Wreck Dive Certificates
Bermuda Makes A Good Thing Better
By Geri Murphy, May 1997
Last year Bermuda introduced one of the most innovative programs in diving. Called the Shipwreck Certificate Program, it became an instant success. Bermuda's dive operators, together with the Bermuda Department of Tourism, selected six of their favorite shipwrecks to showcase this unusual program.
These wreck sites are the ones most often requested by visiting divers who wish to see Bermuda's finest undersea attractions. The wrecks include the Constellation, Cristobal Colon, Hermes, Mary Celestia, Minnie Breslauer and Pelinaion.
When it was launched September 1, 1996, visiting divers began receiving, at no charge, beautifully crafted certificates printed on parchment-style paper. Each certificate identifies the shipwreck, provides a brief background of the wreck and includes a silhouette of the ship prior to sinking. Ample room is provided for the diver's name and date, as well as the name of the dive operator and the signature of the divemaster or boat captain. For the visitor's convenience, the certificates are issued by the dive operator at the completion of the day's diving.
This year, Bermuda is expanding the program by adding another six wrecks to its burgeoning program. Now visiting divers have an opportunity to collect as many as 12 certificates.
Constellation: A 192 foot American schooner loaded with general cargo, she sank in 1943. Lying at 30 feet is a mound of cement sacks, dishes, bottles, glassware and supplies.
Cristobal Colon: Bermuda's largest shipwreck is a 499 foot Spanish transatlantic luxury liner that sank in 1936. She lies in 55 feet of water with her six boilers still visible.
Hermes: A 165 foot steel hull buoy tender, she was sunk as an artificial reef. Fully intact, she sits upright on the sand at 80 feet, with mast, wheelhouse and deck winch.
Iristo (Aristo): A 250 foot Norwegian freighter, she sank in 1937. She lies in 50 feet of water with her engine, boilers, propeller and a fire engine still visible.
Lartington: A 245 foot early vintage steel freighter with a cargo of cotton, she sank in 1879. She lies in 35 feet of water with boilers, stern section and propeller still visible.
L'Herminie: A French 60 gun Man of War, she sank in 1838. Resting in 35 feet of water, this warship's nine foot long cannons are still on board.
Mary Celestia: A 225 foot side paddlewheel steamer, she served as a Confederate blockade runner. In 55 feet of water, her remains include paddlewheels and anchor.
Minnie Breslauer: A 300 foot steel hulled freighter built in 1872, she was sunk on her maiden voyage. Still visible are the ship's propeller, steam boilers and wheelhouse.
Montana (Nola): A 236 foot side paddlewheel steamer, she was sunk in 1863 while running a Civil War blockade. She lies in 30 feet with boilers and paddlewheels intact.
North Carolina: A classic sunken sailing ship, this 205 foot English iron hulled bark sank in 1880 and still has her bowsprit, sail rigging and deadeyes in place. She sits upright in 25 to 40 feet of water.
Pelinaion: A 385 foot Greek cargo steamer, she sank in 1940 after breaking her back on a reef. Lying at 55 feet, her giant boiler and engine are an awesome sight. The wreck lies one mile offshore in depths ranging from 20 to 70 feet.
Taunton: A 228 foot Norwegian steamer, she was stranded on North East Breakers in 1920. Sitting at 10 to 40 feet, she is a great shallow dive and a beautiful wreck.
The Shipwreck Certificate Program is open to any diver or to visitors enrolled in a scuba instruction class. The rules are quite simple and straightforward: 1) Visit Bermuda during 1997; 2) Stay at any hotel, cottage or guesthouse; 3) Dive with any Bermuda dive operator; 4) Receive a certificate for any one of the 12 designated wrecks; 5) Receive 12 certificates for diving all 12 wrecks; and 6) Pick up your certificate right at the dive center.
Wreck diving in Bermuda waters is by no means limited to the 12 'certificate wrecks.' There are more than 35 divable shipwrecks encircling the island and more are being discovered every year. This unique circle makes Bermuda one the world's best tropical wreck diving destinations. With shipwrecks on all sides of the island, there is always a wreck to dive; no matter which direction the wind is blowing.
Bermuda's wreck sites are served by six dive centers around the island: two on the North Side; two on the South Side; one at the West End; and one at the East End.
BERMUDA DIVE OPERATORS
There are dozens of Bermuda shipwrecks awaiting exploration. If you are interested in visiting Bermuda and diving its wrecks, contact any of the dive operators listed below:
Blue Water Divers Co., Ltd.
P.O. Box SN 165
Southampton SN BX, Bermuda
(441) 234-1034; (441) 234-3561 (fax)
Darrell's Wharf, 1 Harbour Road
Paget PG 01, Bermuda
(888) DO A DIVE
(441) 236-6339; (441) 236-8926 (fax)
Nautilus Diving, Ltd.
P.O. Box HM237
Hamilton HM AX, Bermuda
(441) 295-9485; (441) 234-5180 (fax)
Grotto Bay Beach Hotel
P.O. Box 658
Warwick WK BX, Bermuda
(441) 293-7319; (441) 295-2421 (fax)
South Side Scuba
Sonesta Beach Resort
(441) 238-1833; (441) 236-0394 (fax)