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Wreck of the Zenobia, Cyprus - Trip Report

Discussion in 'Central and Eastern Europe' started by Rhone Man, Feb 14, 2010.

  1. Rhone Man

    Rhone Man Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: British Virgin Islands
    11,283
    10,629
    113
    Rhone Man had a business trip to Cyprus, home to one of the top 10 wreck dives in the world, the Zenobia. Accordingly, the only sensible thing to do was to add on four days holiday and hump his dive gear a quarter of the way around the world.

    Unfortunately it was February, and Europe was in the middle of a cold snap. Despite being in the Med it was pretty damn chilly ("see your breath" cold) when Rhone Man got off the plane at Larnaca airport. Jumping off the boat on day 1, Rhone Man (who almost exclusively dives in the Caribbean) was almost paralysed by the cold in his poorly fitting wet suit.

    However, when you descend to the Zenobia (the 'Zen' to her friends), the feeling of cold melts away. The ship is simply enormous. They tell me it is approximately 580 feet long, but all you really need to know is that is further than you can see in any direction. The experience reminds me of various movies like The Abyss where the hero descends to a huge underwater city below him. It is just massive. Water clarity was excellent (I am told it is worse in winter than in summer, but even by Caribbean standards it is nothing to complain about).

    The ship lies on its port side. All of the dive shops have moorings that tie in to the starboard rail, at about 60 feet. The sand lies at 140 feet. For our first dive we swam across the hull to the keel (which was like swimming across a flat featureless desert) and then across to the props, which are, of course, massive. A moray eel lives in the shallower of the two props. On dive 1 we descended to the lower prop (at about 120 feet) and then worked our way back around the stern to the middle section, past the cranes and lorries (trucks) that had tumbled to the sea bed, and then back to our ascent line. There is not much in the way of marine life in the Med (compared to the Caribbean), but it is still a pretty gripping dive.

    Surface interval was not fun. Pulling off a cold wet suit and then sitting on the boat with the winter wind whipping at you is a pretty awful feeling. Only eclipsed, in fact, by having to pull on a cold, dripping wet suit for the second dive. At least the dive operator has a proper boat with a semblance of a cabin - the other dive operators on the wreck that day are just using inflables and the divers all look truly miserable.

    Second dive was similar, except this time we crossed to the bow thrusters, and then around the bow, and back across the bridge and up. It sounds like a short journey, but it took the entire 30 minute dive time.

    On day 2 we were supposed to go back to the Zen, but Rhone Man asked if he could do the dry suit specialty and rent a dry suit for the remainder of the dives, and the instructor gamely agreed. Rhone Man was a bit apprehensive, but actually using a dry suit was not nearly as tricky as Rhone Man has feared. And the shallow water dives learning to use the dry suit were perfectly pleasant in their own right.

    Day 3 it was back to the Zen, and the instructor announces that we are now going to start the penetration dives (the upper lorry deck). Rhone Man gets a little nervous, as he will be doing only his third ever dive in a dry suit. Rhone Man gets even more nervous when it becomes apparent that we will be doing this using singles, and without guidelines. However, Rhone Man assumes the penetrations will not be deep, and so goes with the flow. Rhone Man is wrong. The penetrations went fine, but we probably went about 90 feet into the structure through various twists and turns, and there is no ambient light at all. If Rhone Man had gotten separated from the instructor, or if there had been a silt out, life might have gotten very interesting. However, the dry suit is toasty warm making for a much more pleasant dive experience (and infinitely better surface interval). Rhone Man advises of his reservations and the instructor agrees to do a shallower penetration for the next dive, although points out that he often pentrates to the enginge room on just a single tank! Second dive does involve a much shallower penetration (the chain locker) but it is much deeper (135 feet) and Rhone Man has already used a third of his air before the penetration starts! Rhone Man's dive computer is also deeply unhappy because we are breathing EANx28, and our ppO2 is now above 1.4 (aparently 1.5 or 1.6 is treated as a more normal limit in Cyprus). Again the dive goes fine, but Rhone Man and the instructor mutually agree that the next day's diving will not involve penetration.

    Day 4 sadly never happens. A storm blows up and diving is cancelled. So Rhone Man only gets four dives on the Zen instead of two. It is a truly amazing wreck, and so much to see Rhone Man truly believes the instructor when he says you can do a week's worth of diving on it and not see everything. Rhone Man will come back one day and see more of this remarkable wreck. But hopefully during the summer, and hopefully wearing a twin set and carrying a reel.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  2. Rhone Man

    Rhone Man Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: British Virgin Islands
    11,283
    10,629
    113
    Random picture of the Zenobia to make the thread look more interesting:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  3. Rhone Man

    Rhone Man Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: British Virgin Islands
    11,283
    10,629
    113
    Got a couple of PMs asking who I went with - I went with Alpha Divers; very solid outfit run by Chris Martin. Chris is half British, half Cypriot and a top bloke. The main reason I picked them was because Chris was only dive store operator in Cyprus who seems to reply to e-mails. But I tell you what, having a decent sized boat rather than a RIB makes all the difference.
     
  4. yosemite_sam

    yosemite_sam Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Ireland
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    A good report, I was thinking of organizing a trip there this year.
     
  5. adambayam

    adambayam ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location:
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    Awesome!!! I'd be stoked to see more pictures. Sure you won't miss the drysuit? :wink:

    Adam
     
  6. northern sole

    northern sole Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Cyprus
    72
    0
    0
    Rhone Man, I take it you went on "The Zenobia Queen" boat the big catamaran, used to be a fire tender on the river Thames in London.
    We are in North Cyprus, no euro, very cheap and a beautiful part of the island and do regular trips to The Zenobia.
    Scuba Diving in North Cyprus
     
  7. kaerius

    kaerius Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sweden
    381
    38
    28
    Rise, RISE!

    Sorry for the necromancy.

    I'll be working there(from next week), and it'd be nice if you'd send that instructors name and what LDS he work for to me in a private message, I'd like to warn my students about him.
     

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