Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

Our Long Island Scuba diving adventures and events

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wrecks and Rockpiles

Long Island’s scuba fantasy play land

When most North Eastern scuba divers think of wrecks, a large hulking mass lying quietly in the 80'+ waters usually comes to mind. With today’s equipment and advances in scuba training, those wrecks are reachable to a wide range of divers. However, the accessibility of these dives has made inshore wreck and rock diving all but obsolete. In fact, it isn’t.
I began diving at the age of 8, using my trusty mask and snorkel to explore the back channels of Mt. Sinai harbor as my father collected oysters and clams. My brother and I would spend hours working our way through the tidal channels chasing minnows, tiny flounder and pipe fish. The biggest thing we would see was the occasional turtle or school of snapper. I truly longed for the big water. And by big water I meant the jetty at the entrance of the harbor. What secrets did it hold? What would it feel like to dive along those massive boulders? Surely there must be monsters hiding among them.
I never lost the fascination with Long Island’s tidal zones and you will find me diving the North shore's rocky points like Cranes Neck and Old field point as well as shinnecock and Moriches inlet on the South shore. There is something marvelous that happens when land, sea and structure all come together with changing tides. Besides the massive currents that can develop, marine life seems to gravitate in frenzy to these locations. Often the depths are no greater than 30' but in that 30’ a scuba diver can experience diversity like nowhere else in the north east. Stripers, Lobsters, Eels, Black fish, fluke, flounder, and bluefish all piled up in one dive. And don’t forget the opportunity to find some Indian artifacts or memoirs from Long Island’s early shipping era. These dive spots have produced for native Americans, fishermen and sea fairers for many hundreds of years and you can bet some of their legacy lies waiting to be found in the shallow waters.. I have found several temporary stone tools in Porpoise channel as I sailed along the bottom in a steady current. The current actually helps uncover artifacts as the fast water blows sand away and keeps the stones at the bottom polished. Things that are different stand out quickly and catch the eye.
In addition to rock piles and jetties, Long Island is host to several shallow water wrecks accessible to all levels of divers. Smithtown Bay is host to a network of sunken barges in 35’ of water. Some are wood and some are steel and they all hold their share of lobsters and blackfish. On occasion a diver can also find an unreported wreck of a recreational boat off of Cranes Neck. Port Jeff Harbor has a grand history of ship building and there are several scattered wrecks right inside the harbor. All along Long Island’s inshore waters you can find wrecks. Some are listed and some are not.
There are several ways to find wrecks and rock piles. First pick up a marine map and GPS numbers from one of several online sources. The DEC also has GPS numbers on some areas. You can also ask fisherman where structure is. They will usually tell you where the locations are provided you tell them what is really down there once you dive. It also helps to come back with several pounds of lead sinkers and fishing lures. You’ll make a friend for life. However, one of the best kept secrets for shoreline dive locations is the sources of free arial photographs on the net. Take a look and you will see how the glacial drop stones are distributesd in the water along the shoreline. I have used some of these photos to find a few spots people would never think of .

One thing to remember is watch the tides. You probably will have to dive most inshore locations at slack high tide or slack low tide. Currents on a changing tide at the mouth of a harbor can move as fast as several knots so be sure you are prepared if you get caught in it. If you do get caught in the current stay relaxed and go with it. It will eventually take you somewhere. If you stay relaxed the worst thing you are going to face is a long walk. If that happens, stash your gear and go get the car. Just dive smarter the next time. Don’t ever fight the current. It will rob you of your air and it will always win. Use current to your advantage. For example, if there is a dive spot that requires a good swim to get to you can time the current so you can catch a ride on the last bit of an outgoing or incoming tide then when the tide changes again just ride it in. I have had dives at the famed Ponoquogue bridge that last 1 ½ hours using this method and I guarantee I get to see more of the area then most divers. Be careful and take baby steps. You’ll get the hang of it.
There are also several charters that are running inshore wrecks and jetties. Unique charters out of Mt. Sinai offers access to many of the natural and manmade structure in the Stony Brook and Port Jefferson area. Next time you are looking for a nice dive with plenty of action you might want to stay closer to home and drop in on some of Long Island’s inshore adventures.

4 Comments:

  • At 12:46 PM, Blogger Tom Andersen said…

    Interesting post. Eyewitness accounts of what's going on under the surface are almost always fascinating. I'm going to link to it from my Long Island Sound blog

     
  • At 12:15 AM, Blogger Quit Smoking said…

    Hello fellow fisherman,

    Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

    Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

    Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

    Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

    I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

    You will be one of the first to try it out.

    Gone Fishin',

    Neil

     
  • At 3:04 PM, Blogger Long Island Guide said…

    Hi,

    I just browsing through some blogs to get some ideas for mine, I hope you don't mind. I would like your opinion because you have a great blog here!

    I wish to start writing about long island railroad train schedule What do you think?

    Come and check out my site let me know if you think my topic would spark an interest.

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  • At 9:30 AM, Blogger Ryan said…

    Have you dived off of the old Chandler Estate?

     

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