I got the chance to dive the Vandenberg twice today and had some awesome dives!
The report from every diver and dive shop I have spoke with since the site opened to the public on Saturday was all about the current. Most shops were very cautiously allowing divers to dive the wreck as long as they held onto lines the whole way down and stayed very close to or held onto the wreck. Apparently we got very lucky this morning, because the current was almost non-existent on our first dive. We started on the bow, where the mooring line attaches at 89 feet. We worked our way towards the stern along the port side which protects from any current that exists. Wow! This wreck is amazing! There were great swim-throughs the whole way, and all sorts of interesting parts left intact. It felt like we were on a giant playground, we were all over the place taking hundreds of photos. I was trying to get as many photos of the surface of the wreck since there is no growth yet. We had sunshine on the first dive and it made the ship glow! The deck is around 90 feet the whole way to the stern, so you can get a lot of bottom time. When we got to the stern we saw a school of yellow tail snapper and decided to head back to the bow. We drifted back in the light current at around 70 feet or so getting a great view of the whole wreck along the way. The visibility was good, 70-80 feet and the water was pretty clear of particulates. We did our safety stops and couldn’t wait to get back in.
After a 30 minute surface interval, we jumped in to do it all over again. A storm brewed while we were out of the water and we lost some of the sunshine and the current picked up a bit. We decided to check out the inside of the wreck a little more and see what we could find. They did a great job of cutting out the right areas to allow plenty of light in and plenty of bail out points. Some hallways run almost the whole beam of the ship and they are nice and bright. The bridge is enormous and from the wheel house you can make it to the captains quarters then up through a cut out in the ceiling to some offices which still have desks and filing cabinets intact. After playing around for a while we drifted back to the ascent line and back to the dive boat.
As far as life on the wreck goes, so far just a few fish. There was a school of yellow tail snapper on the stern. There were two large tarpon that curiously followed us around most of the dive. There were about a dozen barracuda hanging out throughout the wreck. There were a few small schools of tiny minnows and that was about it so far. It hasn’t quite been down a week though, so I guess that’s a pretty good start. There wasn’t any growth on the wreck, but salt deposits are starting to form on the satellite dishes.
All in all, we had a great time and I will definitely try to get down to Key West every couple of weeks or so to see how quickly growth and fish make there way to the wreck! I took a few hundred photos, so I’ll try to sort through them and post some of the more interesting ones.