A Royal Dive | Sport Diver

A Royal Dive


Ty Sawyer

Bermuda's King George

Bermuda is surrounded. For 400 years ships have sailed across the Atlantic, sailors hailing "land ho" when they sighted Bermuda's soft pink beaches, gentle hills and quiet bays. Then, worn out from the ocean crossing, by bad luck, ill timing or nasty weather, they've rammed straight into the coral bastion that surrounds this island outpost and sunk within sight of the shore. Echoing through this famous underwater realm, you'll find more than 300 such stories. The story of the King George is not one of them. The King George, a one-time dredger that spent a fairly pedestrian life in the everyday labor of making the channels safe for shipping, is a story of youth versus age. And unlike the human animal, machines do not fare well with age. Age does not bring wisdom, but rather obsolescence. Technology doesn't sit still, and the King George, capable though it was, a loyal worker though it was, woke up one bright Bermuda morning to the sight of a shiny new dredger, the haughty Lord Cochrane, smiling down on its rust-streaked hull. Sailors, passersby and the crew probably heard the old King George groan with recognition. It was being replaced by a younger, stronger, more capable ship; one that was eager and ready to work twice as hard and accomplish twice as much.

So in 1930, the King George was towed out to a site away from shipping, away from the path of fishermen, away from the interesting, ever-changing world of the reef, and scuttled on a lonely patch of sandy seafloor five miles inside North Rock. No fanfare, no pop of fireworks, just a puff of silt at the bottom of the bay at about 80 feet.


Then for 78 years the magic of the undersea world took over the 101-foot, fully intact vessel. It covered the superstructure with delicate royal purple tunicates, soft corals and thick clouds of schooling fish, fat groupers and a host of tiny critters. And, quietly, under the silence of the secret-keeping sea, the King George took on an aura of undersea royalty, quite the achievement in the hallowed underwater world of shipwrecks off Bermuda. The King George has risen from the silent depths, and its reputation extends with each and every dive. It's best reached from PADI 5-Star Triangle Divers out of Grotto Bay. The viz won't be the highlight in the logbook, but you'll scarcely find the time to fully explore all there is to experience during the course of a week of diving. And to see a wreck materialize out of the misty sea just makes the experience that much more memorable. The King George has finally found a way, in true workman fashion, to outshine even the Lord Cochrane.