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Got the Bug Solved!!!
Aug 10th, 2009 by PhilipQ

 

It was a real simple problem, but it occured in a very odd way.  Anyways the problem is solved, the Galleries are now displaying the way I want them to.  I think it looks very clean and allows for easy scanning throught the images.  There is also the slide show option as, the PicLens link, which allows even greater control.  Enjoy

The next stage is get the comment section back on line, which just requires the addition of another plugin that sort out spammer comments.  We rounding third base people and heading for home!

 

PhilipQ

WE ARE CURRENTLY DEBUGGING A PROBLEM
Aug 6th, 2009 by PhilipQ

 

There is a minor glitch in code for one of the plugins and I think I have the attention of the Plug-in Author right now so I flipped a couple of switches to so he can see the problem better.  I promise to revert back to so the Galleries display properly by morning (hopefully).  If I am lucky I will have a fix for the bug in short order.

Thank you of your understanding,

PhilipQ

ScubaQ News - Restoration Completed
Aug 3rd, 2009 by PhilipQ

 

Well it has been a long haul, longer than I initially thought it would take, but on Saturday I finally restored the last of Tom’s Dive pages.

Tom has 133 current dive site pages that incorporate 3564 images,… which is a very impressive total.  Of these 133 dive sites/galleries, 107 are of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes Water System.  Now this is only just a small sampling of the shipwrecks that are known/found in the Great Lakes,… yet it is a still a very impressive tally.

Now we move on to the next stage,… the final design of the site.  Basically I am hoping to restore the site wrapper pages,… thankfully with CSS and design of Wordpress, I should be able create these wrappers and add in some much need functionality, detailed site searches,… So I am hoping to have final design finished by the end of August.

 

PhilipQ

North Carolina
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwrecks
Build  Steel
Location

 Moorehead City, North Carolina, USA

Depth  60-120 feet
Length  Various
Built  Various
Sank  Various
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Beginner to Advance
Orientation

 Various

To say that diving in North Carolina offers a unique experience is an understatement akin to saying the Grand Canyon is larger than a bread box. In a relatively limited area it has some of the best of what diving is all about.

Most of the wrecks date from World War II, sunk in numerous ways, mostly from German U-boats (submarines). In one of those ironic twists where the hunter becomes the hunted, a U-boat is one of the most popular wrecks that brings divers from around the world. To be honest, the idea of diving a sub, at least in this instance, is better than actually diving it. From what I have seen, many people who dive it leave somewhat disappointed, myself included. The reasons for that are simple: the exterior of a sub is minimalist by design, everything is on the inside, and this wreck does not readily invite penetration since it is tight and silty (bad combination) with numerous entanglement hazards. Much of the outer hull has rusted away and it does not much resemble a submarine anymore.

Having said that, the sub was the ONLY disappointment about all of North Carolina diving, everything else exceeded expectations by an order of magnitude. Due to its location the gulf stream flows just off shore, meaning although dives are done miles out into the ocean, water temperatures are in the 70 degree area for most of the summer. Ditch the drysuit and get out the 3mm wetsuit - you can be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Bahamas, it’s that warm. That warm water makes for easy diving and prolific marine life. I was not prepared for the colorful critters and the absolute abundance of life. When our captain briefed us in a truly enjoyable southern drawl saying, "When you get down you may not be able to see the wreck, it’s usually covered in fish but you can drop just below them and you’ll see the wreck just fine," I was entirely certain he was kidding. He wasn’t.

As if wrecks of every shape and size, along with myriad fish species were not enough there is another major item which draws divers to this spectacular region: sand tiger sharks. The Australian name for this species seems much more appropriate - ragged tooth shark, because they have more teeth than can fit in their mouths, making them look entirely sinister and dangerous. It was difficult to tell how many sharks were on the few wrecks they elect to congregate around due to the way they swim in and out of your range of visibility, but a conservative estimate would say 30-50 on a wreck like the Schurz, ensuring you’re not about to fall asleep on that dive. Check out http://www.nc-wreckdiving.com/shipwrecks.html for a list of North Carolina wrecks.
 

 

Florida Wrecks
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Wrecks, reefs, caves, you name it
Build  Mostly by union members
Location

 Florida, USA

Depth  20 to a lot of feet
Length  Variable
Built  Variable
Sank  Variable
Access  Boat, Shore and Parachute
Experience Level  Guppy to Dive Guru
Orientation

 Every which way you can imagine

Here is a list of all the things Florida has to offer. No wait, that would take too long. It might take vastly less space to mention what Florida doesn’t have: volcanoes, mountains, and senior citizens that can drive well. That’s about it. Particularly for divers, Florida seems to have just about everything: caves, wrecks, reefs, and all in abundance.

Even if you’ve never cave dived, and aren’t cave certified, you can still get into a "cave" in Ginnie Springs which is one of the most famous cave diving locations in the world. If you do happen to be cave trained then you likely already know all about northern Florida, no matter where on the globe you call home.

Off the coast there are plenty of wrecks to dive, and more by the day. An active artificial reef program seems to drop a wreck frequently, giving divers more places to play and fish more places to call home, which attracts even more divers. Having had only a precious few days to dive the area I’ve only seen three wrecks (Duane, Bibb and Eagle) but by the accounts of those who have done vastly more diving there than I ever will, they are among the best the state has to offer.
 

 

Bay Islands (Roatan, Utila, Guanaha, in Honduras)
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Tropical Reef Summary

Type  Tropical Reef /w a Few Shipwrecks
Build  Mother Nature
Location

 Bay Islands, Honduras, Caribbean Sea

Depth   feet
Difficukty  
Formations  
Marine Life
 
Current  
Access  Boat witj some Shore Diving
Experience Level  Guppy to Advanced

What do you get when you take a working boat from the Great Lakes, refit it, and turn it into a liveaboard vessel in the tropics? You get the cheapest date in the Aggressor fleet.

Roatan, the area where most of the diving was done, is touted as the "macro capital of the world". Not sure who started calling it that, but they likely weren’t too far off. Colourful little critters are plentiful so photographers and eagle-eyed fish lovers rave about the place. Aside from the fish there are two shipwrecks which were intentionally sunk not long ago, so they don’t have much life on them, yet.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip were the dives spent in a cavern that had shafts of light pouring in from holes in the "ceiling".

The boat itself was more than large enough (120′ long with 10 passenger cabins), quite spacious overall, had good food and plenty of room in the dive areas which helped make things very comfortable and easy to like.
 

 

Turks and Caicos
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Tropical Reef Summary

Type  Tropical Reef /w One Wreck
Build  Mother Nature
Location

 Turks and Caicos

Depth  20 to 100 feet
Difficukty  Variable
Formations  
Marine Life
 
Current  
Access  Shore and Boat
Experience Level  Beginner to Advanced

Ever look back at old family albums and laugh your posterior off at how bad the shots were, how old the hairstyles look, and utter repeatedly "What the hell was I thinkin?" Welcome to mine. These shots date back to 1998; my first underwater camera, my first trip to "the tropics", and my first escape from a rather brutal Canadian winter.

The resort was called South Caicos Ocean Haven, a decidedly small resort that likely wasn’t any bigger when it went by the name Club Caribe: 22 rooms, nearly as many air conditioners, no TV’s and no phones. Favourable adjectives that come to mind are: basic, rustic, simple, tasteful, off-the-beaten-path, diver-centric, unencumbered, comfortable, clean, and… did I mention basic? The less flattering ones would be: spartan,  lacking, undeveloped, and provisionless (if that’s a word). When I was there the new owner had taken over the place less than a year before and was still in the rebuilding phase - I’m sure it’s better now, if it’s still in business (it appears their website is no longer functioning).

The selection of dive sites available at the time was somewhat limited since they had not yet fully explored the area’s potential, but the sites we visited were excellent. Fish are plentiful since it is in a national park area which prohibits commercial fishing. Sharks, eagle rays, stingrays, crabs, trumpet fish, barracuda and  eels were common sightings at each of the sites which were a maximum of 15 minutes from the resort.

As a wreck aficionado the highlight was likely the plane, reportedly a DC-10 but seeming much smaller than that, complete with requisite swash buckling tale of it being a drug runner. The Arches was another favourite - a small coral arch that seemed to attract a rather abundant amount of marine life. Due to the out-of-the-way nature of the locale, it being the only resort on the island, and diving being just about the only thing to do on South Caicos, this is a destination clearly intended for divers only. The island is small, the population is small, the number of divers it sees is small, and the number of activities is small, but that all adds up to one valuable asset: the place has not been "dived out". The diver impact I could see was nil, the fish weren’t harassed regularly so weren’t as afraid of you as is common at more frequented destination, and having such short boat rides (particularly given the way flat hulled little Carolina skiffs like these abhor waves of ANY size) is a true blessing.
 

 

Peacock
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Cave/Cenote Summary

Type  Fresh Water
Location

 Florida, USA

Depth   feet
Cost  
Operational Hours
 
Experience Level  

Having been cave trained in Mexico where, let’s face it, there’s a great deal more detail to see in the underwater caves, I was greatly concerned about what there would be to see in their Floridian counterparts. There would be no amazing formations hanging from the ceiling, no corresponding spires from the floor either.

Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Peacock. The walls were not as smooth as Ginnie or Little River, and there were actually a couple of really interesting formations: one a horizontal hole and the other a near-vertical column. Ok, so there are likely many more interesting things than those in this very system but hey I was new, and didn’t make it all that far.

 

Orange Grove
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Cave/Cenote Summary

Type  Fresh Water
Location

 Florida, USA

Depth   feet
Cost  
Operational Hours
 
Experience Level  

So this is duckweed. Doesn’t look much like a duck. It’s the green stuff contaminating the surface of the second last photo. It’s actually millions and millions of little green circles, micro lily pads of a sort. They infest the surface of some cave systems, and here they’re quite good at it. I’ve heard they were artificially introduced years ago to clear up the visibility which sounds rather like adding more dynamite in the hopes of getting a smaller explosion.

I was a Florida cave virgin before this site, so in essence, she was my first. While she wasn’t exactly the Marilyn Monroe of caves, it was still a nice introduction despite having been rather heavily used as a training cave so it was more like a Janeane Garofalo. Finger and fin prints in the sand were frequent, and you could see bright spots on the walls and ceiling where divers had bumped their tanks.

It didn’t take long to see how seriously they take cave safety - ran into the stop sign in the first shot virtually right away. My guess is that’s a good precedent to set, yet likely remains something most people don’t stop to actually read.

 

Madison Blue
Aug 1st, 2009 by Tom

Cave/Cenote Summary

Type  Fresh Water
Location

 Florida, USA

Depth   feet
Cost  
Operational Hours
 
Experience Level  

Florida caves can be deceiving. The "lake" you enter through can be quite sizeable, suggesting wide open spaces while lying to you through it’s aquatic smile. Madison Blue is one of those places. Descending the stairs to a sizeable pool of water you’re prepared for a nice easy entrance, not the kind of squeeze necessary to get just about anywhere. Short but wide, would be a good description, similar in stature to my own, which compresses poorly into such restrictions but this is cave diving and squeeze you must.

The passages of the cave system were considerably wider than the entrance (thank goodness for that) but still narrow overall, and the fine sand and silt made it necessary to keep close tabs on any gear that hung a little lower than it should. Not the kinda place you’d call particularly camera friendly when your camera is 7′ wide, but the frequent air pockets that clung to the ceiling were too attractive not to shoot.

 

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