|At 232 feet long and 37 feet wide, the Sarah
is Anguillas largest wreck. Another victim of Hurricane Klaus, she sank onto
her side in Sandy Ground and the first claim on her was made by Anguillas
industrious coastal waters, which attempt to turn anything that does not move into a
beach. The hull quickly filled with sand making it very difficult to salvage. Six months
after she sank she was raised and towed to her present resting place.
The wreck is completely intact, sitting upright and with large openings in the hull allowing access to the three holds.
Click on image for larger map
|We are given a thorough and animated briefing by our
divemaster, Douglas, before entering the water, so we had a good idea of what to expect.
The mooring buoy is attached to the funnel, which is 30 feet below the surface. The
propeller is at 83 feet, which gives some idea of the size of the ship. We were stretched
to achieve a really detailed tour in one dive.
From the funnel we drop over the port side and swim to the bow, ducking through a large tripod structure lying alongside the hull. This was used to right the ship after it first sank. The hull surface moves as if an army of mice has been trapped under a carpet of algae. But it is not mice causing the ripple of movementrather it is hundreds of Atlantic thorny oysters closing their valves as we approach. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the brown and white blotches of the oysters mantle, like a row of teeth, making them look as if they are smiling at us. The blotches are not teeth, but eyespots, which detect movement and cause the valves to close defensively.
We pass around the bow and exchange the dull algae colours of the port side for the colourful encrustations of the starboard side. Dusky pink lumpy overgrowing sponges, violet Swiss cheese algae patches, and the frosty white polyps of colourful sea rods turn the hard steel of the Sarah into a vibrant mural. Bunches of cup corals, with their canary yellow polyps extended, are a delightful, if unexpected, sight. The polyps are normally extended only at night but in this shady spot they brave the daylight hours. Perhaps the bright full moon we have at the moment is adding to the confusion.
Over the bow, we pass down into the forward holds. There are two levels of hold, both accessible though the lower section is dark and has no life. Leaving the second hold, the bridge towers above us like an impenetrable Norman castle. Aware of how quickly the time is passing we head down to the propeller, perhaps 8 feet across and fully exposed. At 83 feet this is the deepest part of the wreck.
The aft deck has another hold which we barely have time to explore before ascending to shallower water around the superstructure. On top of the bridge is a garden of sea plumes like potted plants set out for a captains cocktail party. Endless items of deck gear are available for inspection and the mechanically minded will not be short of entertainment. Fish watchers will enjoy finding themselves surrounded by bar jacks, sergeant majors, blue tangs, bluestriped grunts and chromis. A scrawled cowfish was resident on our dive and those infamous wreck groupies, barracuda, watch the divers progress.
Watch your depth and time on this dive. If you have good air use, you can find yourself close to the dive table limits.
Thanks to Douglas and Christine of The Dive Shop.