North Carolina wreck & shark teeth adventure, June 16-23, 2012
Last year CIDA had a trip planned to North Carolina in late September with 18 people and 3 weeks before hurricane Irene went through and changed our plans to where the trip had to be canceled 2 days before we were to leave, of course everyone was bummed but then it was better than going and having a non-diving vacation. Before Irene the visibility was 60’-80’ and the water temp was 84° and after Irene the visibility dropped to 0’-5’ 40 miles offshore and with a cold front also coming it just would not have been very good so a new tripped was planned for late June 2012.
Quite a few of the original group was still planning on going and the final count was 13 divers and 2 non-divers. As our departure date grew closer there were a few last minute details to take care of and then before we knew it, we were in Morehead City. Because of the airline credits most all of us had from the canceled trip not everyone flew together but still most all of us ended up at the Raleigh/Durham airport at about the same time. The ride to Morehead City was 3 hours through some very scenic country including a church at every corner. We were very lucky as the weather was beautiful and not even the least bit humid like we had expected.
There was a group of 7 of us that traveled together stopping from the airport to Morehead City. When we arrived we checked in to our hotel and then went over to Olympus Dive Center to check in and check everything out so we would be ready for the next day diving. Afterwards we went to the Super Wal-Mart for supplies and groceries that we would need for the trip. Unlike the SoCal dive boats, the dive boats in North Carolina don’t supply anything other than a ride out and back to the dive site…no food, drink or air or anything else is supplied. The food and air thing on the SoCal dive boats is a west coast thing.
When we checked into Olympus Dive Center I could tell immediately that using them was the best choice and it was only confirmed when we went out diving with them. They were very professional, safety minded great customer service and a well stocked dive shop-we were not disappointed. During the week we were treated to some excellent weather of which we were told that we were very lucky, especially after the 2 days before we had shown up the boats had to cancel due to winds. Fromm what I found out it is best to add to “blow out’ days just in case the weather doesn’t corporate.
We dove 2 dives each day with a long surface interval between each dive. Every dive was 35-55 miles offshore and most was 100’-115’ deep. The 1st day was still windy way offshore so we stayed inshore and dived the Indra which was sunk as an artificial reef. We also stayed on the Indra for the 2nd dive due to other dive boats on the other wrecks that we could have dived. The next day the weather was awesome and this was excellent because this is the day we had our extended trip scheduled for. On an extended trip Olympus divers go out further to dive wrecks you don’t always get a chance to. For example, they only do a few of these trips a year. Our 1st dive was on the Cassimir. With 60’-80’ visibility and then we went to the Normannia with 30’-40’ visibility. I really liked the Normannia because of its size and all the wreckage there was to see. Both wrecks were exciting dives about 115’ deep. Nothing better than a good wreck dive!
On our last day we did the U352 German Submarine (a must do dive). The captain, Bob Purify’s father and some friends were instrumental in locating the sub along with many other NC wrecks. The sub was a cool dive with tons of fish schooling all around it. Afterwards our 2nd dive was on the Aeolus for some white sand tiger shark action. This was a great dive with some sharks circling around an inside deck area. You could easily get up close and personal with the sharks. It was said to think this was all ready our last day of diving with Olympus divers and one thing for sure was that it was a must go back to area. While in Morehead City we explored a few restaurants and not all the places the locals recommended were the best but one thing for sure was the seafood was a sure bet.
On Wednesday we checked out of the Morehead City area, did some exploring in Beaufort (very nice little town with lots of charm) and then drove 2 hours south to the Wilmington area. When we were in Beaufort we went to Shackleford Banks, home of the wild horses and to the maritime museum (must go back), home of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne Revenge display. The 2 hour ride to Wilmington was nice with us also checking into another hotel for the rest of the trip and just chilling out for the evening. Our next day was going to be along day with 3 dives planned and a long boat ride out to the Meg Ledge for some Megaldon shark teeth hunting. We used Cape Fear Dive Center which was recommended by some friends for both planned days of diving.
For both trips we were on the same boat which had a lot to be desired and fewer creature comforts then we had expected for our 3 hour ride out to the dive site. There was no fresh water shower and not many places to sit or lay down. The 1st day out was awesome and the 2nd was a bit rougher and after talking to some regular customers I was told this was the norm. Both dives we had 60’-80’ of visibility and 80° water temp. All our shark teeth dives where about 102’ deep on the Meg Ledge about 55 miles offshore along with 1 wreck dive on the ??? the 1st day. The shark teeth hunting was AWESOME and well worth another trip back but on a boat that’s faster with more creature comforts. The high light of the trip for me was finding the large 5 7/8” shark tooth that was in great shape. It’s one of those things that you just don’t know how much fun it is until you do it.
The Wilmington/Carolina Beach area is an excellent tourist/dive destination with many things to see and do for both the diver and non-diver. There are also lots of good choices for lodging and restaurants and with it only a 120-140 minute ride from the Raleigh/Durham area CIDA is sure to plan another trip back and most likely in 2013.
Now I just can’t wait to go back!
The next trip is scheduled for August 17-24, 2013