In our time as divers, we all have that one dive site that will always hold a place in our hearts. To the expert diving instructors here at DRIS, it’s a US shipwreck dive site: The U-85. This awesome shipwreck dive site is a must-see for divers looking for a unique dive trip.
One of our diving experts used to work as a Divemaster on a charter boat and has made over 100 dives to this shipwreck. They have yet to tire of diving this shipwreck site and still tell stories about it to this day. 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 sunk 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.
How to Get to The U-85 Shipwreck Dive Site
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 you are greeted by large pickup trucks, the smell of strong coffee, and damp salty air. As you pull into the marina and park your vehicle the sun peeks above the horizon. You’ll need to quickly load your equipment on the six-pack dive boat and greet the Captain. Here’s where the second best part of your day comes, grabbing a tall, black coffee and warm sweet potato biscuit from the breakfast counter at the end of the marina. I mean, you are in the South after all!
Everyone’s on board the dive charter boat and the manifest is checked, so the dive charter team fires up the twin Detroit Diesel motors, untie, and heads out of the slip. On the ride out, you 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 you 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, you are over the shipwreck dive site. The Captain and Mate make quick work of throwing the hook and tying it into the wreck. At 8:30 on the nose, the Captain officially “opens the pool”.
The Dive: Exploring Underwater Ship Wrecks
Now you gear up, check your buddy and execute a perfect(at least to you) back roll off of the boat into the 72 degree water. Once in the water, your buddy and you exchange “ok” hand signals, grab the anchor line and begin your descent to the underwater wreck that lay 95 feet below you both. Once you hit a depth of 50 feet according to your dive computer and the hulking, ominous outline of the U-Boat comes into view.
You can’t help but 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.
As you make it down to the wreck you pause to verify your dive time and gas supply. The U-Boat sits intact with a thirty degree list to starboard. On this dive you are treated to fifty feet of visibility and a bottom temperature of 68 degrees. As you cruise across the deck of the site you are greeted by the new crew of the U-85 wreck. A few Barracuda, Amberjack, and Spadefish watch as you intrude into their space.
Kicking forward towards the bow, you check out the torpedo tubes and the resident Conger Eel that now calls them home. You signal to your buddy that you’ve hit turn pressure so you change direction and begin your leisurely swim back to the anchor line and begin the ascent. Back on the boat, You swap your dive tank, crack open a Diet Coke and relax while you await an hour-long surface interval before you can explore this awe inspiring wreck for the second time.
Returning From U-85 and Planning Your Next Shipwreck Dive
After a great second dive, it’s time to pull up anchor and head back to the marina. During the 90 minute trek everyone relaxes and enjoys the warm sun and cool breeze of a typical late morning during the summer in coastal North Carolina. Back at the marina, you unload and rinse your dive gear, swap stories of the dive day and discuss your plans for the rest of the day.
You then jump back into your truck, wave goodbye to the Captain, Mate, and the rest of your newfound friends and head off. While driving up the coast, you’re already thinking about your next dive exploring shipwrecks.
We all have our favorite dive experiences and the staff here at Dive Right In Scuba is no different. Spend a day around our local dive shop and you’ll hear a plethora of dive stories and shipwreck dive sites that are near and dear to our hearts. If you feel the itch to start exploring unique dive trips, be sure to get a scuba certification with our experts and then sign up for our next dive trip!
So, what’s your favorite dive experience? Tell us about it!