OYSTER DIVING CLUB – BEST OF WRECKS RED SEA LIVEABOARD, OCTOBER 2014 – PART 3
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 lays 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
Chrisoula K Facts:
Built 1953 in Lubeck, Germany
Dimensions – 101m x 14m
Max speed 13.5 kn
Route – Italy to Jeddah
Cargo – 3,700 tonnes of Italian floor tiles
In 1978 it hit the reef at full speed
The wreck lies relatively intact on the reef wall. The bow starts around 4m with the stern at around 26m.
There were loads of interesting places to penetrate the wreck, 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 it’s pitch black in there (and a few divers have lost 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 there were some families of clownfish brightening up the place and other critters such as a wort slug.
Wreck 2 of the day – Carnatic
Launched in 1862
Dimensions – 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 intact 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. 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 of the day – Giannis D
Giannis D Facts:
Maiden voyage 1969
Dimensions – 100m x 16m
Route – Croatia to Yemen
Cargo – Teak and mahogany
19/04/83 struck the reef
The wood floated and was collected by the local fishermen 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 intact 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 artist’s dream. Returning to the outside of the ship we swam around the stern past the rudder and prop. Despite it being a relatively new wreck, many different types of hard and soft corals are starting to appear, which 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 its 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.
Our final day of diving, and probably the final blog entry (unless something out of the ordinary happens during our night out in Hurghada later).
Having started our journey back towards Hurghada we did our first of two dives this morning at Shab el Ert, or more commonly known at home as Dolphin House. There are three Dolphin Houses in the Red Sea and I’ve never encountered Dolphins in any of them, so expectations were low.
I buddied up with Melvin and Philippe, the French-American (he’s actually Canadian but we’ve had a great time calling him a yank all week). Philippe decided to lead this dive. The dive itself, in Red Sea terms, was not that spectacular – a sandy bottom with coral bommies and lots of little fish. As predicted, there were no dolphins. The highlight of the dive is that myself and Melvin had to tell Philippe that he was leading us in the wrong direction and therefore using various hand gestures we made him aware that the ‘beer fine’ rule was being enforced.
We were about the last people back on the boat and just as we were taking our kit off a pod of Dolphins typically appeared right where we had just been diving. I calmly asked one of the boat guys “quick, quick, grab the zodiac”. Mel and I grabbed our fins and masks and leapt in to the zodiac like a couple of Olympic hurdlers wired on Red Bull.
We lost sight of the Dolphins but our boat driver shouted “JUMP”, so without question we rolled back in to the water. Right in front of us less than 10 yards/meters away were about a dozen Dolphins slowly and calmly swimming right past us. With the cameras rolling we spent several minutes gathering evidence to show the guys back on the boat.
Today’s weather for Mrs G: SCORCHIO
Last dive of the trip – El Mina
This wreck was an ex-Russian frigate that was sold to Egypt. During the Egyptian v Israeli conflict, an Israeli Phantom jet fighter bombed the navy vessel and sank it close to Hurghada Port in about 30m of water. Apart from a large hole where the bomb hit, the wreck is relatively intact and rests on its port side. You can still see the gun turrets, propellers, bow etc. Marine life was fairly interesting even though the coral hasn’t taken hold properly.
Myself, Mel and Phillipe navigated our way over to a nearby trawler. Although not as fascinating to look at, the marine life was! There were thousands of glass fish being stalked by chunky lionfish and crocodilefish.
With our equipment rinsed and drying in the sun we are making plans for a final farewell to this wonderful part of the world. Tomorrow we get to lounge by the pool before our afternoon transfer to the airport. It’s been a great trip and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the company of the Danepack and other guests on the boat. As usual, blue o two have provided us with a first class service and we look forward to returning to the ‘Best of the Red Sea – Shark Special’ next November on board Blue Horizon. If you would like to join us the please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a video of our trip: