North Carolina Wreck & Shark teeth adventure-August 2013
Trip review written by Ken Kollwitz
It seems this trip is becoming such a success that another one is already planned for Sept. 18-22, 2014. The shark teeth are what really interest everyone so this next trip will only be for shark teeth and no wreck dives. All I have to do is show the shark teeth at an event or dive club meeting and people want to sign up ASAP. Just think where can you go and get large fossilized Megladon shark teeth in great condition.
In 2011 I had the first CIDA trip to NC planned but that had to be canceled 2 days prior to leaving because of bad conditions brought on by a hurricane. Since then we have gone back two times and I think this last time was the best. The first time we moved from Moorhead City to Wilmington which is 2 hours away and the logistics of this for a large group tend to not be all that easy at times plus we weren’t all that happy with the dive boat we were on for the shark teeth diving. This past trip seemed like everything came together and worked out beautifully. These trips are getting so popular that CIDA has been able to fill each one with a typical group of about 16-18 with a couple extra non-divers joining us. North Carolina is beautiful and with the ocean, fossils and history in the area there is much to see and do for everyone.
This trip was August 17-24, 2013 and I was just about able to fill the boat with 18 divers everyday for 6 days-not bad I thought! We flew into Raleigh/Durham where we rented cars and drove the 2 hours or so to Wilmington. You can fly into Wilmington but it is more expensive and either way we would still need a car while on the trip. We stayed the entire time in Wilmington, NC and what was really nice is that the hotel, dive shop and boat were all along the same street and not more than a 10 minute drive between all three. We stayed at the Towne Place Suites by Marriott which was an excellent choice. It was only built a few years back and every room was spacious with a small kitchen. The people working in the hotel were all very nice as it seems with everyone in NC and 2 nights there was even free food out including beer on one night. It was so nice I already have rooms booked for the next trip back in Sept. 2014.
During the trip in 2012 one of the guys on the trip found out about Aquatic Safaris, a local dive shop with a much nicer and faster boat then what we were on so naturally I checked them out and have to honestly say that I wouldn’t use anyone else now. Aquatic Safaris ran things very professionally, had lots of gear to pick from if we needed something, had a good rental department and a nice size repair facility all on premise and their boat the AQ1 was less than one mile from the shop. They even let us wash and hang our gear at the shop all week and they hauled all the tanks to and from the shop and back which was about 30+ tanks everyday, of course we did do our best to help out.
The AQ1 worked out well and like I mentioned was much faster. With most of the sites out 35-45 miles the faster you get there the better. Our trips out to the Fossil Ledge took a little over 2 hours to get to and that was 45 minutes faster than the boat we had previously used. It also was more comfy and had a fresh water tank with hose on it to use. Boats in NC are nothing like what us SoCal people are used to so the more creature comforts the better. They only thing they supply is water and an ice chest with ice in it, no food so you do have to do a little extra planning.
While there we did 4 days of wreck dives and 2 days diving for shark teeth. If we missed any days of diving for the shark teeth we were going to not do wreck dives till we got our shark teeth diving in first-you have to know what your priorities are! The wrecks we dived where the Rosin, Markum, Hyde, Normania and the John C. Gill. We also did 1 dive on one of the ledges just to see what the reefs are like there and I think that is something we won’t need to do again.
We were very lucky on this trip because it rained a lot on shore but off shore was a whole different thing and everyone couldn’t believe how nice the topside conditions were the whole time we were there. We did have some rain and 1 day there was some water spouts that appeared next to the boat while we were diving but everything still went well and the seas stayed calm for us-the captain and crew loved it! I planned the trip for 6 days EXPECTING not to dive at least 1 or 2 days because of wind but it never happened and we were able to dive all 6 days and even the locals said we were hardcore divers. What can I say, the group was all active SoCal divers just the way it should be!
When not diving we all did some sightseeing around town. Wilmington has much to offer and like I had mentioned the people are all friendly. There are also many good restaurant choices and there was one some of our group took a particular liking to, after all they visited it 4-5 times. For the most part the weather was nice even though it rained quite a bit on shore. One day we went to a museum and it was clear and nice and within an hour there was so much water coming down and lightning everywhere it was almost scary to go out not to mention the water was flooding across the road. I guess that is why it is so green in that area of the country. One night my wife and I went downtown to check things out along with an outdoor concert that was happening and on our way home the lightning show got bigger and better by the minute, it was very cool to watch.
The trip turned out to be a big SUCCESS and if you would like to join in on the fun please put Sept. 18-22, 2014 on your calendars. This trip will only be 5 days long from Thursday to Monday with only 3 days of diving for the shark teeth, no wrecks this time. This trip is already about half full so sign-up soon so you don’t miss out!