Diving the Wrecks in North Carolina Part 2

Day 3:

the second day went really good in terms of the food and everything so we decided to follow the same strategy and this time around they had separated our tanks so it made lot easier and faster to get the tanks analyzed and load up on the boat but mother nature had different ideas in store for us. if yesterday was 10/10 for weather today was 3/10 when we headed out. It was windy and there were white caps all over the place, the ride going out wasn’t smooth at all but we made to the outer wrecks.

Dive 7: Box Wreck

As the name suggests this wreck is nothing but a bunch of metal boxes or a pile of rocks but don’t let the name fool you. It was a really nice dive with tons of tropical fishes. There was little bit of current on the wreck but the viz was about 30-40 ft which was great.

This site would have been perfect for macro since there were tons of small colorful tropical fishes. One of the things common on this wreck is a worm which i found but i didn’t adjust my camera properly to take its pic. I wanted the worm to be in focus and rest of the background blurred but the camera focussed the background and the worm was blurred, i didn’t realize until later than i can change the focus on my camera by selecting only one focus points instead of automatic so that the focus is where i want it to be.

Worm out of focus.

I saw the biggest barracuda so far and it along with his buddy it meant business for sure, i wouldn’t want to piss this guy off and he wasn’t alone. We also saw a slipper lobster which is common in atlantic ocean but didn’t get a good look at it since he was hiding in the rocks and with my wide angle lens on it was harder to take its picture.

Mean Barracuda

i gave up taking pics at this point and was mainly enjoying the colorful tropical fishes and lot of them were juvenile so it was more fun watching them.

Dive 8 : HMS Berfordshire

The weather was getting nastier so we moved inshore and came to the wreck of Berfordshire, this british ship was annihilated and completely destroyed by the U boats and there wasn’t much of a wreck left. one of the highlights of the dive was the depth charges still left untouched and unexploded, they have been sitting there since the boat went down and are perfectly safe.

As expected there wasn’t much of a wreck left since but there were quite a few big structures, there was minor current but it wasn’t too bad. There were not much going on the wreck and i didn’t get many opportunities to take any pics so i was just looking around and trying to make the best out of it. I practiced the technique which involves getting really close to the subject so that my camera port almost touches it and then taking the wide angle shot.

Close up

I was successful at it and there wasn’t much in the background but it did make for a nice picture and i liked the result. At the end of the dive conditions on the surface worsened and the boat was really bobbling with the swell, getting on the boat by using the ladder was going to be a challenge. It can easily hit you on the head and knock few of your teeth out and cause some damage and i had the camera to take care of as well.

I managed to hand off the camera without too much trouble but i was having a hard time timing my approach to the ladder and unfortunately got smacked by it, luckily it was my leg and not my face which took the hit so it wasn’t too bad but i still had a nice bruise after couple of days. Since the weather had worsened and the boat was really rocking around we decided to call it a day and not do the third dive.

Day 4:

After the nasty weather yesterday we were hoping that it would improve and it did improve which was great. The conditions weren’t ideal as day 2 but they weren’t as bad as day 3. it was a 7/10 and we were happy about it. The captain decided to head right into the swell so that on the way back we would have a smoother ride and it worked out great. i always tried to take a nap on our way out so it wasn’t a concern to me at all.

Dive 9 : USS Indra

We came back to the wreck of Indra since it was our best bet and robert also had to finish dives for the wreck speciality course. Hal had decided to not dive today since his ear was bothering him, i decided to buddy up with Noel and we were planning to do some penetrations of the wreck. This wreck has a lot to offer and there is a small sail boat on the port side and we explored that too.

Sailboat

The water was really silty when we penetrated the wreck so in most of the pics i took there was a lot of back scatter, i tried hard to adjust my strobes but it was really difficult to get rid of the backscatter so i decided to give up and just enjoy the dive. I still had to be careful with my death star, its the nick name everyone gave to my rig, and it was tricky at times to get it through the wreck.

I turned on the lights on my strobes and with the focus light i had some light but this was the time when i really missed my canister light, it would have been a great asset on this dive and other ones to come.

Dive 10: USS Indra

Since the conditions on this wreck were good, we decided to stay here and not worry about moving. Myself, Noel and Thomas were going to dive as a group on this one. We had rented a scooter for today but didn’t take it with us on the first dive but we decided to take it with us on this one.

I initially went with Thomas as his safety diver since all he had left in his course was to plan a dive and penetrate the wreck, we decided to go through the bathrooms on the wreck and after doing this penetration we were planning to play with the scooter.

Noel and Thomas were enjoying the scooter and i also gave it a try but i wasn’t too impressed with it and it didn’t have something that could be clipped on to your BCD so i was little skeptical about that.

Noel was in front of me and we went through this small overhead area which had clear water, it would have made for a nice picture. I wanted Noel so face me so i kept on shouting and trying to get his attention, it was funny me shouting his name underwater but i was successful and made him turn around. The pic didn’t come out to be great but still it made for a good picture.

Noel

On the way up there were lot of jellies and this time around i did manage to get some good shots of them, i didn’t get the perfect black background with only the jelly lit up but still i got all the light on the jelly and it made for some good shots.

Jelly fish

Dive 11: Liberty Ship

For our third dive we moved inshore to liberty ship, the captain warned up that the viz wouldn’t be great on this one but since the conditions on top would make it for an easy dive we decided to dive this. As expected the viz on this one was about 2-3 ft and it was little tricky navigating the wreck. Since the viz wasn’t going to be great i decided not to take my camera with me on this dive and it was a smart choice.

We started as a 4 man group with Jim joining us but then we split up in two pairs and it was me and Jim. I missed my can light dearly and since i had no light source on me i was dependent on Jim with whatever light we could get out of his sola. There was a lot of life on the wreck but it was really hard to see anything.

We did come across one of the weirdest looking thing that i have seen so far, it didn’t have much of a body and it actually looked, walked like a spider. I gently got him into my palm and held in front of my white regulator for jim to take its picture, i was thinking about switching to my secondary reg and hold the white reg properly but i didn’t, one of those thing later u realize would have made for good picture. Later on i found out that this weird looking thing is indeed called Sea spider.

Day 5:

Our final day of diving, it was hard to believe that the week just went by so quick, all we did was eat, sleep and dive, the days were long and went by quick. We would wake up around 6ish and get back by 5-6 in the evening. Today the weather gods co-operated with us and the conditions improved slightly. We were hoping to make it out to the wreck of Papous which is far out and inverted but the conditions weren’t ideal so we headed out to spar instead.

I didn’t mind diving the Spar again since i wanted to go back to this wreck and see if there would be more shark action and better conditions.

Dive 12: USCGC Spar

This time around the conditions improved vastly and we had a viz of more than 30 ft, it was great. There was lot of fish action too with school of amberjacks and barracudas going after the bait fish. Yes, there were far more sharks too on the wreck which was great.

I didn’t do much penetration on the wreck and was mainly outside around the wheel house trying to get pics of the structure of the wreck, on one side there were so many baitfish on the wreck that it wasn’t possible to get just the wreck in the picture, the amount of fish was simply mind boggling.

Tons of Fishes

I wanted to do a longer dive so i didn’t go around the sandy area and mainly stayed around the deck and wheel house area of the wreck in about 70-80 ft water, i saw a shark swimming on top of the deck and i was right above it. So instead of going for the silhoutte i decided to take the opposite appraoch and slowly descended on top of the shark. It was crazy idea but it worked, the shark was totally unaware of me descending upon him and only took evasive action when i got within touching distance. i didn’t want to get that close but as i pumped air out of my BCD and descended i came really close to riding it like a cowboy.

shark from above.

It was not the best of ideas but it worked, i would have liked to take a pic with whole length of shark in frame but i descended faster than i had hoped to and managed to get half of it.

Dive 13: USCGC Spar

Since the conditions on the wreck were really good and it had quite a few sharks we decided to stay there for our second dive. I pretty much followed the same dive plan as the first one and was enjoying swimming around and within the huge school of fishes. There were quite a few amberjacks and barracudas going at the bait ball so had to make sure that i stayed away from them though.

I decided not to go too deep since i had been approaching almost no deco limits in last couple of days, this time i didn’t land on top of the shark but cornered one. I saw Jim, Tracy swimming after a shark which was on the deck of the boat, they were on the port side and then Robert was in the center so the only escape route for the shark would be the starboard side of the wreck. This where i decided to move in, I swam towards that area so that i would be directly facing the shark and hoped to get a good shot.

I was in perfect position but then the cornered shark turned really quick and i was a second late pressing the trigger on my camera, the picture didn’t come out to be as planned but still it was a good one. It was a really fun experience but i wouldn’t try it with a bull or tiger shark 😀

Shark Close up

Dive 14: Aoelis

For our last dive of the day and the trip, we moved about 100 yards from the previous spot to the wreck of Aeolis. This wreck is much bigger than Spar and not possible to see in its entirety on a single dive, our captain did a dive there and told us the conditions were great with a lot of fish action going on.

As soon as we descended, i was like this is a great wreck. This wreck is basically split into half and we were anchored in the middle section where all the fish action was going on, there was a school of amberjacks cornering all the bait fish into the lower deck of the wreck and then the only way the fish could escape was an opening on the top, it was a great hunting strategy.

On te lower deck there were quite a few beautiful gorgonians,since this wreck is in 100+ ft of water we had to be careful about our depths, but since it was the last dive i didn’t mind going into deco but i didn’t.

The gorgonians on the lower level with all the fish surrounding it made for some good pictures, i went to the top of this lower section and witnessed the bait ball coming out of the opening on the top it was fun.

Bait Ball escaping.

There was this one amberjack with a large hook in its mouth and the weight of the hook was really bothering this poor fellow, it wasn’t able to swim straight and was going sideways which i am sure was interfering with its ability to hunt and making it use more energy too. It was really sad but there was nothing we could do about it, apparently the same fish was there on the wreck of spar when we were there but i never saw it.

I moved to the other side of the wreck to see if there was something going on there, i didn’t want to go lot further out since the viz was limited and there was tad bit of current. I came across another shark just chilling above the wreck and got what was my best shark picture of the trip.

shark pic

I was within few minutes of my deco limit and even though i was planning on going into deco i decided against it and started my ascent. This dive was a perfect way to end our trip.

Overall this was a really fun trip and the beauty, life on these wrecks is simply amazing. Hal is planning on running this same trip every year and i can easily see myself signing up for it in the future.

Part 1

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