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mike-yPadi rescue2250 TGs

graveyard Atlantic WW II

A picture of a whole bunch of sandtiger sharks hovering above some wreck caught my eye in some dive magazine. I still needed to see and find these guys under water. In Mozambique I chose the wrong season, only bull sharks no ragys. In Australia the water got too warm, the dive guide told me they disappear once the water reaches 26 C or more. I couldn´t quite believe it when I read, the picture was taken off North Carolina Coast, near Morehead, at the largest graveyard of WW II wrecks in the Atlantic. Never heard of that before or always believed this to be freezing water dives. A check in undercurrent showed some older report of dives with Olympus dive center. These I chose and booked immediately. They recommended early reservation as the boat was filling up fast and made sure for me to understand, sandtigers are normally around, but it´s nature, you´ll never know for sure and can´t promise anything. Came from Miami via Raleigh, rental car took me down to Atlantic Beach where I stayed at Sand Dollar Motel. Without GPS I would never have found my way there. Checked in with Olympus the day before diving and left all my gear already on board the sea worthy looking Olympus vessel. I had booked 4 full day 1 half day trip. Next morning at six sign up and handing out the boarding tickets started. The shop is well assorted and they have excellent rental gear, even all the new Scubapro BC´s. Went on board for tanks, these you have to grab from the shed next to the shop. This I planned only to hear, I need chips for that which I have to buy in the shop. “Excuse me”. Wasn´t this a thing which is normally included in the whole package ??? However not so here. Things get better and better. One of these days you´re going to pay for a flight only to learn at the airport, that you still have to pay for the aircraft. Dive industry will never fail to invent new ways to milk the cow. Same goes for dive guides which normally you expect to be automatically included. Aren´t they here to help with gear, give some good advice, make sure under water everybody is okay, show their customers the best parts of the spot, point out special creatures, make sure nothing is touched or taken and divers behave, last not least guaranty a safe return to boat or beach for the dive center. Is this past time from now on soon?!? Well, I paid 32 $ for 2 steel 80 with Nitrox, brought them on board only to learn there, I still have to analyze these, which I can only do at the shed, as they had no gear for that on board. Lovely, had to carry the two steel cylinders back, no fun that. The boat was fully booked, 24 divers. Very good boat procedure and dive briefing very much safety oriented. The crew is fantastic in everything, help you with all, even things they couldn´t or shouldn´t be bothered with. It seems they are old army guys as they can´t stop addressing you with “Sir” even when you offer a Mike. Double hang lines underneath the boat with weights and extra tanks they install before the dive starts. This connects to the anchor line down to the wreck. Even there they put a red small rope across the wreck for better orientation to find your way back. Travis did this job with full face mask, poor guy, must be tough to drag anchor rope with chain across the bottom. Schurz wreck former German Geier was dive No 1. Two species of bait fish hovered above the wreck, amazing to find. It was a dense cloud of fish, you couldn´t see the wreck below. When we passed through we immediately spotted the for me so longed for sandtigers, 2 huge animals were hovering above the wreck, wooouuuh. Awesome these creatures with their cute mouth and teeth not shy at all. I don´t know how many shots I took with the Hero in the first minute. Vis 70 feet in green water, temperature surface 26 C reaching 23 C on the bottom. Nearly all were diving Nitrox so a bottom time of around 25 min was possible in around 25 – 32 m. Nevertheless time passed much too fast. I could have stayed and watched much longer. Yellowfin tuna, barracuda, some big sting rays sailed past. A tremendous start of this adventure. Next wreck Spar, vis 40 feet, nearly same picture here, a bit colder at the bottom. My buddy with rebreather went down feet first and nearly landed on top of a sandtiger which was right underneath him. We were laughing later - it would have been quite a picture him riding a sandtiger. 2 hours one way to reach the spot, 1.5 h surface interval, brings you back into the harbor around 3 p.m.. Water drinks snacks you should bring with you. On board they only have water, candy, pineapple and a nice head, lucky us. Thermoclines in 70 feet down to 23 C made me start to shiver on dive 2, I guess tomorrow I bring my chicken vest with hood. Fish life around the wrecks is stunning and breathtaking, huge barracuda , a bunch of jacks, and spade fish, thousands of bait fish dancing around, today a pod of dolphins followed us to the site. Robert, the captain, gives a great and thorough dive briefing, wouh. He suggests to always hold onto the rope until you reach the wreck. It´s not like Caribbean diving where you drop straight down. Here you would be lost and drift away, as the boat is anchored and can´t pick you up immediately. Travis always fixed the lines before the dive, John later did the cleanup job. Indra wreck, sting rays around, groupers in the sand at the bow keel, tons of fish life around. Underneath the superstructure we spotted 3 ragys cruising inside the hold, got some great close up shots with Hero, held my breath when one was close to touch, not out of fear but overhelmed and not wanting to scare him away with my bubbles. A shot from the underside was fantastic when you saw the open mouth with it´s row of sharp teeth. On my wish list was the Caribsea. Due to a bunch of duskys assembled there maybe for mating it seemed too risky for Olympus. Normally Caribsea is the wreck where sometimes more than 20 sandtigers hover. I still waited for the U 352. I guess Olympus felt the obligation to offer this when a German tourist travels so far. Impressive to see the whole U 352 at the bottom at around 32 m. Torpedo openings, some machinery, the conning tower with it´s small open hatch. Jesus, did they use the 7 dwarfs to operate this boat? Imagine a 45 men crew packed together like sardines in such a tight space. I´d get claustrophobic in such a like thing without a chance to see outside or to get out in time. It was a lovely 5 days with Olympus, a good mixture with spectacular fish life around and a bit of excitement in the water and having a new buddy each day – a challenge in itself. There even was a guy with rebreather joining me – the best team by far. My last day shallow two tank to JJF Tug and Indra, both I had done already. So out of 10 dives I got 7 different wrecks and 3 repetitive ones, not too bad. Crewman John asked me, if I buddy up with a guy diving on air. He thought a shallow dive wouldn´t be much difference to bottom time with Nitrox vs air – I agreed. My buddy was a young athletic guy just out of the army, he seemed to be in good shape, had his AOWD certification and like me was looking forward to diving on some wrecks and capture the action on Hero. He had rental gear from Olympus and no computer, a bit strange that, normally Olympus insist on that. I explained my metric system m and bar to his psi and feet. We planned to meet down at the place where hang line is connected to anchor rope. I was hanging there for 10 min, all divers had already passed me when he came down. I noticed his Hero was already filming and his mask was totally fogged up. At the bottom I pointed out the latter and showed him how to fill your mask with water and clear it. He did nothing and continued with foggy mask. I showed him around to give him the chance to see a bit of both tugs. 35 min into the dive he showed me 700 psi, we slowly climbed up, did our safety stop and surfaced. Right after climbing on board he seriously threw up several times. I was worried and asked if he had tried to save air and now had a bad headache. No such thing. He confessed, he had heavily partied the night before drank alcohol till late into the night. He skipped dive 2 – lucky me – and later told me he had only 12 dives so far and done nothing in the last 3 years. Before that incident I would have given Olympus 10 points on a scale up to 10, now I reduce this to 8. How can they allow such a guy on these dives, this is irresponsible! They for sure had checked his credit card, but had they looked into the filled out form, did they ask about former dives and computer? It doesn´t seem so – poor show that. Thus any planned tipping from my side went down the drain. How dare they give an experienced diver such a buddy, while everywhere advertising you have to care custody and control all your own diving issues – self–reliant is the agenda. You pay a hell of a lot of money for these dives, so you at least should get a buddy of your dive certification level! To compensate for that dive 2 brought me luck. I was buddied up to an older couple and we planned to say bye to the wreck and dives here. We did not expect to find any more sandtigers, destiny somehow. Rounding the wreck a whole school of spade fish came out of some opening, lovely that. Inside the superstructure some grey shadow. Sandtiger, wouh, we stayed in one spot like Robert explained to us and these guys came close to touch. Got some of the best shots and wonderful footage with my Hero here. Baitfish chased by amberjack above the wreck. The couple agreed, it was one of the best dives they ever had. For dinner I went into town to different places each time, had clam chowder, conch fritter, oyster, scallops, fish, lovely meals yummy. For the 5 days of diving Olympus charged 645 $ not including the 32 $ each day for the tanks.