Inside a wreck.

14th July 2022

Kralendijk, Bonaire – Kralendijk, Bonaire via Hilma Hooker, Bonaire & Klein Bonaire.

After years of hard study at high school, college or university, and having passed all their exams students get to don strange outfits that are unsuitable for daily life. Like these students, we have graduated but instead of just wearing strange outfits at the end of our studies, we have frequently been dressed in neoprene outfits and have ventured into places which are far from your usual daily life.

Donning our neoprene costumes, we once again took to the water under the expert eye of Ross in a search and recovery dive. Our task was simple, in the gin clear water where we could see forever, we had to locate a luminous yellow weight which had been placed upright on the seabed like a bright beacon. The only way to make it more obvious would be to attach some waterproof neon lights to it and arm it with an underwater fog horn.

As we swum in our expanding square pattern the current gently dragged us along and our square became a one sided rectangle. The beacon remained resolutely outside our search pattern testing our resolve and Ross’s patience. With one final pass with Ross willing us to find it (along with a gentle point) we happened, victorious, upon our quarry.

Next up, was searching for a big bright shiny anchor that sat on the sea floor in clear view of any one who happened to be in the water. With this inside knowledge we swum around expertly navigating, turning, counting fin strokes, monitoring depth and then magically happening upon the previously spotted anchor. Now we just had to lift it to the surface.

Not wanting to send it to the surface like a cork erupting from a shaken champagne bottle Fiona gingerly removed her regulator and pumped in a little air, then a little more and more still to the float bag. The anchor started floating like a weightless feather and then with a tiny push it serenely ascended. We now knew the theory of findings things, but with these lessons we knew it was best not to loose things in the first place.

As we were doing all this diving Ruffian was starting to feel unloved and so Iain once again got out the smallest paintbrush in the world to tackle more deck painting. As the swell rolled into the anchorage, he mixed the grey and white paints together hoping that the ratio was perfect even as the scales oscillated wildly.

With his first brush stroke he realised that the wildly oscillating scales resulted in quite a different colour mix, but hoping things would ‘dry back’ he pushed on. As the tiny paintbrush bristles were slowly worn away the decks were restored to their previous glory and Ruffian was loving the attention. She loved it so much that as her decks heated and the paint dried only Iain & Fiona (who Iain is sure will tease him constantly for his use of a tiny brush) will know the difference in tones.

Leaving the paint to dry, Ruffian’s technology also needed some love and we were about to be transported back into the painful world of IT. Finding fast internet is one of the big problems of this lifestyle and running updates over that internet is also a big problem. Getting the inside line on the fastest internet in town, where we also had access to a plug, we setup camp in the corner of a coffee shop and paid $4 giving us a coffee and most importantly a WiFi code.

Iain watched for hour after hour as data flowed down into the computers and he monitored the inept progress bars as they jumped about. With victory in sight and his patience wearing thin Windows suddenly gave the ominous message ‘Update available. This may take a while’, this was then quickly replaced with errors akin to ‘Keyboard Missing. Press F1’ or ‘Task failed successfully!’. Having wasted hours of our lives we resolved to head back into the blue.

With only a wreck dive between us and PADI Advanced Open Water graduation we left the Windows errors behind and donned our funny suits. As we jumped off the back of Blue Mist the shadow of a once profitable freighter lurked menacingly far below us and Ross led the way down. As we descended all the colour was bleached from the water leaving an eerie blue and the ships carcass came into view.

With torches in hand we ventured into ominous dark holds and swum under spars that once towered above everything. Tall passageways were now narrow swim throughs and what once was the realm of man, was now very much being eaten by the sea. Careful not to clang tanks on rusty metal or stir up sediment we swam through enclosed spaces knowing that all lay between us and disaster was our well-maintained kit and the new knowledge that had been imparted to us over the previous weeks.

With the tutelage of our good friend, knowledgeable diver and accomplished sailor Ross* a whole new world is open to us. Those graduates from university and collage have a world of business and careers to explore, but with our PADI graduation we have something much more interesting and exciting available to us.

* Big thanks should also goto Louise for her patience, support and friendship, and also for lending us Ross.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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