The wreck of the Isla Gomera or El Naranjito

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Just getting started with wreck diving? Or looking for a new challenge?

This is a fantastic and easily accessible wreck dive to build up your experience and confidence, known locally as El Naranjito due to its cargo of oranges carried on the fatal voyage in April 1946. Whilst heading to Barcelona from Cartagena the cargo shifted in a violent storm, but luckily the majority of the crew managed to swim ashore despite the cold water. Unfortunately the Chief Engineer’s wife did not survive. Oranges littered the shoreline for weeks and provided easy pickings for the locals.

Originally named the Nadir and launched in 1919 from Cadiz in Spain, it had a single steam engine. The 51m long vessel now sits on a sandy bottom heeled slightly to Starboard. The bottom of the stern is at 45mwd, whilst the bow sits at 42mwd. The wreck is in excellent condition and the engine room and holds make an enjoyable starter for anyone wanting wreck penetration. The focastle deck is around 28mwd.

I have dived this wreck at least 25 times during the past 2 years and it never fails to excite. The visibility is usually excellent, but sometimes there is a current running as you descend the buoy line to just aft of the bow. On reaching the deck area it is easy to navigate around the remains of the deck machinery. Careful observation will reveal the large Congers who live in the “catholes” where once the hawsers used to run. Patience is needed to get a good photograph as they are shy!

The wreck is also home to large Morays, which have made the engine room their own. Depending on the time of year, shoals of Dentex, Barracuda and Amberjacks can be seen hunting their prey of Sardine and Anchovy just off the deck area. I have also been lucky several times and managed to spot lone Sunfish off in the blue. Smaller subjects can be found, even to macro levels, if you can spot the tiny nudibranchs or the Spiny Rockfish that abound on the deck area.

To make the best of this dive, good planning is needed. Stay on the deck area and you can dive on air, but for more ambitious dives Nitrox or Trimix should be considered. A good level of experience is required as this dive is in open sea; having said that, the local dive operators know their business and are very capable and dive this location regularly.

In summary, this is a must if you are diving in the area.

Location

Cabo de Palos, Murcia, Spain.

Dive Operators

Divers Cabo de Palos – Tel: +34 687802891 – info@diverscabodepalos.com

Centro de Buceo Naranjito – Tel +34 968564836 – naranjitobuceo@naranjitobuceo.com

Mangamar Dive Centre – Tel +34 968100860 – info@mangamar.es

Mike Kochalski

Mike Kochalski

Mike has been diving for over 50 years, always as a scuba diver but also as a Military and then Commercial Diver. He has dived all over the world, with a longtime interest in photography. Mike now splits his time between the waters of South East Asia and the cooler waters of the Spanish Mediterranean.

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