Bonaire – Hilma Hooker

A little history

Besides being another one of Bonaires great dive dives sites the Hilma Hooker has an interesting story. The Hilma Hooker dive site is a wreck dive and the ship has an intersting story as to how it ended up on the bottom of the sea. The ship itself wasn’t always named the Hilma Hooker it was sold a number of times. Launched in 1951 the ship was named Midsland, it was later sold in 1964 and named the Mistral. She was then sold again a short time later in 1967 and renamed to the William Express. In 1975 the ship then sank off of the Dominican Republic, was re-floated and then sold yet again in 1976 and renamed the Doric Express. She was sold once more to San Andres Shipping from San Andres Colombia and renamed to the Hilma Hooker.

Five years later in 1984 the ship had rudder and/or engine problems off the coast of Bonaire and was towed to the port of Krailendjik, Bonaire. Apparently the Hilma Hooker has been under surveillance by drug enforcement agencies which isn’t surprising considering it’s port was in Columbia. While docked at port in Bonaire local authorities boarded and inspected the ship and inside a false bulkhead they found 25,000 pounds of Marijuana. Now that’s a lot of Marijuana. Docked for months as evidence at the main dock she was neglected and was taking on a lot of water. Out of fear that she would sink at the dock in on September 7th, 1984 the Hilma Hooker was towed to an anchorage above where she lies today. Just five days later on September 12th, 1984 the Hilma Hooker began taking on water through her lower portholes and at 9:08am she rolled over and disappeared to the bottom of the sea.

Some believe that because no one ever came to claim the vessel and keeping it afloat became to expensive that it was intentionally sank. Before towing it to it’s mooring location the island consulted with a number of local dive agencies to determine the best location for the vessel. After she sank, holes were cut into it to allow exhaust air from diver to escape. Hatches and trapdoors were also removed to make the wreck safe for diving.

Diving Info

Entry to this site can be a little tricky if there is breaking surf so take caution as you enter.  There are three buoys that mark the dive site, two of which mark the bow and stern of the Hilma Hooker.  The bow of the ship lies at about 85 feet while the stern is at around 69 feet.  The ship lies on it’s starboard side with it’s stern to the reef.  The wheelhouse and bridge are about mid-ship and can be accessed without having to enter any of the holds or enclosed areas.

The Hilma Hooker has two openings by which experienced wreck divers can enter and explore the ship.  Most of the ships hatches and trapdoors are open making it a suitable wreck dive for experienced wreck divers.

Keep an eye on your no-deco limits when diving this deep it’s something you must keep in mind. A Around the wreck you can reach depths are deep as 131 ft.  Instead of making a decompression stop consider  swimming back up the reef to the shore making the reef your decompression stop.

While diving the Hilma Hooker keeo an eye out for all the sponges that grow long it, Tarpon, Barracuda, Eels, and other common Bonaire sea life.  Unfortunately out photos of the ship itself didn’t come out so I’m hoping to get some really good shots this year.

See the full Hilma Hooker photo gallery here.


Dive Specs:

Entry:  Shore and Boat
Snorkeling: No
Skill Level:  Experienced Divers
Current: Moderate
Max Depth: 131ft

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