This was a most excellent trip (as Bill and Ted would say) Only two other people were able to join me on this trip (Bill and Kat).
Thursday: 0600 Bill picks me up at my house and we head to Covington to pick up Kat. After picking up Kat, we head to Morehead City. We arrived in Morehead City around 1530 and went straight to Olympus Dive Center to do our paperwork, pay for the fuel surcharges and our NITROX fills for the weekend. Checked into the Buccaneer Inn and then to eat at Sanitary Restaurant and Fish Market. Buccaneer: Clean, no frills Best Western with a complimentary Continental Breakfast each morning. Sanitary: Higher prices and “ok” food. You would hope for better food with what you pay.
Friday: Up at 0300 (just because it’s not easy sleeping in a strange bed) Report at Olympus at 0530 to load gear. We left the dock at 0635 and then left the dock again at 0700 due to late arrivals and they actually went back to pick them. Great customer service, but pretty crappy for those of us that showed up on time. We arrived on site at 1000. Yes, a 3 hour boat ride to a wreck called the Cassimir, 55 miles off shore. It’s a wreck that they don’t do very often. On the way out, I was able to take a compass reading class taught to me by Kat. So, after the class, I knew one thing: If you are lost in the woods and Kat has the compass, don’t expect to see civilization for about a week. :)
Dive 1: Cassimir.. Air temp: 89F Water: 87F at surface, 79F at depth. Viz was around 35-40 feet. Dive time was 27 minutes and max depth was 104fsw diving EAN30. There were hundreds of fish around the wreck. Schools of amberjack, my first lionfish and, as always, barracuda. Nice dive, but I don’t think it was worth a 3 hour boat ride.
2 hour surface interval
Dive 2: Cassimir.. Same temps and viz. Dive time was 29 minutes and max depth was 102fsw diving EAN30. This was dive 50 for me. During this dive, I was actually able to enter a bait ball. While in the ball, I was just mesmerized by all the fish swimming around. All of a sudden, they all darted to the rear of me and I looked up to see a school of Amberjack crashing into the ball for a quick meal. They were headed right at me and all I had time to do was “duck and cover.” I didn’t get hit and after about half of the school passed me, they turned and went another direction. Scared the crap out of me for a second there. Good way to remember 50 though.
At 1700, we were back on the docks. We went and showered and headed to another restaurant that was recommended by the staff at Olympus. Piccata’s. Very good food!!! Prices were a bit on high side, but the food made it worth it. Unfortunately, about half way through the meal Kat found an unwanted visitor in her food. We called the waitress and she took the food away. The staff were very apologetic and didn’t make excuses. They said they would figure out how it got in there and were very sorry about it. They also took care of the bill for the entire table, not just Kat’s food. So, we thanked Kat for taking one for the team. Back to the hotel for some much needed rest.
Saturday: Today’s boat didn’t leave until 0730, so we slept a little bit later. We showed up, and Nema, the shop manager and my new Buddy, already had our boarding passes waiting for us. She met me at the door with all three in hand. We boarded and headed out to the U-352. Only 1.5 hour ride this time.
Dive 3: U-352.. Air temp: 89F. Water temp: 87F surface, 80 at depth. Viz was down. We only had about 25 feet on this one. Dive time was 29 minutes and max depth was 112fsw. Awesome dive. We looked all over the u-boat and took a bunch of pictures. Saw many Lionfish on the wreck. There was some current on this wreck. If you were on the side of the 45 degree list, there was very little current, but if tried to go around the stern, you got hit with a pretty powerful current. This was 50 for Kat. Great dive!!!
Another 2 hour surface interval and during it, we head to another wreck called the “Spar.” I have failed to mention that during these surface intervals, we saw more of our dive buddies than any of us really wanted to. Anything from “just so no to crack” to “Dude, have you ever heard of a training bra and if not, please put back on your shirt,” to “Why are you running around in just your underwear” to wearing a small bikini but never heard of the phrase “bikini wax.” (Is Macy Gray hiding out in those bikini bottoms??) Wow… They were all just sights to behold. And some sights that will scar you for li