Diving the shipwreck of the MS Zenobia


Today was the big day!  Two dives on the wreck of the MS Zenobia, the huge RO-RO ferry that sank in Larnaca bay in 1980 on her maiden voyage.  There are many stories about the sinking but there was no loss of life and no insurance claim has ever been made, no charges brought…. software error is believed to be the cause.

Anyway, the ship is 178m long, 28m wide and has a draught of 13m,  She lies on her port side in about 42m of water.  The wreck starts in about 16m though making it suitable for a wide range of divers.  There are many dives possible on the wreck, from exploring the outside, the upper decks, to entering the upper and middle cargo holds, the lower cargo hold, the engine room, the accommodation block.  One of the most fascinating sights are the articulated lorries hanging on chains in the middle and upper holds, eerily swinging a bit with the water.  But there is so much to explore, you could spend weeks diving it every day and still find new things to see.  The visibility is glassy and there is little current over the wreck.  Image Gallery

We had arranged to dive with Dive In,   website  of whom we had received many good reports.  And they were well justified.  We arrived at their shop at 8am.  It is right on the waterfront and about 3 minutes walk from their boat launch, then 5 minutes putter to the wreck.  The shop is spacious and well equipped and their hire kit is good.  We were given every assistance and a very professional briefing.  We were on the way to the wreck just after 9.

Their rib is probably the best diving rib we’ve ever been in.  It had sit-astride forward facing seats for around 16 divers with central storage and two excellent ladders.  I mean EXCELLENT!!!!!  Really sturdy under the toughest weight.  They made entering the boat after the dive a real pleasure.

Our first dive was around perimeter of the ship, under the funnel and exploring the superstructure.  There were quite a lot of fish.  We last dived the wreck abut 24 years ago and its got more growth on it now, it was much cleaner then.  We toured around in about 29m and could easily see the large extent of the wreck.  She is huge.  Daisy had never seen such a large wreck before and she was very impressed.

After the dive we went back to the shop for our surface interval, which was nice, and we had coffees and a bit of breakfast in the next door café.  When we’d asked, whether we could dive one of the lorry cargo decks, we had been regretfully refused as they like to step up to that over a couple of days.  This was understandable and we totally agreed.  However, when we returned from our coffee, our dive guide said that we were going to be allowed to do the lorry dive.  So, that was very nice, and actually a compliment to Daisy.  She must have done well to be taken there along with us two old fogies.

So, back out to the wreck with our torches and down we went.  We entered the hold via a single hatched doorway to the bow and it was pitch black inside.  You could see a tiny blue dot in the distance which was the exit point.  As out torches lit it up and our eyes got used to the dark we could see the lorries, some hanging, some which had fallen to the floor (actually the side wall) of the hold.  It was quite strange and surreal to swim through this vast dark space with huge items like the lorries hanging on their sides.  Daisy did well in there.  It must have been a bit daunting at first, but she was absolutely fine.  You have to hold your buoyancy in the dark because the depth range in there is somewhere between 26 and 33m I would estimate.  We swam all the way through at about 32m and then we briefly came out to the aft.  Our guide pointed out some animal bones in that area.  The ferry had also been carrying frozen meat when it sank.  We then turned back and swam through again at a depth of around 26-27m which put us near the “Ceiling” (actually the other side wall).  There were lots of beams visible and also very, very many blue bottles of some chemical substance, possibly ethanol.  We also found some light bulbs.  Saw an elevator hatchway and some upper windows and stairways down to lower hold decks.

Eventually we got back to the hatchway through which we had entered, and this time exited out one at a time.  There were some lionfish just inside there.  Had a little mooch about on the starboard (upper) side but we had little no-stop time left at this point, so we ascended the line again back to the surface, making a safety stop at 5m.  They have a really nice trapeze set up for it, which makes it comfortable.  So proud of our girl.  She really did well.  Not an easy dive by any means.

Back to the shop for showers, paying, more coffee, some amazing chocolate cake and then the journey back to the north.  We stopped at our usual LIDL in Nicosia and got some groceries.  So nice to be back on the north side again.  It is so very much more beautiful than the south.  Very, very much.

Anyway, highly recommend diving on the Zenobia and also diving with Dive In.  Will have to go back again in the near future.  Not another 24 years that’s for sure.

Feeling a bit tired tonight so its a quiet one at home!