Ancient Mariner – July 29, 2017

Water Temp: 81° F
Max Depth: 77 ft.
Start Time: 2:38 pm
Dive Duration: 51 min.
Weather: Mostly cloudy
Wind: WSW @ 11 mph

Air Temp: 88° F
Current: N @ .25 kt
Visibility: horiz. 50 ft., vert. 60 ft.
Seas: <1 ft.
Boat: Diversity
Lat/Long: 26°18.118/80°03.720

   The former Coast Guard Cutter Nemesis served as a sub chaser during WW II. She was launched in 1934 from Point Pleasant, Virginia. The 337 ton, rivet steel ship was permanently stationed in St. Petersburg, where she served and protected Florida. Although not the fastest ship in the fleet, she was perfectly designed for search and rescue missions in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. From 1934 to 1942, she saved hundreds of lives as well as millions of dollars worth of property. During World War II, the Nemesis was used for an entirely different purpose. The cutter was used for hunting down Nazi subs, and proved very good at it. After the war, she was again stationed in St. Petersburg, until her decommissioning in 1964. In 1979, a local business bought the vessel and converted into a floating restaurant and bar. The owner ran into financial problems and sold the vessel. The new owner renamed the ship/restaurant as the Ancient Mariner and was scheduled to reopen in 1981. This is when the story turns bizarre. Just before the reopening in 1981, she capsized and sank at the dock, for no apparent reason. It took more than $85,000 to re-float and renovate the water damaged restaurant. Once again open, the Ancient Mariner became popular eatery in the Fort Lauderdale area. In 1986, however, an event still remembered by locals sealed the ship's fate. More than 100 customers and restaurant employees contracted hepatitis A from an infected salad maker employed at the restaurant. This was the largest outbreak of hepatitis A in Florida history. The running joke among divers is to not eat any fish caught on the wreck just in case some of the virus is still around. She was sunk as an artificial reef in June 9, 1991 and rests in 70 feet of water.
   The goal of this dive was to note changes in the structure, video benthics, and obtain fish counts. The ship lists to the port side.
   The map team started at midship where the dive master had tied the down line. We began to head to the stern, but the GPS flag became entangled in the float so I was not able to use it and just tied it off onto the down line. After tying off the flag, we headed towards the bow.
   Midship - 71' at sand, sand slops up away from the ship to 67', and 61' minimum relief Bow - 76' at sand, sand slopes up to 70' = 6' of scour, minimum relief 58' Starboard bow - sand slopes from 71' to 73' to 76' at base of ship. Minimum relief 60' Deck slants from 58' to 62' Mid Starboard - 76' at sand, minimum relief 58' Stern - 72' sand scour down to 74', minimum relief 65' on starboard side, 68' on port side with 73' at sand.
   Several Blue Dartfish were found over the sand near the ship. Other fish noted: Sailfin Blenny, Creole Wrasse chasing each other, Atlantic Spadefish, Snappers, Groupers, Yellowhead Jawfish, and a Sand Diver.
   The ship is covered in growth - sponges, fire coral, orange cup coral, and various hard corals.


United Caribbean – July 29, 2017

Water Temp: 80° F
Max Depth: 77 ft.
Start Time: 4:44 pm
Dive Duration: 43 min.
Weather: Mostly cloudy
Wind: WSW @ 11 mph

Air Temp: 91° F
Current: N @ .25 kts
Visibility: horiz. 50 ft.; vert. 60 ft.
Seas: <1 ft.
Boat: Diversity
Lat/Long: 26°19.268/80°03.539

    The goal for this dive was to map the site, note the condition of the site, obtain fish counts and video benthics.
   United Caribbean is a 147' steel cargo ship built in 1969 and named the Golden Venture. It was registered Panamanian to operate only in waters around Singapore. But by the early 1990's, it was being used by smugglers to illegally ferry people and drugs. On June 6, 1993 the Golden Venture ran aground on Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York. The ship was smuggling 286 illegal immigrants from China. In their attempts to flee the stranded ship and get to shore in the United States, ten people drowned. The ship was later sold and renamed the United Caribbean and was used as a cargo vessel in the Caribbean. The ship eventually became part of the Palm Beach Artificial Reef Program and was sunk on August 22, 2000.
   The wreck remains with a broken hull in the center of the ship. The hull plates and ribs in the central portion of the wreck are flattened and scattered on the substrate. The bow section is sitting upright. The stern has rolled onto its port side and the stern points to the west- southwest.
   The mappers did not take flag since on the previous dive the GPS flag got tangled in the down line.
   Bow - 77' to sand with a slope up to 74' Broken area of Bow 74' at sand, 65' to midsection, 57' at top Highest point of the bow section was at 52' Stern - sand 76' sloping up to 73'
   Some of the fish noted on this dive: Blue Dartfish, Sunshinefish, Creole Wrasse chasing each other, Yellowtail Snappers, Midnight Parrotfish, several large Great Barracudas, Pompano Jack, Gray Snapper, Honeycomb Cowfish and a very friendly Goliath Grouper.
   Our invert specialist was excited to spot a Black Coral Bush attached to the underside of a piece of ledge out on a rubble area, hanging upside down with big fluffy fronds that looked just like ostrich feathers.
   This wreck is covered in growth as expected for a structure that has been down for almost 17 years. Some of the benthics seen were: orange cup coral, various sponges and corals, and white condo tunicates to name just a few.


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