SCUBA IN CUBA WRECK DIVE
WRECK DIVE IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA
The day started with everyone anxiously awaiting the hour of our departure, we left Havana for Varadero to pick-up some friends who are also fellow members of Cuba’s Barracuda Dive Club. We were headed for the other end of Cuba, and the beautiful city of Santiago de Cuba for a much-anticipated SCUBA adventure. The long drive and bad road conditions make for a tedious and sixteen-hour drive, and we were all exhausted when we reached Santiago. We decided to take our first day in Santiago off and made our way to the Church of El Cobre which is an emblematic Cuban Church with a long cultural and religious history, and we then visited the Santa Efigenia Cemetery where many important figures of Cuba’s history found their final resting place, Cuba’s like Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, Bacardi, Mariana Grajales, and so many others that they are too numerous to mention. Are final stop being the Moncada Barracks where Fidel Castro and members of the 26th of July Movement launched their symbolic, failed attack against the government of Fulgencio Batista. Now considered the birth-place and start of the Cuban revolution.
The next morning all eight members of our group took a bus from our hotel to our immersion on the coast. Our goal was to get to long dives in that morning, and our objective was the Spanish Armada’s flagship Cristobal Colon, which was sunk in 1898 by the American Navy. We put our gear together, double-checked everything, and went over our dive plan. The weather was perfect, and the water was crystal clear, like most winter days in the Caribbean when the seas are calm. The Cristobal Colon was visible almost immediately, and the wreck went from a depth of 30 feet to almost 100 feet. We looked like small fish swimming around the immense structure, which we had been warned was dangerously unstable, and we had decided before hand not to enter. We made our way around the majestic ship and our enemy, elapsed time, was slowly winning. Our dive computers eventually pulled us up on our two dives, but not before we were able to see of the late nineteenth-centuries most advanced and enigmatic naval vessels.
After scrubbing off and squaring-away our equipment we rolled around nearby river like kids, and we finally got back on the bus that returned us to our hotel in Santiago. We had lunch at one of the areas many small, private restaurants, and had endless discussions about our dive on the ride back to Havana.
By Pedro Leal