Bespolka Home Page Brazil 2002 Home South America 2001/02
Previous Day   Next Day

 

The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Brazil - 22 February, 2002

 

.

Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Hotel Chile, Salvador S1258.402' W03830.655' 71 m
Barra . . . 10 km (by bus)
-  SCUBA diving off Barra . . . 25 km (by boat)
Finish Hotel Chile, Salvador S1258.402' W03830.655' 71 m 10 km (by bus)

Leg 3 Total:

2,651 km

Leg 2 Total:

12,140 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

24,572 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot.

 

 

Today we have an action packed day - we are going to go SCUBA diving off the shores of Barra.  We have breakfast at the hotel and then head down towards Barra.  On the way we stop off at a laundry to drop off all our dirty clothes. Once down at Barra we go to the dive shop to pay and to get our gear for the dives.

 

Once we are ready, we head down to the beach where there is a small row boat to take us out to the dive boat.  The dive boat itself is not that big, but it appears well equipped, including an oxygen tank.  We head off after a small delay - on the way out they double check that they have all the equipment and notice that they are missing something, so we have to turn back.

 

Brazil02_Salvador2_03_Diveboat_4398_Web.jpg (98635 bytes)

We head out towards the deeper water.  We thought we were going to dive near the beaches, but it turns out that we are heading out to a wreck that is a bit further out.  Along the way we see some dolphins who are jumping out of the water as they cruise by.  As we approach the dive site we gear up and get ready for the dive.

 

Salvador Dive #1:  Cavo Artemidi wreck off Barra: 

 

Depth:  29.2 meters (max); 15.5 meters (average)

Bottom time:  45 minutes (including 5 minute safety stop)

Time in:  12:02; Time out:  12:47

Dive Group  in:  -;  Dive Group out:  K

Water temperature:  29C

Sea conditions:  Calm with slight swell

Visibility:  25 to 30+ meters

 

This dive is on a wreck just off the coast and lighthouse of Barra.  The wreck is fairly recent - it was a steel hulled transport vessel sunk around 20 years ago by the captain for insurance purposes.  It was not sunk in water deep enough, so the scam was discovered.  As we approached the dive spot, we were concerned by the scummy looking water - it seemed filled with plankton and other particles.  But when we got to the dive site, things changed.  We appeared to have gone outside some form of current or temperature zone and from our dive boat we were able to see the outline of the wreck below and the silver reflections of the many fish swimming below.  We geared up and jumped into the water and began our descent - and we were stunned by the great visibility.  From the surface of the water looking down we could see the entire wreck spread out below us on the sandy bottom with hundreds of fish swimming about.

 

As we descended to the stern of the wreck, we were greeted by hundreds of fish.  After gathering at the deck of the stern, we headed down to the deepest part of the wreck - at the bottom of the stern where the propeller is located.  After swimming under the stern of the boat and through the propeller, we slowly made our way to the bow of the wreck heading up the sandy, slopping bottom.  About half way along, we passed over scattered wreckage where the wreck has started to collapse. At this point, Lars looked up and saw a huge lemon shark swim above us - we were at the bottom and he was swimming along at deck level.  The shark swam the length of the wreck and then disappeared into the deep blue water in the distance.  We carried on our way, swimming through some of the tangled steel of the wreck.  Whenever we looked up, we would see the hull of the wrecked ship towering over us.

 

Then onto the bow of the ship - here things were pretty torn up - the ship must have gone down bow first.  We then slowly made our way back to the stern of the wreck - this time at the deck level.  Saw fish everywhere as we passed along - barracuda, jacks and lots and lots of smaller fish swimming everywhere.  Found some huge stone fish - they were the biggest that we have ever seen.  Made sure that we did not touch them.  Found what they called a bat fish - the dive guide picked him up.  They were easy to catch.

 

Back at the stern of the wreck, we took some more time to explore around here.  We were shown to the toilet - even took the time to test it out and sit on it.  And then it was time to head back up.  We were reaching our no-decompression limits.  We headed back to the stern of the boat, took one last look down the length of the wreck and off the end of the stern and then slowly began our ascent up the line.  We stopped at five meters for our safety stop and just hung on the line in the gentle current.  We could look down at the wreck stretched out below, with the bow just disappearing into the gloom.  The sand at the bottom was covered with interesting wavy ridges and dunes and dips.  In the flickering light distorted by the water, the patterns were mesmerising.  We had what we thought was one last look at the wreck and then, our safety stop completed, finished our ascent and returned to the dive boat.

 

Once back on the boat, we take off our gear and get ready for the ride back towards the beaches where we will do our second dive.  Just as we are ready to go, however, one of the dive masters asks us if we would be willing to dive the wreck again.  Our response is a big "YES!!" - of course - this has been one of our best dives ever.  We certainly would love to dive this wreck again, especially given the fantastic water conditions - still, clear, warm blue water.  Everyone else on the dive boat also loved the first dive so much and the conditions are so good that they also want to go down a second time.  So, after a brief surface interval, we get ready to jump right back in and dive down to the wreck again.

 

Salvador Dive #2:  Cavo Artemidi wreck off Barra: 

 

Depth:  29.4 meters (max); 15.4 meters (average)

Bottom time:  43 minutes (including 10 minute safety stop)

Time in:  13:25; Time out:  14:08

Dive Group  in:  J;  Dive Group out:  O

Water temperature:  29C

Sea conditions:  Calm with slight swell

Visibility:  25 to 30+ meters

 

We begin our descent as soon as we hit the water and the visibility is still as good - so excellent.  We can see the wreck from the surface and once again approach the stern of the lost ship.  We have less available bottom time on this dive, so we immediately begin our exploration.  Once again, over the back of the stern railings and down towards the rudder and the propeller.  We swim in and amongst the the rudder and the prop and then head towards the bow along the edge of the hull along the sandy bottom.  But as we have limited bottom time, we do not head all the way up to the bow.  We come upon some of the tangled, steel wreckage, where we discover a large moray eel outside of its hole, wrapped like a rope around some of the steel pieces with his head near his tail.

 

Once we reached the middle of the wreck, we did some more poking around in the holes and crevices to see what we could find.  Then we slowly ascended up the side of the hole until we were just below the main deck level.  There we peaked down one of the main passageways, now looking very much like a ghost ship with marine growth over the walls and railings and strands of coral hanging off in the darker, deeper blue of the interior.  We found a big stone fish and a couple of strange worm like creatures in a box.

 

The dive master then decided to take down the passageway - just what we wanted.  This is the best part, checking out the wreck from the inside.  We went through a number of the passageways and into some of the rooms.  It is a wonderful experience, with the flickering light that came in shafts through the portholes and other cracks providing a magical effect.  It also provides a feeling of what space must be like, passing through a manmade object without the effect of gravity.  We could glide along the passages, looking up and down and to the side, rotating around and at no point touching any surface.  Our exhausted air rose through the water until it hit the roof above, where it spattered flat and formed a bubble that looked remarkably like a puddle of clear water laying on the roof above us.

 

From the passageway we went up through a small opening above us, entering a store room that is filled with gas cylinder and then out of the interior of the wreck.  Our bottom time is coming to an end, so we head back towards the stern, fighting our way through the hundreds of silvery fish that block our way.  We would rotate around in circles and all we would see were fish above and around us.  We even spotted a few barracuda hanging out, like sentinels, above the schools of fish.  Back at the stern, we back our slow ascend to the boat, first making an extra long safety stop along the way.  But it was still fun, as we could enjoy the view of the ship below us.  For the last few minutes of the safety stop, they untied us from the wreck and we drifted along in open, blue water with the rippling sandy bottom slowly passing below us.

 

What an experience - this rates among some of the best dives that we have done.  The fantastic fish life, the superb visibility and the chance to dive on (and in) a wreck make it a great day.  And to do it twice is even better.  Well, we have to head back in to Barra and we make it back just before 3 PM.  We meet Paolo there and go for a wander along the beaches and stop in a small cafe for a late lunch.  After that, it is back to the hotel with a stop at the laundromat.  We do this all on local buses and are pleased with how we are able to find our way around and catch the correct buses.

 

Brazil02_Salvador3_04_Sunset_C436_Web.jpg (49631 bytes)

Back at the hotel we have a quick shower before we race out to see the sunset from the Mercado Modelo.  We head over to the elevator, take it down the bluff and quickly race to the restaurant overlooking the bay.  Once again we are treated to a wonderful sunset, which we enjoy once again with the local drink.  This is becoming a habit.

 

After the sky turned black we headed back up to the old city via the elevator.  We wander around the town and have a quick bite to eat at one of the small street-side restaurants.  We check out some of the squares where they have music and dancing, but in the end we call it a day around 10 PM (diving tires us out) and head back to the hotel.

 

Previous Day   Next Day
Bespolka Home Page Brazil 2002 Home South America 2001/02

Copyright 2002