Thursday, July 18, 2013

Diving in Tulamben - USAT Liberty Wreck

It's winter here down under and it's damn cold! So today I'm reminiscing on the warm clear waters we experienced while diving in Bali. Gaffa and I decided to do another day of diving by ourselves on the Tulamben wreck. We both love wreck diving - travelling around the world to dive on top wrecks like the SS President Cooliage in Vanuatu, Zenobia in Cyprus, Thislegorm in Egypt...

This time we were diving on the USAT Liberty which is a US Army transport ship that got torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 near Lombok. It was the towed to Talamben beach for salvage operations. In 1963 when Mt. Agung erupted, it pushed the ship about 25m from the shore to a depth of about 30m, where it now lies encrusted with beautiful coral and swimming with an abundance of marine life.

We went with Magic Toto again from Crystal Divers and another diver (DM) was also joining us for the day. Gaffa and I got picked up from our hotel at 6am and arrived at the dive shop nice and early. Toto decided to play a magic trick on DM. He gave me a plaing card that I wrote my name and the date on, and I put the card in my wallet. During the day Toto asked me to imagine a card from the deck and only tell Gaffa and DM which card I had picked. He then ask me to imagine writing my name and the date on the card... Then BOOM! He would "magically" make the card appear somewhere in my bag. I played along and ruffled through my bag. Abracadabra.... the card appeared with my name and the date on it. DM was totally dumbfounded. He couldn't believe it.

Anyway, back to diving. We drove to Tulamben which was quite far away from the dive centre. But we stopped off along the way and got some breakfast. We tried a local joint on the side of the road that sold the best kebabs with tasty homemade secret sauce. Pipping hot, freshly cooked; they went down a treat.
We arrived at the dive site and there were already lots of divers there. We geared up and headed down to the beach. But the great thing is that we didn't have to carry our gear. There are ladies there called porters, that carry two lots of gear on their head. They are tiny ladies but keeping their backs straight and a small towel as cushioning, allows them to successfully carry every diver's gear down to the beach with ease.
The entry is a little tough, having to maneuver through the waves crashing on the rocky beach. But once you get in, its an easy swim to the wreck. There's amazing marine life and lots of swim throughs that Gaffa had fun with. I even got to see another turtle! The deepest point is at about 30m so this site is great for advanced divers. Apparently some dive centres do DSDs at the wreck as well, so on calm days it's good for everyone, snorkelers included!

On our second dive we went on search for sharks! We saw a couple of them but quite far away. It was still a nice relaxing dive. I even got to witness Toto magically giving Gaffa more air! Haha via an underwater equipment exchange. Since Toto breathes like a fish, he always finished with loads of air. And after 12,000 logged dives, he knew all the good places to dive and find amazing creatures to take photos of. These photos are Toto's, not mine. 

Highly recommend diving in Tulamben. The wreck is great, so much to explore down there. Plus lunch imcluded at a local restaurant and a stop off to take photos of the rice fields and Mt. Agung, it was a fun day out and left us wishing we could spend a few moe days diving in Bali.

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