Miami Wreck Exploration Project

Technical diving in Miami since 1990

Spiegal Grove , March 31, 2012

Posted by Joel Svendsen on April 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Miami Wreck Divers ended the month of March with a beautiful day of diving off Key Largo, returning to the wreck of the Spiegal Grove. We left the dock just after 8am in Coral Gables with Carlos at the helm of the Jupiter. Manifest was Jody, David and myself diving. David's nephew Josh came along to watch bubbles (and chum for fish). The weather was clear, sunny, light winds from the south, seas 2-4-feet offshore, near flat calm in the bay. We were on site at 10:40 after a nice run out to the dive site.

Dive plan was :50 BT on EAN-30; Avg-D 100-ft; 1's from 50-20; :15 Deco on 100%. I led the dive, David shot the bag, Jody ran deco.

When we arrived on station there were three boats moored to the wreck, divers down. We followed the aft-starboard mooring line down to the wreck. Visibility was marginal, only about 30-feet. +/-. Made for a very myopic view of a very large wreck. It had been over a year since I last dove the SG, and I was in for a couple surprises. First I led the team down the aft cargo ramp, around the port side of the stern and under the wreck between the props and rudder. A classic route I have swam a dozen times previously. What used to be a large swim-through and a max depth of 144-ft is now a restricted swim-through with a max depth of 137-feet! My stage plowed the bottom silting it out for Jody & David. Sorry guys!! We scootered forward up the starboard side of the wreck at about 125-feet, and moved off the side of the wreck about 40-feet into the debris field. Looking to our left the massive structure of the Spiegal Grove was lost in the gloam, visibility was poor! Continuing forward to the bow and following the anchor chains out ahead of the wreck, the bow-on view was limited. Decision made; keep the camera in my pocket.

We scootered aft down the port-side of the ship. David signaled us, having found a very new yellow weight belt with 13-lbs of shiny-new lead sitting out in the sand! I deployed my 48" SMB and David and I attached it to the belt, adding enough gas to bring the belt neutral buoyancy. We continued up over the port-side rail, and down into the cargo bay. We swam forward into the overhead section, darker than usual with the poor visibility. David signaled us and guided us up into the mezzanine area where I put him into the #1 position, me taking #2 position. As we exited the bay, I signaled the team and switched from my stage to my back-gas. David had stashed the weight belt on a ledge near the top of the bay, now we relocated the prize to a rail aft of the forward crane, to be retrieved later. David switched me back to the #1 position again. I guided us into the machine shop from the aft-starboard entrance and transited out through the port-side man-door into the port-side companionway. Swimming forward the passage was restricted just forward of the large athwartship companionway, so we turned right and went towards the starboard side. Said hello to Snoopy as we passed over the landmark. Turned right again and swam aft down the starboard-side companionway and back out of the wreck. I brought us back in the wreck twice more, first through one of the access openings cut in the side of the ship. Debris limited our passage and I brought us back out the only practical exit. Scootering forward out onto the foredeck area, I swam us into the ship through a man-door on the port side of the superstructure. Debris having fallen in from the overhead again restricted our passage. The wreck is changing. Interior elements are deteriorating making penetrations more treacherous.

There seemed to be quite a bit of marine life on the wreck. Lots of soft corals, green coral, sea fans, sponges. I saw several large Queen Angel fish, and two large Hog Fish down in the cargo bay. Up above the cargo bay I saw three large black grouper. Swimming around the wreck were quite a few 3-4-ft barracuda. During our scooter transit David and Jody poked their head into one of the hull-side openings on the starboard side, only to be challenged by one of the exceptionally large Jewfish that live on this wreck. The one fish I didn't see was the Lionfish. Perhaps because of the limited visibility. We saw a few other divers swimming around the mid-ship superstructure about half-way through our dive. This was the only time we observed other divers on the wreck.

At :49 into the dive we thumbed the dive. I had an average depth of 101-feet displayed on my Tech-2G at this point. Perfection! David shot the big yellow marker, then he and I shot the orange bag with the weight-belt up the line. Later Carlos told us the weight suspended under the bags made the two markers on the surface stand vertical and look GOOD!! Looking up at our bags, they hit the surface just aft of a dive boat that just tied into a port-side mooring. Carlos said we had their full attention as their divers were just suiting up. Jody brought us through our deco, switching to 100% at 20-ft. We were on the surface clean at :75 run-time. I started to feel cold in the last :10 of the dive, water temps were 74-degrees.

On the surface the seas were laying down a little, but not enough for Josh's comfort. I think much to his distress we started to eat the pineapple pieces and the (tribute to Alex) Trail-Mix I put together for the dive. David says its some of the trail-mix best ever!! Jody was gracious and altered our return course, going through a very interesting channel through Key Largo to take us back on the inside. From the S.G. we headed west and passed thru the south channel of, and into Largo Sound. Interesting to se how the Army Corps of Engineers cut the channel through the coral rock. From there we continued (west) thru the "Marvin D. Adams Waterway" (Adams Cut) which took us to the "Backcountry Bay & ICW". We enjoyed calm flat waters, made great time from Key Largo back to Coral Gables. What an awesome day on the water!

Rick Thomas

Techfills LLC

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