Tag Archives: Wreck

Wreck of the Hilma Hooker

The wreck of the Hilma Hooker is one of the best wreck dive sites in the Caribbean. The story of how the 235 foot long by 36 foot beam Colombian cargo ship was sunk is a good story and a nice piece of history.

In 1984 the ship arrived in Bonaire and anchored close to Klein Bonaire in a little inlet on the leeward side of the island. This was unusual behavior as normally ships would dock at the Kralendeck harbor. The Customs Officials deemed this as suspicious behavior and proceeded to board the ship for an inspection. The captain protested the boarding and as the officials began their search, he pulled anchor so the ship would drift into international waters. The officials got wise to this and at that point seized the ship and had it towed to port. They did a thorough inspection of the ship, going so far as to bring in specialists from Miami to help, yet they found nothing. The captain further tried to swart their efforts by opening a valve allowing water into the ship trying to sink it.

Into the picture enters Captain Don Stewart (1925-2014) an American navigator and avid diver who moved to Bonaire in 1962. Captain Don was hired to inspect the bottom of the ship. He located a metal plate welded to the bottom of the ship that didn’t look right… in the hidden hold twelve tons of cocaine and marijuana were found. The ship’s captain was jailed, the ship seized but the ship’s owners couldn’t be located.

Now the ship was at the dock, in a bad state of repair and listing because of the water that had entered. While no water was still entering, the ship had to be moved off the dock to make room for other ships. It was anchored offshore while the authorities decided what they would do. Captain Stewart and the local dive community wanted to sink the vessel and make it a dive site but were not given permission. Somehow, the ship was moved and mysteriously sunk on September 12, 1984. It now lies perfectly positioned on its side in 100 feet in a sandy spot between two coral reefs. It is a short swim from shore and couldn’t be better positioned if Captain Stewart sunk it himself (which I suspect he did!).

For a good read, look up Captain Don Stewart on Wikipedia… a great story!

Diving the Hermes

The wreck of the ‘Hermes‘ is also a popular Bermuda wreck site. There was a large Lion Fish waiting for me when I arrived. Shortly after that he was speared and later met me for lunch. Lion fish are delicious! The ‘Hermes’ was a U.S. Coast Guard WWII buoy tender that was sunk as an artificial reef in 1985.

Fore more information about Lion Fish in Bermuda, check out the Lion Fish Task Force.

Lion Fish Task Force

Diving Mary Celestia

The island of Bermuda is a wreck dive paradise. The island is surrounded by ship wrecks of all types. The ‘Mary Celestia’ is one of the more famous wrecks. The ship was a steam powered side paddle boat and was sunk in 1864. This is a photo of Pam next to what’s left of one of the paddle wheels. The ship was running guns for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Confederates would trade cotton with the English for guns and then run the blockade back to the south. She was a victim of the many reefs around the island.

You can interact with a 360º 3D model at Bermuda100.

Diving in Roatán

On a shark dive in Roatan I was in the water with about thirty sharks… mostly small in the 4-5 ft. range but there were a few like this one in the 6-8 ft. range. Lots of close up shots!

Pam diving in Roatán, Honduras

We encountered this large grouper near the ship wreck of El Aguila (The Eagle) in Roatán, at a depth of 100 ft. The ship is 210′ long but in 1998 when hurricane Mitch came through it broke into three pieces… even down 100 feet!

Large Grouper lazily gliding passed El Aguila, Roatán, Honduras

Wreck Diving

Wrecks offer great places to dive and they are located all over the world. As technology evolves divers are able to go to sites much deeper than in past years however those dives involve greater risk to the diver and advanced training. In my younger days I did dive to much deeper wrecks but now I focus on shallower sites within what is referred to as “sport diver limits”. Wrecks provide areas that attract wide varieties of marine life and many of the sites have interesting stories attached to them. All of the sites I will post on this web site are wrecks that are within the sport diver limits of no more than 130 feet down. When you travel on a dive trip, the local dive shop can be the focal point to find those interesting sites that are attractions in the area. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find a local who will take you to a site that’s not on the tourist trail.

Airplane wreck Mexico
Airplane Wreck, Mexico

Airplane wreck – Mexico. As with most airplane wrecks, it’s upside down and now a home for the fish.

Airplane wreck Bermuda Triangle
Airplane wreck, Bermuda Triangle

Airplane wreck found upside down…somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. The story is that it’s the results of a drug smuggling operation gone wrong.

USS Bluegill WWII Submarine Conning Tower Hawaii
USS Bluegill WWII Submarine

USS Bluegill WWII submarine once located in 130’ of water off Lahaina, HI. This is the view looking up at the conning tower.

USS Bluegill WWII Submarine divers on deck Hawaii
Divers over USS Bluegill WWII Submarine

Divers swimming along the deck of the USS Bluegill towards the bow. These photos were taken during the late 1970’s before the boat was relocated to very deep water out of the range of divers.

USS Bluegill WWII Submarine conning tower to bow Hawaii
USS Bluegill WWII Submarine

Dive conditions were a bit murky on the day of the USS Bluegill dive. This is the base of the conning tower looking forward. The boat was used as a training location for Navy divers and a popular site for recreational divers before being relocated.

baby barge reef honolulu hawaii
“Baby Barge” Hawaii

This is the wreck of the “Baby Barge”, a small barge that was sunk to become a reef near Honolulu, HI. The bubbles are from the divers under and in the wreckage.

Turtle YO-257 WWII Navy fueling vessel
Turtle on YO-257 WWII Navy Fueling Vessel

This turtle was taking a nap on the wreck of the YO-257, a Navy fueling vessel from WWII, before the divers woke him up! There were three turtles hanging around the wreck when we arrived.

oil pump connections YO-257 WWII Navy Fueling Vessel
YO-257 WWII Navy Fueling Vessel

These are the oil pump connections on the YO-257 used in pumping oil during the refueling process. The YO-257 was 174’ long and now home to much marine life.

Top Structure YO-257 WWII Navy Fueling Vessel
YO-257 WWII Navy Fueling Vessel

The top structure of the YO-257. I love diving on wrecks, partly because of the history of the ships and partly because they attract a wide variety of marine life. The YO-257 was intentionally sunk off Honolulu to become a reef structure in 1989.

San Pedro Reef Wreck Honolulu Hawaii
San Pedro Artificial Reef, Hawaii

A short swim from the YO-257 lies the wreck of the San Pedro. The 111’ vessel was sunk as a reef off Honolulu, HI in 1996. Two turtle gracefully swim into the wreckage.

james marchetti 50foot sailboat wreck caribbean
James Marchetti

This is my youngest son, James, diving with me to a sunken sailboat at about 125’deep in the Caribbean. The boat was about 50’ long and was now the home of tropical fish and moray eels.

turtle sugarcane barge wreck caribbean
Sleeping Turtle on Sugarcane Barge

This turtle was located during a night dive on a sunken sugarcane barge that sunk off a small Caribbean island in about 30’ of water. It makes a perfect sleeping station for the turtles. They find a comfortable spot on deck to sleep and when they need air, it’s a short swim to the surface then back to the boat for more sleep. The remora on his back just tags along for the ride.

ray sugarcane barge wreck caribbean
Night Ray in Caribbean

On the way to the sugarcane barge this ray went swimming by in the darkness.

Wreck of 54' Gaff-rigged Schooner, SueJac
Sheephead swimming through the hull of the 54′ Gaff-rigged Schooner, SueJac, which sank in 1980 in Catalina Harbor