The Black Island Wreck
As plentiful as the wrecks are at Coron Bay we still haven't visited absolutely everyone yet and so on the trip in January 2009 we decided we would add the Black Island Wreck to our list. She is a confusing little wreck - also known as the Nanshin Maru - with Maru in the name you would be forgiven for assuming she is yet another of the Japanese war time wrecks.
But apparently not...
Locally she is believed to be a Chinese or Korean - depends who you ask - fishing boat. But why she sank were she lies now is also a mystery. The Black Island is a small uninhabited rock covered in dense jungle some considerable way out from Coron town. But the beautiful sandy beach continues all the way down under the water way past the wreck - in short there's nothing nasty and pointy here, no apparent reef etc. to rip a ship's hull apart, nothing at all to sink a ship.
So what happened? It's hard to say with any certainty.
And it's also hard to find the wreck with any degree of certainty. She'd be an absolute doddle to find with a sounder and GPS because she is still very intact and sticks up several meters from the sandy seabed, but none of the Coron dive boats have a sounder or GPS currently and she is not buoyed. The easiest way - if you can call this easy - is to line the boat up twenty five yards or so to the left of a derelict hut on the beach and about 50 yards or so off shore. Enter the water, descend and swim away from shore at 90 degrees until you get to 30 metres then ascend a couple of metres, turn right and swim parallel with the beach whilst maintaining one's depth and bottom clearance. It's best to use a compass to maintain your direction, but of course you will likely come unstuck then because the wreck will deflect the compass needle before you get into visual range, if the viz is anything like it was when we dived her. However the seabed did seem to be uniform in it's angle pretty much all the way along the face of the beach so hopefully maintaining depth on your computer in conjunction with maintaining visual contact with the seabed should mean you won't deviate from your course by more than a few degrees over the short distance you should have to swim to find her. So, if everything goes to plan you should... note should (!!!) run slap bang into the stern of the wreck. The problem is she is very difficult to make out against the background sand because she is similarly coloured and the contrast ration in the water is poor due to the indifferent visibility.
What did we think of the Black Island Wreck then?
She's very intact, complete from bow to stern, and despite her compact size she's a very, very nice dive. Best of all she's absolutely snewing with life including some very large batfish. And she has some great little penetrations which are OK to do without relying on a guide to show you the way through. Overall I'd say she's well worth a visit and is a much better dive than say the East Tangat Gunboat. On the other hand she is a long sail out from Coron - of the order of three hours - and so you have to ask yourself is she worth the supplemental charge for fuel for the boat.
So I'd say yes to diving her in conjunction with say the Okikawa Maru (Taiei Maru) on the way back, if only the once on a trip...
Our January 2009 visit...
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