The purpose of this dive, however, is to ensure that all the divers are comfortable with the cold, dark conditions, and that everybody’s buoyancy is pin-sharp.
Our group will dive twice from the larger cabin-cruiser-style boat Mapas, while group two dives from MAJ, designed for fewer divers, a back-roll entry and local sites.
Baltic shipwrecks are unusually well preserved. This is because salinity is much lower than that of typical ocean water, thanks to an abundance of freshwater run-off. This, together with low oxygen content, provides ideal conditions for timber wrecks.
The brackish water also keeps these wrecks free of shipworm, a clam-like critter that prefers to lay its larvae in saltier water.
After a short motor out, the skipper ties into the yellow buoy and we stride into frigid green water.
Because of the poor condition of this wreck we’re not required to stay with our guide Susanne, so my Swedish buddy and I explore the wooden rib structure and hull remains by ourselves as the rest of the dive-team disperse in different directions.
The wreck is still interestingly recognisable as a boat, its skeletal remains rising 2m or so from the seabed.
I am the only diver wearing wet gloves, and very soon into the dive my fingers begin to complain of the cold.
Operating a camera in such conditions is challenging. The water glows with a bright green hue, yet is very clear, and the low-light conditions make us feel that we are deeper than we are.
It is a perfect site for acclimatising to the water temperature, and even equipped with Arctic-grade diving equipment, it’s difficult for me to stay longer than 35-40 minutes. I decide that the cold will always be the deciding factor over bottom-time or air-consumption here.
We miss the return buoyline and send up an SMB to complete the dive. On surfacing, we find that we’re no more than 5-6m from the buoy and, indeed, the boat.
We lunch back in Dalarö and ready ourselves for the deeper afternoon dive, again only a short ride out from the marina.
Clockwise from top left: Bartman jugs on the Bodekull; the anchor; the bow; the rudder.
This is a showcase dive for the park, on a wreck that has “almost certainly” been identified as Bodekull but is often referred to locally simply as the Dalarö Wreck. Stockholm University believes that this Swedish Navy ship was built between 1659-61 and sank in October 1678. It was carrying flour originating from England or Germany and stoneware Bartman jugs that most likely contained wine.
Had this sinking occurred almost anywhere else in the world, there would surely be nothing left of the ship today.
Bodekull rests just below 30m and the environment is very cold and very dark – potentially a shock to the system, hence the morning breaking-in dive.
Although again, despite these conditions, the water is reasonably clear.
Where the line stops at the seabed, so does the light, and we follow a length of rope until we’re just off the stern.
The wooden hull is the first part of the ship I see and then, peering up and over the top, the decking.