Wreck Diving – How to get started

"Descending the anchor line I look down and spot the ghostly apparition lying on the sand floor below. The crows nest appears first reaching up towards me through the blue. Cabins come into view, then the deck and I see the hole where I intend to penetrate the interior. My heart rate suddenly increases slightly with anticipation of the dive ahead".Wreck diving is an extremely exciting pursuit, a trip into the past of some unfortunate sea going vessel. Diveable wrecks abound in our oceans, lakes and rivers, each with it’s own particular characteristics and demands of your diving abilities. Shallow water wrecks, deep water wrecks, trawlers to destroyers, even submarines await your visit. Every wreck has some historical significance, the stories of their lives and demise making interesting reading.

The best thing to take with you on a wreck dive is the proper training. One should always make certain they are prepared and trained for the environment you’ll be diving in. Whether you’re diving the wrecks of Truk Lagoon or the Andrea Doria you need to know what you’re getting into. Most of the dive agencies today offer specialty courses devoted to this subject, giving the fledgling wreck diver a place to start. A visit to your local dive shop will give you an idea of what is available, or you can check the websites of the various agencies for details of the courses they offer.

Some specialized equipment is necessary for this endeavor depending upon what level of wreck diving you will aspire to do. A good pair of gloves and an appropriate exposure suit are needed as rusting metal and bare skin don’t mix well. If all you are planning is swimming around the outside of a ship and just looking in, this will be enough gear, but for the diver interested in closer investigation, more is needed. Reels are essential for safe penetration as they provide a guideline to safety from a ships interior. A second, smaller reel is recommended as backup. For those doing decompression diving on wrecks, a reel combined with a lift bag works as a deco line in the event you lose the anchor line. A good dive light is another necessary piece of gear and again for safety you should have a backup light as well. Some form of redundant air supply is also highly recommended when diving in an overhead environment because direct access to the surface is not available and it pays to plan for any scenario. Because entanglement is always a possibility inside a wreck, redundant cutting devices, such as knives, sheers and line cutters should also be a part of your kit.

Diving into history on a shipwreck is one of the reasons I became a diver and quite possibly the main reason for thousands of others. There’s nothing that should stop you from getting in on the action, too, so go get the training, get the gear, and have some fun!

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