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PADI Pro Weekend: Diving the Daryaw, part 2 June 22, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks.
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Dive #2 was also on the Daryaw, so our surface interval was spent moored on the buoy getting ready for the next dive and talking with the divers on the other boats that happened along. This time, we’d also planned a penetration dive, but it was my turn to lead. I used my doubles again, now down to 1700 PSI, but the planned penetration is a short one and there was plenty of safety margin with this much gas.

This time, I was going to lead the way in and lay the line. After our experience with the beacon the day before, we decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. The team planned to meet at the props and then go to the door. Even though Ken and I were right behind him, Steve didn’t notice us at the props, and waited there for Ken and I while we went forward to the door. By the time he realized that we had gone past him, I was well inside the wreck, having mistaken Ken for Steve at the entrance.

To get amidships on the underside of the wreck where the door was, like the day before I dropped to the bottom in the channel between the rocks and the hull on the starboard side. It was there that I noticed it was possible to swim underneath the starboard deck instead of around it, which was well protected from the current and plenty large enough to accommodate a diver wearing doubles. I emerged almost directly under my destination, the door leading into the starboard stern section of the wreck.

I tied the line on the left hand side of the entrance, looping it between the door and a nearby porthole. I think the left is better for this penetration as the best tie-off points inside are to the left of the route to the mechanical room. Once at my destination, I turned to see how Steve was doing and realized that I was alone. Being in possession of redundant air supplies, a guideline, and a relatively undisturbed interior with good visibility I wasn’t bothered by this situation, but didn’t want to hang about. So I looked around inside the mechanical room for a little while before exiting. The room was much larger than I’d previously thought. I hadn’t seen it without a lot of silt before, and there really is a lot to see there. I wish I could have stayed a bit longer, but being alone inside the wreck wasn’t part of my plan, so I reluctantly headed for the exit..

On the way out the line slipped off the reel and started to tangle. Not wanting to “bird nest” the thing, I just stopped for a couple of minutes and patiently untangled it and reeled it in, so I could emerge without embarrassment. The others were waiting at the entrance for me, after which we swam up to the bow.

Part of my mission was to look for other entrances, and it had been reported to me that there was a door somewhere in the bow that was stuck shut and might at some stage be forced open for a  little more exploration. On one dive to the wreck in 2008 I’d found my way into a cavernous section of the bow but the visibility was very poor and I didn’t get properly oriented. Indeed when I exited the area on that dive I found myself about 30 feet from the bow on the starboard side while thinking I was at the bow itself.

This time, the visibility was much better, and after rising up through some spars at deck level it was apparent that most of the bow was taken up by a cargo hold. The perimeter of the hold at deck level was intact and perhaps 4 feet wide, but close inspection revealed no prominent features, and certainly no doors. Not that one would expect to find a door in a cargo hold, I suppose.

Once we’d had our fill of the hold, we agreed to drift over the hull one more time, and doing so, then ascended up to our safety stop, where we ran into Matt and Andrew doing the same thing. You can see the boat floating above Matt in this picture. If you look carefully you can see the ladder hanging down from the stern on the starboard side and a white bumper further to its right.

Matt offgases under the dive boat

Matt offgases under the dive boat

I’m really glad I had a chance to do these two dives on this ship. Firstly, I’ve gained valuable familiarity with the interior and feel much more comfortable in there after my “progressive penetrations” without having more experienced divers watching me. Second, I know my way around the bow of the wreck much better now, and while it too is an overhead environment, the exits are plentiful and easy to reach.

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