Yesterday was the last dive of my Advanced Open Water course. It was a single night dive at an old massive (150m) ship wreck roughly 20 minutes outside of Djibouti port by speedboat.
We were a total of 8 persons (2 crew, dive instructor and the rest divers). We departed at 17:45 just as the sun was setting. The water was calm with day old swells rhythmically marching across the ocean. There was a slight haze in the warm moist sea breeze.
As we were speeding along to the wreck with the engines roaring and our heads bobbing along to the swells we passed massive tankers and cargo ships anchored outside the Port of Djibouti. The red African sun setting in the background and silhouettes of birds against the sun returning to shore after their evening dinner out at sea.
We had already set up our dive gear before leaving so when we got to the wreck (indicated by a small red bottle as a buoy) the captain turned of the engines and hooked up the boat to the buoy. Silence set in and we were at the mercy of the sea swaying gently side to side.
At this point the last of the red hot sun had set behind the haze and the clouds on the horizon and there was roughly 20 minutes of light left. Our instructor proceeded to sit the divers down for the diving briefing. After which we suited up, got our underwater lights and plunged into the dark, dark deep blue.
The water was cold at first just like you expect when you get in for the first time but within minutes it felt warm and welcoming. As we were preparing to descend I took a look at what was below me with the light and all I saw was darkness and schools of fish mowing in the deep like massive shadows of an ancient deep sea monster. At this point it seemed a bit crazy to be doing this but once the instructor gave the “okay” sign and the “descend” sign there was nothing more to it other than to follow.
For those who have never been diving, one of the most exciting parts is the beginning descent, because you know you have a full tank of air, you move from the surface world to the under water world and your body begins to feel the changes caused by pressure. Diving at night made this even more exciting because you are following the buoy line down to the depths just seeing the lights from everyone’s torches and confused fish that happen to come into your own light beam.
We descended onto the side of the bridge where we all gathered, checked that everyone was okay to continue. At this point you could see how massive this wreck was, like a huge apartment building lying on its side. Visibility on the dive was amazing by the way.
Once ready we began the dive around and through the wreck. All I can say without going further into detail is that the dive was brilliant. It is such a weird feeling to be in the complete dark, just seeing emptiness in every direction other than where this massive endless structure was. Exciting and scary at the same time. Only sign of the other divers was the occasional yellow flippers or the beam of other torches passing by.
There was a lot of marine life, saw tons of fish, corals and other random creatures. The wreck itself being so big had a lot of surface to be explored. At one point the instructor signaled to us to cut of our lights. This was so that we could see all the bluminescent life. Moving your hand through the water made small plankton light up like fireworks. Beautiful!
As our air was reaching closer to the safety limits we started our ascent with the mandatory safety stops (deepest we went to was about 25-30m) in between. Finally reaching the surface, inflating the BCD and taking of the mask to breathe in the warm sea air. As we surfaced into the dark calm water the sky was clear and looking up you could see one of the brightest starry skies you could ever imagine. It was like the cherry on top!
We got back in the boat, all the divers extremely humbled, quiet and satisfied knowing that this dive had been something special and most likely once in a lifetime kind of thing.