The Wreck of the Fujikawa
07 February 2009 | Truk Lagoon
Hideko joined At and Dia from Angelique to do some shopping in town today. Eric from Whistler and I decided to go out for our first dives on the wrecks of Truk Lagoon. The number one must dive wreck seems to be the Fujikawa Maru when you take a poll. So that was our target.
We dove with Blue Lagoon Divers. The dive shop was started by Kimiuo Aisek, the Chuukese guy who really launched the dive industry here. Kimiuo was 17 when he saw the operation Hailstone sink the majority of Japanese ships in the lagoon. He has passed on now but his son runs the dive operation. The former continental Hotel is now the Blue Lagoon Resort, also owned by the Aisek family.
The boat came around to pick us up with two guys on board. Jersey was our driver and surface support. He took care of setting up our gear and breaking it down. Tonky lead the dives, anchored the boat and did the standard islander bow conning, hand waving bit when we got close to one of the sites.
Many of the dive sites have mooring balls marking them, but the moorings are all 3-4 feet underwater. This ensures the open Yamaha fiberglass boats that whip around here in taxi capacity don't snag the lines and it also ensures that yahoo divers out to go diving without a guide (which is illegal here) can't find the sites easily.
The guys don't moor to the line though in most cases. They instead prefer to drop a grapnel anchor onto the wreck and hook up that way. Unfortunate for the wrecks, and the coral on them.
The Fujikawa is a 433 foot passenger/cargo ship. The Fujikawa has a lot going for it. It is in reasonable depth, with a bottom at 112 feet, the deck at 60 feet, a stack running all the way up to 20 feet and a rear mast near the surface. She has several intact zeros in the hold, deck guns, ammo, spare prop blades and lots of other cargo and artifacts. There are some nice swim throughs and the ship is deeply covered in growth. It is a fantastic dive.
We have picked up some literature on the lagoon from different places. Franko's Chuuk Lagoon Dive Map is a must for anyone diving here. It gives an old school map of the lagoon with pictures and descriptions of all of the ships as new, and on the other side pictures of the wrecks and dive notes. We also picked up a copy of "The Legacy of Truk Lagoon", DVD, which is very interesting and well done. Pricey though still very interesting, and by far the most detailed resource, is the 500 page, "WWII Wrecks of the Truk Lagoon".
Our second dive was on the Kensho Maru (Maru is the suffix applied to any merchant ship in the Japanese fleet). The Kensho had some nice swim throughs and was worth diving but not as spectacular as the Fujikawa.
The rides out from Weno to the wrecks can be long and the lagoon can get very choppy. The dive boat does have a bimini and it rides fairly smooth considering. We were back at the Blue Lagoon dock by 1PM, just in time for lunch. The dock has a nice set of rinse basins and a fresh water shower for the divers. It is a great setup for cruisers looking to conserve fresh water but not wanting stinky dive gear. After cleaning up, Eric and I scarfed down a Blue Lagoon Cheese Burger and a Four X ("XXXX", an Australian beer I am growing fond of). It was a perfect day in Chuuk.