Dive a WWII Japanese Wreck!
For a time, during the second world war, the Gili islands were used by Japanese forces as a look out post and also a prisoner of war camp. Relics from this period still remain, including a bunker on the hill of Gili Trawangan and a world war 2 Japanese patrol ship just off of the South coast of Gili Air.
Below the surface, at 45m, this wreck is now a popular dive site. With 70 years worth of hard and soft corals growing in and around, this wreck is now offers a beautiful diving experience, giving adventurous divers the opportunity to voyage a bit deeper than the usual recreational levels of 30m.
Our Divemaster - Ben, has been waiting for his chance to dive this wreck since he started his course in December. Here he tells us all about his first experience, venturing a bit deeper than usual, on an intro to tec dive on the Japanese wreck.
"Diving on the wreck is just an incredible experience, not only as it is a decompression dive, but too see such an old ship with all that marine life inhabiting it. It's also really cool to see that there is nothing but sand surrounding the wreck, which makes me think about how much effort it must have taken to find it in the first place" Ben explains.
The person actually discovering the Japaneese wreck is the owner of Dive Central Gili, Simon Liddiard. The story says that Simon heard a rumour coming from Lombok, where this old fisherman saw the ship sink. So for 60 years the ship remained untouched, lying on the sandy bottom, at the end tip of Lombok Straight, with only one man with the knowledge of its whereabouts. Simon went to Lombok, found the fisherman and asked him to point out the rough location of where the boat sunk. Upon finding the location, the only thing left was to actually go searching. One day, many months later he discovered the 20 m long patrol boat, covered in beautiful coral, huge groupers, batfish and rarest of the nudies.
"The procedures for finding the drop point for descending is a little bit more challenging than usual. We cruised around with the diveboat, my dive guide holding the GPS, trying to find a spot close enough to the wreck to be able to drop a line down. Eventually the boat hit the right spot, and a almost 40 kg heavy weight attached to the rope was dropped. This is the line we used as a reference for descent and ascent". Ben says.
"The descent was much faster than I expected, in less than 2 minutes we were already down." He continues. "And upon reaching the bottom, at a depth of 45 meters, there was still so much light, life and the visibility was great. It is just amazing to see this lonely boat appearing out of nowhere."
In order for any diver to do the "Jap-Wreck" dive, as it is a more challenging dive, going past your limits and about 20 mins in to decompression, there is more rules put on you t be able to do the dive.
We ask you to be minimum: Advanced Open Water certified, 30 dives and Nitrox certified. The dive itself is regarded as an "intro-to-tech" dive, allowing you to join an experienced Tech Instructor on a deco-dive. Most people find the wreck itself amazing, including the animals and the position of the dive site. But a lot of the time, divers want to go there to experience nitrogen narcosis. 45 meters is more than enough to get affected by it, with consideration that all divers are different, with more or less chance of getting "narced".
Ben wasn't that affected by the nitrogen, which was a relief, he explains. "I felt a bit nervous about going in to deco for the first time, so not feeling too affected was actually quite nice. I could still manage my buoyancy, checking my air and computer. That was something I was a bit apprehensive about before the dive, I didn't want to screw anything up, especially being a divemaster. Next time I go I wouldn't mind feeling a bit more though, now that I now what it is all about - it wasn't scary at all!" He says smiling. "I would really recommend the Japanese Wreck to anyone that has some experience and want to try something new, a bit more challenging than just a normal fun dive."