People say that Baltimore in West Cork feels more like a French village than an Irish one. It is true that there has been a long and close relationship with France and sailors from Brittany in particular. Baltimore is a thriving fishing port with an Ideal natural harbour which leads to numerous and exciting dive sites. If Wrecks and wreck diving are your thing then Baltimore is the place to find them. There are thousands of wrecks along the West Cork coast including one of the world's largest, the "Kowloon Bridge" which was just under 1,000 feet long and can be reached between depths of 12 and 38 meters.
The Kowloon Bridge was on a voyage from St. Lawrence River port of seven Islands, Quebec, from where she started on 7/11/86 bond for the River Clyde terminal of Hunterston, loaded with a cargo of 160,000 tons of iron ore consigned to British Steel Corporation. However, en route she had to seek shelter in Bantry Bay to effect repairs to deck cracks sustained during heavy Atlantic weather. Then, after having lost her standard anchor in a heavy swell on 22/11/86, she sailed out of Bantry bay but then lost her steerage and began to drift in continuing heavy seas. Due to the dangerous nature of the situation, the 28 man crew decided to abandon ship, being winched to safety by helicopters in mountainous seas. The helpless vessel was then driven aground in gale-force winds on Stag Rock, near Baltimore, Co. Cork. Her 1200 tons of bunker fuel began to leak, causing a serious pollution problem to nearby coves and beaches. Despite the joint efforts of two of the world’s top salvage companies, Smit & Wijsmuller, the wrecked Kowloon Bridge could not be refloated and, when she broke her back on the rocks, all salvage attempts were abandoned. She was left to the elements to pound to pieces. The hull and machinery insurance was £8.4m, while the value of the lost ore was £2.7m.
Now some 17 years since she first came to rest, the bow section of the Kowloon Bridge is a spectacular dive, curving gently inwards and down to the great bulbous nose which lies in about 35 meters. One of her enormus anchors is still in place while the empty tube of the othyer on the starbord side is large enough to swim comfortably through. Great carpets of marine life cling to every exposed surface of steel, this has to be one the Classic Wreck dives.
Weather permitting, we will also dive the Fastnet Lighthouse, Ireland's most southerly outpost. The Fastnet is washed by strong tides and Atlantic storms for much of the year but in moments of calm the drama of the underwater scenery can be stunning. There are few better places to see Jewel Anemonies in multiple combinations of colours.
Our 2006 Baltimore Safari will be on the June Bank Holiday weekend, travelling down Friday night. There is two dives then scheduled on both Saturday and Sunday with one on Monday before travelling home. These dives will be to offshore sites such as the infamous Kowloon Bridge and Fastnet Lighthouse. The entire diving package costs just €235. Accomodation is not included but we will be spread between the Corner House and Fastnet House B&B's and we can advise with other accomodation in the area.
Much of the diving around Baltimore lends itself to a bit of depth and short bottom times- ideal territory for enriching your air to extend bottom time! Therefore we will be running a special Baltimore Nitrox Course next week in the run up to the trip. The cost of the course and the weekend diving package as a bundle will be just €335.
There are still places available so contact us now to book your trip!