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goldfish
02-01-2007, 09:58 PM
DIVERS in Bermuda are planning to sink a 75í former ferry to add to the islandís tally of over 300 shipwrecks.
The government of the Atlantic island requested help in disposing of the vessel ëSea Ventureí to the volunteer group Bermuda Intact Wreck Initiative (BIWI) last summer in order for it to be made into a dive attraction.
Under the co-ordination of Michael Burke, who is also the owner of Blue Water Divers, a group of about 25 volunteers have almost finished cleaning the boat of any hazardous waste ahead of the proposed sinking date of April 12, 2007 ó 22 years to the day after it was launched.
Environmental Protection officers from the Bermuda government will have to inspect the vessel to check itís free of hazardous materials and poses no danger to diver safety and will also have to agree that the area chosen to sink the Sea Venture is appropriate.
Pending that approval the site should be ready to dive in time for the islandís peak season of May-November.
As a fully intact ship, it's hoped that the Sea Venture will become a favourite for divers and dive-operators alike, and talks are underway in making it a part of the islandís ëShipwreck certificate' programme currently marketed at visiting divers.
"What's exciting about the Sea Venture is that while it's only 75ft long it's got four levels and lots of interesting areas, cabins and stairs for divers to penetrate and explore,î said Mr. Burke.
"It's also fully intact. Everyone likes to see a Hollywood set style wreck when they go diving, but people don't always understand that shipwrecks are called wrecks for a reason ó because theyíre literally a wreck.î
If all goes to plan, he said, the vessel will be sunk in a sandhole near Eastern Blue* cut on the inside of the fringing reef, which will protect it from ocean swell and also mean it's divable during moderate to strong winds.
"That would be the only wreck of consequence with structure and good visibility in the area," Mr. Burke continued, "so it could be visited as part of a two-dive package on a wreck and a reef.
"The top of the wreck, which is completely flat, would be in around 30ft of water which is better for novices and as the deck is flat it would even offer a perfect training platform. The bottom would be in about 60ft.
"Having an extra destination will also take the pressure off some of the more historical wrecks."
The Sea Venture will be the fifth major vessel that has been intentionally scuttled as a dive location, after the Hermes, the Xing-Da, the King and the Triton ferry. Mr. Burke said that if all goes well there's "the possibility this will open up the avenue for further sinkings."
Mr. Burke added that Bermuda had to keep up its moniker as the Shipwreck Capital of the Atlantic and to do that we need to keep scuttling vessels as dive sites. Other dive locations in the Caribbean have realized the attraction of wrecks to divers — so must Bermuda, he said.

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