Diving the USS Liberty

Tulamben Travel Blog

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View from our villa

Jon and I were woken promptly at 7 AM this morning to get move to a different villa and get ready for our first dive at the famed USS Liberty Wreck site, which absolutely took my breath away (figuratively of course-number one rule of diving is never stop breathing!) This was my first dive anywhere besides Koh Tao, Thailand, where I'd gotten both my Open Water and Advanced Open Water diver certifications, and I couldn't have been more excited to get in the water again.

Checking the equipment that had been set up for me, I was satisfied with the quality...until I awkwardly stepped over the rocky shore into the waves, and, as gracefully as a newbie to shore diving can, lowered myself into the water. At this point I inflated my BCD (bouyancy control device) only to hear a loud 'Ppfffff, splutter, splutter, splutter,' as the air emptied out while I attempted to hold my ground and wiggle my fins on.

Love these little guys!
After a quick experimentation I realized that the BCD would hold to a certain point, then empty out, so as long as I was continuously pushing the inflator button, I was good to go.

Less than a minute of kicking brought us right up to the Liberty herself and immediately I was all smiles and awe. Visibility was pretty good and the wreck was a beauty. Now, I realize I'm saying this as someone who'd never seen any wreck's before, but I dare you to find anyone who's dived this site before and come up disappointed. All around her the fish were just swarming, from small schools of Silver Jacks to huge Bumphead Parrotfish. Apparently the Liberty had been coming from Australia with train equipment among other supplies to deliver to the Philippines when it was hit by the Japanese.

Jon hanging out with the big guys
Aid came to tow the boat to shore, but just short of docking she became water logged and went under, leaving a great site for any level of diver as she's resting not too far from the surface.

After a hearty breakfast at the shop we suited up and headed a little farther along the black sand beach to our second dive of the day-The Dropoff. Thankfully they'd changed my BCD for a different one, so getting in was no problem this time. Immediately after hitting the coral covered wall I fell in love with the site. I was completely beside myself at the number of corals and fish we saw. For some reason I can't get over the anenomes and the little anenome fish that hide there for protection; this could be blamed on the movie Finding Nemo, but I still hold that they're damn cute.

Hiding...

Fifty minutes bottom time came way too quickly for me, and though I simply wasn't ready to leave this gorgeous underwater paradise, my air guage quickly went from 110 bar to wildly fluxuating from 20-60 bar, which scared me a bit at first since I thought that if the guage was changing so much that it must be faulty and I had no idea how much I actually had left, leaving me psychologically thinking I was almost out, causing my body to restrict air flow a bit. I signaled to my divemaster in charge of the dive and we did our safety stop before heading up. Turns out I still had 60 bar left, but at this point, the guage becomes a bit unpredictable. Good to know.

After a good few hours of lying by the pool and reading, Jon and I decided to rent a motorbike and head to Amed, the next city up the road.

We stopped along the way to admire and take pictures of Ganung Agung, the huge volcano that towers over the mountain and last erupted sometime in the 1960's. The Balinese consider it a holy site and respect it with great reverence. A nice restaurant with a view became our hangout for the next few hours as we played pool and ate. I tried Arac, the local liquor made from the fruit of the male coconut tree here, forcing it down as if it were bitter medicine. While one cocktail did the trick and got me a bit buzzed, I definitely won't be ordering another one anytime soon. Buying a few beers from the market down the road, we spent the rest of the night talking, sipping, and listening to the ocean. This is the life!

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View from our villa
View from our villa
Love these little guys!
Love these little guys!
Jon hanging out with the big guys
Jon hanging out with the big guys
Hiding...
Hiding...
Tulamben
photo by: Deats