Four Dive Day

For me, today was a relatively unscheduled day. With no boat dives or visit to Dee, I was able to do the morning shore dives, and then do a couple of dives on the house reef. Unlike yesterday, the weather today was sunny and warm, with no rain.

Hilma Hooker

The first dive this morning was to the Hilma Hooker, a freighter that sank right off shore to the south of Kralendijk (the capital city). The story is that it showed up deserted one morning off the coast, and when it was boarded, the crew was gone, and the holds were full of marijuana, and then one night, it mysteriously sank right at a handy spot off one of the beaches, where it’s relatively accessible to divers swimming out from the beach. The ship is lying on its starboard side, right at the bottom of the reef drop off, There are mooring lines at the bow and the stern.

Paul and Alec and Henri and I surface swam out to the bow mooring, went over our dive plan, then descended.

It’s about 85 feet to the port side of the ship, and about 100 feet down to the bottom. We went to the edge of the port side at the bow, then traversed to the stern. It’s an awesome dive, since the ship is mostly intact.  We traveled along what is now the side of the wreck, and was originally the deck and wheelhouse, hanging over us. Cargo boom of the Hilma Hooker

You can see the freight booms, the wheelhouse, and at the far end,  the stern railings and propeller. Once we got to the stern, we turned around, and ran along the bottom of the ship.

There were a bunch of sergeant majors there, and I was glad I’d done Dee yesterday, since I was able to recognize the egg masses they were protecting. Once we returned to the bow, we ascended the slope the ship sank against, and returned to shore.

Salt Pier

After the Hilma Hooker, we headed south to Salt Pier. This is a big salt transfer pier from the salt pans on the island. We found out after returning to the resort that it was illegal to dive there, and we could have had our gear confiscated. Fortunately or unfortunately, we didn’t find out until afterwards, because it was an awesome dive. Lots of sponges, lots of fishes, including French Angelfish, Rock Beauties,  and Queen Angelfish feeding on the sponges, and a bunch of tarpon, probably looking to feed on the smaller fish. I spent a lot of time on the angelfish, and boy, are they hard to get– they move fast. The sun beams shining through the pillars of the pier was very pretty.

Rock Beauty
Rock Beauty

We then headed back to the resort, where I reduced the amount of lead I was carrying, had some lunch, checked the news, and then did a pair of dives on the house reef. We had two really good dives. On the first dive, we headed north, and saw an octopus out in the open,

Octopus on the Buddy Dive house reef
Octopus on the Buddy Dive house reef

and a turtle. The dive was so good, we decided to cram in a second dive to the south before dinner. On the second dive, I got some decent pictures of a small yellow fish I’d been trying to get, and we saw another turtle.

I think the two pounds less I was carrying made a difference– it was a little easier to hover, and I could possibly take off more, but I’m leaving in two days.

For dinner, most of us headed out to a small restaurant called Cactus Blue, where Paul knows the owner. The food was good, but everyone was pretty tired, so it was just as well that we finished up pretty early.

Update: More pictures here.