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Wreck Diving with JoJaffa

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Why....go wreck diving?
Getting started
How do I get started?
Kit and caboodle
Recommended reading
Spoil yourself
Holidays and Vacations
Getting more out of....wreck diving
I've got the basics, what next?

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Why....go wreck diving?

Cold Feet & Cold Beer By Mike McCullough

It was with a little trepidation that I landed at Puerto Plata Airport in the Dominican Republic. I was about to embark on an adventure that would have a great impact on me.

After stopping at the Oxford University MARE/NCR stand at the London' s Dive Show last year, I had applied to join a survey and excavation campaign of several wrecks off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. A few months later I was on my way.

My welcoming party at the airport soon made me feel comfortable. Our initial exchange went something like this: "Are you a diver?", "Yep", "Do you drink beer?", "Yep","Our truck's outside". During the journey from the airport to Monte Cristi, headquarters of North Caribbean Research, it transpired that I had not been abducted by alcoholics with a penchant for spiriting away innocent British divers abroad. This was Wanda, wife of NCR's president, Rick Berry, and Cathy the Turtle Lady, who was researching local marine fauna.

Back at headquarters, I was introduced to the rest of the team, a truly international affair with contingents from the USA and UK, as well as local divers. The accommodation consists of several two-berth cabanas close enough to the shore for y ou to hear the waves, very soothing.

When it came, it was not a rude awakening but a polite tap at the door and a whispered reminder that it was five o'clock! An early start is essential in this part of the world as the wind picks up around noon and the choppy water makes things uncomfortable for divers and boat crew alike.

During the trip out to the site, Simon Spooner, NCR's Director of Diving and Student Projects, explained the day's objectives and demonstrated the equipment we would be using. During their stay, visitors have the opportunity to operate tools of the trade such as proton magnetometers, hand held metal detectors and water dredges. The whole experience at NCR is very hands on, which will appeal to both hardened "wreckies" and keen novices.

My first few dives were a very pleasant introduction to diving in the Caribbean. Water temperatures averaging 28 degrees and excellent viz, remind you why we learnt to dive in the first place.

Although it is an over used word these days, the first sight of the wreck of a wooden ship is awesome. NCR have access to numerous wrecks along the coast and the condition of them do vary, but when your eyes first focus on the timbers of a two hundred year old vessel, you hear your self gasp, as I did.

Some featues are immediately obvious, others, due to coral colonisation or partial burying, need a little concentration. At one site, you are surrounded by eight cannons but some do need pointing out to untrained eye.

During my visit, I had the opportunity to operate the dredge. This uses water pumped at high pressure from the surface, down to a hose to the nozzle of a huge vacuum cleaned. The vortex effect created then scours the area of sand and shells. Wrestling with this beast is, pardon the pun, a real blast.

Being artificial reefs, these wreck sites have prolific wild life including puffer fish and spotted moray. You might even meet "Harry" the barracuda who occasionally stops by to oversee operations.

Topside, things can be a little quiet as Monte Cristi is some way from the tourist trail. However, NCR's headquarters are only a short distance from the town where, at the Hotel Chic, they serve you some of the Coldest beer on the planet. Just a short walk away is an excellent beach, which is usually deserted.

The friendly team, the diving and the whole ambience combines to make this, a unique experience and one I would heartily recommend to anyone with any sense of adventure.

Mike McCullough

Tell us what got you interested in wreck diving

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Getting started

If you are looking for a location to go diving and you live in the UK, then UK Diving has a good interactive map of locations of wrecks.

(Sports Disclaimer)

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Getting more out of....wreck diving

Instead of just going for a day trip or holiday to a famous wreck-diving spot such as Truk Lagoon or Scapa Flow, how about spending a month on a desert island, being the first to unearth 16th century Spanish wrecks off the coast of the Dominican Republic?

North Caribbean Research offers a range of options where you can participate in searching for real sunken wrecks.

Read about recent wrecks, like the Royal Captain

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Kit and caboodle

Need a good book, video or more advice? JoJaffa has picked out the best for you. For each book/ video just click on the amazon link find out the price and get more information.

If you can suggest any good books about wreck diving, let us know.

Recommended Reading

Book : Lost Ships: The discovery and exploration of the ocean's sunken treasures
by Mensun Bound
A beautiful, richly illustrated book covering 3 famous dives; includes Galley of the Gods; priceless treasurers from the sack of Athens 2000 ago. The Ghost of Trafalgar; Nelson's lead ship and the dive for the pocket battle ship The Graf Spee. A real treat.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Book : Archaeology of Ships of War
by Mensun Bound
Another great book by Bound - more detail on amazing dives

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Book : Sport Diving
by British Sub-Aqua Club
The British bible of Scuba Diving and the place to start for anyone starting out. Highlights all the dangers and pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Amazon UKin association with...

For starters you need a decent swim suit. For these essential basics start out at Fogdog
Then think about a suitable wetsuit or drysuit. For the full range of scuba equipment you could try:Or, if you are US-based
At these more specialised stores you can look at getting some new basic kit like a new BC, regulator, weight belt etc.

If you are going in search of sunken wrecks yourself there is a wide range of equipment that would be useful, from Proton Magnetometers to dredges, lifting balloons, and side-scan sonar.

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Spoil yourself

As a wreck-diving nut there are loads of treats you can buy yourself. There are lots of fantastic diving holiday offers out there:

  • Truk Lagoon
  • Scapa Flow
  • and many more
If you are in the UK, get hold of the latest
Hayes and Jarvis brochure for diving holidays all over the world.

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Open Outcry

Got a question? Get an answer!

Post a message to the scuba_wreck_diving discussion board.

You might just

  • have a general question about wreck diving?
  • want to make a comment
  • want to share tips and advice with fellow JoJaffa-ers?

... Then why not use our wreck diving chat board

Maybe someone has already asked that burning question you're longing to find the answer to ...

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