A group of intrepid divers set off for Pensacola on Friday morning with the intent of diving the aircraft carrier, Oriskany, and some of the other Pensacola area dive sites. As it turned out, the seas were running about 4 feet on saturday and increasing to around 6 feet on sunday. Because of this, the diving was limited to saturday only. Jim Burton took his private boat, a 25 foot Grady White, and the group used the boat as a base of operations for the trip.
We made arrangements to tie the boat up at night to a private dock with power and water so this trip was definitely for the more adventurous among us. Some of the group slept on the boat and others used sleeping bags and slept on the dock. It worked out very well. Clear weather and a gentle breeze across the dock made for fine sleeping conditions with no bugs and nobody had any complaints. This was an exploratory trip so accommodations were "rustic" to say the least. In the future, we'll make arrangements for room accommodations so you won't have to sleep under the stars.
Diving the Oriskany was an unforgettable experience and all agreed that it warrants a return trip. The rough seas made it difficult for the guys to make the 23 mile journey to the ship without tossing their cookies but once in the water, all that was forgotten. Visibility was reduced to about 30 feet, probably due to rough seas for the past few weeks, but once on the wreck, it didn't matter too much. The size of this ship defies the imagination and several dives will be required just to see it all. Even the bridge, which extends up to within 70 feet of the surface, seems like a small mountain and can keep a diver occupied for several dives.
Marine growth is just getting started (the ship has only been down for a couple of years) and fish life is still a bit sparse but it's growing steadily and should be a bustling community in a few more years. Larger pelagics are starting to move in and it won't be long before you may have to share some of the passageways with man-sized groupers.
Unfortunately, building seas prevented return trips on sunday so the group decided to pack up and return to Lake Charles on sunday morning. This is definitely a trip to be repeated so if you're interested, give me a call.
For information on any of our dive trips, please contact the shop. We'd love to have you join us!