Black Friday dive on the Independence II

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.

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