Paul Gacek's World

Cayman Islands Wreck Diving

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Carrie Lee

The island freighter Carrie Lee sits in 180 to 220 feet of salt water (fsw) off the southwestern end of Grand Cayman. Originally commissioned in Grand Turk to carry goods between Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman, she made weekly runs of container loads between the islands. Heading for Cayman Brac from Grand Cayman in 1985, the Carrie Lee capsized approximately 10 miles east of Grand Cayman. With a full container load on her top deck and empty below, she lost stability, capsized and drifted back south of Grand Cayman. Attempts were made for 2 weeks to salvage and right her, but eventually she sank in her current resting place.

From the top of the wheelhouse at 155 fsw, she slopes down at about a 20 degree angle with her bow pointing out to the wall only 20 feet from the edge. The bottom of the bow sits in 220 fsw, with the majority of her deck in the 170 fsw to 200 fsw range. From the stern of the wreck, one can see the sand trail she has left as she slowly slides down the slope.

Kirk Krack of Divetech prepares the floating decompression station for the dive. A bottom mix of 18/31 trimix (18% oxygen and 31% helium) is used along 36% nitrox and 80% nitrox for decompression.

Descending the mooring line in the clear 82 degree water, the wheelhouse and stern section of the Carrie Lee come into view. The wreck is intact and creates the impression of a very large toy resting on the bottom.
The wheelhouse is the highest point on the wreck at about 155 fsw. A set of steps leads up to the wheelhouse with most of the railing still intact. The stacks can be seen in the foreground.
A large deep water gorgonian adorns the railing on the starboard side of the wheelhouse along with a variety of tube and rope sponges. The wreck is not as encrusted as it would be if it were at a shallower depth.
Swimming along the port side of the wreck toward the bow we pass the large open deck area which was used for stacking the shipping containers which ultimately lead to the demise of the Carrie Lee.
The bow of the Carrie Lee points toward the dropoff and carries the usual complement of deck machinery. A few lonely sponges adorn the wreck at this depth.
Looking up from the bow toward the superstructure we see most of the 130 foot long vessel. The deck lies in the 170 fsw to 200 fsw range and is relatively free on any marine growth.
Leaving the bow and swimming up the deck toward the stern the wheelhouse looms into view presenting the classic image of a shipwreck.
Returning to the mooring again, we see the sandy path directly off the stern of the wreck which the Carrie Lee has created as she continues to slide down the slope toward the edge of the wall. One good storm and she'll be a much deeper wreck dive!
Divetech is Cayman's first and only technical dive training center offering technical courses through IANTD and TDI training curriculum including Technical Nitrox, Extended Range, Staged Decompression, Rebreather and Trimix certifications.

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Last modified on Sunday, February 28, 1999 18:35:58