Paul Gacek's World

North Carolina Wreck Diving

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A freighter built in 1934, the Manuela was enroute to New York from Puerto Rico in a convoy when she crossed paths with the U-404 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Otto von Bulow on June 24, 1942. A torpedo struck the ship between the engine and boiler rooms putting the engines out of commission. Although mortally wounded, the Manuela refused to sink for another twenty-four hours finally giving up the ghost while under tow to shallower waters. Today she lies scattered across the bottom in 155 feet of sea water.
In 1987 I made my first dives on the Manuela without even knowing it! At that time it was generally thought to be the wreck of the Malchace. Gary Gentile found what appeared to be the ship's bell and we agreed to go back the following day to try and recover it. Fortunately the weather cooperated and we were successful in retrieving the bell. As the coral encrustation was chipped off the name of the ship started to appear - "M A N" - wait - this wasn't the Malchace - "U E L A". That's how we finally learned that we had been diving on the Manuela!
The stern section of the Manuela lies hard on its starboard side and a blade of the propellor is visible sticking out of the sand. The entire wreck is covered with a pinkish-reddish calcareous encrustation which lends a fantasy land aura to the wreck.
A large piece of the mid section hull comprising the cargo holds is intact and rises about thirty feet off the bottom. This section provides a navigational aid between the stern section aft and the bow section forward. The superstructure lies scattered across the sand.
A solitary condenser lies alongside the midsection of the hull. The wheelhouse sits upside down next to the condenser. Unfortunately the upper level of the wheelhouse where the interesting artifacts would be located is completely buried under sand.
A forty foot section of the Manuela bow lies intact on its starboard side. The deck winches and anchor chain are still attached. It was here that the bell was found by Gary Gentile in 1987. The warm blue waters of the Gulf Stream make this one of North Carolina's finest wrecks.

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Last modified on Thursday, August 14, 1997 20:35:58