Going Under in Bermuda


The phrase “Bermuda Triangle” could cause a mild tremor in a person’s heart even thousands of km away. My friends, Manjit and Akalpita, have been living there for years, and their only complaint so far is that ….. wait…. nothing but turquoise waters, pink sand and bright sunshine, with the occasional hurricane. They came to visit us last year, dangled a ‘shipwreck diving’ carrot in my face, and there I was, checking airline routes and fares every other month.

Yes, Bermuda is the site of a number of shipwrecks, but it gets its bad rep from exaggerated descriptions of the writers of yore. Standing in the path of numerous ships that traversed the Atlantic Ocean, the region defined by the points of Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico is known as the Bermuda Triangle. Scary accounts come from the disappearance of a number of ships and planes in this region without leaving any wreckage. Paranormal activity and extraterrestrial creatures got a lot of the blame, but the real reasons are most likely geological and environmental. Plus, the number of wrecks as a percentage of the traffic is no more or less than the rest of the world.

The fact is that wrecks are strewn all around the island, and the dive companies have a unique offering of wreck + coral dive on each trip, not 10 minutes out in the water. There are only 2 operators on the island, and I went to the one that responded to me a little faster, Dive Bermuda at Fairmont Southampton. The team at the dive centre is a friendly bunch, as most divers are, eager to chat, generous with their advice. Wading/swimming out to the boat in a double wetsuit was a first for me.

For coral and fish, I’ve been spoiled by Indonesia; all the dives outside have been meh in terms of colours and variety. The big attraction here is, obviously, the wrecks.

The first day, we went in to see The Mary Celestia, a historic shipwreck with a colourful past. The ship was used as a blockade runner during the American Civil War, and sank close to the Bermudian south shore in 1864, mostly due to a bout of overconfidence from the ship’s pilot (or was it a conspiracy?). The wreck continued to reveal itself over the years, as hurricanes shifted it around the sand in the ocean floor. I don’t understand ship terminology, but here is an engaging account of the history of the Mary Celestia by a person of authority. I was awed by what I saw:

Next was a coral dive, where I had my first experience of going through ‘coral caves’ and narrow gaps.

My guide, Marlee, took charge of the camera while I focused on my buoyancy. I finally have some pictures underwater.

The next wreck dive happened after a 2-day weather break, on my last day in Bermuda. This was the ship Hermes, that broke down and was deemed too expensive to repair, and abandoned near Bermuda. The government donated the ship to the Bermuda Divers Association, and it was sunk to form one of the important wrecks around the island. For a detailed account, read its history. It’s appeal lies in that it is intact and photogenic, exciting to explore.

As you descend, you see nothing, until suddenly, the ship looms in your line of vision. It is an eerie feeling.

This wreck is ‘made for tourism’ but when you explore it inside out, you see that it was once a working ship, used by people, that went about their daily shipboard routines.

There were more exciting creatures to spot on the 2nd dive of that day. Kwe, our dive guide, took this shot of the lobster in all its glory.

Fan and brain coral are abundant; consequently they get little attention, but they are pretty all the same.

This was my only opportunity for a cheesy ‘Titanic’ inspired photo, and I took it!

As the T-shirt at the dive shop said – I dived in Bermuda and Survived!

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Categories: Surviving Bermuda, TravelTags: , , , ,

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