Wrecks of the Red Sea II: The Northern area
Next to Sharm el Sheik’s old harbour there is a less known wreck. Well what is so special… Not too many diving centres go there and it is full of surprises, there are even a couple of tanks down there.. Rumour has it that in some summers there are are tiger sharks over there… Getting a little bit curious about this dive site? Ask your local dive shop for a trip…
Probably one of the most famous wrecks in the whole world is the S.S. Thistlegorm. Lying in the strait of Gubal, she sunk in 1941 during the WWII by the Germans, and it was long undiscovered till Cousteau found it here. She is out in the open in the middle of the strait, meaning there can and will be strong current. Lucky as I am, I had one of the rare days were there were hardly any waves and hardly any current. She was covered in a big shoal of glasfish, a fantastic picture, seeing the fish moving like a living silver curtain with all of the silver light effects when the shoal moves. By the end of the dive the current was picking up, which brought in a impressive school of batfish. The second dive you usually do here is the penetration dive of the main loading area. The memories I have are very mixed, because what I saw on this dive did not please me. Most of the trucks had been expoliated by divers on their hunt for souvenirs, but luckily that activity has stopped. Coming out of the hole where the bomb struck, you can get an image of the power of the impact. The two locomotives she carried were thrown of the deck and are now placed about 20 meters away…
In my opinion, a penetration is not necessary in the main loading bay, because when you stay on the outside and watch the huge amount of fish over there it is nearly like diving in the Maldives. On one dive I counted over 10 (!) Scorpion Fish just on the deck. Glas and Silver fish are all over the place inviting their predators to give it a shot. There are schools of blue fin tunas and barracudas. The school of Batfish is also a resident there.
The HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conversation Association) is trying hard to protect the area with a moring project, but life out on the sea is not easy, because the sea works 24 hours on the morings… and they come off once in a while. And with the amount of divers visiting the place, it needs protection which is a lot of work.
One of the most famous dive sites next to the Thistlegorm is, strictly spoken, also a wreck dive, allthough the ship is not in reach of the limits of recreational diving, the Yolanda. Positioned on the very tip of the National Park of Ras Mohammed the dive site actually is called Shark Reef and Yolandas reef. And yes there are sharks, not always there, but there are some silver tips around. The reason I consider it a wreck dive are because of the remains of the Yolanda. Who ever dived over there does of course remember the toilet seats The amount of fish is just unbelievable and the drop off, which was not the best for the actual wreck to be kept stable on the top reef, is something you will never forget.
Another vessel is the Dunraven. Going down in 1876 she is now completely overgrown. Also exposed to the current there are lots of fish around. The penetration is possible and a good way to seek shelter from the current. A lot of soft corals and Eagle Rays frequently are visiting the wreck.
Near the Thistlegorm is another wreck not so well known: the Kingston. She is not as spectacular as the Thistlegorm, but well worth for a dive. She is lying perpendicular to the current, meaning you can seek shelter of it. She got down in 1881, the depth is between 4 and 19 meters and there are a lot of table corals around, as well as many nudibranches , besides there is also a cleaning station.
The Shab Abu Nuhaas wreck lies the reef of Abu Nuhas – “The father of bad luck”, so called because of the number of ships that have hit this reef over the years. Among the many ships that have hit the north side of the reef, 4 of them remain as diveable wrecks for recreational divers. Starting from the north they are: Kimon M, Marcus, The Carnatic, and Ghiannis D.
In 1869 another tragedy took place in the strait of Gubal. The Carnatic was caught in bad conditions. For two days the whole crew and all of the passengers were stuck on the reef. When the evacuation began the ship broke in half. It is the oldest diveable wreck in the Red Sea. The dive itself is a little bit deeper. She lies at about 25 meters and is a real beauty. She was a steam liner with two masts and it’s fully pact with soft and hard corals.
Another one lying down there is the Ghiannis D. When going down she broke in three parts lying between 5 and 25 meters. The penetration is not recommended because it is lying in a very extreme angle which leads to easy disorientation inside. Again, know your limits when doing a dive and do not exceed your limits! The underwater landscape is astonishing and just for this it’s worth a dive!
On the north side of Shab Abu Nuhaas in september 1981 it was the final destination for another Ship. Her name is Chrisoula K. She is easy accessible between 18 and 25 meters and the main loading area is probably the most beautiful place to see. The loading (wine bottles and copper plates) is still stacked neatly inside. The ship screw is also worth a picture or two…
In front of Little Gubal is a Barge, also known as Bluff Point, not really worth diving in the day, but for a night dive highly recommendable. The dive itself is shallow, penetration on a barge is anyway not a discussion. The hull gets quite mystical once lit by your dive light and the cuttlefish around use it for hunting.
1887 after already having a couple of tragic incidents it was the final day for the Ulysses in front of little Gubal. First she was on the top reef, but wind and waves took their damage and so she vanished completely. The dive is a deep one between 20 and 40 meters. She was discovered by one of the pioneers of diving, Hans Haas. Exposed to strong currents it is reserved for advanced divers to pay her a visit. The dive is not only for the wreck, but also for the reef. Exposed to the current the coral reef is astonishing as well is the wreck fully overgrown.
The remainings of Lara are lying in the Strait of Tiran, on top of Jackson Reef. Why do a wreck dive when the wreck itself is on the top reef?!? Well, some parts of it went down, plus the outside of Jackson reef is for a certain time of the year a perfect idea to do an early morning dive… Starting in the blue water there are Hammerheads, if you’re lucky you may see a lot of them!! Going back to the reef there are some of the remains of her. Because she was involved in a lot of dark matter business, somebody decided to destroy and clean her out rather quickly. In this process some parts of her went down. Probably the wreck with the most rumours about her real history Anyway diving along the remains I encountered tunas oversizing me easily! The reef is a steep slop with nice corals in the shallower parts and, because of current, a lot of fish.
Two days after the Thistlegorm was sunk another ship of the British Navy was attacked by German bombers. She still stands on her keel and his hardly damaged. To do the dive I highly recommend technical training. The bottom lies on 45 meters and penetration is quite worth. Also if not penetrating, it is a deep dive, why not take enough gas with you in the first place, because also the no decompression limit is finished quickly at 30 meters +. A friend of mine had a school of dolphins during his deko stop, what a nice surprise
Next Article: Wrecks of the Red Sea III: South of Hurgada and Sudan
Story By Jörg Delacher.