Rapture Of The Wrecks

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A good wreck is a great dive, and The Bahamas offers many great wreck dives, both natural and artificial. While the wrecks off our islands offer a myriad of opportunities for adventure, they can generally be separated into three categories: shallow wrecks, wrecks in moderate depths and deep wrecks. We'll highlight just a few of the best in each category for you here.

Shallow Wrecks

The shallow wrecks of The Bahamas are great fun because you don't have to worry about your bottom time. In fact, many of them are so shallow they can be easily explored by snorkelers. Shallow wrecks also benefit from having lots of sunlight, which allows coral to grow on them quickly and attracts lots of fish. The abundant sunlight splashes them in rainbow hues of yellow, red and purple. You don't need the aid of a powerful dive light or strobe to boost the colors of a shallow Bahama wreck.

The Sugar Wreck, off the West End of Grand Bahama Island, is an all-time favorite of many divers because of its abundant fish life. Congregations of snappers, grunts, wrasse, gobies, angelfish and parrotfish are everywhere on the wreck. The remains of an old sailing ship that grounded many years ago, the Sugar Wreck is only 20 feet deep.

The Hesperus is another fascinating shallow wreck. An oasis of life on the vast sandy plain of the Grand Bahama Bank, the Hesperus is also packed with fish, but it is better known for the huge Loggerhead Turtles that shelter within its planks and plates at night. Maximum depth on the Hesperus is about 15 feet.

The wreck of the Sapona has been a sailor's navigational landmark for many years, because it sits high out of the water south of Bimini. It's also one of the best snorkel and shallow dive wrecks in the world. Surrounded by less than 20 feet of clear water, the Sapona treats her visitors to a close-up viewing of hundreds of reef fish.

Moderate-Depth Wrecks

The area south of New Providence has been the setting for numerous Hollywood movies, including several James Bond films, and a number of wrecks were placed on the bottom as underwater sets. The framework that passed as the Vulcan Bomber from Thunderball and the vessel Tears of Allah from Never Say Never Again are still popular dive sites. Other wrecks here include the Willaurie, a 130-foot freighter sunk in 55 feet of water in 1989, and the Sea Viking, a 60-foot commercial fishing boat sitting upright in 65 feet. Because shark-feeding dives take place nearby, sharks always seem to be roaming two of the New Providence wrecks, the David Tucker II, an ex-defense force vessel sunk in 50 feet at Shark Wall, and the Bahama Momma, sunk in 1995 in only 40 feet at the Runway. De La Salle is a 120-foot island freighter that has been on the bottom off Paradise Island for about a decade. The ship sits upright in 65 feet, like a ghost ship steering a long forgotten course. Not too far away, the shallow section of the Mahoney can be found in about 40 feet of water. After a century on the bottom, the boiler, keel and plating are all that remain of this steamship.

The area south of Grand Bahama Island is also rich with wrecks. The Jose is a 40-foot oceangoing tugboat that has been on the bottom in 65 feet for about ten years. Situated among the coral heads of the reef, the Jose makes a nice all-round dive. A Burma Oil tugboat called Badger and a 40-foot steel supply boat called Laura were sunk in 1997. Both sit upright in about 50 feet. The upside down hull of The Pretender is another Grand Bahama Island wreck in moderately deep water, lying on the sand in 45 feet. The Abacos have a couple of nice medium-depth wrecks in the Violet Mitchell, at around 45 feet, and the steamer San Jacinto. Built in 1847, the San Jacinto was the first US-built steamship. It sank in 1867 and the remains lie in about 40 feet of water.

Bahamas Diving Wrecks/Deep Wrecks

What's the draw of deep wrecks? Physical integrity, for starters. Wrecks that lie deeper than 90 or 100 feet are protected from the destructive surge of most storms, so they tend to be more intact than shallower wrecks. Scale is another reason deeper wrecks are appealing. Bahamas shipwrecks can be found in all conditions, from those that seem to be seaworthy, to those that seem to be sea bottom.

When the water is exceptionally clear, as in The Bahamas, there is nothing like seeing a large wreck from a distance. As you swim toward it, the details become clearer and the wreck seems to get larger. Theo's Wreck, off Grand Bahama Island, is an excellent example. Sunk in 1982, this 238-foot freighter lies intact on her port side in 100 feet. On most days you can see the hull as soon as you put your face in the water. Twenty feet down you can make out the wheelhouse, the massive open holds and the point of the bow. Up close, the ship seems huge. The cavernous cargo hold is encrusted with sponges and black corals, and hosts a variety of fish. Walker's Cay has two deep wrecks: both, oceangoing tugboats that were sunk in about 100 feet of water. Named Esther K. and Dorothy H., they are perfectly set up for sport diving. The freighter Comberbach, complete with an old bus in the forward cargo hold, sits upright on the sand in 100 feet of water off Long Island. This is an excellent wreck for wide-angle photography. You get three for one at the Shipyard, a remarkable wreck site off Paradise Island. Three vessels lie on the bottom here, a 150-foot supply vessel called Ana Lise, a 95-foot passenger ship called Helena C., and an oil tanker called the Bahama Shell. All three have been on the bottom for about ten years and are nicely encrusted. Like a graveyard, it's spooky, but somehow alluring.

NAME OF WRECK TYPE OF WRECK DEPTH LOCATION YEAR SUNK REMARKS
Theo's Wreck 238-ft freighter 100 Ft Grand Bahama Island 1982 on port side
Dorothy H. ocean tug 100 Ft Walker's Cay -- upright
Esther K. ocean tug 100 Ft Walker's Cay -- --
Comberbach freighter 100 Ft Long Island 1985 upright, bus in hold
Bimini Barge barge 95 Ft Bimini late 1980s --
Ana Lise 150-ft supply ship 90 Ft Paradise Island 1990 --
Helena C. passenger vessel 90 Ft Paradise Island 1991 --
Bahama Shell 90-ft oil tanker 90 Ft Paradise Island 1991 --
Bimini Trader barge 85 Ft Bimini 1992 upside down
Lady Moore supply boat 80 Ft Andros -- upright
The Barge landing craft 70 Ft Andros 1970 --
Marion construction barge 70 Ft Andros 1975 with crane and boom
Caribe Breeze 200-ft tanker 70 Ft New Providence 2000 --
Jose steel tug 65 Ft Grand Bahama Island 1986 upright
Sea Viking 60-ft fishing boat 65 Ft New Providence 1997 upright
De La Salle 120-ft freighter 65 Ft Paradise Island 1987 upright
Austin Smith 90-ft cutter 60 Ft The Exumas 1996 upright
B.J. passenger vessel 55 Ft Paradise Island 1994 on side, split in half
Willaurie 130-ft freighter 55 Ft New Providence 1989 upright
Laura 40-ft supply boat 50 Ft Grand Bahama Island 1997 upright
Badger Burma Oil tugboat 50 Ft Grand Bahama Island 1997 upright
Panther 65-ft tugboat 50 Ft Cat Cay 1984 on starboard side
Ethridge steel car ferry 50 Ft Grand Bahama Island -- upright, with truck
David Tucker II patrol boat 50 Ft New Providence 1997 upright, Clifton Wall
Wreck on the Wall wooden sailing ship 50 Ft New Providence -- very torn up
Edmond Williams patrol boat 50 Ft New Providence 1997 upright, Shark Wall
Finwick Stirrup patrol boat 50 Ft New Providence 1997 research dive site
Violet Mitchell freighter 45 Ft The Abacos 1988 --
Tears of Allah 92-ft supply boat 45 Ft New Providence -- "James Bond" Wreck
The Pretender steel hull 45 Ft Grand Bahama Island -- upside down
Alma B. 120-ft supply boat 40 Ft Cat Cay 1999 upside down
San Jacinto 1847 steamer 40 Ft The Abacos 1867 --
Bahama Momma supply boat 40 Ft New Providence 1995 upright
Vulcan Wreck metal framework 40 Ft New Providence -- movie set mockup
Cessna Wreck light plane 40 Ft New Providence -- --
Mahoney steamship 30 Ft Paradise Island late 1800s boiler, keel, plating
Airplane Wreck light plane 25 Ft Water Cay -- --
Sapona concrete vessel 20 Ft south of Bimini 1927 partially out of water
Sugar Wreck sailing ship 20 Ft west of Grand Bahama Island -- --
Hesperus cement barge 15 Ft north of Bimini -- loggerhead turtles
Anchor Wreck -- 15 Ft Gingerbread Grounds -- two large anchors

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