Wreck of the Liberty

Off the coast of Bali is the wreck of a boat from World War II. Don't confuse this with the wreck of the Liberator plane on the Togian Islands. It's just an amazing coincidence. I had just been in the Mount Batur area. I insisted on driving the long way around, up north and down the northeast coast (which was visible from the Batur rim if you looked carefully in the right direction. I wished I had time to enjoy the area but there was less than a week left before I had to go home. After a morning hike up the mountain, I got in the car and drove around and arrived at Tulamben, where the ruins are.

There's more going on there than my guide book said; I guess the tourist rupiah have been snowballing. I parked in a driveway for a restaurant/hotel, quickly before sundown, and got my snorkeling gear and started swimming.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck corner Just like the guidebooks say, you swim out here in this direction, and all of a sudden you see a piece of the boat jutting up out of the depths.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck shore This is how far it is from the site to the shore. I just parked my car to the right of the hotel you see and ran for the water. Unfortunately you had to go scuba diving to see it well (or else be really good at holding your breath). Most if it is between 15 and 30 meters deep; prime depths for recreational scuba divers.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck surface The easiest way to get in to shore is to swim. I know you think that you'd swim until you could stand up and then walk, but it's not that easy. First of all it's hard to walk with those stupid fins, even if you walk backwards. Second, the coral and rocks make it hard to walk in many places. So usually I just swim in to shore until there's no more room for my body between the sand and the surface.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck coral The next day I went scuba diving with one of the outfits down there. Just wander around and say "yes" when someone asks you if you want to go diving.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck coral My divemaster had a special deal: for an extra 10,000 rups, you can rent a real underwater camera. Of course the film cost another 18,000 rups.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck coral The shape the coral makes depends on what kind of coral it is. Actually each is a small creature that secretes calcium carbonate and the final shape depends on the collected effort of all of these creatures.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck coral A diver's depth gauge almost scrapes against some coral.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck feeding If you've got a bit of food, you can be really popular with the fish.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck fish The camera ended up being a drag. There were a zillion adjustments you had to get all right. Meanwhiile, scuba diving itself is complicated.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck fish on edge Like you set the distance for focus (it wasn't an SLR) and then you also set the distance for the flash intensity. Whoever designed it never thought about how maybe these two should be linked so you aren't screwing it up all the time. But I got some good pictures.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck hi

Say hi!

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck jut I also took a roll of film in one of those disposable underwater cameras. About half of the underwater photos here are from that roll. No flash, because you're not that deep, so you get more natural exposure. A far more practical way to do things. Although you can't go deep with them.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck wildlife All of the underwater images needed tweaking in photoshop. You have to take the red, green and blue and tweak them separately. (A friend showed me how.)

Coral areas are teeming with wildlife.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck wreckage A piece of the boat. You can see how encrusted it gets with coral after only a half century.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck swim to shore This is what it looks like just under the surface as you're coming in to shore.

Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck me Invariably, when I would have an Indonesian take my picture, they aimed low.
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