Day 9 – Espirito Santo: It was now the ninth day on National Geographic Orion’s inaugural voyage andlo9o9l0 we continued to make our way through the South Pacific.
Many of us, including myself were still talking about the land divers we watched take the plunge yesterday.
But after a quick breakfast, we were ready to explore Vanuatu’s largest island, Espirito Santo.
We boarded the Zodiacs and headed to shore.
Jungle clad slopes, bird watch, white sandy beaches, sheltered waters, and a huge World War II history – there was so much to do on the island that we had to split into different groups.
Some went bird watching while others enjoyed a canoe ride and refreshing swim in a crystal clear pool.
I decided to go on my second dive to see the wreck of the SS President Coolidge.
“Carefully, we weaved our way through assorted passages
and reemerge onto what was the side of the vessel.”
Originally built as a luxury liner, the “Coolidge” was converted during the war to a troop transport. The ship was approaching the town of Luganville on Espirito Santo when it struck a mine, and was run ashore by the captain.
Now, many years later, it is lying on its side, just a short distance offshore, making it one of the great dives in the South Pacific.
Once in our diving gear, we walked into the water from the jungle and descended to about sixty feet.
The bow of the vessel was the first part of the ship we could see. As a result of being underwater for so long, it is slowly breaking apart and being taken over by coral and various invertebrates.
Working along one side of the vessel, we passed an impressive bow gun, and even entered the ship into one of the cargo holds.
We could see various relics strewn throughout, including howitzers, jeeps, and tracked vehicles.
Carefully, we weaved our way through assorted passages and reemerge onto what was the side of the vessel and now is the top.
Unfortunately, our air supply was starting to run low, signalling it was time to return to shore, so we started making our way back.
After the dive, the group of us took a moment to reflect not only on what an incredible dive it was, but also onto just what a marvelous destination Vanuatu is.
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