Miami Wreck Exploration Project

Technical diving in Miami since 1990

Deep Freeze -> Tortuga

Posted by Joel Svendsen on May 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM

I knew this was going to be a great day of diving on my drive down to Coral Gables to meet Jody this morning. The sun was rising and I was jamming to STP's "Interstate Love Song" and CCR's "Have you ever seen the rain"... Beautiful sunny morning. Loaded out and left the dock at 8:15 with just one team diving; Jody and I. Carlos at the helm; Thanks! The Plan was diving the Deep Freeze (135-ft) and scootering to other wrecks; average depth of 120-ft, 40-minutes bottom time. We dove 21/35 back-gas and deco'd on 50%. On site the seas were flat calm and we registered a half-knot of surface current.

Once in the water Jody and I experienced about 20-feet of visibility at the surface, but as we descended the visibility improved to about 60-feet at the bottom. Water temperature was 74-degrees at 120-feet, 80-degrees at 70-feet and 82-degrees at 20-feet.

Once on the Deep Freeze; laying roughly South-to-North, we spent :14 of our planned BT scootering around and through the cargo holds. It's really cool how the wreck is split apart towards the bow, with the bow section laying over onto its starboard side. We saw a lot of schooling jacks, some large Queen Angels, a smattering of Lion Fish, and two barracuda on the wreck. We move from the bow aft towards the stern and from there took a heading south-west and started scootering. We were on-trigger for :03::40 when the Gimrock 898 / Atlas Recycling Barge came into view. Nothing remarkable other than its size, a decent target to hit with about 20-feet of profile. Steel sides and a bottom full of sand, not much marine life. We quickly moved on a northerly heading and scootered for about :02 when we saw the Tortuga come into view. She is beautiful, lots of profile off the bottom, sitting essentially intact in 115-feet, she has about 40-feet of structure in profile. We scootered around the bow and came in on her main cargo deck from the port side moving aft. We went all the way to the stern, then moved up and entered the ship through an opening on the cargo deck. Went into the engine room where only the engine mounts remain. Interesting interior spaces, with stairways, ladderways, man-doors and compartments throughout. Going back up on deck we left the ship off her port railing, where I noticed that blue paint was still visible under the marine growth. We continued N-NE and quickly came to the wreck of the Betek Ar Pen, a low-profile structure, barge-like. As we passed over her hulk, I noticed a large green moray eel coming out to check us out. He had a large thick head, and a body about six to seven feet long. I took a moment to go eye-to-eye with him, then we moved on in a northerly direction and quickly came to a very interesting looking wreck; the St.Henry's Express. Jody tells me he believes it is a dive boat, but the more I think about what I saw, the more convinced I believe she is an old steel-hulled yacht. She's about eighty feet long and has a narrow beam of only twenty feet or so. Her bow is very traditional in vertical sheer, while she has a canoe-stern, with twin screws and rudders bracketing a skeg-keel. Her superstructure has nice walk-arounds and port-holes (port-lights long ago removed). A hard-top is laying off in the sand on her starboard side. Her naval architecture and deck layout speaks to me as more yacht / pleasure craft than dive boat / commercial craft. Up in her bow Jody pointed out a small juvinile Lion Fish who's spines were way out of proportion with its small body. We left the St.Henry's Express at :34 run-time and scootered on an easterly heading where in about one minute on the trigger we hit the Gimrock 402 barge. She has about 15-feet or so of profile sitting in 115-feet of water. She looks to me to have been a fuel barge or something similar. We scootered up to about mid-ship when Jody thumbed the dive on "time". (Or was it on "cold")?! We were at exactly :40 Run Time and decided to not extend an additional :05. We left the wreck and made our first stop at 90-feet, and did :01 slides up to 70-feet. Here we switched to our deco gas and I shot the bag. Deco was uneventful. The water became warmer as we ascended and the visibility became degraded. We surfaced at :70 Run time, and were escorted back to the Jupiter by two sizable Remoras! Great dive this morning. Thank you Jody!

Dive Safe~

Rick

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