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Bonaire's famous shipwreck and dive site, The Hilma Hooker.

The Hilma Hooker became part of Bonaire’s diving history over 30 years ago.

We enjoyed this recent retelling of the history of Bonaire’s Hilma Hooker dive site, by Scuba Diving Magazine.  We hope you like it as much as we did!

The origins of this popular dive site are the stuff of diving folklore — you’ll never hear the whole tale the same way twice. Read on to find out how this drug-smuggling vessel caught up in red-tape and legal limbo found its way to the ocean floor and the hearts of Bonaire’s divers.

History of Bonaire\'s Hilma Hooker Shipwreck

 

The Hilma Hooker is a 236-foot Dutch freighter built in Krimpen aan den IJssel, the Netherlands. It was originally christened the Midsland on May 20, 1951.  This ship would change hands — and names — multiple times over the next two decades.

One of the most in-depth accounts of the Hooker’s troubled months prior to sinking comes from Bruce Bowker, of Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn. According to Bowker, local dive operators were quick to recognize the gift that the tide had left on their doorstep and appealed to the government to use the ship to create a new dive site. Despite an outpouring of public support, nothing could be done. The Hilma Hooker was evidence in an active case for the Attorney General’s office of the Netherland Antilles. And if the owners were found not guilty, the ship would need to be returned in the same condition as when the authorities confiscated it — something that would be hard to do if the ship was sitting on the sea floor.

On September 12, 1984, the ship began taking on water. Its pumps had failed, and the Hilma Hooker began to sink. At 9:08 a.m. she rolled over onto her starboard side and slipped beneath the surface two minutes later.

(Source:  Scuba Diving Magazine)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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