Deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef and diver playground off Mount Irvine point, the Maverick is Tobago’s most popular wreck-dive and an ideal site for those seeking their PADI Advanced Open Water, Deep Diver or Wreck Diver certifications.
Built by Ferguson Shipbuilders in 1960, the ship is 60m long and was launched in Scotland’s River Clyde as the Scarlet Ibis.
Together with her identical twin-sister Bird of Paradise, they were Trinidad and Tobago’s first roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferries, providing the vital sea link between the islands well into the 1970s.
Sunk upright in 30m of water in 1997, the ensuing years have worked Nature’s magic and the Maverick is almost completely covered in encrusting sponges and hard and soft corals.
Enveloped by schools of brown chromis, creole wrasse, silver baitfish, amberjack and bonito, a typical visit starts with a descent along the mooring-line to the forward deck, with a sweep around the bow for that classic image of the ship’s bow looming above you, perhaps pausing for a photo op framed by colourful sponges.
Dropping back along the port side allows you to peer into the car deck before descending further to inspect the rudders, where you might find sting rays and migratory cobias.
Crossing the stern loading-ramp leads you midships over collapsed decking and hull sections, the stairwell, porcelain toilet bowl, schooling striped grunts, mangrove snapper, French and queen angelfish.
Spiralling upwards brings you over the remnants of the bridge, where you’ll often find the wreck’s resident humongous green moray eel, before you reach the ship’s funnels, which mark the shallowest point of the wreck.
Consultation of gauges usually indicates the start of your ascent at this stage, which is accomplished along the mooring-line with the requisite safety stop along the way, so ending another exciting Tobago dive!
I thoroughly recommend getting wet on the Maverick.