Diving The Bianca C

The Bianca C is one of the Caribbean's largest wrecks

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Diving the Bianca C

Grenada's stellar dive attraction is the 600-foot Italian luxury liner the Bianca C, one of the largest diveable wrecks in the Caribbean.

Three crew members died in the boiler explosion that engulfed the Bianca C in flames in St. George's Harbor in 1961. Attempts to put out the fire proved futile and when a British frigate attempted to tow the burning liner out to sea, the bow cable snapped just a few miles offshore. The hull plates buckled from the intense heat and the "Bianca C" slowly sank into 160 feet of water.

The Bianca C was never salvaged but still contains artifacts left by its 750 passengers and crew. Since the wreck is too deep for local spearfishermen, fish life is often large and diverse: spotted eagle rays, 6-foot barracuda, sea turtles, large snapper and jacks, once even a 300-pound grouper which turned the smokestack into a personal stateroom.

Because of the depth and sometimes strong surface currents, the Bianca C is for experienced divers only. It's about 65 feet down to the mast, 85-90 to the crushed wheelhouse, and 110 feet to the deck, which leaves only about 15 minutes of dive time.

The wreck is no longer intact

Because of this time restriction, many divers prefer the shallow reefs and walls near the airport and the main harbour. Boss Reef, which starts at only 20 to 30 feet deep, offers extensive drift diving through great schools of Creole wrasse, grunts and yellow chromis. Channel Reef at the entrance to St. George's is loaded with encrusted anchors left by ships over the decades.

Natural walls at places like Happy Valley, Dragon Bay and Flamingo Bay starts as shallow as 20 feet and end at about 90 feet. Besides being encrusted with the usual sponges and sea fans, the walls contain black coral as shallow as 45 feet. You can find grouper, jacks, morays and loads of tropicals are at all levels.

Grand Anse reef, located just a few hundred yards offshore, is loaded with finger corals, while the impressive Molinere Reef just 10 minutes out offers many good photo opportunities, including the wreck of the Buccaneer, an old sailing schooner. Halifax Bay teems with tropicals, while giant sponges flourish in Flamingo Bay. Many reef locations are riddled with ravines where large angels hide.

Grenada's rainy season lasts from June through November, and the runoff definitely can impact visibility close to shore.

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