The Gili Island wrecks, and how to become a wreck diver!
One of the coolest things in diving is plunging in, to discover a man made object, sunken deep in to the ocean floor. It might be a shipwreck lost at sea, or an airplane from the second world war, or maybe a collapsed lighthouse. Regardless of what the wreck is, divers have always been fascinated by these massive structures, their history and how they sunk.
Penetrating a wreck without the proper training can potentially be dangerous; you are no longer able to leave the wreck at anytime, the overhead environment is blocking your entry and exit. With the right training and broad experience with diving in overhead environments, wreck diving is safe and, more importantly, extremely fun! Divers are intrigued by to hear of a new sunken wreck, some destinations are famous specifically for the wrecks that they have. For example, Malta is very famous for it's wrecks, as is the Red Sea where there is a lot of shallow coral reefs, the perfect thing to sink a ship. Nowadays, many ships are purposely sunk for recreational divers and to create artificial reefs.
So what training can you complete in order to expand your knowledge and take part safe wreck penetrations?
The PADI wreck diver course takes 2 days; 4 dives together with an experienced instructor. The different dives train you to find potential hazards, points of interests, how to map a wreck site, as well as how to use a line to reel out a safe route through the wreck.
The course trains you to handle problems inside the wreck, such as missing buddies, loss of visibility or light failure. One way of practicing this is to follow a line attached to the wreck (or other structure) - without a mask. This pushes you to trust your other senses and of course puts your buoyancy to the test. It might seem challenging, but you'd be surprised how well most divers perform, experienced or not.
At Dive Central Gili we have two instructors with broad experience that can teach you to safely dive in wrecks. We have three different wrecks around the Gilis - all the with different history, depth and requires different levels of training.
So what are the wrecks around Gili Trawangan?
The Bounty Wreck
The bounty lies at the bottom of the south west coast of Gili Meno. It used to be a jetty for the Bounty cruise ship to dock on (hence the name). One stormy night 15 years ago, the wind broke it in half and it sunk in to the water. It lies tilted on the sandy sloping bottom, the top is around 8 meters while the bottom is 15-16m. Looking at the top of the wreck you can see loads of soft and hard corals growing, proving how iron rich material can stimulate coral growth. The strong currents of Indonesia are however taking its toll on the Bounty and slowly the top of it is falling apart. Therefore, divers are not allowed to swim underneath or into the wreck. The site itself provides some amazing macro, such as Leaf scorpion fish, frog fish and sea moths. Not only is it good to start observing points of interests but also possible hazards.
But the wreck is not the only man made thing placed here, scattered around the wreck are loads of car tires, mooring lines and even bikes.
The Glenn Nusa
The Glenn Nusa faithfully served as a tugboat in Lombok for many years, before finally retired and got bought by GIDA and Trawangan dive centers to sink. It now lies on its keel on the sloping bottom between Halik and Shark Point. With a hull of steel and the inside with s big open space, used for shipping cargo, the ship is perfect for doing wreck dives - with or without penetration.
The deepest point is around 28-29 m and the most shallow 22 m on its hull, and 19 m by the crows nest. There are several parts of the Glenn Nusa that are interesting, the captains cabin lying next to the wreck, the anchor on the side, the cargo space and of course the toilet. After only 6 weeks underwater, there is already abundant marine life and coral growing on and around the steel - which is great to see. Leaving it underwater for a couple of years, it will no longer be a tugboat, it will be an artificial reef.
The Japanese Wreck (or Jap wreck as it's called) is by far the wreck with most marine life and historical interest. Lying on a depth of 45 meters, in the channel between Gili Air and Lombok, the wreck is completely solitary, with only sand surrounding.
The origin and the reason for sinking is unclear, and the theories are divided. What we do know is that the ship was used as a submarine patrol boat for the Japanese during the second world war, protecting the waters of Indonesia. It is believed that she went under in 1945, by either an hostile torpedo, or the crew scuttled the boat then they realized the war was lost.
The ship was lost for many years, with only a local fisherman remembering the whereabouts. Untouched for almost 40 years until Dive Centrals owner Simon Liddiard heard the story and decided to search for it. After 2 weeks looking, the ship was found, completely covered with coral, schooling fish and unique species of macro. Bullets and empty magazines are scattered around the wreck, making this dive perfect for history lovers.
Due to its depth the Jap Wreck is a decompression dive, creating some dive pre requisites. First of all you need to be AOW certified, with the Enriched Air specialty, and minimum 30 logged dives.