Last night over dinner we took a vote as to which dives to do in the morning. The general consensus was to do an early 3rd dive on the Thistlegorm before the other 8 boats moored around us descended upon the wreck.
After our 5am wake up call and a quick brief we were soon descending down the shot line into the blue. On reaching the bow of the wreck the visibility was great at about 30m, and even better there were no other divers in sight. When it’s like this, it’s got to be one of the most exciting dive sites in the world. Having spent much of the day yesterday exploring the storage holds and its cargo, we decided to spend most of our time on the outside of the wreck. At the stern of the ship past the section torn apart by the explosion, the 2 anti-aircraft guns remain perfectly intact and unused since the day they were unsuccessfully fired to protect themselves from the Heinkels that tore it apart. As we made our way back to the mooring line dozens of divers from the other boats descended all around us leaving us feeling totally vindicated for our decision to make such an early start. Needless to say a few of the group remained on board as they preferred to catch up on their zzzz’s.
Today’s weather update for Melvin’s wife: hot (34 degrees), lots of sunshine and flat calm seas.
Dive 2 of the day – The Kingston.
A 78m long x 6m wide steam ship
Intended route: London to Aden
The Kingston is located on ‘Shag Rock’, which myself and Melvin speculated was named after one of the girls on one of our previous trips.
The wreck lies in shallow water from 3m to 14m. As it has lay on the seabed for over 100 years only the hull and a few beams still exist. Coral has encrusted the remains of the wreck which gave those with cameras the opportunity to take some spectacular photos. Once we’d done a few circuits of the wreck we headed along the pristine reef back towards our boat. A gentle current made for a long relaxing dive and a welcome change to observing rusty metal. I caught Ric taking a cat nap at 8m but managed to resist the urge the to steel his fins off his feet. The shallow depth and helping current meant that most people managed at least a 60 minute dive.
While waiting for lunch Melvin decided to pass the time by counting the cuts and bruises on Kara’s legs and arms, probably the clumsiest diver on the boat. A total of 34 different injury’s were identified before he went off to take the mickey out of Philippe our French-Canadian diver.
For our 3rd dive we moored up just off a sandy island called Gubal Seghir which is surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise coloured water. A couple of the guys decided to admire the view by starring at the thin tanned girl in the Orange bikini on the boat next to ours – as an engaged man I didn’t notice her.
Danepak, the term given to the other group of guys on our boat seemed to be eager to get back in the water, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the group of scantily clad Italian female snorkellers that were now swimming our way. Again I barely noticed.
Dive 3 of the day – The Barge
The vessel was likely to have been a gun boat from the Egyptian / Israeli 6 day war in 1967, or possibly a barge from the Ulysses salvage operation. No one knows for sure.
Only the hull and some debris survives but the wreck and the surrounding reef are home to many marine animals such as stonefish, crocodilefish, scorpionfish and George, the most famous Eel in the Red Sea. George is mammoth, his head is roughly the same size as Gladstone Small’s and has a body that seems endless.
Congratulations goes to Kara’s and Wendy who have both now successfully completed their wreck and deep diver specialty courses.
Tonight about half the team went for a night dive on the same wreck & reef. The strong current helped to work up an appetite but was definitely worth it (apparently – I chose to enjoy a cold Sakara instead). The reef at night transforms in to a playground for hunting lionfish, hermit crabs, shrimp, octopus and of course George.
The boat engines roared in to action at a knackering 4.30am this morning, not ideal when you’re in the cabin next to the engine room.
Today we spent the day at Abu Nuhas, a reef system close to the main shipping lanes to/from the Suez Canal. This means it was an excellent trap to catch out a few Captains who’d let their guard down. Along the reef lies 4 famous wrecks:
Chrisoula – the tiles wreck sank in 1978
Giannis D – the wood wreck sank 1983
Kimon K – the lentil wreck sank 1978
Carnatic – the wine wreck sank 1869
Wreck 1 of the day
The Chrisoula K
Built 1953 in Lubeck, Germany
Dimensions: 101m x 14m
Max speed 13.5 kn
Last trip from Italy to Jeddah
Cargo 3,700 tonnes of Italian floor tiles
In 1978 it hit the reef at full speed
The wreck lies relatively in tact on he reef wall, the bow starts around 4m with the stern at around 26m.
There were loads of interesting places to penetrate the wrecks such as the cargo holds that still contain its cargo of floor tiles, the kitchen and a machine room where you can still see the tools in their correct positions.
The engine room could be seen through a large door but it is not advisable to enter as its pitch black resulting in a few divers losing their lives in the past having stirred up the silt.
The coral has now started to cover the upper part of the wreck which meant their were some family’s of clownfish brightening up the place and other critters such as a wort slug.
Wreck 2 of the day – Carnatic
Launched in 1862
90m long x 12m wide
Route – Suez to Bombay
Sank – 1869
176 crew and 34 passengers
5 passengers and 26 crew didn’t survive
Cargo – copper, cotton and £40,000 in gold coins (that quite a bit in today’s money)
First salvage operation in the world and unfortunately recovered most of the coins, no one know what happened to the rest
Our Captain managed to moor our boat right on top of the wreck and with no current it made for a very easy descent. The hull remains relatively in tact with a lattice frame work still in place over the top. This made for a very large and airy swim-thru. Inside was a timid school of batfish that made a lovely contrast against the blue water coming through the openings.
Another swim-thru was through the old boiler room and on the exit was a huge moray Eel that you wouldn’t want to get swim passed with your wedding tackle getting to close. Despite keeping a close eye open we didn’t manage to find the missing gold.
Weather watch for today: hot, hot, hot with high levels of UV.
Wreck 3 – Giannis D
Maiden voyage 1969
100m x 16
From Croatia to Yemen
Cargo teak and mahogany
19.4.1983 struck the reef
The wood floated and was collected by the local fisherman as its high quality timber and was used to build the first diving liveaboard. The liveaboard itself later became a wreck near Hurghada.
One of the most famous wrecks in the Red Sea yet it was the first time any of us had done it.
This wreck lay in two main parts. The stern is still relatively in tact and provided us with a fantastic swim through. Entering though the main bridge we swam in and down in to the engine room. A large room with a lot of the original wiring, signs and engines are still in place. As we swam through the wreck the different hues of blue would have been an artists dream. Returning to the outside of the ship we swam around the stern passed the rudder and prop. Despite it being a relatively new wreck many different types of hard and soft corals are starting to appear, it does make you appreciate exactly how long it takes for coral to grow.
Swimming down the wreck you could see the main portion of the wreck was pretty disintegrated with only a few dozen planks from it’s cargo remaining. The bow was also slightly beaten up as this was the main point of impact but still provided for some spectacular photos.
There is a night dive tonight on Dolphin House, near Hurghada – I hope everyone enjoys it!
Tomorrow is our last day of diving so will be tinged with a touch of sadness.