I know that joke is as old as Methuselah but the old ones are often the best, especially when it comes to wrecks.
The scores of reefs in the Dominican Republic have, over the years, proven to be the downfall of many a mariner so our seas are littered with wrecks, many of them still lying in the sands waiting to be discovered and to tell their story. For the mariners of yesterday, this obviously wasn’t how they envisaged their journey ending but for the divers of today, it gives us a chance to explore exciting remnants of the past.
Just off our beach in Las Galeras, in the Bahia de Rincon, we are lucky to have a relatively new, as yet unnamed wreck. The general consensus is that it’s around 30 to 40 years old and was a container ship that floundered during a storm that came to rest upside down on the sandy sea floor 18 metres below the surface.
It is very stable and the huge propellers, approximately 3.5 metres across, are still relatively intact as is the hull. The wreck is now home to a wide variety of fish and marine life and is becoming encrusted with corals. It is a very easy dive and well worth doing. Drop down the dive boats’ anchor line and level off at around 15 metres then swim over to the wreck. We normally start at the stern (back end to the non sailors among us) and swim towards the prow (the front end) slowly taking in the size of the wreck and envisaging it as it used be. Large shoals of fish undulate up and over the wreck and you can do the same. It is always important to have good buoyancy control wherever you dive but, diving around wrecks, makes it more important. To be able to glide over and around a sunken wreck without bumping into it and hurting yourself, or even worse, damaging the wreck, is a great experience.
For those qualified to enter, there is a nice swim through and once inside, we usually find more shoals of the ‘locals’ including wrasse, blue tang and jacks. Because 18 metres is too deep for most local spear fishermen and the net fishers won’t cast here for fear of damaging their nets, the fish population is quite healthy.
You should remember when diving new areas, always utilise local knowledge; Dive with a professional who knows the site so you can make the most of your experience.