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Florida April 28, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving.
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Wow. Deep wreck dives again. This time with a difference. Here’s the list…

  1. Monday: The Eagle. OK Rob forgot his stage bottle so we changed our plan from 1 long dive to two shorter ones. We were moored at bow the first time and the high point was when we were down by the prop on the stern and found our way in the wreck   at the deepest point. Turning left we saw a long passageway leading to the light running all the way through the wreck. We didn’t go through it as I didn’t think we had time to go all the way there and back. It turned out that Rob didn’t want to go through anyway. He signaled our scooter equipped friends Dan & Phil about it and they went through (running a penetration line for safety). The second dive was also a treat because at the front of the stern section (the Eagle lies on its side and is broken in two) there are some entrances. Again we didn’t penetrate more than 1 body length but when I looked to my left the passageway was filled by a Goliath Grouper. I enjoyed watching Rob’s reaction when he saw it. There was a reef dive in the afternoon and I used what was left in my doubles to splash around in 20-25′ but the Florida reefs aren’t the greatest although I saw a couple of Nurse sharks and a very large Southern Stingray.
  2. Tuesday: The Duane. Current was huge on the wreck. Some members of the party came back with less gear than they set out with. Rob and I both found the pull down to the wreck arduous and rested in the smokestack out of the current for a couple of minutes to catch our breath. It was without doubt the strongest current I’ve been in with the exception perhaps of our abortive Jodrey dive on the St. Lawrence River. We had a good time with all the swim throughs, not venturing into anything where we’d need to run a line. The upper parts of these wrecks have very little silt and lots of exits and a quite reasonable to penetrate for wreck trained divers who either (a) are technical divers with redundant air supplies, or (b) are seasoned divers with low gas consumption and lots of available air, and have reliable buddies in the case of an emergency. The 25 minute decompression made me feel like laundry hanging in the wind.
  3. Wednesday: The Spiegel Grove. This is the all-time favourite. Last year we thoroughly explored the decks from 90′ up, which are easy stuff with the openings in at least every second room, and took a run through the 100′ deck which is definitely more challenging, although there are still a fair number of openings to the outside. This dive we thoroughly explored the deck, which is the bottom of the ship’s superstructure, first by taking the previous year’s route from the 3rd door from the left (facing the superstructure from the bow) through to an exit over the large hold, then reversing through the hold and entering back into the deck through a cutout about 3’x4′ (which seemed to be the only one). Turning left we headed over to the port side and went through a galley, pantry, and mess hall area where we noticed a couple of hatches in the deck leading down several more decks. I wrote “Next Year” on my slate and showed it to Rob before continuing on. Towards the end of the dive we swam around some of the shallower decks. We also did a second dive on the gas we had left hanging out around the cranes and so-on at about 80′.
  4. Thursday: The Bibb. We decided that if any dive of the week would not be called ‘epic’ this was it. We did, however, see a massive Goliath Grouper, so it was still a great dive. The wreck is covered in fishing line and it caught some equipment at one point but it was easily disentangled.
  5. Friday: The Spiegel Grove again. Next year came early for us as our dive plan included a conservative penetration of the 110′ deck. This deck has no cutouts on the side and can only be entered from above. We entered at the 100′ level on the port side about 20′ below the plaque commemorating the names of the sailors. At the entrance, we noticed Phil and Dan’s penetration line leading to the hatch to the 110′ deck, and ran our own from near the hatch and went in head first. We headed sternward down a narrow passageway and I could see light in the distance. The light turned out to be another hatch above us. We continued in the same direction, past what the ship’s plan says is the troop decontamination showers. The borrowed reel I was using was tough going – it felt like I was swimming against a light current, and on the return leg it was exceedingly difficult to reel in. We ran into Phil and Dan coming out of the hatch back to the 100′ deck, who scooted off, then we went up another level to swim around, finding a large machine shop and other interesting features.

 

All in all a great week of diving. Now the final night’s celebration and the flight home tomorrow.

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