Scuttling the Doilon

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In 1994, after a hapless life along the north coast, the ageing cargo vessel Doilon  met destiny noisily. Many Madang residents made the short passage to Kranket Island to view the spectacle. As the blasting experts set charges in her engine room, a flotilla of little boats bobbed around her and then scurried away like water striders as dire warnings were shouted across the water. The countdown proceeded: Five, four, three, two, one . . . ka-BOOM! Brilliant towers of water on either side of her stern gushed to four or five times the height of her bridge. Within thirty seconds, she disappeared beneath the blue waters as the announcement of her passing still echoed off the mountains. Among the spectators, we divers felt particularly privileged to be present at a rebirth that would mark the beginning of a new relationship for the old lady. No longer would she roam the sea. She would now be nurtured by it. Her transformation into a splendid garden would be observed by her former masters:

The Doilon being scuttled - 1994 - Kranket Island, Madang, Papua New Guinea

That was the opening paragraph for an article titled The Reincarnation of the Doilon  that I wrote for Niugini Blue magazine.  I won’t bore you with the rest of the text, but I will show you some of the images from the article.

First, I have to tell you a funny story. My old dive buddy Ian Dosser and I went out to check how the marine life was getting along on the fairly young wreck. I was down near the bottom of the hull. I looked around and did not see Ian. Then I looked up. What I saw is in the inset at the upper left of this image:

My dive buddy Ian Dosser shown up in the corner meeting the Giant Grouper

That’s Ian just as he turned around and saw the massive Giant Grouper about a metre away from him. I watched a huge glob of bubbles emit from Ian, but he didn’t back away (he’s a tough copper, you don’t want to mess around with him).  Still, the huge fish must have outweighed him at least five to one. You can imagine that we toasted that big grouper with a few cold ones.

Here is a composite image of the location of the wreck:

The location of the Doilon wreck

And here is a side-scanning sonar image that I got from Faded Glory  with my Humminbird sonar:

A side-scanning sonar image captured from Faded Glory of the Doilon wreck

There is a huge array of marine life growing on the Doilon.  It has only been down about fifteen years, but everything grows very rapidly in these very warm, rich waters. It’s often like swimming in a tepid bowl of soup. The visibility is not usually terrific, but there is plenty to see. Here is some winch equipment near the bow:

Winch gear near the bow of the Doilon

The Doilon is a favourite night dive. It lies in fairly protected water and is easy to find. At night, it is crawling with exotic critters seldom seen in the daytime. Here is a Leopard Cowrie on the prowl with its mantle extended over its shell:

Cowrie shell with mantle exposed shot on a night dive on the Doilon

And here are two Chromodoris  nudibranchs doing the tango:

A couple of Chromodoris species nudibranchs found on a night dive on the Doilon

If you dive the Doilon,  please remember to go around to Kranket lagoon and find Thomas to grease his palm. The Krankets get cranky if you don’t pay them. You might find yourself dodging stones.

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2 Responses to “Scuttling the Doilon”

  1. Albert Says:

    looks like a goooooooood dive!

  2. MadDog Says:

    You bet, mate. Too bad it was a little rough last Saturday. We’ll get to it soon.