Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Perfect Diving Adventure

The water was flat. The Trinity contained nothing but Nitrox tanks and advanced divers. With great anticipation about what would be found on the upcoming wrecks, the divers prepped their gear while Captain Tom expertly drove the boat through the Charleston Harbor out to sea.

The latter sounds like the beginning of a fictional story, but it really happened this Memorial Day. In fact, I would have to say I found it to be an absolutely perfect diving adventure. You see, in addition to the awesome conditions, the boat was perfectly balanced. Two people canceled at the last minute but still had to pay (due to the 48 cancellation policy), which made it a win-win for everyone. Tom and Sally didn't lose any money and we had more space to knock around on the boat. (And we had some really fun people to dive and hang out with on board.)

A uneventful two-hour boat ride set us over our first dive site - the tugboats. This artificial reef was created in 1995 when Captain Tom joined one of his friends to intentionally sink a tugboat off the coast of Charleston.

Tom recounted the event to me as we sped out to the site. The most striking point was when he recalled standing on the deck as it filled with water from the open valves. He was ready to evacuate, but his friend encouraged him to stay for a bit to experience the sinking before bailing to safety. (The emotion he felt had to be intense.)

Today the tug sits in 105 feet of water. With parts still intact, divers can easily navigate through the wheelhouse and "walk" on the deck. Peering into portholes, the tugboat's hull and parts unknown, this underwater photographer was in heaven. The growth on the tugboat was thick and full of vibrant colors. Fish of all kinds were in abundance.

The second site we dove on is the USCG Comanche, a former icebreaker used on the Great Lakes. Scuttled (deliberately sunk) in 1992, this 165-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter provided me with an exhilarating dive site. The top of the boat can be reached at about 80 feet and the bottom at 110 feet. (This has to be my favorite dive sites, to date!)

The visibility on both of these sites varied but was still great for taking photos. From the heat of the surface to the cool depths of the ocean,  my camera lens was full of a light condensation due to the rapid change in temperature. But after after a few minutes on the tugboat, the temps leveled out and my photos came into focus. (A photo bucket was used in between dives to ensure that didn't happen on the Comanche.)

I maintained a depth of 92-97 feet for most of my bottom time, with an occasional drift down to 101 at maximum depth. My 5MM wetsuit was perfect as the 68-72 degree temps were quite brisk.

Personally, I can't wait to dive on these sites again. Until that time, I'll just have to revisit my photos to relive it...

Amberjack on the deck of the Comanche.
This photo shows how far my strobe casts light.
My dive buddy, Sally Robinson!

This is a ladder encrusted with corral.

You have no idea how fast this little damsel fish moves. I'm proud of these two shots.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Anchor Wreck

I was fortunate enough to dive the Anchor Wreck again on Saturday with my adopted Charleston Scuba family. This amazing dive site was created when a yet-to-be identified ship sank near Bull's Bay off the coast of Charleston in the mid- to late-1800s.

Not much is left of the 300 ft. freighter, thought by some to have carried some type of perishable cargo such as bananas or sugar. Sitting in 105 feet of water, the double boilers can be accessed at about 80 feet.

While most boat captains are secure in the fact that the wreck has yet to be identified, others think the Anchor Wreck may be the Norwegian steamship called the Leif Erickson. After listening to Captain Tom share how they i.d. wrecks, I'm sticking with his view that it has yet to be identified.

Regardless of what the ship is, this is a marvelous dive for advanced divers. To get there one must sustain a long boat ride (2 hours and 40 minutes one-way, give or take the surface conditions), but it is well worth it for seasoned divers and underwater photographers.

I found the wreck to be covered with lot of vibrant growth. It was surrounded by giant, somewhat aggressive amberjack and walls of bait fish so thick you had to push through them to actually see the wreck. There were tons of flounders trying to camouflage themselves all over the wreck. And reticulated moray eels peering out of crevices were everywhere you looked.

I stayed at about 92-97 feet the majority of my bottom time. Nitrox made this possible, as did being surrounded by expert divers like Dive master Tim Schmitz. The water temp hovered between 68-72 degrees at depth, so the thermolclines felt wonderful. I'm SO glad I decided to wear my 5MM wetsuit.

This was a great way to kick off the dive season and try out my new strobe. But don't take my word for it, let my pictures do the talking. (Be sure to click on each one so you can view up close and really see what is in each photo.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Diving Parody

A scuba diving parody on Bohemian Rhapsody. Very creative!

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

A crazy take on the Bohemian Rhapsody with some crazy scuba divers and wild lemon and tiger sharks. En-Joy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Charleston Scuba Divers

Diving picture

Come join a new social group about diving. It's free and a great way to connect with other divers in the Charleston area.

If you love the smell of neoprene and can't get enough talking about what you've seen as an underwater tourist, then this group is for you.

Simply go to MeetUp and sign up to join the group with a meetup account or by using your Facebook account.

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