September 23

This morning I am going on my third dive on the Coolidge. The guide promises to take me into the ship today to see the First Class Smoking Room. We had planned to do it yesterday, but I think he decided to take us on a light penetration dive first to see how we handled it. Many divers get disoriented and confused when diving inside a shipwreck. Yesterday’s dive therefore, had us just visit the bridge and the crows nest and then briefly inside to see some of the bathrooms in on of the accommodation sections. It was in remarkably good shape and there were some glasses and a bottle of Old Spice on a shelf above the sink!  

We also saw some more machine guns and some 3”shells, and a whole field of fire extinguishers strewn about on the sea floor. It was not too deep a dive, but we took our time and had pre-planned deco stops at 30ft, 20ft and 10ft. The Smoking Room is in 145ft of water. What I really want to do is see the engine and control rooms which are at 170ft, perhaps after today’s dive. Kate is not diving today. She has just seen enough of the ship on the first two dives. She prefers coral and fish frankly. Today is Monday and after the dive we are going to take the dinghy across the bay to the town (Luganville) and get some fresh fruit, some more Vatu (local currency) and check out with customs (vessels are required to notify customs whenever entering or leaving one of the 4 ports-of-entry just as in Fiji). Our next port-of-entry after this will be Port Vila, the capital, in about 6 weeks. That will also be our last port in Vanuatu before leaving the country for New Zealand (though we are contemplating 2 stops before NZ – stay tuned for more info).  

It is now 4:30 and we have had a very full day. The morning dive was amazing. We went fairly deep into the ship and saw the First Class Dining Room and NOT the smoking room as I thought we would see. The signature piece of the wreck, a 3ft square porcelain sculpture called “The Lady” was moved to the dining room from the smoking room 2 years ago after an earthquake dislodged the piece. It was relocated due to damage to the smoking room which would prevent divers from accessing The Lady.  

Tomorrow I am going to see the engine room, though not the control room as both cannot be seen on one dive. Today we went into Luganville after lunch and shopped a bit. Got a permit from Customs to proceed South toward Port Vila. We also bought a new gasoline jug as one of our is leaking! It was one we bought last year in Tahiti, obviously a cheap piece of crap compared to our other jugs which are over 2 years old and are made in Canada I think.