Diving on wrecks adds a new dimension to scuba diving; they provide a fascinating habitat, and their history provides a depth of experience that a reef can’t offer. Wrecks do seem to inspire a level or fear and trepidation, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy them safely. Here are five tips to help you steer clear of problems.
Wrecked? © Ratha Grimes
- Read. Doing some research before you head out to explore will give you some familiarity for navigation purposes, tell you points of interest and known hazards which will make you better prepared for the dive.
- Gear. There isn’t much specialised equipment for a dive that doesn’t penetrate the wreck. Make sure you have a torch for illuminating dark spaces or the interior of the wreck, from outside of course. Gloves are also prudent. Even in areas that don’t allow gloves, you’ll often find this waived for a wreck dive as it may be necessary to hold on to the wreck and gloves will protect you from sharp edges.
- Water movement. You’ll access the majority of wreck sites by following a line from the surface, if there is current present, use it as a handrail so that you don’t get swept away or exert yourself. Once you get to the wreck be aware that water flow is disrupted when it hits a wreck. This can cause unusual disturbances, and in some cases, a suction effect so stay alert to the conditions.
- Be aware. Wrecks have sharp edges, sometimes twisted and ruptured metal and bits sticking out so do be aware of what is around you to avoid cuts and scrapes. It’s all too easy to go too deep on a wreck dive as they often lie at an angle; watch your depth gauge and set a warning alarm if available on your computer.
- Temptation. The lure to ‘just look in that first room’ can be overwhelming and while there will be ‘safe swim-throughs’ be very prudent. It’s very easy to get entangled, reduce your visibility to zero or get lost. Any of these situations could mean that you can’t find your way out before the air in your tank is gone. Wreck penetration is a risky business, but there are established practices that aim to make exploring inside safer; if you can accept the increased risk then get the proper training before going in.