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View Full Version : Texas Clipper - Hands on experience?



Defman
06-02-2008, 08:37
Did a search and saw some posts on the subject but nothing from anyone who's actually dove it. I'm considering a trip over Labor Day weekend since it's close, semi-cheap, and I haven't been there.

1. It hasn't been there long enough to get much life growth, but how is it to dive?
2. Any guesses on water conditions that time of year?
3. How disconcerting is penetration due to the fact that it's on its side for diver with light wreck experience?
4. Cheap hotel/motel options for the area? Cheapest stuff on Hotels.com was in Brownsville, anything good locally? Don't need much; comfy bed, warm shower, and working AC.
5. Dining options? Dorado's looks kinda scary to me.

mm_dm
06-02-2008, 08:45
Mitsuguy and I are going to dive it on the 21st. We'll be ble to give you some good info after that.

ReefHound
06-02-2008, 09:02
You won't like it. You're the picky diver that thinks Aquarena sucks, right? Well the viz on the Clipper is going to be half that at best and the boat ride is 2 hours each way. Seriously, I don't mean that as a jab but you stated you were not one of those people that loved diving just for the sake of diving and that you were very picky. I think the Clipper is a great dive but it's not going to meet your standards.

FWIW, there's nothing cheap on SPI but I've found renting condos to be a better deal than hotels although there is usually a 3 night minimum. Padre Island Brewing Company is a nice restaurant with reasonable prices. Try their "sampler" of their 5 custom brews. Here's one review (http://www.epinions.com/content_3314983044).

You'd be surprised how quickly life adopts a new habitat. Penetration is not advised because of being on it's side. That ruined many of the nicely planned swim thrus, makes it harder to orient, and reduces light penetration. That time of year is probably the calmest waters unless there's a tropical system in the gulf. Our April trip got blown out. Our November trip last year (first divers on the Clipper, woo hoo!) went but we were bouncing.

Defman
06-02-2008, 17:32
You won't like it. You're the picky diver that thinks Aquarena sucks, right? Well the viz on the Clipper is going to be half that at best and the boat ride is 2 hours each way. Seriously, I don't mean that as a jab but you stated you were not one of those people that loved diving just for the sake of diving and that you were very picky. I think the Clipper is a great dive but it's not going to meet your standards.

FWIW, there's nothing cheap on SPI but I've found renting condos to be a better deal than hotels although there is usually a 3 night minimum. Padre Island Brewing Company is a nice restaurant with reasonable prices. Try their "sampler" of their 5 custom brews. Here's one review (http://www.epinions.com/content_3314983044).

You'd be surprised how quickly life adopts a new habitat. Penetration is not advised because of being on it's side. That ruined many of the nicely planned swim thrus, makes it harder to orient, and reduces light penetration. That time of year is probably the calmest waters unless there's a tropical system in the gulf. Our April trip got blown out. Our November trip last year (first divers on the Clipper, woo hoo!) went but we were bouncing.


Thanks for the info, Reefhound. I don't mind a 2 hour boat ride, but I'm not sure how I feel about spending $800 for a weekend trip to swim around the outside of a boat.

Not being overly wreck experienced *AND* the fact that some of the planned exits are going to blocked due to being on its side, I can see why amateurs should probably stay out.. Maybe if/when they upright it...

I should probably save the $$ anyways!

ndv21
06-02-2008, 18:28
Hey Defman. I dove the clipper on 4/13/08.

Water conditions were not optimal for that time when I went. We had 4-7 ft. seas and everyone on our boat pucked at least once. Once we were there, water cleared up a little. When you descen, you will start seeing the ship at about 60 ft. and you will be on it at 70. Since it is on its side, i recommend using less that 30% nitrox to be able to go deeper. The deepest I went was about 95 ft. and I was barely reaching the open doorway to the bridge. I did not want to risk going deeper with 32%. As far as growth, it already had about a quarter inch of coral growth on it so you can expect a lot more. There was also a good amount of fish swimming all over.

The nicest part of the dive is actually the middle to the back of the boat where you can swim through a few "crane" things. Be careful when you start getting closer to the screw since we had stronger current while being there.

I recommend the dive but i must admit i was a little dissapointed to see it on its side. Forget about trying to see the A&M logo, its gone. Definately think about your nitrox % or maybe even consider using plain air on your first dive. Also, currents are strong at your safety stop, so strong, I wish I had invested on a Jon Line. Would I do it again....sure....I never pass up a dive. But I do discourage penetration.

Just my 2 cents.

ReefHound
06-02-2008, 21:33
Even if you were an experienced wreck diver you would want to make one or two exterior dives to get familiar with the ship and to plan your penetration. Depth is also an issue as mentioned. The nice swim thrus that were going to be at 70 feet on a horizontal level are now at 80 to 100 feet on a vertical plane.

mitsuguy
06-08-2008, 21:14
as mm_dm stated, we'll be there two weekends from now, I'll try and snap some pictures...

labor day weekend prices on the island can vary greatly... there are a lot of smaller motels that tend to have pretty cheap rates, but labor day weekend is also a busier weekend there, so, the prices will be jacked up a little bit... Brownsville is only 30 minutes away, Harlingen 45 minutes...

the Clipper is the 4th largest man made ship sunk as a reef in the US area... 473 feet long, it's a swim from one end to the other...

Although I want to talk to our boat crew when we get there, I'm tentatively planning our first dive to start around 100-105' and gradually come up to about 80-90'... I'll be diving a HP120 with EAN32, my wife in a HP80, same mix... Second dive, we'll go back and look at anything we might have missed at those levels, and on the way back, I want to swim along the side of the ship and take a peek inside the holes they cut into it.... that dive will us both in HP80's, still EAN32, and if I run low on gas on the swim back, I'll have my 40cf pony...

texdiveguy
06-08-2008, 21:38
My April trip down fell through.....BUT still plan on getting to the site this year.

Yea its to bad it was reefed at it's far south Texas location.....good for a few dive ops in that location, but leaves many a Tx. diver with the current high cost of gas/hotels/and the going high charter cost out of the picture to dive the site.
:(

The Labor Day holiday is not a time I would pick to visit SPI. But it is a good time in terms of conditions in general for that area to go diving.

Look forward to continued trip reports of those of you that are going in the near future to read your experiences. :)

mitsuguy
06-15-2008, 08:15
less than a week away, I'm stoked!

I can't wait...

did I mention I'm in the middle of working 10 days straight just so I can go????

mitsuguy
06-15-2008, 08:16
oh, and I think there might be a spot or two left if anyone else wants to go, PM me for info...

RECDiver
06-21-2008, 22:04
I took some Technical dive courses from American Diving last week. We dove the wreck three days. The boat ride is a little over an hour due to seas of 3-5 feet. Visability was 10-40 feet depending on the day.
Of course this week, now that I have left SPI, visability was 80-100 feet and the seas 1-3 feet if that.
You can check the Captain's Log at this location:
> Captain's Log (http://www.divesouthpadre.com/captainslog.html).
Have a great trip. It's alot of fun.