A S S O C I A T I O N   OF   U N D E R W A T E R   E X P L O R E R S  

Date: Mon, 16 May 2005

AUE Weekend Trip Report, May 14-15 Mayport
Identification of the "Razor Wreck" as the steamer PECONIC

When one of my friends mentioned that he was planning on visiting Florida for a little vacation and wanted to do some diving, I knew I had my work cut out for me.  Knowing he was a wreck connoisseur, I naturally thought he might enjoy a nice dive on the USS SPIEGEL GROVE or the USCGC DUANE.  I was a bit taken aback at the violent nature of his negative response, so I hastily decided on a Plan B.  I mentioned that I knew about this little wreck off NE Florida that he might take a fancy to.  He had heard claims of virgin wrecks before, so naturally he was skeptical upon hearing the few details I knew about the site.  Fortunately he decided to humor me, and we found ourselves onboard the MISS DAISY to the unknown shipwreck known locally as the "Razor Wreck."

In actuality, I had heard about this wreck from some local spearfishermen, and, based on the information at hand, I felt confident that it held great promise.  After gathering the scant details I could about the wreck, which basically amounted to the fact it was fairly large, was a steamer, and there was an abundance of coal on and around the site, I hit my files.  I soon came across a wreck that was highly suspect -- the SS PECONIC.  The PECONIC, a 270-foot long English steamer, was built in 1881.  In August 1905, while carrying a cargo of coal, she encountered a violent storm off the eastern seaboard.  Fearing she was too close to the coast, she attempted to turn seaward but was slammed by a monstrous wave.  She was quickly consumed by the sea, with only two crew making it off the ship before she rolled over and slipped beneath the surface.  The two survivors reached shore in a lifeboat the next morning, landing on Amelia Island.

I had been trying to get out to this wreck for over a year, but grew despondent after numerous cancellations due to foul weather.  Finally, our patience was rewarded on a beautiful May weekend. 

Reaching the site, I grew a little worried when I saw the depth on the bottom sounder.  Fearing for my friend's safety, I discussed the logistics of this highly technical dive with the team.  Since he was from up north, and probably unaccustomed to all the perils that our waters possessed, I made sure he was not hesitant in following me into the Atlantic.  While I saw a little trepidation in his eyes, after a quick self-affirmation he declared that he was up to the challenge.  Being the southern gentleman that I am, I encouraged my Yankee friend with his newfound bravery to partake of the cool Atlantic before me.  I still needed to prepare my camera, and felt that the interval would allow him sufficient time to travel the staggering distance to the bottom, recover from the vigorous workout, and deal with his inner fears of dangerous sea monsters. 

Gearing up, he splashed into the frigid 71-degree water and began his long descent down to the shipwreck 70 feet below the safety and comfort of our dive boat.  He would soon find himself in an alien world, diving on a wreck unlike any he had visited before.  I followed down approximately 10 minutes later, confident that I would find my friend frozen on the bottom with a death grip on the anchor line -- our lifeline to the surface...   

When I reached the bottom, I saw this:

Wow!  It appears my encouragement had allayed my friend's insecurities, as I spied him darting about the wreck in glee.  As he and his wife approached the anchor with their second telegraph, I enthusiastically pointed out that he was my "number one" buddy with a friendly salute.  Unaccustomed to seeing such pristine wrecks off his stomping grounds of New Jersey, it was almost as if he didn't know where to swim next.  He was as giddy as a young school girl on an Easter egg hunt!

Okay, that's enough bullshit.  I have to go pack as we are headed back out to dive ANOTHER virgin wreck somewhere off Florida in a couple days!  But here are a couple more teaser pictures to savor below.  Don't worry, I have saved the really good ones for an article in an upcoming issue of WRECK DIVING MAGAZINE...

We found the main bridge helm stand pinned under a hull plate directly under the anchor chain.   Note the chisel in the sand to the left of the picture; it had dropped out of my goody bag that I slid down the anchor line.  I had realized that my chisel was missing later in the dive but remembered seeing it when I took the above picture, so I returned to find it.  Not seeing it lying on the surface, I fanned around looking for it.  Evidently, someone had picked it up, so I didn't find it. However, I did find something else...

What is that under the sand??

Oh, it's just the flying bridge telegraph.

The wreck was alive with marine life:  mola molas, dolphins, cobia, grouper, spadefish, sharks, and, at right, this sea turtle staggered up behind my friend when he was working on the main bridge telegraph.  What more could you ask for on a wreck diving adventure?!?!

Boating two heavy brass helms on a 27-foot boat is an interesting endeavor, and a nice little workout!