Popular Dive Sites
The following information is my own personal account of these wrecks from the times I've dived them. If you would like to input additional information, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone always told me, "You have to dive Radio Island, you have to dive Radio Island," and truth be told I wasn't too excited about the prospect. Well one day I finally had to dive Radio Island to take two of my students on a checkout dive and it had to have been one of the greatest dives I've ever done in my entire life. THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF!!! I knew that there were rocks and I suppose I thought that would be all but of course I was wrong. There are more fish gathered on those rocks than I have ever seen on the Liberty Ship or the Clifton Moss combined. Of course the real reason you see so much is the fact that you have to be right on top of the rocks the whole time (seriously, if you drift 5 feet up you can't see anything because of poor visibility) but oh well. Another great thing about Radio Island is it's ALWAYS available to go diving. Any time the Charter Boats get weathered out, you can always dive Radio Island. It's also a GREAT place to go night diving. Unfortunately however planning is paramount. The only time to dive Radio Island is High Slack Tide. This will enable you to dive in the best visibility with the lowest current. The other problem is since tides are predictable you can buy tide tables for a year but they'll be a little off because of location so you need to ask someone when to go. Whoa that was bad English. Annnnnnyway... other things... Sea Life: Stone crabs, some tropical fish (saw a lot of four eyed butterfly fish when I went with students), octopus if you're lucky, and other lots of wreck fish that I can't identify because I'm not that smart. Visibility: Been avoiding this one... On a good day you'll have 5 feet, on a FABULOUS day you'll have 10 feet, and on a crummy day or typical day you'll have anywhere from 6 inches to 5 feet. Recommended Diving Practices: Use a Buddy Line. I know some of you "experienced" divers will say that such a thing is absurd, but if the visibility is poor and you drift just 5 feet above the rocks you'll get lost in an instant. Also, if you follow the rocks all the way down to the bottom you'll be in the middle of the channel so DO NOT ASCEND FROM 40 FEET!!! If you have to surface for any reason, follow the rocks up to shallow water and surface there. This is a CHANNEL!!! THERE ARE BOATS!! THEY WILL NOT SEE YOU!! The last time I dove here two divers whom I knew had an emergency and surfaced in the channel and nearly got run over by boats. One good thing to have if something like this happens to you is to have a safety sausage that you can inflate and wave around so that people can see you.
Great dive for snorkeling or looking for flounder but that's about it. The few times I've dived it there's been a surge which gets REALLY obnoxious after a while. Depth is a highly contested subject. I remember seeing a map in one dive shop that listed it as 80 feet. Whatever. Cape Lookout is 20-25 feet deep (and that's probably an exaggeration since I don't have my dive log with me at the moment). Maybe if a person digs a hole in the sand or the polar ice caps melt or if he's using a "fuzzy math" depth gauge he can say he's been deeper but it's definitely a shallow dive. Visibility isn't fabulous but it's better than radio island, I don't remember what it was in feet but it wasn't good enough to see the bottom and it wasn't bad enough that I thought I could get lost.
The Liberty Ship has a maximum depth of about 60 feet. However the water is usually very murky near the bottom so itís best to stay around the deck of the ship which is at a depth of about 40 feet. The wreck itself is in pretty good shape with several swim-thrus if you want to gauge your buoyancy. Itís not the most interesting wreck in the world but itís a good one to begin with. The visibility varies though itís usually fairly poor (10 to 20 ft). Fish and animal life is typical of other wrecks. The only real advantage to this dive is itís very close to the inlet, itís easy to find, and itís at a fairly shallow depth. This is a great beginning dive for those who have never done boat diving off the coast of North Carolina.
In case the Liberty Ship is crowded and you want to stay inshore this one is also very close. Itís a little bit better than the Liberty Ship in terms of things to look at since it has several different sunk items (parts of a bridge and thereís a Menhaden (sp?) boat called the Novelty somewhere). I personally like the Clifton Moss more since the first time I dove it we had 60 foot visibility (which we havenít seen since) and we also spotted a Sea Turtle there. Other than that itís pretty much exactly like the Liberty Ship in terms of interest, fish life, and visibility. Again itís a great dive for students or people who have never done offshore diving, but donít expect a particularly memorable dive (unless you have incredible visibility, then itís great). I'd like to add one more thing... the last time I dove here with a student we had really poor visibility and we saw a shark. Well actually I didn't my student did and he identified it as a Sandtiger which aren't usually dangerous and generally aren't seen so close into shore but it is possible to spot them.
Gosh I hope that's the correct name. The story goes that 20/30 years ago people only dove two wrecks offshore, the WR8 and the WRSomethingElse (or something like that...), the reason being they both had buoys attached so people could actually find them. Anyway it's fairly close to Cape Lookout and when we drove up to it the first time there was a pod of dolphins. We were actually in the water with them but since the visibility was so poor we didn't see any. To tell the absolute truth I was not very pleased with this dive. Visibility was rotten, the wreck was nothing but rubble, and I think I was sick that day. Anyway if you're into spearfishing it's a GREAT place for flounder. I think we got 14 flounder in 3 dives or something like that.
We dove the Indra 3 times before we actually saw it. The first time we had 4 foot visibility, the second we were at the wrong dive site, and the third, well we finally saw it. This is a HUGE wreck, emphasis on HUGE. You can have a good 30 minute dive just circling it. This is a FABULOUS dive for an introduction to offshore diving and wreck diving. Itís of a medium depth, 70-75 feet maximum, but the deck of the ship is at about 40-50 feet. If you look youíll see a few bicycles in the sand which are left over from the underwater cycling races they used to have. At one end of the wreck (I think the stern) thereís a huge pile of broken shells and off to the side there are some small coral growths (I donít really know how to describe it, but it sticks out from the rest of the sand). If you have good visibility and donít lose site of the wreck itís a great place to look for unusual creatures, one of my Open Water students found an octopus hiding in one of the crevices. Iíve also seen sharks but theyíre not too common. Visibility varies but itís usually a good bit better than the Liberty Ship or Clifton Moss. Also because itís not too far offshore and itís not terribly deep itís a very popular dive site (I think Olympus does an afternoon dive there every day) so donít be surprised if itís crowded (especially if itís rough way offshore).
Most people only know this as a fishing spot but if you think about it, any good fishing spot is going to be a great diving location. The only problem though is charter boats generally only go to the wrecks (6-pack boats though go wherever you want if you've chartered the whole thing). Anyway when we dove it there was a really strong current so we only got in one dive but it was probably the greatest dive I did all summer. Visibility was fabulous (at least seemed fabulous compared to the Quarry and the Liberty Ship, etc), somewhere around 40-60 feet but there was a lot of ambient light so it seemed clearer. There were lots of tropical fish, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, etc and I spotted one sea turtle. My brother also speared a 30 inch grouper which made him absolutely insufferable for the next two days but it was pretty damn big fish. Anyway, the depth where we were was about 85 feet but I'm sure it varies depending on where you anchor up.
The history of this German U-boat is probably more interesting than the wreck itself but itís definitely worth the trip. The sub is still intact but Iíve never heard of anyone going inside of it (first of all thereís nothing to get, itís been stripped). I will always love this wreck because the second time we dove it there were over 30 Sandtiger sharks in the water. They ignored us of course but I had never seen so many at one time and I havenít seen a shark there since. Iím not sure what the maximum depth is, I want to say something around 110-120 but I do know that if youíre diving on Air youíll have a maximum dive time of about 15 minutes.
The reason this wreck is so popular is because of the sharks. This is the wreck where the Great White Shark was spotted again this summer (got to http://www.discoverydiving.com for pictures and video). I dove it for the first time this summer and there were a ton of sharks. Even descending we had 10 or so sharks circling the anchor line and the wreck itself was just covered with them. Of course they were all Sandtigers which meant that they completely ignored us and my Master Diver student actually accidentally hit one with his camera because he was getting so close. It was late in the summer so there were a bunch of tropical fish, Queen Angels mainly oh and we found one spotted moray eel which was cool. Visibility wasn't excellent (it's close to the shoals so it tends to be crummy) but it wasn't too terrible either. I think we had 20-30 feet horizontal visibility and maybe 40 feet vertical.