Dive #72: A look over the bow of the S.S. President Coolidge, Vanuatu

Place:SS President Coolidge (Bow) Buddy:Eithne
Weather:Beautiful Type:Shore
Max. depth (m):38.4 Visibility (m):20
Time down:09:27 Dive time (mins):41
Average depth (m):18.9 Water temp. (C):26.0

Notes: We flew to Santo from Vila on a Monday and got in touch with Allan Power dive tours that afternoon. On Tuesday morning we did the paper work and arranged to do seven dives in total: two dives per day on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday plus one on Friday morning, leaving 24 hours before our flight back to Vila at midday on the Saturday. We had the same guide (Alfred) for all dives but one.

The ship is huge and lying on its port side on a slope. The bow is at 20 metres or so and the sand at the stern is at about 70 metres. The general plan we established with Alfred at the beginning was that the first dive would be relatively shallow (for this site), during which he would monitor our comfort and air consumption and so on. Then over the four days we would progress down the ship with deeper dives in the morning and shallower ones in the afternoon. The first dive was also the only one on which we did not penetrate the wreck.

Our Coolidge dive #1 then was an initial look over the bow. On the starboard side of the hull (the top surface now, with the ship on its side), there was much debris and a variety of encrusted artefacts including guns, a helmet, a gas mask and a typewriter. A helmet fit ok for a photo or two. Then we dropped over the edge to have a look at the A-deck, the main one at the front of the vessel, now vertical. It sported a large gun and the entrances to the number 1 and 2 cargo holds. 25 minutes disappeared fast. Back past the bow to the shallow coral garden for some decompression.

Equipment: Rented: Mares size 5, 3mm wetsuit, Mares rebel reg, Mares bcd (didn’t record model). Own booties, fins, mask, computer, torch, camera. 12 lb weight. My mask leaked a bit for the first few metres but was fine a bit deeper.

Accumulated time underwater: 1 day, 22 hours and 27 minutes

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