Monday, November 30, 2009

Tulamben - USAT Liberty wreck - Scuba Diving

Last week Melis and I went to Tulamben, Bali to do some snorkeling and scuba diving.  Tulamben is small, lonely town known for great scuba diving.  In particular, there is great wreck dive 30 meters off the coast.  The USAT Liberty has an interesting history behind her sinking.

I've snorkeled on and off since I was in high school, but it had been 10 years since last time had a tank strapped to my back breathing through a regulator.  Thursday night we arrived in Tulamben and I stopped by Tulamben Wreck Dive Center to get fitted for my gear.  The next morning at 8 I arrived at the center for my refresher course.  The dive master decided to have a quick refresher course in the open water instead of in the pool.  We walked down the trail (5 min) to the shore and went over the hand signals and equipment.  It all started coming back to be.  We went into the water and for about 10 minutes practiced clearing masks, breathing underwater, balancing with the BC, and purging the regulator.  After that we were off to the wreck.  It only took about 5 minutes to swim to the wreck, which is only 10 feet deep.

The dive master and I spent about 40 minutes exploring the wreck, and we went down to about 40 feet.  I was in awe.  The ship was surrounded by beautiful bright fish.  I swam through a huge school of jack fish and enjoyed the coral and various other life forms growing on the wreck.  Before I knew it our air was running out and we headed back to the shore.  It honestly felt like I was only underwater for about 5 minutes.

I took a 3 hour break and met up with the dive master again and went for a second dive.  This time we went went down to about 55 feet.  I saw a blue octopus, along with more amazing sea life.  I really enjoyed swimming through different parts of the ship.  The dive master even took a picture of me and the steering wheel that was intact. Once again 40 minutes went by in an instant.  As we headed back to the shore I was pleasantly surprised by Mel tapping me on the shouldered.  She was snorkeling above and spotted us coming in.  The dive master took a few snapshots.  After I returned to shore I dropped off my tank, bc, and regulator and snorkeled back out with Mel to show her the wreck.  A lot could be seen from the top of the surface.

The next morning we work up and snorkeled around the wreck.  Even free diving (snorkeling) I was able to swim in-between, through, and under parts of the ship.  Great fun.  I can see why I started diving in college.  I miss it.   Mel is interested in getting certified, so that she can dive in Manado next time we head back to Indo:-)

For the two nights we were in Tulamben, we stayed at the Tulamben Wreck Divers Resort.  We were upgraded to a Villa suite, which was awesome.  It was right on the coast with a beautiful view and lush vegetation all around.  The Villa would be perfect for a family or a group of buddies.  There is good snorkeling right outside the Villa as well.  Just ask Mel about the indigo starfish she saw!


Erik said...

Glad you were able to get to Tulamben... and I love the porter w/2 tanks on her head, walking through the pebbles on the beach!

Holly said...

Holy Moly, Todd! What an AWESOME experience!! Who took the photos of you underwater? The dive master? (loved how he, not you, carried the oxygen tanks to the beach - ha ha). And the short video by you (?) diving was so cool - just listening to you breathe (guess you can't talk/narrate with that respirator thingy on) and watching the underwater scenery is so relaxing. Love it!

Todd said...

Luckily we didn't have to transport any gear except our weight belts, fins, and masks. Female porters brought everything down on their heads. Quite impressive.

I rented an underwater camera. The dive master and I shared time shooting. I took the video and some of the pics of the fish.

Holly said...

Cool that you could rent an underwater camera - I was hoping you could, since it would be hard to describe in words what you were actually seeing. I also like the idea of porters - how come that idea hasn't caught on here in the US??? :-)