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Me diving

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Mairi Bhan/Windjammer (Bonaire Day 6)

On Thursday we dove the Mairi Bhan, which is also known as the Windjammer. I'm not much of a wreck/history person, but here is a picture that Rob posted of the Mairi Bhan on its maiden voyage. The entry to the site is located past the gate of the Bopec terminal, so you have to do the dive with a guide, and they require your passport and such to make sure you aren't a terrorist, I guess. Benji got a call in the morning saying we would have to dive later than originally scheduled, because a boat was at the terminal. However, it was pretty clear from the view down the coast that there was no boat at the terminal. So we just headed over there anyway (Marco was on a schedule since he had to work in the afternoon). When we got there, the story changed to say that there was another team in the water, and we couldn't get in the water until they were out. But we were allowed to enter and setup our gear (there was a convenient little covered platform with a concrete table that was the perfect height for our tanks!) while we waited for the other team to come out. So once the other team came walking out, we entered the water. Benji schlepped our bottles to us and once we had everything, we headed out. There was a bit of a surface swim out, and then once Marco found his lineup, we descended. He had warned us that there was occasionally heavy current that could make it difficult to get to the wreck, but we had no problems.

Marco swam us to the wreck at a speedy clip, and then once there, we started at the bow which is fairly deep, where Rob took some pictures. Then we came around to each of the mastheads, for a few more photos. The wreck is lying on its side (sorry, I just don't get calling a boat she/her), with some of it collapsed on itself along the back half. Also, it is lying on its side on the slope, so at the back, its more like it's upside-down, if that makes sense. On the sand down the slope from the wreck, there is a brownish-black layer on top of the sand, which is the tar that the ship was carrying. We poked our heads inside the wreck to see if there was anything interesting there, and then headed back to the stern for some more pictures. Once our time was up, we worked our way up the reef for our deco, inching back toward the shore entry. I ran deco (it sort of shocked Marco when I asked to run deco; I guess normally when he guides a dive, he runs the show). The 20 foot stop was nice and warm (and long), and we posed for some more pictures at the top of the dropoff. There is structure even on top of the dropoff here (much like Taylor Made), so it was a scenic dive the whole way up. Once our 20 foot stop was up we swam up to the exit.

It was a cool dive, but I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of the "guide required" aspect of it, for a few reasons. I had no problem with Marco as a diver or a guide, and it was good to have someone to swim us to the drop point and show us how to get to the wreck. However, I really don't like the idea of doing a T2 dive with some guy I just met, and have never dived with before. It also adds a huge expense, not just because of the guiding fees, but because of the guides' gas (in hindsight, we could have perhaps done the dive without stage bottles, but I haven't really done the math on that). But most of all, it's just easier diving with just Rob (or Rob and Kevin, or some other usual dive buddies), since I know that if it comes time to call the dive, and we realize we have ridiculously more gas than our min gas, we can push it, and we know we'll all come up with reasonably similar deco with the push. Negotiating that with an unknown buddy just doesn't work.

The upside of doing the dive with stages even though we probably didn't need them was that we had so much backgas left that we could mix a full set of 21/35 for the next day. We had been planning to just top off to 25/25 and do a little semi-recreational diving at one of the deeper double reef sites. But when we realized we could make 21/35, Benji suggested La Dania's Leap, which has some cool stuff deep. He was a bit concerned about the entry for me, since I am a wimp. But he really wanted us to do the dive, so he offered to sherpa my gear to the cliff, help us get our bottles down into the water, and then drive the truck down to Karpata (where we would drift). Well, how could I turn up that offer? :) So we made a plan to meet on Friday for that. Rob and I decided to take the afternoon off from diving (we're one-dive wonders, I know), and instead we did a little free diving in the back of the hotel, playing with the baitball that is always swarming around the stairs.

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