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Diving in Salvador

 

 

 

May 10, 1624.

 

 

The Dutch, jealous of the New World empires of Spain, England and Portugal, decide to establish themselves on the coast of Portuguese Brazil. Dutch privateers attack and capture the city of Salvador. In the ensuing battle, more than 90 Dutch and Portuguese ships sink, most of them off the Banco da Panela near the entrance to the Bay of All Saints. Over the ages, dozens of ships would join them on the bottom of the harbor:

 

 

•    1800: The British ship Queen sinks in 13 meters of water near Salvador harbor.  

•    1875: British steamship Maraldi gets stuck entering the harbor and is lost in four to 12 meters of water.  

•    1876: The Germania hits a reef and sinks near the lighthouse.

•    1903: The Bretagne hits the wreckage of the Germania and also sinks!  

•    1980: Greek freighter Cavo Artemidi hits a sand bar and sinks.

 

 

 

These are only a few: there are many, many more ships in the nautical graveyard of the Bay of All Saints.

 

 

For centuries, Salvador da Bahia was Brazil’s most important city. Today it’s a diver’s paradise: you can dive every day for two weeks and won’t see the same wreck twice. A number of decent dive shops have sprung up, and the city itself is friendly and inviting. The waters in the bay are normally quite warm, and divers most likely will not need a wetsuit.

 

 

Salvador was the capital of the nation until 1763, when the capital was moved to Rio de Janeiro, which later was moved to BrasĂ­lia in 1960. Salvador features a large natural harbor and was a major New World shipping center. Thousands of ships came and went … and some came and never left.  

 

 

A true wreck diver won’t want to miss the Cavo Artemidi. According to local legend, the ship was sunk as part of an insurance scam…but whatever the reason, the Cavo Artemidi is one of the most spectacular wreck dives in Brazil. The massive freighter—it is approximately 160 meters (525 feet) long, larger than a football field—is mostly intact and sitting in water between 30 and 100 feet deep. There are gaping holes in the hull that even novice divers can swim through without any risk of being stuck. Many species of dazzling fish make the wreck their home, including several species of angelfish. It is the largest shipwreck in Brazilian waters and is in a good state of preservation.

 

 

Located at the mouth of the bay, the Banco de Panela is home to the remains of more than 90 ships sunk during the Dutch invasion. The area is considered an archaeological site and it is forbidden to remove anything from the site. After 400 years, there’s nothing recognizable as a ship anymore, but you’ll see anchors, wood scraps, and a cannon or two if you’re lucky.  

 

The Dutch pirates eventually lost Salvador: it was re-taken by the Portuguese within a year. Like good pirates, they left behind buried treasure: their treasure is for the eyes, and it’s buried under warm blue water, fine white sand and dazzling reef fish that flash silver and gold before darting off into the watery dim.



Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Brazil's Pantanal: Amazingly Rich in Wildlife, Ilha de Silves, Curitiba, Paradise on a Shoestring, Coast to Coast, Ilha Grande, Lapa: The People's Theatre, BrasĂ­lia, MaracanĂŁ Stadium and The Pantanal Wetlands.


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