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Technical Wreck Diving in Northeast Brazil

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By Richard Streeton

Apart from the remote Atlantic archipelago of Fernando da Noronha, Brazil is not a world-renowned technical diving destination. However, for the informed diver, there are some excellent liveaboard and day trip options in northeast Brazil for technical wreck divers. These lie between the cities of Maceio (Alagoas) and Recife (Pernambuco). The Voyager catamaran covers this region with week-long trips in either direction taking in the main wrecks along the way.

Diving is possible all year round. Visibility can reach 20-30 m/65-100 ft depending on the site. The wrecks described here were ones I visited in April. This typically offers the best diving conditions in terms of sea state and general visibility. Interestingly, wrecks from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, with a range of propulsion systems, can be visited with relative convenience on the same trip.

The Draguinha

Close to Maceio, divers will find the Draguinha. This was a dredger that sank in 1961 due to bad weather. The wreck is reasonably intact with artefacts ranging from the dredging system to the boilers. These are still in good condition. The wreck is 42 m/140 ft long with a maximum depth of 35 m/115 ft. You can see large groupers and beautiful Brazilian reef octopuses alongside schools of batfish.

The Walsa and Lupus

The Brazilian Navy has sunk many tugboats and ferries to create artificial reefs. The majority are fully intact, including the propellers. They can be penetrated safely. Many are quite similar, but the Walsaand Lupus stand out. The Walsa is 32 m/105 ft long and lies in 42 m/140 ft of water. The deck is at 33 m/110 ft.

Divers can find enormous schools of yellow-striped grunts consisting of thousands of individuals. So many, in fact, that it became difficult to see the wreck itself. The Lupus is slightly longer at 34 m/110 ft and sits in shallower water. The maximum depth is 36 m/120 ft. The main attraction on the Lupus is the engine room where divers can inspect a beautifully preserved diesel motor.

The Pirapama

Due to the abundance of life, the Pirapama is one of the stars of the show in the Recife area. The wreck rests in the 19-23 m/62-75 ft range. It makes for an excellent night dive, which maximizes the action. Dozens of enormous stingrays are found alongside nurse sharks and huge green turtles. Every rock hole is full of lobsters and the entire wreck is covered with sponges and soft corals.

The Pirapama is one of the oldest wrecks in the area. Historians believe it sank in 1889 after a collision with the Vapor Bahia. The Pirapama was built in 1841. It was equipped with both a set of sails and a paddle wheel, driven by an oscillating-cylinder steam engine. The engine is no longer in place, but you can see the paddle wheel axle and steam cylinders amidships.

The Vapor Bahia

The Vapor Bahia is another 19th-century steam-paddle ship. It plied the seas between the northeastern and southern cities of Brazil. Like the Pirapama, the Bahia is extensively damaged owing to the almost 130 years she has been sitting at a depth of 25 m/82 ft. However, unlike the Pirapama, the steam paddle is intact and well preserved with sponges on every surface. The steam boilers are also still present.

The zone around these artefacts has some wonderful swim-throughs and hidden corners. You will find these between caved-in planks where groups of nurse sharks congregate in the sand. The most stunning part of the wreck is the prow which stands upright with an anchor still in place. The Bahiadeserves at least two dives to explore her fully and is typically covered with large schools of fish.

Vapor 48

One of the deeper dives around Recife is the Vapor 48. Little is known about this wreck, including her real name which is still a mystery. The name ‘Vapor 48′ refers to the steam propulsion system (vapor in Portuguese) and the depth of the wreck (48 m/158 ft). She makes for an excellent technical dive with both the steam-paddle and engines/boilers in place. These, however, are in a more dilapidated state than those of the Bahia. At 60 m/200 ft in length, she can be covered comfortably in a single dive. Several large groupers live here.

The Corvetta Camaqua

The top tech-dive in this region is undeniably the Corvetta Camaqua. The Brazilian navy used this ship to protect their coastline from German and Italian submarines during World War II. It’s a three-hour trip in open sea from Recife to get to the Camaqua. The wreck lies on her starboard side at a maximum depth of 55 m/180 ft. The port side is at 47 m/155 ft. The Camaqua is a neat Trimix dive.

Dive planning should account for potentially strong surface currents. These can impede descent. You should also be aware of potentially dangerous munitions which the Camaqua was carrying as cargo. With sufficient bottom time and depending on gas selection, the 57 m/187 ft long Camaqua can be fully explored in a single dive. This includes a visit to the propeller, kitchen unit, deck cannon and a beautiful corridor swim-through on the port side. Large schools of fish are always circling the wreck.

Just scratching the surface

There are dozens of other wrecks in this region. I’ve only described my personal favorites and those that would be most interesting to technical divers here. Out of water, Recife offers great opportunities to get a taste of the northeastern Brazilian vibe.

The nearby historical town of Olinda has a UNESCO world-heritage cathedral, wonderful examples of Portuguese architecture and is full of excellent restaurants and bars. These can be a great place to pass any no-fly time before onwards travel. No visit to the Recife area would be complete without tasting the wonderful Acarajé. This serves as both a religious offering to the gods in the Candomblé religion and as much-loved street food.


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

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WIN one of the NEW Momentum M20 Dive Watches!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Nautilus Diving to give away one of Momentum’s new M20 Dive Watches as a prize!

Leading watch brand Momentum has introduced the new M20 series of watches. The new collection includes the M20 DSS Diver with a classic black dial, or striking Bahama yellow dial, and the M20 GMT Diver in a black & blue “Batman” version.

The M20 Dive watch features a solid 316L stainless steel case that is beautifully rounded and polished, taking its design cues from our original 1990’s Aquamatic model. The case is just under 42mm in diameter, but the smooth curves make it feel much smaller. Style, performance and unmatched comfort on the wrist.

The M20’s elegant yet durable design allows it to be worn in almost any situation. It has a 200M depth rating along with an off-set screw-down crown for added comfort.

The M20’s are also very legible, with its double-dome sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating there is virtually no glare. At night, the SuperLuminova luminous dial and hands come to life, a vital feature for serious divers where light may not reach certain depths.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can find here), we reported that the Women Divers Hall of Fame have announced the selection of how many new members who will constitute the Class of 2021?

Is it:

  • A) five
  • B) six
  • C) seven

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Nautilus Diving Momentum M20 Dive Watch October 2020

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  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Nautilus Diving and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. Your information will be shared with the competition's sponsor unless you tick the opt out box. This competition closes on 09/12/20. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

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5 Easy Steps For Choosing A Scuba Diving Center You’ll LOVE! (Watch Video)

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How do you pick which dive operation wins your money for your scuba diving vacation? If you only get to dive on vacation, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and getting experiences you enjoy. That’s why we are giving you our easy 5-step process for filtering out dive centers and narrowing down your selection to find the scuba team you want to be diving with!

In this example–driven video, we are showing you our procedure for how we pick our scuba dive operator. In this case, I use the island of Barbados, as I’ve actually never been scuba diving there.

THANK YOU so much to EVERYONE who is a part of this great community. We promise we have so much more planned for this channel. We’re going to keep spreading information and positivity to the Scuba Divers around the world! IMPROVE. INSPIRE. EXPLORE.


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Spend 7 nights at the Cinco Plazas Apartments, Lanzarote with flights and 5 days diving from just £625pp with Diverse Travel this winter.  Travel 12th November - Spaces are limited - contact us now to book. Other dates available.

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