Your dive buddy gives you the final OK and signals to go down. As you slip below the freezing Irish Sea, you question what it was that made you do this in the first place, but as the water rushes into your dry suit, your body warms and the weight belts carry you yet further below.
You decided to undertake this dive on a rainy Saturday when, over a cup of steaming mocha, an article in the Daily Mail jumped out at you and promised a 100 year old shipwreck, still loaded with gold. Your sense of wonder was awoken and you arranged it immediately. Your dive qualifications gained on your gap year would come in handy for this 40 meter voyage below into the unknown.
In 1917, the SS Laurentic, a World War I ship carrying cargo from England to Halifax, Nova Scotia met a grizzly fate at the hands of two submerged mines which blew out the sides. It was a frozen night, with a driving blizzard and temperatures of minus 13, and when the ship’s fate was sealed, 354 men and 3,211 gold bars slipped under the surface to a watery resting place.
As your ears adjust to the pressure, you catch your first glimpse of the ill-fated vessel, peering out from the green-tinged depths and inviting you to explore. The hull is covered with sea life, from hard-shelled crustaceans to compass jellyfish, hovering above the bow. The 550-foot liner is reminiscent of the Titanic, with its giant scotch boilers, which were dutifully built to power the ship across the Atlantic Sea.
You can’t help but raise your underwater camera to snap a lasting memory of this gargantuan slice of history, knowing that to describe this to your friends will never be enough – you need photographic proof. You reach a perfectly intact deck gun, still poised for attack, and finally the chill of the sea catches up with you. Or at least that’s what you think it is.
Your time below the waves is woefully short, and soon enough you’ve explored the Laurentic, and come away with at least a hundred pictures as lasting memories, one for every year since its sinking. As you head for the sweet release of fresh air, you’re filled with a newfound respect for the ocean and the power of Mother Nature.