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Thread: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

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    2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Just finished up a five day live-aboard trip in the Dry Tortugas, chartered by Oceanic Ventures, on the M/V Spree diving several deep wrecks. The trip was led by Richie Kohler and Mike Barnette who did an outstanding job. Presentations on the wrecks were provided in the evening by Mike and Richie to showcase the wrecks and provide tidbits to help formulate our dive objectives. Some shot video. Some shot stills. And some just relaxed over the wreck with a smooth uptake of helium.


    The wreck roster included:


    M/S Rhein
    Araby Maid
    U-2513
    Chelsea
    USS-S16
    USS Curb
    USS Wilkes Barre
    USAF Hoyt S Vandenberg (Option)


    The Vandenberg was out due to not having been sunk yet. Beyond this, the patrons altered the dive plan a bit as we were having too much fun treasure hunting on the Araby Maid (opting out of USS Curb or Chelsea or S-16). We decided to spend another day over the Araby Maid. Needless to say, "china fever" had struck almost everyone on the boat. Hehe...

    In all, we had eight rebreather divers and six on open circuit. Rebreathers included 2 Megs (3rd Meg was Crew), 3 Optimas, 2 Evolutions, and 1 Inspiration. All units held together strong and kept everyone in the water. Three scooters also joined the mix. These were mostly used for digging. > During the trip, we (well, mostly the O.C. folks...LOL) consumed 5,000 cubic feet of helium. It's nice to leave a week long deep dive trip with an $80 gas bill. Gotta love CCR. :D


    Although I admit to crewing on the Spree, I can't write without saying how it's such a great platform for tech (or rec) diving. It's very clean (Hi Melanie ) and well equipped with all of the safety features required at this level of diving; chase boat, O2 hung @ 20fsw, life rafts, etc. The layout is perfect and the space aboard is just right. Food is ALWAYS top notch and in abundance. The best part is that the owners have the very best intentions of a safe but very enjoyable trip at heart.


    We were truly provided some of the best conditions you could ever have for a week long trip. Only the first day provided a little current but vanished there after. Temps were in the low 90s(f). I was amazed at the glass-like conditions at times (no joke). Temps at depth were right about 72f. Visibility was for the most part excellent except for our last day trying to make a pass on the Wilkes Barre. Vis was so bad on the live boat drop that we weren't sure if we hit the wreck til we ran into rust. Even so, we weren't sure where we had landed. With that, we spent about 15 minutes at ~220fsw and decided to blow the bags. Otherwise, vis was very pleasing throughout the week at an average of ~90 feet.


    The trip was a LOT of fun. I understand the trips are to be expanded next year adding two more to the schedule. Richie and Mike will be leading them again next year. There will be two trips that are rebreather-only with one being an expedition trip on the Key West Ghost Fleet with depths to 420fsw.


    Cheers,


    Richard


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    Last edited by PacketSniffer; 22nd June 2008 at 12:33.

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Thanks for the trip report. I'm sooooo kicking myself for not going on this trip.
    Green with envy;
    Bill

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    I had a blast on the trip - thanks again for having me. Definitely looking forward to next year's trips on the SPREE. After 9 years of diving these wrecks they have yet to lose their magic. I am in the midst of cleaning gear, doing laundry, and packing for tomorrow's trip overseas, but here are a few quick pics; an article on the trip will also appear in an upcoming issue of UNDERWATER JOURNAL...


    A couple shots from the RHEIN - see if you can spot the diver about 100 feet away on the port side of the kingposts - awesome vis!


    Some shots of the U-2513 (ADVANCED DIVER MAGAZINE article forthcoming)




    Several shots of the ARABY MAID...

    If you are interested in joining the fun in next year's trips, we will have details posted soon. These will definitely fill fast!

    Cheers,
    Mike

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Not a big fan of unofficial artifact documentation and retrieval on historic wrecks, but looks like a good trip, thanks for sharing.

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Quote Originally Posted by vidodivr  View Original Post
    Not a big fan of unofficial artifact documentation and retrieval on historic wrecks, but looks like a good trip, thanks for sharing.
    That's fine. I don't see a lot of "officials" interested or motivated to get out there to do any documentation whatsoever...I am happy to conduct unofficial documentation.
    Plus, I am not a big fan of ignoring sites in the name of "preservation" when these wrecks won't and can't be preserved - aside from the bits pulled off before the inevitable...you should have seen these wrecks before the 2004 hurricane season....

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    No disrespect Mike, you've been around a long time and have done some fantastic stuff, including documenting wrecks.

    This just sparked my opinion and dreams of preservation for the future and hear others.

    This is not an attack on anyone on your trip either, international waters is international waters and to each his own...

    Sorry to hijack your post Richard, I enjoyed diving with you the other day

    Mike,
    You have a perfect argument and it's the same argument that has gone on for years between the archeologist/preservationist that is tied up in bureaucracy, red tape and funding vs. the well funded greedy human natured person that has the opportunity to have something no one else does. (generalization now, not anyone specific, we are all greedy when you think about it)

    I grew up in the Great Lakes, which is obviously chemically different for preserving artifact left on the bottom than the sea. It is always a treat to go visit the museum during a dive vs a building and bring a picture of the artifact back, not the artifact..."It will be awesome to bring my kid to see this when I have one".
    It is also heart breaking to go down and everything is gone, vanished, due to some greedy f'er who had to have it for themselves. But unlike international waters, the Great Lakes have laws to protect artifacts, but obviously that doesn't work either....back to my greedy human nature comment...

    Now to the "unofficial" documentation of wrecks...
    This is not an attack, I'm interested, I don't see it on your site...
    What are the AUE practices/standards/protocols for "unofficially" documenting a wreck site?
    I see a couple pictures with a short/moderate/detailed description, but I haven't looked at your book, I'm guessing it's the same.
    Do you have unreleased photomosaics, drawings of artifact placements, measurements of the amount of breakdown since your first/last dive on it?
    What exactly did the Hurricane season in 2004 do to the wreck?
    What steps are you taking to "preserve" the wrecks as your website states?

    Now this isn't pertaining to this specific trip or wreck...

    In my perfect world,
    I believe there should be a system, moral or law, that the fortunate people, that can go out and do these dives take the time to catalog the artifacts, map and document it for the educational, federal and state agencies closest to the wrecks, not only because it's the right thing to do for history, you're there anyway.
    Just because an individual is there by private means, doesn't mean it has to be a private free-for-all blasting silt with scooters and disregarding historical significant information.
    Divers should take the MAHS class/test or similar for example and learn how to handle artifacts and document wrecks if that is in the dive plan. Then after it is properly documented and photographed, the artifact may be brought up and go off to the private collection of the individual who found it.
    This artifact information would also be entered into a database, where generations to come can access it.


    just my 10 cents



    Quote Originally Posted by barney  View Original Post
    That's fine. I don't see a lot of "officials" interested or motivated to get out there to do any documentation whatsoever...I am happy to conduct unofficial documentation.
    Plus, I am not a big fan of ignoring sites in the name of "preservation" when these wrecks won't and can't be preserved - aside from the bits pulled off before the inevitable...you should have seen these wrecks before the 2004 hurricane season....

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    For the record, the vast majority of the artifacts brought up from the Araby Maid were located in the sand next to the ship under shells, sand, and mud at a depth of about 2 ~ 3 feet deep.

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Hi Rob-

    As you noted, this debate has been going on for a long time. As with any issue, there is a wide variety of opinions, and there is unlikely to ever be any consensus where everyone is happy. I am not going to get in a long drawn out discussion on this, as I have done it too many times to count and likely won't change your or anyone else's mind.

    I am not going to validate what I do (or don't do) on my own time and on my own dime (important to note as archaeologists generally are paid by either taxpayers, private foundations, or the like; but mostly taxpayers when we are talking about government agencies). But obviously due to space and time limitations, I am only able to publish but a fraction either electronically or otherwise what information I gain from archival and underwater research. I have file cabinets and external hard drives full of stuff, as well as hours and hours of video footage.

    To many of your other questions - if they really are important to you - I would suggest you go and actually dive the wrecks (e.g., to see what the 2004 hurricanes did) instead of trying to learn about them on the internet.

    I am not trying to piss you off, but I have no patience for those that throw out comments like yours and moan about "lost opportunities" when in reality they are likely never going to visit these sites. And the only reason they even have the opportunity at all to know of these wrecks is from the efforts of wreck divers (not archaeologists).

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Great report and pictures guys - Sounds like you guys had an amazing trip!

    Richard, I enjoyed reading your write up and seeing your topside pics. I've done many trips out to Dry Tortugas and love the diving out there, but I have yet to explore the deeper wrecks, it's definitely on my to do list. I'm glad we got a chance to dive together the weekend before your departure!

    Mike, I always look forward to seeing your underwater wide angle shots of the wrecks - Spectacular shots as usual!

    Adrian

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    Re: 2008 Dry Tortugas Technical Expedition (Deep Wrecks)

    Also, as far as documenting, I shot right at 120 minutes of some really cool High Definition video (3CCD cam) of the wrecks we dove. This includes some interesting penetration footage of the U-2513 sub. I gave Mike and Richie full permission yesterday to employ my top side pictures and underwater video for any purposes including commercial with no compensation whatsoever. I'd like nothing more than to see it all put to good use.

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