Archive for November, 2008

Black Friday dive on the Independence II

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

With full boat, the Independence headed out for a Black Friday dive. Most of the divers were surprised at the number of other divers aboard. It was probably the result of many people having the day off work, and a favorable forecast. Everyone seemed happy to get in another dive for the season.

We were shocked to find that NOAA’s forecast was not exactly accurate. The front they were expecting to pass during the night had done so later than expected. We were faced with a swell from the southeast, and wind from the southwest. Given the conditions everyone agreed to changed the intended destination and headed to the Mohawk. The swell stirred up the bottom a bit reducing the visibility to 25 ft. The water temp had dropped from 54 degrees last week to 50 degrees. Some say the surface temp was a bit lower, but I did not take note of it.

By the time I splashed, some of the other divers had started to surface with some nice size tog and a few lobsters in tow. The report of 25 ft of vis, swell, and low light from the overcast sky made me decide to leave the camera onboard.

On my way down, I passed the remaining divers coming up the line. The bottom quickly came into view, but I had to give my eyes a few moments to adjust to the low light. The last time on this wreck the current had pushed me to the starboard side. This time it was to port. Now I could check out the rest of the wreck.

Frankie had us tied in next to the boilers. I started heading aft past the engine and stern, then doubled back toward the bow. From the last dive, the debris on the starboard side of the wreck had been mostly gear and cargo. Here on the port side, the debris consisted mostly of hull. Ribs and strakes stood up out of the sand making navigation in the surge a bit of a timing issue. In the lea, there were small schools of fish taking refuge. Most of the larger sea bass and tog were hiding under the debris. Normally they are still active when the water is this warm, but they may have been waiting for more daylight to hunt for food.

Before long the bridge loomed up out of the center of the debris, an indication that I was approaching the bow. Here and there were balls of rope and netting swaying back and forth in the surge, almost looking alive in the hazy distance. The bow section was again surrounded by a school of cunners and juvenile sea bass. This time, I could not see from the base to the tip, and in the darkness I almost did not recognize where I was.

I started heading back to the stern. At several points I headed out into the sand to see if the small pieces of wreckage might contain lobster. I was repeatedly disappointed. Soon, I noticed that I could no longer hear the sound of bubbles in the distance. Figuring that the other divers were done their second dive, I headed to the line and just as I started to ascend, it went slack. I guess that means I’m the last one in, and it’s time to pull.

When I broke the surface I noticed that the swell had subsided, and wind seemed to have died down. We were soon headed back in much calmer seas, but the air temperature had dropped significantly. Chalk up another one for NOAA, but was still a great day of diving.

Don’t let me get bored.

Monday, November 17th, 2008

This was a weekend of rain and high winds. Between rain storms, I was able to sneak in some yard work (we have this weird green stuff all over the yard, and it’s not algae).  After said yard work, I’m proud to announce that I have the largest leaf pill on the block. Even though much of it blew back onto my yard last night. There were also some indoor tasks on the “honey do” list, but after it all, I was still bored, bored, bored. While my wife watched Jimmy Johnson drive his way into history, I jumped on the computer, and performed a few upgrades to the website.

  • Upgraded application servers
  • Changed themes
  • Added a “comment filtering” (now I don’t have to dig through 50 + spams a day)
  • Added Gallery software
  • Reformatted the more recent posts to use the Gallery viewer
  • Updated the reporting
  • Installed RSS feed software (to be displayed once I’ve worked out the theme)

With the time remaining I created an online store for another site (opening soon).

I apologize if this caused any odd behavior over the weekend (not me, the web site).

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to integrate the photo galleries into the site. I like having the images in with the text, of the individual dive descriptions, but the slide show does not link in as well as I would like. It might have to be a “click here for the gallery” scheme, but I’ll keep working on it. Personally, I’d prefer if the slide show appeared in a new window, rather than redrawing the screen.  It just does not seem to fit right to me.

However, now that it is gallery based, it’s much easier to upload images.  I’ve got more shots to integrate in. It was just difficult to do before.

Check the gallery slideshow

Northeast Galleries

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Here are a few slide shows from recent trips off New Jersey. Many of the shots are found in the Dive Log, but I wanted to bring them together here.

Chaparra, Nov 08
Mohawk, Oct 08
Gulf Trade Nov, 08
Pinta Nov, 08

Dive travel photos

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Here are a few slide shows from some trips (mostly Caribbean). Many of the shots are found in the Dive Log, but again, I wanted to bring them together here.

Georgia, Oct 08
Turks and Caicos, Mar 05

The Gulf Trade on November 9

Sunday, November 9th, 2008
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The top of the wreck, covered with mussels and surrounded by fish

Sunday we headed out to the stern of the Gulf Trade. The ship was a 430 ft tanker owned by (who else) Gulf Oil. When she was torpedoed in 1942, she broke in two. The stern section sank in 85 ft of water about 10 miles off Island Beach. The bow section floated closer to shore before sinking near Barnegat inlet. As a hazard to navigation, it was leveled.

The superstructure of the wreck still has about 20 ft of relief. Brandon tied us into the top making it an easy point of reference. On the top deck cunners, tog and sea bass swim in and out of the holes in the deck, nibbling at the mussels that grow there. A few feet away are two large boilers, still standing up the sea’s destructive forces.

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Mooring bits and scup

Once off the superstructure, the debris field stretches out over a wide area. Here small pieces of debris provide hiding places for lobster and fish. Still within the shadow of the wreck, a pair of large mooring bits stand upright in the sand. A large school of scup surrounded the area. The school prevented my camera from focusing on them.

Over by the boiler was another visitor from out of town. A butterfly fish darting around the wreck, looking very out of place. This is the third one I’ve seen in as many days of diving.

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Engine

Before long Brandon showed up and we started taking pictures of the large engine and boilers. Along with other bits and pieces of the wreckage that caught our eyes. A large trigger fish swam by but was not waiting for his picture. However, the dog fish that swam by a few minutes later came within a few inches of the lens.

With the great conditions, it was hard to end to dive. I just have to figure out how to bring the camera and the pole spear on the same dive. No task loading there!