Indonesia

Wreck Dive on the USS Liberty: Tulamben, Bali


We are picked up at 7:00 this morning at our hotel by Sophie,

a charming young Frenchwoman, who owns a dive shop, just up the street call Skubaskool. We are off to Tulamben, on the northeast coast, to dive. But more importantly, a wreck dive. But before the dive, there is the drive: from here to Candi Dasa, we redo yesterday’s journey. We stop in Candi Dasa to pick up our tanks, and Fabrizio, from northeast of Venice and I run off in a desperate search for coffee. Then we continue our merry way. By 10:30 we are on the beach at Tulamben. Along the way, we see the same banners for the various political parties that we have seen before. Today, however, in every village and town we pass through, we also see numerous flat-bed trucks parked in the streets with men of all ages getting on board. Hundreds, in each town, all dressed in red shirts printed with the bull logo of Megawati’s party. We are told by our driver that they are all going to a rally for President Megawati, who will be there in person. The town is on the north shore – a drive of many hours in each direction.

A Wreck of a Wreck Dive

Tulamben is the site of the USS Liberty, sunk by the Japanese during the 2nd World War. She is not more than 20 metres offshore, perfect for novice divers because most of her lies above 20 metres in depth. We walk in – our 1st dive where we didn’t jump off a boat. Although I go through that initial moment of panic, I have done this often enough to recognize that the 1st dive of the day always starts with a brief moment of panic. I get through it, and we go on to a great dive – beautiful corals and multitudes of fish. Many of the fish are as friendly as dogs – they swim along beside us, eyeball to eyeball. The wreck is not as obvious to us as a ship as we had expected. It is not just a huge ship sunk and resting on its side in the ocean. We see the coral and life on what appears to be a reef but think there is something else lurking just around the corner. This is our first tropical dive outside the Great Barrier Reef, and we realize as we swim how damaged the Great Barrier Reef is – we do not see any dead corals today, there is a multitude of life everywhere we look. It is amazing diving – visibility is probably in the 30-metre range, and the colours are vibrant – neon blue, yellow, pink, fuchsia.

After a brief stop for lunch, we are back in for our 2nd dive. It has clouded over, and the tide has changed, so the colours are not as bright, and the visibility is reduced. But I feel elated to be here, diving off this wreck, hoping that I have not created bad karma for myself by diving at what I am certain is a graveyard. We have a better look at the wreck and get a better sense of the layout of the ship and its final resting spot.

We head back to Seminyak and the heavens open. The amount of rain is significantly less than yesterday, but the lightning show is spectacular. It is late afternoon, and we pass truckloads of people heading home from seeing Megawati, all of them drenched from the rains. When we get to Seminyak, we are dropped at the dive shop, walk 3 or 4 doors down to what we have been told is the best warung for Indonesian food on the street. We are soaked by the time we get there. We have a feast, delicious tempeh (hot! for me, medium for Greg), tofu, and garlic spinach. We have a couple of beer each, and the entire bill is about $10 Canadian.

By the time we are done, the rain has finally stopped, and we walk home, exhausted, exhilarated and happy.

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