Tortuga’s last 3 booked days of the 2010 season just passed this last weekend. We were booked for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday came with gale force winds of 25 knots as a cold front passed and high pressure built in behind it. A second front was to pass through Sunday, leaving a fantastic fall weather window on Saturday. We left the dock around 8am wearing sweatshirts and long pants in the 50 degree fall morning air. The wind had died to around 10 knots and the air was dry and fresh. With the sun rising across the shoals to the east, we made our way across the 2′ waves at 18 knots headed 42 miles to the wreck of the Naeco. We would be joining the dive boat Atlantis IV already 13 miles ahead of us. Riding as 2nd Captain was Frank Edwards, allowing me to get a couple of dives in. I was overflowing with excitement as we steamed ahead towards the stern of the Naeco, my favorite Crystal Coast shipwreck.
As we arrived on the site, the divers from Atlantis IV were just climbing back aboard the boat. The waters on the surface were 74 degrees, and coupled with the bright late morning sun, warmed the air to a very comfortable 75 degrees. The wind had all but stopped moving and the seas had only a gentle movement.
We were greeted with 80′ of visibility and fantastic conditions. All of the big animal life that makes the Naeco such a great dive were present, and everyone saw Sea Turtles on the bottom and the surface.
After pulling the hook, which was my job for the day, we headed 6 miles inshore to the wreck formerly known as the Papoose. The Papoose (now thought to be the W.E. Hutton) met its doom just a week earlier than the Naeco, both at the hands of the Nazi U-Boat Commander Johann Mohr aboard the U-124 in 1942. The wreck lies in 120′ of salt water, and we had equally beautiful conditions on the wreck as well as the surface of the water above her. It was classic NC diving at its very best.
The fall weather gets more and more unpredictible as we move through November and into December, but there are still plenty of great days left before hard core winter time sets in for January and February. If you watch the weather, keep your dive gear packed and ready to go at the drop of a hat, you can still get some great diving in.
Tortuga is ready when you are, just pick up the phone and call!