Deep and dark, the Mud Hole is the Hudson River's channel from a time when the oceans were much lower. Today it collects all the silt and sediment that the river carries out to the sea, making it a very fertile fishing ground, frequented by pelagic fishes and large sharks.
With depths ranging from 130 to 200 ft and difficult diving conditions, most Mud Hole wrecks are beyond the capability of a typical recreational diver without specialized equipment and experience. Where river water mixes with seawater, suspended particles form a constant snow of sediment in a process known as flocculation. This results in very dark and turbid conditions, often with visibility measured in inches and total darkness at the bottom. In addition to this, most Mud Hole wrecks are heavily fished, and are covered with dangerous tangles of monofilament and fishing nets.
The Mud Hole deepens into the Glory Hole, which deepens further into the Hudson Canyon, which follows the path of a seismic fault, and eventually runs off the edge of the continental shelf down into the abyss at over a mile depth. Along the northeast edge of the Mud Hole is a relatively shallower plateau known as the Monster Ledge, on which lies the most well known and accessible Mud Hole wreck, the Arundo.
Interestingly, all of the wartime Mud Hole wrecks with the exception of the Arundo are victims of collision rather than enemy action, which attests to the enormous amount of shipping in the region at that time.
|Not marked on the chart: Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bompensiero, former Soprano family capo and FBI snitch, 2000. Sleeps with the fishes.|
The Arundo as she appeared just prior to sinking.
Note the locomotives on deck, foreword of the aft mast.
In a daring shallow water attack, a single torpedo from the U-136 tore open the starboard side of the Arundo just below the bridge and blew off the hold covers. The stricken ship heeled over to starboard and sank in only five minutes. Survivors of the attack were soon picked up by nearby vessels, but her cargo of war materiel outward bound for the campaign in North Africa never made it. That cargo included jeeps, big 10-wheeled army trucks, 2 locomotives, and 5000 cases of Canadian beer. After the war the Arundo was wire dragged and otherwise demolished, and her exact location was lost. There are several other wrecks in close proximity which have all gone under the name Arundo until the true Arundo was finally re-identified.
What remains of the real Arundo is more a vast debris field than a ship, although some parts are still tall and almost recognizable. The highest parts near the bow are at about 110 ft, but the bulk of the wreck is at 120-130 ft, and the stern goes down to 140 ft at the sand. This is not a dive for the faint-hearted. You can expect a long boat ride to cold, silty, dark conditions in the Mud Hole, and the depth of this site is going to require a considerably higher level of experience and equipment than most others, and should only be attempted by those who are realistically prepared. The Arundo is also heavily fished, and offers myriad ways for the unwary diver to get entangled in the usually poor visibility. This is a two-knife double-tank decompression dive.
If you are willing and able, what you will find is amazing. By way of comparison, imagine the Mohawk, but twice as big and twice as deep. Or better yet, imagine the Algol with a full cargo, exploded all over the place. I was told the bow juts up with two huge anchors still attached and is very impressive, so I got directions and set out to find it on the second dive. Well, I must have taken a wrong turn*, because I went out to the end of a 300 ft wreck reel, and I never saw a bow, or an anchor, or an end to this enormous wreck.
Everywhere there are large truck tires, some still mounted in eight wheel sets to double-axle truck differentials, others crated together or just lying around. Much other debris is scattered all over, and in many places the walls of the hull still stand high out of the sand. One of the locomotives lies off the wreck in the sand; the other resembles a overly long, narrow boiler. Most of the parts having rusted away. At right is a drive wheel.
There is a seemingly never-ending supply of unbroken but rather ordinary one quart clear glass beer bottles for collectors of such things. These bottles are filled with the foulest looking black muck. In fact, every part of this wreck seems to be covered in filth and sediment ( as if there is such a thing as a clean wreck ! ) and the overall conditions are rather dark and dreary, even on a good day.
A large truck wheel. The rubber tire is still intact and
the tread is visible around the edges.
The Arundo is a veritable car-parts store. Here are tires and radiators.
I think this is an upside-down truck engine. The oil pan has
rusted away, exposing the heavily corroded crankshaft.
Something good to avoid - probably a fishing boat's lost anchor line.
Such entanglements abound on this and all Mud Hole wrecks.
The bell of the Arundo
The Arundo is not really known as a lobster wreck, although it produces a few. There are also mussels, but they are very dirty. Fish life is dominated by large ling and winter flounder.
* Since the directions involved "taking a left turn from the anchor line", and I suspect that the current had reversed between the first and second dive, I probably ended up going back to the stern rather than up to the bow. I have seen this kind of reversal happen on the Algol. Always get compass bearings!
The shaft alley
Courtesy of Dan Crowell / Seeker Digital Productions
The Oil Wreck, or Ayuroaca as she was named, was German-built by the Akt Ges Wessner company in Bremen, 1912, as the Roland. Her length was 468 feet with a 58 foot beam and displacing 10,500 tons. On June 6, 1945, while under Brazilian ownership she collided in a dense fog with the Norwegian ship General Fleischer. The General Fleischer received a tear above her water line but to the Ayuruoca the collision was fatal. She sank within a half hour taking only one of her crew with her.
Today the Oil Wreck is located in an area of the New York Bight called the Mud Hole. This is an area scoured by the continual flow of the Hudson river and an accumulation of sediment from the river accounts for the name. This area tends to be a bit deeper than surrounding waters due to the rivers effects and the visibility tends to suffer for the same reason. The Ayuruoca is in 170 feet of water, sitting upright. Her masts are still standing and reach to within 80 feet or so of the surface. Her decks are covered with war materials, namely military vehicles. You can see codfish among the trucks on her decks.
There are a lot of nets and monofilament on the wreck, this combined with the lack of ambient light and low visibility make it a cautious dive. During your surface interval, look around, you will see small oil rainbows from fuel still leaking from the wreck after 50 years of submersion. This is one of the deeper dives, make sure you are trained and experienced for this sort of dive before you attempt it. There are better deep dives for your preparation where the visibility is better and the risk of entanglement not so great. If you are ready for the Oil Wreck, don't miss it, it's one of the favorites of experienced North East Wreck Divers.
Views of the crow's nest - the highest part of the wreck
Looking up the main mast
A fallen pulley
The ship's helm
Courtesy of Dan Crowell / Seeker Digital Productions
shipwreck, covered with monofilament
shipwreck, wooden hull full of coal
A wood sailing ship in the Mud Hole at a depth of 170 feet. She was a collier or ore carrier. She is still largely intact, coal in what's left of her holds. Divers tell tales of finding lots of deadeyes, but I haven't seen or heard of one coming from this wreck in many years. Her bell was found to identify her name, but not much else has been discovered about her history. A dive for the very experienced diver. Limited visibility, deep and dark. For those with the technical dive skill it is a very nice dive.
A sailing ship or small steamship in 120 feet of water. Sandy bottom, but given to silty conditions. Like the Deep Dry Dock, she has been dragged apart, mowed down and pulled apart. She has some nice bronze parts strewn about.
It had been a good lobster and scallop dive. It is too often dived any more, probably due to her shrinking condition and depth
The Voco was also involved in the collision that sank the Gypsum Prince.
mostly intact, dark and dismal
This anonymous big rectangular wooden dry-dock barge lies off Asbury Park, out near the edge of the Mud Hole. It is similar to the better-known Immaculata. The hulk of the wreck rises up as much as 10 feet, partially intact, while the upper sides have collapsed into the silty sand. Holes in the main wreckage allow penetration into the dark interior, which is surprisingly barren. A debris field of large rectangular ballast stones, wooden ribs, and rusted machinery extends from the western edge of the wreck, and to a lesser extent all around it. In exceptional late October fifty foot visibility the view of this wreck from above was impressive, but overall this is not a very pretty site, and it is seldom dived. Good for lobsters, Sea Bass, scallops, and decompression.
This was once a great dive spot. It was the best-producing place for a big catch of scallops and lobster on or near the high wood walls and sandy but silty bottom. This was probably a very big dock in her day. Today, it has fallen apart from the ravages of the ocean and draggers so that not much remains. It is very hard to find now and divers can get easily lost swimming from piece to piece in limited vis. There are probably scallops here still. It's still worked over pretty well by the scallopers. For those of us who dived her before, it's a shame to see what's become of her wreckage due to being dragged apart. A good example of habitat lost to bottom draggers.
-- Capt Steve Nagiewicz
Location courtesy of Capt. Dan Berg of AquaExplorers.
This is erroneously called a tug, but it's shape and size indicate that she was once might have been a small oiler or tanker. The wreck lies upright in the muddy bottom at 120 feet. She comes up 15 feet off the bottom in many places and is mostly intact. I have little idea of age, but her conditions suggest she's been there for 30-40 years or more.
Nothing of substance in the way of artifacts. She is all steel. It should be a nice place for lobster, as she isn't often dived, but after many years of trying, we have never made the great killing you'd expect from a not too often dived spot. A very nice dive despite this.