We toured the wreck from the line at the stern, where the rudder and prop sit clear of the sand. Shoals of baitfish hung over the deck.
Overhead and dominating the scene was the crane, already supporting a surprising amount of frondy growth as it dangles over a hold that’s open to explore. A forklift truck has been left in there. Did it or the crane ever handle contraband?
The scooped-out bow with its winch and the rest of the wreck should keep photographers happy. We stayed for some time before shuttling over to Lesleen M.
Clockwise from left: The Lesleen M’s hull is folding in on itself; the deck; cleaner shrimps often base themselves in sponges; bow of the Lesleen M.
About 50m long, built in 1947 and scuttled back in 1986, what strikes you is the resplendent colonisation of the wreck by corals, sponges and fish.
This time we started from the bow and, working our way along, could see that the hull where the hold starts has folded in on itself. There are yellow tube sponges everywhere – zero in and you’ll find cleaner shrimps among them.
Speckled moray eels and stonefish have found homes there too, I noticed.
The layout isn’t unlike that of the Vicky B and gives an idea of how that will look a few decades down the line. It’s quite a treat of a double-decker dive.
Nearby Anse Cochon coral reef is also well-populated, and makes for a pleasant shallow follow-up dive.
Other picturesque sites came and went in what became a blur of sponges, corals and fish – Coral Gardens, the Pinnacles, Jalousie, and the landmark Pitons.
I see these twin peaks on a hoarding whenever I drive along London’s North Circular Road, and they always make me long for the Caribbean.
That day at the Pitons I was drawn to a haunted-looking creolefish with a parasitic crustacean attached to its gill. I wished I could have removed it.
Moving on, a pinkish frogfish seemed to be straining to attain the deeper orange shade of the coral into which it was trying to melt. Nearby a blue Pederson’s shrimp danced about, and I looked up from it to see a shoal of Bermuda chub. Coral-reef cameos. Even on the safety stop, we were accompanied by a lone baby squid.
The only downside were a couple of lionfish. Often, when in a group, a vigilant guide at the rear will be discreetly sweeping such invaders into a container.