In our time as divers, we all have that one dive site that will always hold a place in our hearts. To me it’s the U-85. After working as a Divemaster on a charter boat and over 100 dives on this wreck, I have yet to, nor think that I will ever tire of diving this site. The U-85 is a type VII-B German U-Boat that saw action during its four sea tours during World War II. It was sank in April of 1944 by a 3 inch shell to the hull by the USS Roper. This wreck sits in its final resting place roughly 12 miles off of the coast of Nags Head, NC in about 95 feet of water.
Half of the fun of any dive site is getting there, and the U-85 is no different. Driving into the sleepy fishing town of Wanchese, NC I am greeted by large pickup trucks, the smell of strong coffee and damp salty air. I pull into the marina and park my truck just as the sun peeks above the horizon, quickly loading my equipment on the six pack dive boat and greeting the Captain. Here’s where the second best part of my day comes, grabbing a tall, black coffee and warm sweet potato biscuit from the breakfast counter at the end of the marina. I mean, we are in the south after all!
Everyone’s on board and the manifest is checked, so we fire up the twin Detroit Diesel motors, untie and head out of the slip. On the ride out, we are treated to a show only mother nature can pull off. Dolphins at play, Osprey flying overhead, and the awe filled colors of a rising sun over the Oregon Inlet. Under the Bonner Bridge, over the sandbar, and out into the open ocean we go. On the smooth ride out, a couple of divers check over their gear, a couple nap, and the rest are sharing stories of dives past. Roughly 90 minutes after pulling out of our slip in the marina, we are over the dive site. The Captain and Mate make quick work of throwing the hook and tying into the wreck. At 8:30 on the nose, the Captain officially “opens the pool”.
I gear up, check my buddy and execute a perfect(at least to me) back roll off of the boat into the 72 degree water. Once in the water, my buddy and I exchange our “ok” hand signals, grab the anchor line and begin our descent to the wreck that lay 95 feet below us. We hit a depth of 50 feet according to my dive computer and the hulking, ominous outline of the U-Boat comes into view. I take note of the conning tower and the deck gun on the deck of the wreck that is eerily pointing up at a 60 degree angle, as if it was still standing watch and ready to fire shots if threatened.
We make it down to the wreck and pause to verify our dive time and gas supply. The U-Boat sits intact with a thirty degree list to starboard. On this dive we were treated to fifty feet of visibility and a bottom temperature of 68 degrees. We cruised across the deck of the site and were greeted on this day by a few Barracuda, Amberjack, and Spadefish. Kicking forward towards the bow, we check out the torpedo tubes and the resident Conger Eel that call them home. I signal my buddy that I’ve hit my turn pressure so we change direction and begin our leisurely swim back to the anchor line and begin our ascent. Back on the boat, I swap my tank, crack open a Diet Coke and relax while I await my hour long surface interval before I can explore this awe inspiring wreck for the second time.
The Ride Home
After a great second dive, it’s time to pull up anchor and head back to the marina. During the 90 minute trek we all relax and enjoy the warm sun and cool breeze of a typical late morning during the summer in coastal North Carolina. Back at the marina, we unload and rinse our equipment, swap stories of the dive day and discuss our plans for the rest of the day. I then jumped into my truck, wave goodbye to the Captain, Mate, and the rest of my newfound friends and head off to meet my Wife for lunch. While driving up the coast, I’m already thinking about my next dive trip off of the Atlantic Coast.
We all have our favorite dive experiences and the staff here at Dive Right In Scuba is no different. Spend a day around our shop and you’ll hear a plethora of dive stories and sites that are near and dear to our hearts. So, what’s your favorite dive experience? Tell us about it!