeff Hewlitt. (Pete, I can't wait to see the video). Doug brought back several things for his fish tank. While I was taking a camera shot of a large sand tiger I was reminded of why we should always wear gloves while diving wrecks, as I scored a small slice on my hand. I then watched as a small amount of blood floated out of my hand and in front of the now,
The F.W. Abrahams was another great wreck, although no sharks. Visibility was a bit better at 40-50ft, and everyone was already use to the descent routine. Then with all but three divers on the wreck, the excitement started. The anchor line parted the wreck. Dave Bowman tried to re-seat it into the wreck but it broke free. Then it rushed by me and Doug who had just started to dive. Both Doug and I grabbed it too of course, and were taken
night winds picked up, but by the morning, wind had dropped to five knots and
seas were almost lake-like for the first dive. The first dive was on the Proteus
to 124 ft. Top current was still
strong, but not as bad as the day before. Vis.
was up to about 70 feet, maybe more, but lots of "gunk" hung in the
water from the previous day's weather. Lots
of large sand tigers again on the wreck. Lots
of fish and tropicals. Jeff and
Linda found a sleeping turtle, but it apparently was not of the killer-variety.
Richard and I had a great dive drifting with the current and were surprised to
find more than a little resistance on the way back to the line at times. When we
started to work hard, we fell down to the wreck and pulled ourselves along until
the surge stopped, which proved to be a timesaver and gas saver. Man, I love
learning other stuff from experienced divers. Capt. Johnny pulled up a large
brass porthole off the wreck, along with the dogs.
If you weren't a treasure seeker before, you at least started fantasizing
after seeing his find.
Johnny suggested the Dixie Arrow for the second dive. It had blue water
and about 20 more feet of visibility than the day before. Lots of large sand
tigers again milling about. I found
one lying in the wreck at the stern and Richard was able to greet it upside down
as he peered over the edge of the hole upside down.
This seem to startle the shark more than Richard was.
and Jeff dove doubles all weekend and made what I thought were 2 hour bottom
times on each wreck, but they said were more realistic. Richard Dickson came out
and made his first dive of the year and dove like a pro. Pete captured some
great video. I took 4 rolls of film and managed not to flood my camera.
Marty and Dave Bowman captured some great shots too, and Marty showed everyone
his great shark photos from the last River Rat trip to Morehead.
Doug picked up some more sea creatures, and a saw a few large shark's
teeth being passed around. Kudos to Pete and Cathy Bowman for pre-fixing the PBJ's and
treating us to tuxedo-like diving. (Pete,
I'm willing to pay extra on each trip for this type of, now-expected, service).
Overall, with the exception of the first day's weather and some strong current,
dives were "best dives ever!"
Report, Lake Rawlings, June 30, by Robb Myer
As those of you who were on the River Rat trip
to Atlantic Beach, the dive on the Carrib Sea was number 1000 for me. To
celebrate I'm grilling up chicken at Lake Rawlings (dinner at 5PM) on Saturday.
Everyone who made one of those 1000 dives with me is invited. Please let me know
by 1600 Thursday if you are coming so I get and marinate the appropriate numbers
Report, Atlantic Beach, June 16-17, by Robb Myer
While Hampton Roads experienced the
remnants of the tropical rain storm, 11 River Rats surfaced on sunny Atlantic
Beach, NC. Saturday, we dove the Shurz and Aeolus with 78F water temperature and
80 foot visibility. We had a nice sunny day in the low 80’s but a little swell
action made the surface interval a little uncomfortable for a few of the newer
Rats. There were a few sandtiger sharks on each wreck. Sunday we dove the Atlas
and the Carrib Sea. Visibilty was a little less, just low enough to hinder a
good counting of the sandtiger sharks on the Carrib Sea. Accounts ranged from 50
to 100, but in any event there were more sharks than I've ever seen at one time.
River Rats found more than 30 sharks teeth on the weekend dives. The July trip
to Hatteras is full, but there is space available for the September 29-30 trip
to Atlantic Beach, NC.
Report, Lake Rawlings, June 2, by Robb Myer
Six River Rats experienced a beautiful
day with water temperature 70F+ at the surface, air temp in the high 70’s and
the thermocline dropping down to 35 feet (still 6.5mm and hood below the
thermocline but comfortable in a 5mm and no hood as long as you stay up on the
shelf). The beautiful day brought out many large groups of campers and divers,
which of course effects the visibility.
Tortugas Dive Report, May 13-17, by Robb Myer
River Rats departed Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, on Sunday, May 13 for the Dry
Tortugas, aboard the 100 ft live-aboard Ultimate Getaway (and with a little help
from the dingy "Junior", all 20 of us returned - for which Mrs.
Berkley/Warthan/Wood are most grateful). Check out http://www.ultimategetaway.net/photostrips.htm
and select "The River Rats - PB&J" for a picture of us standing in
front of Ft Jefferson. We spent two hours ashore tracing the history of the fort
and it's role in the Civil War. The PB&J refers to Larry Taylor's
special request for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The request resulted in Larry
getting a reserved place at the dining table for the entire trip - along with
his own jar of PB&J. All those years of eating PB&Js on River Rat trips
Rick Pitts put us on 20 dive
sites, with Charles Howell and his GPS insuring that most of the sites
were different. We had near perfect conditions the entire trip, low 70s air
temperature, high 70s water temperature and average visibility also around 70
feet. Our first dive was on a 1907 wreck in 20 feet of water and the last
morning we dove a 1942 wreck in 106 feet of water. The average depth of all the
dives was 60 feet. We encountered Jewfish (200 - 300 pounders) on nearly half
the dives and sharks on several dives.
of us made all 20 dives (12+ hour average bottom time), with the rest making 15
dives on average. Jeff Hewlett brought his double cyclinders and made fewer
dives but averaged over an hour per dive. He even let Marty Kotch dive
his doubles once, which helped Marty accumulate the most bottom time.
Exceeding Steve Myer by about 15 minutes. Rosemary Bowman had such
a good time she decided to move to Florida, and has volunteered to help plan our
next Florida or Bahamas dive trip. Richard Smith and Dave Bowman
(and a few amateurs) took lots of good underwater images, the best of which will
be posted to http://scuba_rat.tripod.com very soon.
the end of each night dive, Charles Howell rang the ship's bell
signifying that the Corona bar was open. Harold Wood matched the demand
for freshly cut limes, while Mike Olson chose the evening movie (why does
his taste run to sinking ships?). A great start to the 2001 diving season. Check
the web schedule for upcoming dives to Lake Rawlings and North Carolina.
Rat Dive Report, April 21, Robb Myer
Beautiful day at Lake Rawlings. The water temperature was
52F at 28 feet, but dropped
to 43F at 55-60 feet. Very comfortable on the shelf, but still cold for wet suit
divers at the bottom. Over 60 divers were present Saturday, some basic classes
but lots of divers doing their annual tune up or diving new gear. This resulted
in visibility far less than the 50+ we've had the last few months.
LR purchased a pump (100 gallons a minute?) and will run
it during the week
to maintain the depth. The visibility improved a lot last year when they lowered
the water level 8+ feet. During the winter it rose again by about 2 feet. This
plan with the new pump is to maintain the maximum depth to around 60 feet.
Our next trip to Lake Rawlings will be over the Memorial
Day weekend and
we will have another cookout and also do a night dive.
Wet Pool Party, April 7, By Robb Myer
Nineteen River Rats, including three new members, made it out to the Dive
Quaters pool Saturday for the annual Get Wet Pool Party. Several others,
including President Richard Dickson never made it through the HRBT (one east
bound lane was closed for repair for 3 days). The water was warm, the visibility
was great, but not much to see but other River Rats. Actually several members
discovered the need for gear servicing, and once again validated the generally
held belief that neoprene shrinks over the winter.
Rawlings, Mar 3, 2001, By Robb Myer
Three Rats enjoyed the 55+F air temp and 50+ ft
visibility at Lake Rawlings.
We had LR to ourselves for the first dive, but were joined by a group of 7 (in
wet suits) for the second.
It's been a River Rat tradition to sink something in LR
as part of our annual season opening cook-out. Five of the last six years we
have sunk boats (the other year the green convertible). Looking for candidates
for this year. Will go with another boat (17-22 ft) but would like something
different. Motorcycles, airplanes, telephone booth, supercomputers have been
suggested so far. We welcome ideas, but need the item as well. Anything that
divers would find interesting, will hold up in the water and is environmentally
safe (preped if needed).
Storm Lake, WV, February 3, 2001, by Robb Myer
Seven "hardy" River Rats ventured to Mt Storm Lake, WV
Saturday, February 3. The scene was postcard perfect ... two inches of snow on
the ground, steam raising off the "warm" lake waters, and the entire
lake to ourselves. Then we got out of the cars. The air temp was close to 32F,
7Kt wind and the water temperature was 54F (over 10F colder than advertised).
Visibility was 15 feet or better down to 70 feet, where it abruptly became
totally dark. Compared to Lake Rawlings there wasn't much to see, a couple of
platforms, lots of tree stumps and some skinny cat fish. Good altitude training
dive (3244 ft) for all but Joe Castro who has been diving in the Rockies. The
altitude was confirmed by Dave Bowman with his new digital altimeter. First time
my gloves, hood and BC froze solid during a surface interval. We had to put
everything in the water to thaw it out before the second dive.
Not a great day of diving, but a great day of comaraderie. The rest of us had not been diving with Joe or Mark Bednar since they left the area years ago. Both are now stationed at the Pentagon and plan on making lots of River Rat dives this year. We moteled it Saturday night and Jeff Hewlett gave us a “pre-intro to cave Diving” as we toured Luray Caverns Sunday morning.
Robb Myer, Lake Rawlings, October 28, 2000
There were beautiful October skies over Lake Rawlings Saturday. Air and water temperature on the shelf were both 69F. Visibility was over 40 feet, and attendance was about 1/4 of that during the annual Dive Fest, giving us plenty of room on shore, on the new floating dock and in the water. The "Bubba" size bass are increasing in number and range all over Lake Rawlings, especially around the boats the River Rats have sunk the past few years.
Robb Myer, Virginia Beach, VA,
August 27, 2000
The River Rat motto, "Camarderie Through Safe Diving", came into play for the weekends dives from Chincoteaque,VA. Five River Rats had a good time despite the influence of former hurricane Alberto. Saturday Captain John made a safe decision to go the Monroe rather the further off shore Marine Electric. The dives really made us appreciate North Carolina (56F temp and 10 foot vis at the bottom). The Monroe is a very interesting wreck, and we did extensive exploration, thanks to Jeff Hewlett laying a low vis line almost from bow to stern.
We had a great meal at a "Family Restaurant" (which we found out is Chincoteaque for no liquor license) Saturday night and were enthusiastic about a better weather day Sunday. Not to be, the dive was cancelled by the time we got to the boat. Thanks to Dave Bowman for planning the trip, everything he had control over was great. We look forward to diving the Marine Electric next year.
Anyone interested in extending the dive season and/or diving the colder water wrecks should talk with Dave, Jeff, Pete Spence, or Paul Myer about dry suits.
Jeff Hewlett, Lake Rawlings, August 6, 2000
As Paul Harvey would say, "And now the rest of the story ...."
I too went to El Resorto Rawlins this weekend (Sunday) to work some twins and scooter configurations. In the process decided to check out the whole profile ... after about four dives and 2.5 hours in the "The Lake" the following thermocline profile is provided:
Sfc to 18.765 feet 79.2 to 82.6 degree F
19 feet to 25 feet 65 +/- 3 degrees F
25 feet to 55 feet #@$%^& freez'in ...... 48 to 52 degrees
-- Vis less than 5 feet ... at 50 feet you couldn't see the bottom.
For you math challenged divers, don't run for a calculator. That's a 30 to 34 degree temperature delta ... For those of you wanting to check out a dry suit with full winter undies ... this is your resort and this is the time!
PS: I'm just bitch'in because I didn't have my full winter weight undies.
Robb Myer, Lake Rawlings, Aug 4, 2000
A beautiful day after a week of daily thunderstorms. Air temp was mid 70's and water temp to 30 feet was close to 80F. I did two 45 minute dives wearing a 1 mm suit and 1 mm hood and was comfortable.
The long awaited entry dock is complete (except for the ladders). It is approximately 20 FT by 40 FT and forms an "L" with the initial section. There are three rows of benches, with enough room for a dozen divers to sit down, don fins and then do a giant stride entry with getting in others way. Besides an easier entry, this observably has a beneficial effect on the visibility.
I was able to finish the frame for the canopy in front of the "Deco Stop" trailer, so on future River Rats Lake Rawlings outings we'll have a 12 X 20 FT covered area over our picnic tables and benches.
The next River Rat trip to Lake Rawlings is Saturday, September 2. Check the schedule on our web site for other dives http://members.tripod.com/scuba_rat .
Marine Electric - July 24; By Jeff Hewlett
I just completed an hour dive on the Marine Electric, an excellent site. A big site, vertically (90 FSW on the top to 126FSW in the sand) and horizontally ... hundreds of feet. An interesting observation: the diagram in the Gentile Book is (you guessed it) not quit right ... and these guys were "pros". The good news, it's even bigger than drawn and really still looks like a ship ... on it's side.
The stern "break" really is not, the haul is still attached and goes on for over three hundred feet. I never reached the "bow" section, had to turn back (time) with no end in sight. She is on her starboard side, main quarters and bridge touch the sand, with some collapse of the structures. Rudder's off and props gone, stack is broken off and separated. Forward, where the "break area" should be is the forward side of the super structure (the front side), metal is bent from the sinking and age but not a real break. Follow this "down" to the cargo decking area and you are on the over turned main haul area... the "aft" cargo holes. It's three quarters over, half buried on its starboard side but still connected to the main stern area. Follow a clean line forward ... let me know what you find.
You'll also find a white line in the sand running out to a section that may be part of the bow, not sure. One diver did follow the cargo haul (as listed here) and made it to the "bow", reporting only a short break in the cargo section until he reached the bow itself. Said he saw the anchors, etc.
In any case, you could spend a day on this one and not see it all ... and I had at least 40 to 50 feet vis. Dress warm, temp was a very stable 47 degrees from 50 feet down. About 60 degree surface to 50 feet. A heads up for you "penetrators" ... be careful ... a lot of silt breaks loose --- vis drops fast. Hatch covers are gone so it's not too hard to find the forward and aft hatchways and staircases, just use caution.
BTW ... it was in the cargo hole section, on the underside that I spotted some of the biggest taugs I've ever seen ... monsters. No real bugs, only two taken. Jeff Hewlett.
Atlantic Beach - July 15-16, 2000
Nine River Rats dove the "Shipwrecks of the Atlantic" over the weekend. Saturday took us to the U-352 and the Indra (or as Pete Spence calls it "The Mighty I"). We were blessed with 78F water temp and 60 foot vis, and missed an afternoon storm which passed overhead during our second dive. Sunday brought near dead calm seas so we ventured across Diamond Shoals and dove the Atlas tanker and Caribsea. We encountered lots of Sand Tiger sharks on both dives with better being the Caribsea where we estimate there were more than 50. Coupled with 80F water temp an 80+ vis we found more than a dozen sharks teeth. As usual President Paul was high man with six. Robb Myer.
Lake Rawlings - July 8, 2000
It's summer time at Lake Rawlings. The water temp to 30 feet was 80F. The thermocline is at 45 feet and I found it comfortable in a 3/2 full suit and 1 mm hood at the "Pop's Pleasure" boat (55 feet). Errol and Joe installed new grills, picnic tables and purchased hand carts you can use taking your gear to/from the entry point. If you have not been to Lake Rawlings since the water was lowered and the ammenities added, I recommend you check it out. Away from the student training areas we had 25+ feet vis and the air temp was a perfect 80 F. Robb Myer.
Subject: River Rat Dive Report - June 18, 2000
A great finale to OpSail 2000 festivities was a dive on a former "tall ship". Conditions on the "Brass Spike" (a late 1800's coastal sailing freighter) were very, very good - less than 2 foot seas, 61F water temp at 80 feet and 25 ft vis on the bottom. My goal was to find a "brass spike". I recovered one and left 3 others for another day (need crow bars, vice grips for one and a left bag for the other two that are in a 8 foot timber). Other divers brought up a cooler full of sea bass and taug - a small fraction of which were on the wreck. I had to push away the curious sea bass while I was freeing the brass spike. Along the way I picked up 28 12oz lead weights (will have a melt-down party soon). Robb Myer.
Lake Rawlings - June 10-11, 2000
Seven River Rats made it up to Lake Rawlings Saturday and/or Sunday. The water temp is 68F at 20 feet. LR has been pumping water the last two weeks, which has lowered the water level by about 6 feet. This was done in an effort to keep the filtering algae healthy (which makes for the clear water). A secondary effect is returning setup real estate by the entry.
Some other activity includes the addition of 10 picnic tables which are under construction, as is phase two of the floating dock (at least the floats are in and Joe told me he'd start construction this week). A half dozen (or more) sturdy grills are now installed (both in the entry area and the camping area).
Thanks to Dennis and James Martin, Harold and Garret Wood, and Dave Bowman for extending the "Deep Water Tour". You can now start at the blue car (out the back door of the bus) and follow the reference lines all the way across the Lake to the "Zack" (up against the wall) - over 500 ft. Robb Myer.
Cape Hatteras - June 3-4, 2000
Twelve River Rats made it to Cape Hatteras over the weekend. Saturday on the Proteus was outstanding: 79F water temp at 120ft, 100+ Ft vis, calm sees and clear (until we pulled anchor and headed home). There were approximately 20 sandtiger sharks crusing the stern section of the Proteus. Tim W had the good sense to dig for 1917 bottles instead of shooting grouper was well rewarded. Paul M found several very nice sharks teeth, and I found a wreck reel (likely 1997 not 1917).
Sunday we dove the Dixie Arrow and the Keshena. Visibility was a little lower, especially on the Keshena where it seemed everyone took to digging for china and silverware with a frenzy. Had moderate seas on the ride to the Dixie Arrow, but as Brian B predicted it "layed right down" for the ride back to Teach's Lair Marina.
The group had such a good time I think we'll add a mid-October trip back to Cape Hatteras to dive the 1868 wreck the Nevada. Captain John has made some incredible finds on the Nevada. Robb Myer.
Bahamas, Sea Fever - May 7-12, 2000
A total of 23 dives were made during the week with average water temp of 80F and average visibility of 80Ft (vis was lower on the first and last day, and closer to 100Ft on the remaining days). Food, accommodations, and crew were great on the Sea Fever. The weather did not cooperate with our plan to go south to the Cay Sal Banks, but the conditions were superb off Grand Bahamas. If you've never been on a liveaboard, and you remember why you became certified in the first place, I recommend you put away $50 to $75 a month starting now for your next liveaboard adventure in May 2002.
Following our alternate year pattern, next year's trip will be land based likely in June. Candidate destinations are Bonaire, Dominican Republic, and the American Virgin Islands. If you have an interest in any of these destinations or wish to suggest another one let me know. The land based destinations are picked to make the trip desirable for non divers as well as divers. The non divers on last year's trip had so much fun that they've already voted for Bonaire for next year's trip. How about the rest of you? Robb Myer.
First Dive of the Season - April 22-23, 2000
We had great weather Saturday, although Friday night's storm may have kept a few of you away. The water temp at Lake Rawlings is up to 58F above the thermocline and 52F below (about 35-40FT). Away from the entry point the visibility was 30+ feet.
It was the official opening day for Lake Rawlings, and complimentary chili and soda were available for all. The sailboat used in filming the movie "The Replacements" was sunk in 20+ feet of water just above and beyond the computers. It's in a ideal depth for skin divers, so bring your family up to LR and enjoy an outing (give it another month for the water to warm up a little more).
River Rat, Mike Crist, donated a very nice open boat which we sank in 60 feet of water between the Pop's Pleasure and "The River Rat" (white cabin cruiser). A future project is the extension of the deep water tour to the west, with this new wreck being a key component. Special thanks to the following for preparing and/or sinking the "Ms Slug Fish": Mike Crist, Tim Warthan, Nick Catalano, Sharon Link, Brian Berkley, Shawn Philip, Adam Olsen, Andy Smith, as well as Dan and Deshawn from Hampton University who rode the "Ms Slug Fish" to the bottom. We've had a lot of very positive comments from divers at Lake Rawlings who appreciate the deep water tour we created last year. Robb Myer.