Snorkeling on an old shipwreck in Antigua
When people think of seeing impressive shipwrecks, they usually think of having to use scuba gear. The Andes is one of the many exceptions to this. This wreck lies at the bottom of Deep Bay, Antigua. The name of the bay is slightly misleading.
The Andes Wreck
Antigua has 127 documented shipwrecks, some of which are protected by the Marine Areas Act.
The Andes wreck is one of these protected sites. It sits in less than 30 feet of water but at low tide one of the masts sticks a few inches above the surface and the bow almost breaks the surface of the water. It sits in the middle of the bay and on most days is a prominent landmark (or seamark?).
Since its sinking in 1905, an abundance of coral, gorgonians, and sponges have taken hold of the steel hull and reef fish have moved in.
The Andes was a three-masted steel sailing barque built in England in 1874. In early June of 1905, it left Trinidad with a cargo hold full of pitch (tar) bound for Chile.
They first sailed northeast before sailing south in order to sail the trade winds to Cape Horn, but had a problem approaching Antigua. The barrels of pitch were rubbing against each other and this generated a lot of heat, enough to create smoke that started drifting above decks.
The captain of the ship wanted to anchor in St. Johns Harbor, but the harbormaster directed them to Deep Bay. The busy St. Johns Harbor was no place for a burning ship – it would have been a hazard to any other vessel in the harbor.
So they anchored in Deep Bay, and as soon as the hatches were open enough oxygen was introduced to the cargo holds to ignite the tar. The ship burned and sank bow first, but all of the crew was spared.
Deep Bay is a very scenic and often uncrowded anchorage, with the 18th-century Fort Barrington overlooking the north side and the Grand Royal Antiguan Resort tucked in behind the palm trees on the east side.