Have just returned from a month of diving with Pete Mesley on his Lust4Rust trips Wreck Diving Trips, Bikini Atoll, Truk Lagoon. I combined Truk and Bikini. As I was only one of three that did both trips I have created two seperate threads so that the other team members can contribute without the threads getting disjointed.
In summary - Every dive trip before and possibly after pails in comparison to this trip
The Truk thread is here Lust4Rust - Part 1. Truk. Most on the trip came out via Guam so those on doing Truk, met up with them at Truk airport.
After several other stops and playing music chairs at each stop " we will now search the left hand side of the plane please move to the right" and vice versa. We arrive at Kwajalein. Kwajalein is a US base and it was a bit odd to see a golf course on the side of the run way when we landed. Security had a bit of difficulty understanding that we were not staying on the base or the local island of Eibi (spelling?) and instead getting on a boat. Diving in Kwajalien is highly restricted with the need for sponsors and it took a while for them to appreciate that we were essentially leaving straight away and had the various approvals already arranged. After collecting bags, we were escorted off the base and got on a water taxi to be taken to the Island of Eibi where we got on the boat "Windward", eat, set up our kit and went to sleep.
Windward is no red sea luxary liveaboard. It is however functional and I'm not alone in the view that it has a chef that puts every other liveaboard chef to shame. In fact "Manggo" could probably open a very very good restaurant.
Various Yd'ers will no doubt be along soon, Andris75, Baron, NicK Butcher, Paul Toomer. All divers were on boxes, 4 JJ's, 2 Sentinels, Inspos etc
Up early on the first day and across to a nearby atoll to dive the Prinz Eugen. This was part of the Bikini tests and was brought back to Kwajalein afterwards. However decontamination efforts didn't work and the damage from the blasts too exstensive, and it eventuall sank. Inverted with rudder and a prop out of the water, on the surface it doesn't look that much. However get in the water and things change. 207m long, beam 21.7m, 8" guns. This has to be the ultimate check dive.
90 to 120 mins later we were all back on board with talk of "did it seem warmer inside the wreck?" and amazement that this just a check dive. The last two of group had arrived (having flown via the US) and the decision was made to make for Bikini, rather than do a second dive, as this was a possibility on the return due to flights.
We set off for Bikini and around 28 hours arrived. Lines were cast out during the sail and a Marlin was caught which Pete reeled in. We arrived too late in the afternoon to go diving, as there is no diving permitted after dusk (or before in fact) due to sharks. A couple of us went on to the atoll, went for a swim (with various jokes about ahving had all the children we needed) and then wandered down to have a look at the old dive centre and one of the bomb test shelters. We met up with "Edward", Bikini diver / official / all round great bloke.
Bikini is around 50m to the bottom with only the Saratoga offering anything shallower. In general we did a morning dive on a 50m wreck and then to the Saratoga for the afternoon as the flight deck is at 29m . One afternoon we did another 50m dive instead (USS Apagon - Sub) and Shark pass (Guess what's there? Yes Yes I know we went to the greatest wreck mecca in the world and did a none wreck dive!)
In gerneral run times were 120mins for all dives
- Nagato, Saratoga
- Sakawa, Saratoga
- Arkansas, Guess
- Lamson (destroyer), Apogon (Sub)
- Nagato, Big - has a flat top
- Lamson, Shark Pass
- Anderson (destroyer), can you tell what it is yet
- Arkansas, Okay I'll give you a clue, there's only three in the world you can dive
- Final day. One dive in the morning on Saratoga
Lots has been written about these. Save to say all hugely impressive. The one that I will expand upon a bit is the Saratoga as I have also dive the Oriskany. Its interesting having dived both as you can see the evolution of the Aircraft carrier. Saratoga has guns all along its sides and some big ones on deck. if memory serves there are only 4 and those being fairly small on the Oriskany. The Saratoga is shallower and has much more to explore with the major caveat that the insides of this are huge, with vis going very fast if you kick anything up. As such the Oriskany is probably a "safer wreck" as the only parts of that, that are easily accessable are the tower. They are both of similar size, 270m but the due to its depth, its possible to dive both bow and props in a single dive. Not something to try on the Oriskany.
I was in two minds as to which is the better dive and had put them equal but after futher reflection I have come down on the side of the Saratoga being the better dive.
After the last dive we set sail for Eibi and 27 hours later we arrived. Some left the next day, whilst 5 of us arranged a water taxi and went and did another dive on the Prinz Eugen. Spending more time on Eibi than is necessary is not something that you want to. Provety isn't the world, there did not appear to be any gang culture, but its not a place I would like to spend any time in. I left next day, doing a day's stop off in Hawaii to go round Pearl Harbour (Lots of photos amd maps of the Missouri in case they decide to sink that) and got back to the UK on Sunday.
Bikini is stunning, the diving amazing. We had several conversations about it. Whilst from a business point of view it would be great for the dive centre to get back up and running with easy flights, several on the trip were against it, including me. Something this good, is potentially made this good by being damned hard to get to. In addition with the current number of divers, policing is much easier and damage kept in check. There are items on the wrecks that if it were the UK, would last no more than a week before disappearing.
If you are considering Bikini as a destination definately contact Pete. I wouldn't even bother consider this on OC. And finally if you are intending to do any serious pentration do some kit checks before. My bouyancy is by no means perfect but rebreathers in stock configuation, wet suits and decent trim are not an easy (if at all) match.