Escape The Winter Trip 2020: Day 10

Our first dive site of the day was my second attempt at getting to see the Hilma Hooker. I’m super happy to report that I was able to equalize my left ear this time (after a bit of coaxing) and we were able to make it down to check out the shipwreck.

I see a HUGE shipwreck over there!

The history of the Hilma Hooker is fascinating and, no doubt, makes it a popular dive site on Bonaire. (If you care for a history lesson, have a read here.) I was interested because there’s a geocache among the sunken wreckage (which we never did find), but this freaking ship is HUGE! I mean, I assumed it had to be pretty big to transport 25,000 pounds of pot, but, seeing it come into focus in the deep blue was pretty incredible!

We spent some time checking out the ship (some of us more thoroughly than others) and then decided to ascend a bit and come over the top of the overturned vessel to explore the reef across the sandbed. In the moment that we reached the highest edge of the ship and were heading toward the reef on the other side of the sand bed, I found myself suddenly becoming fearful of “heights,” even though we were 80ish feet underwater. I had to keep my eyes fixed on the reef and swim toward it, not looking down to the sandbed below. It was a really odd feeling and one that I’m not sure I understand. It was almost like I felt like I would fall at any moment while swimming across the sandbed to the reef. It’s wild what perceptions get twisted underwater!

The sunken, overturned ship makes a great home for sealife.
The crow’s nest, resting about 90 feet under water, on the sandbed.

After our dive at the Hilma Hooker, we made a quick stop at another dive site called The Lake. We agreed that we would cap this dive at 30 minutes to eat lunch and meet up with another group of divers for a new adventure. We ended up going over our agreed 30 minute plan (surprise, surprise) but The Lake was a really great site for us today!

Goldentail Moray Eel.
Goldentail Moray Eel.
No selfie stick required!
Just keep swimming…
Trumpetfish.
Peacock Flounder.
Blenny poking out of a coralhead.
Queen conch.
This HUGE baitball was pushed up against the shoreline.
There must have been thousands of fish!
Blue Tang and Chromis (?)
Honeycomb Cowfish in a forest of Staghorn Coral.
Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish.
Christmas Tree Worm.
Ocean Surgeonfish.
Blue Chromis.
White Encrusting Zoanthid.
Branching Tube Sponge.
Yellowtail Snapper.
Spotted Drum.

For our third and final dive of the day, we headed over to Divi Dive Resort to get in the water from their beautiful dock. After entering the water, we headed north. Since there were no cruise ships in the port today, we got a FANTASTIC opportunity to dive at the port and check out the area that is usually obscured by humongous cruise ships.

As soon as we entered the water and were waiting for everyone else to get in, there was a large Spotted Eagle Ray that saw by. It was the first time I had ever seen a ray in the wild and I was fascinated! I couldn’t believe how long the ray’s tail was! Josh says the tail was about 8 feet long, so I’m not exaggerating! It was pretty incredible!

The rest of the dive was equally as interesting. While it was cool to see the industrial underwater landscape, it was disheartening to see all of the pure trash that has been dumped or has fell into the water and has gone ignored. Some of the discarded items were HUGE and although life seems to be thriving under the docks, it’s sad that the sea critters have adjusted to living in essentially a trash dump.

This engine probably hasn’t started for quite some time…
Bar Jack.
JB found a pretty sweet hat, until he lost it!
Underwater shenanigans with JB.
Spotted Scorpionfish.
Branching Tube Sponge.
Lionfish.
Tarpon.
Porcupinefish.
Coral growing on the cruise ship dock supports.

After we finished our cruise ship docks dive, we headed up the street to pull the trigger on the camera light set up that Josh had been renting for the last day. Given the pretty awesome pictures he took in the last 24 hours, it was a no-brainer that we’d go ahead and make the investment into the light set up. We found the price on the discontinued light set up to be reasonable compared to what was available on the internet for purchase, so, Josh got a new toy!

For being vacation, today was pretty busy so we all took the night off and enjoyed a relaxing, dry evening of nerding out with photos, videos and blog posts.

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