Enjoy Epic Diving This Year on the OBX.
Diving the Outer Banks is on almost every diver's bucket list, a once in a lifetime opportunity you hope to experience at least once during your diving career. If you have always wanted to dive the OBX then 2018 is the perfect time to make your diving dreams come true with an OBX vacation. The waters off of the coast of the North Carolina, Outer Banks are known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Unbeknownst to many visitors, our tranquil waters are known for more than just sunny days on the beach. Over the centuries hundreds of ships have met their demise in the treacherous waters off the OBX. Many were lost to weather, some to accidents, and others to acts of war. For divers who are willing to explore the wrecks of the Outer Banks an amazing experience awaits. So grab your gear, and set sail for the Outer Banks this summer and get ready for some amazing wreck diving, OBX style.
Quiet Waters With A Troubled Past
Looming just off the off of Cape Hatteras under the Carolina blue skies lie the deceptively turbulent waters that make up the Grave Yard of the Atlantic. For centuries these waters have been claiming ships of all sizes and types; from cargo to warships, from large schooners to smaller pleasure craft, all have at one time or another become victims of these turbulent waters. Residents have long known to respect the waters off of the Outer Banks. With shifting shoals, hurricanes, and turbulent currents make the Atlantic coast off the OBX both loved and feared. But why are these waters so full of shipwrecks?
Off of the coast, two powerful currents collide causing a unique maritime situation. First, you have the northbound waters of the Gulf Stream which are generally warmer than the southbound arctic waters of the Labrador Current. When these currents collide they create a situation where the seas literally can "fold" upon themselves resulting in catastrophic seas, that have caused deadly and tragic shipwrecks for as long as man has been sailing these waters. of course modern technology, weather forecasting, improved seamanship and search and rescue capabilities have reduced the rate of loss, but history is beset with tragedies that are now ready for exploration by divers with the skills and adventurous spirit to dive these wrecks.
Located off the coast of Hatteras, the Diamond Shoals are an ever-shifting group of underwater sandbars of varying depth. Complicating matters worse is the fact these shoals spread out in erratic and unpredictable directions and varying distances. Add to this the complicated weather patterns of the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricanes, tides and winds...well it is easy to see how this recipe creates a mariners nightmare. It is believed the Diamond Shoals off of Hatteras is responsible for well over 600 shipwrecks. Like a perfect predator, the Diamond Shoals effects are complicated by the low lying nature of the Outer Banks barrier islands. For hundreds of years, the shores were sparsely populated and with their low topography, it was difficult for sailors to tell where the sea ended and the land began. Of course, for many, they realized their precarious position far too late with disastrous consequences.
So Many Wrecks So Little Time
Well now that we have a little history and local knowledge about the currents, shoals, and waters, it is time to get out on the water and explore the many divable wrecks. Estimates vary as to how many wrecks are actually found along the Outer Banks and particularly Hatteras Island, but what is known for sure is there are more wrecks than the available time during your OBX vacation, which is fine because we would love to have you back year after year for your diving adventures. For those looking to learn more about the Graveyard of the Atlantic, David Stick's book, Graveyard of the Atlantic: Shipwrecks of the North Carolina Coast, is widely considered one of the best resources available. With so many amazing shipwrecks to explore it is impossible to see them all in a week or two. Additionally, you'll want to make sure to take your time because as equally majestic as the wrecks are the thousands of species of marine life. Since you won't have time to dive all of the wrecks, here are five that you definitely should consider during your Outer Banks vacation.
1-OrientalThe Oriental also known as, the Boiler Wreck is located about 150 yards offshore from the visitor's center on Pea Island. This wreck with her famous boiler protruding from the water lies perpendicular to the beach, with her bow pointing towards the shore. The depth of the wreck is only 15-25 feet and is a wonderful wreck for both diving and snorkeling. Make sure to explore The Oriental at high-tide and is popular with local fisherman so be sure to bring a dive flag.
The Huron is a 175-foot long ship that was built in the mid-1870's and was one of the last American naval vessels to be built of iron rather than steel; in addition, she was equipped with sails which supplemented her steam engines. Sunk during a violent storm in 1877, and killing 98 sailors, the Huron now rests in just 30 feet of water about 175 yards offshore. Shifting sands cover and uncover various aspects of this wreck. The ship is best-explored ar different times of the year for different experiences due to these shifting sands.
Sitting right near the Huron the Explorer still has her anchor attached at the bow much like the Huron shifting sands expose and cover different parts of this wreck depending on the time of the year. The Maximum depth of the dive is about 20 feet and this old tug is a great dive for all skill levels.
This wrecks, the Carl Gerhard, and the Kyzickes, both sunk in the shore off of Kill Devil Hills. The tanker Kyzickes wrecked in December of 1927 and was sitting on the beach when, two years later, the Carl Gerhard slammed ashore during a storm, cutting the Kyzickes in half. The wrecks are now scattered over an area between 100 and 200 yards long off the beach, and it takes a few dives to see everything. Maximum depth is about 20 feet but well worth it.
This 120-foot freighter was converted from use as a Federal gunboat called the Stars and Stripes; Metropolis was eventually sunk in 1878. Even though she sunk close to shore the death toll exceeded 90 souls along with over 200 tons of stone and 500 tons of iron rails that she was carrying. The wreck is located about 100 yards from the beach in Corolla, in just 15 to 20 feet of water Corolla. Locals often refer to this as the Horsehead Wreck, the Metropolis is a favorite with local divers and a great one to start on.
Local Tip: Be prepared for low light situations always bring a high-quality dive light. Visibility can be only 5-10 feet at times. Additionally, due to
A Unique Experience
One of the unique things about diving the waters off the Outer Banks is the interesting combination of shipwrecks and marine life. From sharks to sea turtles during a typical dive, you'll find not only amazing wrecks to explore but also have the chance to interact with thousands of different species of marine life. It is not uncommon to see small sharks, rays, and large schools of fish in and around the wrecks. A camera is a
Local Dive Resources
From May thru October, you'll find ideal conditions along the Outer Banks for your diving adventures. Of course like any hobby that requires technical equipment it is nice to know that you have everything you need should you forget something or need something repaired. Here on the OBX, we have everything you need and a great local dive community to assist with all your diving equipment needs. Here are some of the local resources:
- Dive Hatteras (703) 517-3774
- Go Between Dive Charters (252) 480-3467
- Ghost Fleet Diver Charters (252) 423-0451
- Roanoke Island Outfitters (252) 473-1356