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Wreck Dives of Aruba: Arashi Plane wreck

We were determined to find a sunken plane in Aruba.  The Renaissance airplane search was a complete bust, so we decided to find the Arashi airplane wreck near the NW point of the island.

The world wide web provided limited information on the Arashi plane wreck.  The internet “said” that there used to be two airplanes at this dive site.  A small Lockheed LoneStar and a twin engine Beechcraft.  Evidently the LoneStar has disintegrated and is no longer visible, but the Beechcraft is supposed to be sitting in 10 meters of water.  The web also stated that the “basic Beechcraft airplane” is supposed to be in tact, but its propellers had fallen off.  And you know the that “everything on the web is the truth.”

Loaded with excitement we headed to the dive site.  At this point we were going to burn the rest of air no matter what, airplane siteing or not.  Surely there is something to see.

I jumped in with my mask and to my utter surprise I saw an airplane propeller so I declared, “this is it, we found the Arashi plane!”  We quickly suited up and headed toward the two propellers that were strewn across the ocean floor.  They were fairly close to each other, covered in sea life with a few fish swimming around.

Dive site

Airplane Propeller

Arashi Dive Site

Another airplane propeller

Arashi dive site

Airplane wheel and tire

A little further away was a third propeller still attached to the engine.  Not sure whose prop this was as a twin engine Beechcraft would only have two, not three.  Perhaps it belonged to the other airplane that disintegrated, but then why would the propeller still be here?  Strange.

We swam around the area in search of the rest of the plane wreck and to our disappointment there was nothing else there except the 3 propellers.  Shooooot!  How do you count 3 propellers as a plane wreck dive?  Maybe it should be called the Arashi propeller dive?

Something else to see?

We took some fun photos of the sea life, which was not abundant, but pretty none the less.

Arashi dive site

This reminded me of Charlie Brown

Arashi dive site

Sorry about the coloring, but this was pretty in real life

Arashi dive site

A few fish hanging out by the propeller

Arashi dive site

Same two played to the camera.

Arashi dive site

This beautiful bubbly purple stuff grew all over the coral in Aruba. We did not see it in Bonaire.

Starting this dive with less than a half of tank of air (Matt had 1800 and I had 1500), we knew it needed to be short.  After 35 minutes, at 800 PSI, we decided to head back to the dinghy.  On the ascention, I was looking around and what did I see – an 8′ green moray eel swimming around!

During the day, moray eels are utually hidden in a rock with just their head sticking out giving menacing looks. I had never seen one swimming around and certainly not one this big.   Matt went after him to get some photos and he quickly hid under a rock.  We hung out for awhile and decided to go up.  As Matt was stowing his gear in the dinghy I took one last look below and saw him swimming away on the hunt for some lunch.

Aruba dive site

Wreck Dives of Aruba: Renaissance Airplane

There are two dive sites with sunken airplanes in Aruba.  The most famous one is the Renaissance Airplane dive site and the other one is called the Arashi Airplane dive site.  Our following blog will be about our Arashi airplane dive-stay tuned.

We did not get to dive at Renaissance airplane site.  But in the spirit of sharing information, I thought I would still post about it with the hopes that one of you can dive it in the future.   Matt and I tried to find this dive spot, looked at 4 different mooring sites where we thought it could be and never discovered the actual airplane wrecks.  The maps all show different locations for this site which does not help either.  So frustrating!

But, evidently, just in front of the Renaissance Island are two submerged planes.  Aruba has intentionally sunk two airplanes an YS-11 and a DC-3 to help create an artificial reef.  Many of the wrecks we have explored in Aruba have been intentionally sunk and are located in relatively shallow waters.

The DC-3 is a small aircraft at about 23 meters long and holding 40 seats.  In the late 1980’s this plane was confiscated during a drug bust and later sunk by authorities.  Originally it was sunk in fairly shallow waters, but in 1999 hurricane Lenny decided to find a better place for it in deeper waters – 28 meters and cut the fuselage into two big pieces. Several other pieces of the plane have been scattered around the sandy bottom reef called Sonesta coral reef.

Aruba dive site

DC3 Airplane wreck Aruba. Photo courtesy of AquaViews Online Scuba Magazine.

Aruba wreck dive

DC3_wreck_dive_aruba. Photo credit star5112.

The second airplane belonged to Air Aruba who donated it to the Aruba Water Sports Association in 2004.  This plane was a Japanese turboprop passenger airliner that was laid to rest on the Sonesta reef.  She is about 20 meters long and weighed close to 13 tons.  The cool thing about this plane is that she landed with its nose in 13 meters of water and its tail section resting at the 28 meters of water so it gives you the impression it is ready for take off.  The cockpit is still intact and provides for great photo opportunity.

Aruba dive site

Fuselage. Photo courtesy of AquaViews Online Scuba Magazine

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that we could not find the Renaissance airplane dive site.  I am sure we could have paid to go out with a dive group, but that just seems silly when we have all the gear and have found over 50 dives on our own.  This was the first elusive dive spot and it did not help that the dive maps are inconsistent and vague at best.  But nonetheless, it is a cool blog story and I found some great photos online.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Why we couldn’t find the dive site:

Several days later, we went to get our scuba tanks filled at Aruba Watersports and found out that the moorings for the Renaissance airplane site broke off and are no longer visible.  You have to go with a local dive group to do a drift dive in order to see the airplanes.  Phew, at least we weren’t totally off the mark.

Aruba wreck dive

Wrecks of Aruba: SS Perdenales

The SS Perdernales was an American flat-bottomed oil tanker that was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1942.  For some reason, only the midsection of the ship sank leaving the bow and the stern sections afloat after the attack.  The U.S. hauled the bow and stern back to the U.S. and refitted it with a new hull.  Later this new ship was used as a troop transport for the Normandy invasion.

Aruba Wreck Dive

SS Perdenales Bow and Stern Being Towed

The midsection was left in only 8 meters of water in Aruba.  Large pieces of the tanker are spread throughout the site, where you should find everything from pipelines to lavatories, washbasins, and cabins.  without a proper guide it is hard to make out the sections of the boat.

There is a profusion of life including large schools of grunts, silversides and snappers, along with Trumpetfish, Angelfish, Grouper and Squirrelfish.

Matt and I found a school (20-25) of huge porcupine puffer fish swimming around the wreck, which is unusual as they are typically loners.  And when I say huge, I mean huge, one was twice the size of Matt’s head!  Puffers are by far one of my favorite fish so I was full of y joy being able to swim among these beautiful creatures!

We also saw our first frogfish which was camouflaged with the wreck.  I watched him for awhile to try to determine if it was really a frogfish.  It wasn’t until he opening his large mouth  in what appeared to be a yawn that I was convinced – what a fabulous site. Continue reading