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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 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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Breaking News: Captain charged in Conception boat fire tragedy

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According to reports in the international press today, it has been announced that the Captain of the dive boat Conception, which was completely destroyed by fire last year, resulting in the tragic loss of 34 passengers and crew, has been charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter. 

The Captain Jerry Nehl Boylan was among five crew members to escape the blaze on board Conception, a dive boat operated by Truth Aquatics, which took place in the early hours of 2 September 2019 whilst the boat was moored offshore, close to Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California.

The BBC reports that Mr Boylan has not publicly commented on the charges, and is expected to surrender to the authorities at a later date. According to the BBC, each charge of seaman’s manslaughter carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

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Crossover to NAUI for FREE!

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As a boost to help the diving industry, NAUI are still offering a FREE Instructor cross-over course together with five free certifications to all Instructors. This can include Open Water, Advance, Rescue, Nitrox and various other specialities and can be mixed and matched so all five do not necessarily need to be for the same certification.

NAUI have also frozen the membership fees for 2021 for instructors crossing over or restarting.

NAUI’s Southern UK Rep Simon Lodge says: “Throughout this year, the diving industry has severely suffered so as a result, to help kickstart the diving industry NAUI will not be charging membership fees 2020/2021 to any new instructors.” 

Founded in 1960, NAUI Worldwide is one of the scuba industry’s largest not-for-profit agencies whose purpose is to enable people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education, and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world’s underwater environments. As a pioneer in diving education, NAUI has developed many of the programs and concepts accepted throughout the diving industry. NAUI: A Higher Standard!

For more details please contact Simon Lodge (Southern UK Rep) on simon@europe.naui.org or Craig Warner (Northern UK Rep) on cwarner@europe.naui.org.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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