2013 Truk Lagoon / Palau
Members of the dive club made the 24 hour plus flight to Truk(Chuuk) Lagoon and the Palau Islands Jan 19th - Feb 4th 2013. We were part of an 18 diver group on the trip organized by Deep Blue Divers dive shop.
Staying at the Blue Lagoon Resort on the southern tip of Moen Island , the group spent the next 5 days exploring the wrecks of the 40 mile diameter lagoon. The vast majority of the 42 ships sunk during operation Hailstone (February 17-18 1944) by the US Navy Task Force 58 were cargo vessels(Maru’s) with smaller naval ships, subs and aircraft also resting on the bottom. The larger capital ships of the Japanese Combined fleet, notably the aircraft carriers and battleships, were moved to safer waters the week before the attack after an American reconnaissance aircraft was spotted over the lagoon.
Blue Lagoon , a seaplane base during the war, is a small but nice resort that caters almost exclusively to divers. It was founded by Kimiuo Aisek who at 17 years old, witnessed the attack. It is now run by his son Gradvin and his son works as a dive master. Everything you may need is available at the resort while they do provide other amenities such as island tours and scooters for a fee. The rooms are basic, the restaurant and its friendly staff serve a good albeit sometimes limited menu which is typical of most island living. The farthest points of the resort was still no more than a minutes walk to the waters edge. For the most part we had 85 degree, sunshine and blue skies with a water temp of 83 degrees. The group was split between two 25ft skiffs, each with a well seasoned islander guide/dive master(ours was Meckenzie) and hard working boat driver/gear hauler(Biruten). After leaving the resorts dock, each boat parted ways for the 10-20 min ride to explore wrecks of their choosing. With no surface buoys, only land marks and years of experience, it constantly amazed us how quickly, Meckenzie, put us on top of the dive site. A typical day was a 6:30 breakfast, 8:00 1st dive, SI (resort, snorkel, or island exploration),10:30 2nd dive, lunch(at resort or island), 1:30 3rd dive, SI, 4:30 4th dive(optional), dinner.
2012 Christmas Party
I think everyone had fun last night. We had many familiar faces and some new faces. The gift exchange is always exciting although a mystery. Who would have guessed that the last gift selected would in fact be a White Elephant? Special thanks to Jay and Marylou for hosting the party, again. I will be sending my photos to Denny to post on the website.
Upcoming Dive Club meetings. There will be no Dive Club meeting in December since the last Tuesday is Christmas day which means our next meeting will be Tuesday January 29 at 7pm. I will send out a reminder around January 25.
A couple changes for the January meeting. I will fill in for Ken since he will be diving somewhere in the South Pacific with Ed, Dan, Jen, Scott and that bunch. We also will be welcoming Bridgette McCue our new Secretary. Thank you Paula for years of service!
The January meeting will be a busy one so forgive me if I move quickly through the old business. During this meeting we will focus on these new business topics:
1. Attending the Our World Underwater dive and travel show February 15-17 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont IL. (www.ourworldunderwater.com) Gwen and I are already planning to attend on Saturday February 16 and most likely will stay on the west side of Chicago that night. If others are going and staying the night perhaps we can plan a dinner with some camaraderie together.
2. Attending the Scubafest dive show March 15-17 in Dublin OH. (www.scubafest.org) I plan to drive to Dublin Saturday March 16th for the day. I will have room for 2 others to go along.
3. An update on the mine diving trip Kevin Betz and I are planning. Remember we will leave on Friday evening to drive to Missouri, make 2-3 dives Saturday, 1-2 dives Sunday and return Sunday afternoon. Based on responses we are down to 3 weekend selections; February 8-10, March 8-10 and March 22-24. We will be selecting the weekend around December 17 so if you’re serious about going now is the time to give input. (www.2dive.com, refer to my November 28 email for more details)
4. Anything else any Dive Club member wants to share about past and upcoming dives.
5. Selfishly I anticipate having some time so show video and photos from diving in Antigua and the Florida Keys over the holidays.
Come to think of it, we will have the same agenda for the February meeting as we are expecting some video and photos from the South Pacific dive trip. Looks like Ed, Dan, Jen, Scott and Ken have an assignment.
Happy Holidays to everyone and a safe journey for those traveling or diving below.
Local club dives
Taking advantage of the weekday lulls in boat traffic, club members have visited many area lakes(and restaurants) over the last few months. What follows is a recap of those dives to date.
May 9th, Hamilton Lake - We started off the local dive season at Hamilton lake with Paula & Denny as hosts. The teperatures both above(67*) and below(53* at 40ft) were still on the cool side but rising steadily after a cold April. Like the temps, Visibility was on the low side(10 ft) but made for a challenging and rewarding dive. The dive took us along the shores between Clark's landing and Cold Springs resort.
May 16th, Hamilton Lake - A return to Hamilton Lake gave us warmer temps(73* surface/ 60* at 30 ft) and improved visibility of 15 ft.For this dive, we stayed with in the confines of Fee Bay. Owing to the still early date , aquatic life sightings were sparse but increasing.
May 20th, Lake James - Our annual spring dive and cook out. The weather was perfect for an early morning dive on the middle basin before the boaters came out in force. Diving from 2 pontoons, the two groups covered a large area of the eastern shoreline. Notable on this dive was an abundance of largemouth bass, bluegill and the erie shilouette of a lonely pike swimming above us. Steve got the prize for best salvage operation when he pulled up a seemingly brand new aluminum prop while Tom got an excuse to by a new surface float. The surface temps were a balmy 75* but as a hoodless Kevin S. found out, at 40 ft, 52* can be quite chilly. Afterwards, we capped off a great day with burgers, brats and desserts at hosts Jaki & Barts Jimmerson Lake home.
June 6th, Hamilton lake - Back at Hamilton for our third dive, this time exploring the former quarry of Crystal Bay. Staying in the 20-25 ft range gave us comfortable 65* temps at depth and much improved 25 ft vis. Tall stands of millfoil next to the old quarry walls gave a feeling of gliding through a canyon. This vegatation gave us an opportunity to encounter a variety of fish and one USO(unidentified swimming object).
June 27th, Pleasant Lake - A small and tranquil fishing lake south of Angola. A shore dive, the plan was to explore the deeper 40 ft middle of the lake insearch of an elusive steam engine presumably resting on the bottom. Our dive plan was quickly modified when poor vis at depth forced us to instead follow the west shoreline in the 25 ft depth range. Here we encountered modest 20 ft vis with temps at depth of 57*. The dive still proved interesting as we came across a vintage intact tricycle, paddle boat, sunken trees and an assortment of 1940's and 50's vintage bottles.
Return to Morehead City
The Fort Wayne Dive Club returned to Morehead City on June 13th, 2012. We checked in with Olympus Dive, filled out all the necessary paper work. We then went to the divers lodge to unpack our gear. We stopped at the restaurant beside the lodge for a late dinner.
June 14th we arrived at the dive boat around 6:30 AM. The weather forcast called for strong winds. Our first dive was on the W.E. Hutton, a casualty of WWII. The W.E. Hutton was sunk by the German U-boat U-124. Twenty three out of thirty six survived the fiery inferno. Olympus Dive attaches a line to the anchor and runs it the length of the wreck. This make s navigation a snap. The wreck is scattered because the Navy blew up the wreck because it was a navigation hazard.
The second dive was the Indra. This is an artificial reef sunk in 1992. This wreck is mostly intact and a pleasure to dive.
The next two days were cancelled because of high winds. The first day the club went to the aquarium and then to the Maritime Museum. We left the next day after hearing the boat would not go out.
Reflections from John Riley
□ Left in Steve’s dive cruiser with eight other intrepid aquanuts at oh-dark thirty on – great news they were all fantastic company. Chatter amongst all was in anticipation of diving on the German U Boat U-352.
□ My thanks to our part time driver/host/and my dive buddy, Steve Dickman, for allowing us all to mess up his van and tow the gear trailer safely to NC
□ My thanks also to part time driver/leader Bart Hofherr for allowing me to sleep in the back seat while safely nagivating the highways and for allowing us to use his cargo trailer for all the gear and duffle bags . . . kudos also to Jay Irick for staying the professionals behind the wheel
□ My thanks to Dennis Fitzgerald, a man who has dove the FWDC’s collective bucket list in Hawaii and nearly the entire Western Pacific in the last 3 ½ months, for allowing me to be his dive buddy. Dennis, when he didn’t have a reg stuck in his mouth, regaled us all with his multi-island/nation/continent adventures. Thanks again.
□ Picked up JJ at
□ Logged in at Olympus Divers and found the operation and shop very professional, clean, organized and well stocked – not the usual neoprene jungle found in most dive operations
□ Found the Olympus Lodge a great place to stay and a great bargain – would recommend this to anyone considering
□ Weather on Thursday found a freshening breeze with 5’ or more seas.
□ First dive – SS Hutton, a Gulf Oil tanker, sunk in 1942 by the German U-124. Most of the wreck was collapsed on itself, but still offered plenty of places to look through and under. Access into some boilers and breeching was neat. Viz very good for NC 15’-20’ depending. Temps at 71’ were 75F – hardly noticed by us Midwestern divers. Missed the sharks and rays everyone else found, but had plenty of wrasse, clouds of shiners and hermit crabs waiting to take on all comers. The wreck would have been great if it were more intact.
□ Easy surface time with lunch and lots of new New England and NY friendships begun with other divers on board.
□ Second dive – USS Indra, a US Naval Landing Craft Repair Ship sunk as an artificial reef in 1992. The ship remains nearly upright and tons of swim throughs due to the scuttling portals cut into the hull. Again clouds of baitfish, a little turtle, halibut impersonating the sea floor, a cluster of arrow crabs, barracuda, spade fish, reef shark and one hapless octopus. Viz 10’ due to continued surface sea action with swells growing slightly but still an easy dive.
□ Back to port, clean up and dinner and one of countless bars, puds, bistros and such with loads of seafood on the menus. Clam chowder,
□ Second day, Friday, was called due to increasing seas 8’-10’. Unfortunately we never dove the U-352. Friday found the club as land lubbers touring the
□ Third day, Saturday, was also called due to increasing seas. Although all divers at the Lodge grumbled a bit over the cancellation, we respected the efforts made by
Please select the picture to see the slideshow.
The Fort Wayne Dive Club held its annual May spring dive and cookout at Jaki and Bart Hofherr's Jimmerson lake home. The weather was perfect, warm and plenty of sunshine. The gathering saw 20 members able to attend with 10 partaking in the morning dive while a few stayed topside to watch over them. Two pontoons were used to stage the dive, splitting the divers into two groups and entering at two close but different locations on the middle basin of Lake James. Surface Temperatures were a comfortable 70 degrees given the amount of neoprene(or dry suit) everyone was wearing. Temps in the 20-30 foot range were in the 60's with a maximum of 61 feet and 45 degrees. Visibility was, for the most part, in the 15-25 feet range.
Click on picture for slideshow
Some of the more notable things we learned on this dive were that 1. Not all surface marking floats, float, 2. Its best to wear a hood below 30 feet, and 3. Some boaters have no clue what a Diver Down flag means. Among the notable finds on this dive were a boat ladder and what appears to be a brand new aluminum prop(minus the hub). Following the vegetation lined shore back to the boat gave us a better opportunity to see a variety of fish life both large and small. After about 50 minutes of bottom time and with boat traffic on the lake increasing, we surfaced and headed back to fire up the grills, consume mass quantities of food and solve the worlds problems.
A THANKS to Jaki and Bart for once again hosting this event and all the work it took to put on! It turned out to be a great day, thanks to all who helped make it a success and start the local dive season off on a good note.