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Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 21:12:10 PDT

AUE Weekend Dive Report - Divers City, Key Largo "Two out of three aint bad"

Saturday - Vitric (300)

We had 5 of the guys together to dive the Vitric, a 165 long schooner that sunk in 1944 carrying a cargo of molasses. It was first dove (as far as we know) by a couple of our guys back in March. The remaining wreckage is small and heavily sanded in, however, portholes and other artifacts are laying loose amongst the site.

Nothing sucks worse than doing a 310 sand dive except doing it twice. We missed the wreck on our first attempt and regrouped for another drop. With a 2.5kt+ current on the surface, there was also a counter current of slightly less magnitude at the thermocline around 180; I was about 40 above Mikey when I saw he and his bubble trail take a drastic turn off to the right. I was wondering where the hell he was going when I hit the bottom current a few seconds later and figured it out. Below 180 the temperature dropped to 57 degrees and was much darker than the clear blue water above. We all spread out a bit and hit the sand at 310. After a few minutes to appraise the situation, we realized that we were off the wreck a bit and all ascended for our deco. Crap.

Sunday - Northern Light (190)

We had a perfect drop on the Northern Light, a 300 long steam freighter that sunk in 1930. The wreck has a unique layout: while it hit the bottom upright, the stern buckled and folded over on top of itself. The interior is easily penetrated with a neat roundabout or "horseshoe" route that can be taken back around the boilers.

Landing on the rudder, we again had a decent current on the bottom. I dropped over the side and began to take some pictures of the large inverted hull and rudder. Three of us moved into the hull, passing by the large boilers and back into the engine room. Instead of finishing the "horseshoe," I exited over a sand dune and out a blowout at midships to look for the jewfish I spotted on our last visit. Cruising back to the stern and further to the bow, I began to checkout some machinery that remained on the tilted deck. As I was looking around, I noticed a bull shark cruise close behind me. As I looked around, I spotted a couple more on the periphery of the wreck - pretty cool. Eventually, I headed back to the buoy line and we all let go to finish our deco, to be joined by large schools of yellowtail and African pompano. Hopefully the pictures will come out

Monday - Carysfort Deep (280)

New numbers from some local fishermen made for an intriguing mystery dive. It was said to be a fairly large wreck that held lots of fish, but a site that had yet to be dove or identified. Flat calm seas made for an enjoyable last day offshore as 6 of us headed out past Carysfort Light. We eventually pulled up to the numbers and saw a small spike on the bottom reader - it didnt look like much and smelled an awful lot like a barge. While we had no wind, the boat was still moving 2.6kt over the bottom due to the current. Once the boat was set up, we all piled in and sailed for the bottom. We were descending swiftly in a tight little pack that looked pretty damn cool in the 200+ visibility. Again, we hit a counter current near the thermocline. Less than 2 minutes later, we had flared out and were cruising along with the current about 15 off the bottom. After a few minutes of watching sand zip past us, a few amberjack appeared. We were in a line, spaced by about 15 as we scanned for signs of a wreck. Soon, more amberjacks joined us as we all realized we must be getting close to the wreck. Debris on the bottom warned us that the wreck was nearby when Mikey spotted it in the distance and began to work to reach it against the current. I had the unfortunate luck of being on the far end of the group and immediately dropped to the sand to hunker down and kick and claw my way to the wreck. Even the Scooter Boys said they couldnt make much headway into the current with their Gavins. As I hoofed it upcurrent behind Mark, I saw Mikey waving his HID light in the gloom to let us know he reached the wreck. Reaching the wreck, we noticed that it wasnt a barge, but was a small freighter or LSM, approximately 140-150 long. It looked like it had been down for several years as it was heavily encrusted. There were copious amounts of fish swarming the wreck, including several large snapper and a mega black grouper. We worked aft to find the bridge sitting near the stern. However, it became obvious that the ship had been stripped and sunk on purpose, as no portholes or other valuable machinery remained onboard and a demolition hole was spotted amidships. Since we had spent several minutes drifting into the wreck, we didnt have much time to enjoy the wreck, though we were initially able to confirm what it was (or wasnt).

Overall, an enjoyable weekend and great dives and we still have more sets of numbers to check out