Posts Tagged ‘scuba nj’

Cold but good April dive!

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Sunday, the NOAA forecast was right, but a little late. They called for 2 foot seas from the Northwest. On the way out, we kept watching behind us as waves were building. We figured we would make a call at 10 miles, at that point we were still in 3-4, so we made a dash for the parking lot.

On arrival, the seas were 3-5, with a steady wind from the northwest. This was not representative of the forecast, but was still quite manageable. We had some new crew members on the trip, so it was a good trip for some training. Bill had us over the wreck, and we jumped in and headed down. Given the length of line that payed out, the shot was assumed to be in the sand. As it turned out, it was the mid water current that was to blame for the line. Dropping down the line, the direction changed several times. The vis was good, and I could see the changes below me. First it went to the right, then to the left. I was tempted to just drop past the loops to the line below me, but did not want to let go.

When we finally hit the wreck, the line was laying over the hull, with the shot somewhere below us. The vis was 40 + , and the line draped over one of my favorite spots, with the shot off in the distance. I did a few wraps to mark the way back, and we headed down to find the shot, that we assumed was in the sand. Luck was on our side, and the grapnel had caught up on the undergrowth. We dropped down and quickly shot it back to the surface. After hauling the chain and line back up to the top of the wreck, I let the new crew wrap it for the tie. With a few minor corrections, we were done. No way we would pull out like other boat have done lately. The pool was open. It was safe to dive.

We listening carefully to the engines above, as we dropped down to the bottom. We could clearly hear the Independence maneuvering, then shutdown (they were in, without issue). I was looking for lobster, but did not see any indications of the tasty crustacean. Instead, I kept running across scallops. Last year we saw a lot of small scallops close to, even on top of the wreck. However, the ones we saw today were much larger. With the bottom temps at 38 degrees, I’m not surprised that there was not much moving.

I looked off into the sand, but there was nothing there. Normally we see loads of winter flounder, and a few scallops, but there was nothing off in the distance. During the dive I saw on small Black fish, and lots of cunners, and the the occasional ling cod, but little else. No one else saw any evidence of lobster. Either the wreck had been cleaned out recently, or they are not active yet. At 38 degrees, I cooled off quickly, and we headed back up. After a short deco, we were soon back on board.

Bags of scallops

Bags of scallops

Topside, the wind was dying down, and after a bit the waves did also. By the time we headed back, the NOAA forecast was becoming accurate. Several of us were suffering some first dive equipment concerns, and decided to make it a on dive day. Nothing dangerous, just no need for a second dive. Most passengers did two dives, and we were soon on our way back home.

It was a great start to the season, everyone had a great dive, and a bag of scallops to prove it. My wife, Valerie (1000 ways to cook fish) Oldham did herself proud, and made a fantastic scallops and pasta dish.

Given the rough seas, I did the Advil thing. Many people do not understand that standing on a boat for several hours adjusting you center of gravity uses a lot of muscles that you do not use every day. It can be a work out. Today it was. For those of us in the over 40 club, advil is a great help the first couple of times.

Well despite the forecast, it was a great day. Personally, I’m looking forward to a fantastic season!

Dive season is open. Lets go diving!

Bags of scallops


Scallops, Lobster, and Training on the Lillian.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

The Scuba Connection had a charter to the Lillian this week.  Wayne was out with a class. With a few of the usual suspects in tow, the Independence got underway.   NOAA was calling for thunder storms in the afternoon.  The drive out of the inlet was in heavy fog.  Once that open up, we could see on the radar that the rain was following us out (a bit early).  The worst of it hit before we got to the wreck, and mostly cleared by the time Richie had us tied in.

The passengers soon rolled in, and Richie returned with a nice bag of scallops and bugs.   He had us tied into a large pipe next to the engine.  This section of the wreck stood some 20 ft off the silty bottom.  The surface temp was 58.  Bottom temp was 43-48, depending on who you asked, and visibility was a dark 40.  If the sun came out, this would be a fantastic dive.  As it was, it was just great.

The Lillian was a freighter that sunk back in 1939 with a cargo of sugar. It sank in 150 ft of water after a collision in the fog.   The wreck is on the edge of the mud hole, so the conditions can vary depending on the tide.

After seeing all the scallops coming up, I figured I’d have to go out in the sand to find any.  This proved futile, as the scallops were on the wreck itself.  Once I figured this out, I bagged my share just as my reel decided it did not want to go any further. Flounder were all over this wreck.  Some were so large, I had to check twice.  Many were still buried in the sand.  Those I checked three times.   Ling cod were also about, along with a few Eel Pouts.  One unusual item was the large sponges lodged about the wreck.  These seemed out of place here.  Some were close to 3 feet across, just laying in the sand.  Captain Dan told us to keep an eye out for portholes, so I looked closely as I reeled my line back in.

I headed back to the boilers, and was soon comforted by the sight of the strobe in the distance.  These were great conditions for this wreck.    Back on the boat, we all took turns cleaning scallops.  Several of the passengers had bagged their first scallops, and were learning how to clean them under Captain Dan’s tutelage.

We headed home just as the sun broke through the clouds.  Oh well, it was still a great dive!  The scallop dinner was good too!

Do you ever see sharks?

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Yes, all the time. The real question is “are they a danger to SCUBA divers?”

The most common, or plentiful, shark in the Atlantic only grows to a length of 4-5 feet (more commonly seen at 3 ft). They are called sand sharks or Spiny Dogfish. They can be seen around the wrecks either alone, or in small groups. Are they a threat? No. I don’t believe there has ever been an unprovoked attack on humans.

Cute little shark.

Do we see other sharks? Yes, but far less frequently. Further off shore we will occasionally see basking sharks. These are filter feeders, and no threat, but with their large size, they startle you at first. Other divers have reported seeing Blue sharks, and Mako sharks.

Some things to keep in mind. The incidence of shark attacks on divers is very low. Most shark attacks are in shallow water in the surf zone (beach), with limited visibility. Most divers are in deeper water, with good visibility. In recorded history, there have been only a hand full of attacks in New Jersey. None of these have been on divers.

The Wreck of the Delaware – August 18th by Lee Letwin

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

by Lee Letwin:

When we arrived at Clark’s Landing Marina at 6:30 AM, the wind was blowing from the west and we knew we were not going to the Algol, 20 miles offshore. Captain Dan Bartone of the Independence II figured the Pinta was a better choice.

Leaving Manasquan Inlet and heading north, the seas were surprisingly calm but after only 15 minutes we started to get beat up and decided to turn around and head south back to the wreck of the Delaware. The Delaware was built in Philadelphia. She was built as a freighter but during the Spanish -American War was refitted to carry passengers as most of the passenger liners were being used to carry troops. In July of 1898 she left her berth on the East River and was heading to Charleston and Jacksonville. Ten miles out to sea and east of Barnegat she caught fire. All 66 crew and passengers got off safely and were rescued. The wreck, burnt to the waterline, sank two miles offshore just south of Point Pleasant while being towed back to New York by a salvage tug.

All the divers aboard the Independence II did two dives on the Delaware and we all had a great day on the water despite difficult conditions. Our crew included Captain Dan, with Dave Oldham and Bill Trent working as crew. Dave tied us into the wreck wrapping the chain on the shot line solidly around a huge chunk of metal at the bow section of the wreck. There was little chance of pulling off the wreck with Dave’s tie-in despite the conditions. In fact, Captain Dan sent a line to a second dive boat that showed up after us (the advantage of us being on a fast dive boat) and the two boats held tight. Bill Trent played host to everyone and prepared lunch, which was provided as always by Adventure Scuba.

While unloading our gear we talked to the crew of another dive boat docked at the same marina. They had tied into a barge, did one dive and during their surface interval while being tossed about in the waves their anchor line parted. At that point they called it a day.

Its August, and its friken Cold! SS Carolina trip aboard the Independence II

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

The Independence II made a run out the SS Carolina early Sunday morning. The plan was to stay overnight. To make a long story short, NOAA’s favorable forecast on Saturday night, was revised when we got out there. This cut our trip short, but we still got in some good dives.

Upon arrival, Captain Dan circled the wreck a few times as his depth finder readings did not look right to him. Bill and I jumped in to find the line right beside the wreck, but the wreck didn’t look right. Over the winter, the wreck has collapsed. I recall the starboard side standing some 20-30 ft off the bottom. Now it lay almost flat. Bill was much more familiar with the wreck, and was taken back by what he saw. I guess this explains why Capt Dan was circling. Bill was unable to find his favorite tie-in spot, so we grabbed the closest spot that looked good. One Ling cod was either very interested in what we were doing, or very pissed that we were digging in his hole. Either way he was never more than a few inches from us during the operation.

Vis on the bottom was a clear 50ft, but dark. We tied off a our beacons. Bill signaled “let’s go swimming”, and off we went. Before long we saw some china in the sand, and started to sift through them. It turned out to be mostly shards, but Bill was able to pull out a small ash tray. I had my hands on a large piece of porcelain, but was unable to get it out from under the decking. I was not sure what it was, but it was big, and the hole I was working in was too small for it to move. My planned bottom time was running short, so I signaled Bill and headed back to the line.

Looking at my computer during the ascent, I noticed something I hadn’t before. Its 42 degrees! It’s August, how can it be 42 degrees? That can’t be right, check the backup. Yup, 42 degrees! I could still see the beacons at the first deco stops start at 160, but the thermocline starts back at 50 ft. This was going to be friken COLD. There was little to no current on the line, but the cold started to get really bad. Our work load had prevented us from feeling it on the bottom, but now it started to set in. My body was warm enough, but at that depth, Neoprene gloves lose most of their insulation. Mine are 7 mil, but just looking at them, I can tell they are compressed.

At 70 ft the temp jumped up to 44, and I can actually say it felt good. At this point I was in the surface water which had to be 100+ ft of visibility. I could see Bill’s bubbles rising out of the cloudy layers below. At 50 ft the temp rose to 52 degrees, then at 30 it rose to 78. Now I’m sweating in my suit, but it felt much better. I was a little startled when a large Mula-mula swam right by me on the line. He looked at me for a moment, then swam toward Bill. Due to the cold and workload, I stayed a few extra minutes at the 20 ft stop. I could see Bill as he passed through the thermocline some 70 ft away.

On the surface the seas had turned to 4-6, and the forecast was to get worse tonight. Some of the other divers had passed me on the line. When Bill surface, he and Captain Dan discussed the changes in the wreck at length. Dan geared up and went in. The other passengers came up commenting on the cold. Discussions of numb fingers, and cutting bottom time short. Everyone mentioned the change in the wreck. There were descriptions of large lobsters, but no one wanted to grab them with their cold hands. I guess if they had delayed their dive until we surfaced, they could have switched to dry gloves. Dan had checked out some spots of interest, and came up with a brass shirt hanger.

Other than the cold, the conditions had been fantastic! When I jumped in to pull, the sun was now higher in the sky, and the wreck came into view shortly after the beacon. I didn’t really need my light. If the surface conditions were better, I’d love to have gotten more dives in. This is a great wreck with lots to see.