MS Zenobia 40th Anniversary Dive Trip

5th to 8th June 2020

Introduction

In association with Chris Martin of Alpfa Divers in Larnaca, Mark Lewis has secured a first refusal charter for 18 divers to dive the MS Zenobia shipwreck on the 40th Anniversary of her sinking on Sunday 7th June 2020. We will will be diving for a minimum of two days on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June 2020 from The Kalipso II, a dedicated 13 metre dive hard boat that will easily accommodate 20 divers plus crew. With on-board toilet, great tunes, sun deck, fresh water shower, tank holders & a very spacious dive platform. Perfect for recreational and technical divers alike. This private charter is for invited guests only who will make their own travel and accommodation arrangements, diving either two, three, four or more days on “The Zen.” Non divers are welcome as I know a number of divers will wish to extend their stay with their partners as an extended holiday.

Why The Zenobia?

I’ll gamble that you’ll find the Zenobia listed within any ‘Top 10’ wreck site locations in the world. The reason is that she is perfect for almost any style and type of diving. With her bow resting on a sandy bottom at 42 metres, her stern resting at 40 metres and her starboard side between 15 metres and 18 metres, she is perfect for both recreational and technical divers alike. With a plethora of visible daylight swim throughs and more challenging dark penetrations into the ship’s inners, there’s something for everyone. To get the most out of the Zenobia, you’ll probably want to be PADI Advanced Open Water (or equivalent) qualified to 30 metres and Nitrox certified. It would be a benefit (though not a prerequisite) if you have a attained your Wreck speciality qualification and be comfortable within an overhead environment. I can testify that any diver with open circuit technical qualifications to PADI Tec40 or PADI Tec45 will take full advantage of their qualifications on this site.

I have personally dived The Zen 18 times now in the months of March, May and November with maximum depths between 28 and 41 metres. I took my PADI Tec45 with Alpha Divers and since that time, six of my dives being to this qualification. Water temperatures have been between 17 and 23 degrees centigrade and visibility recorded between 20 and 25 metres.

One of the 'must see' highlights of the Zenobia, the PIE tarp in the upper cargo deck.
Mark Lewis about to enter the upper cargo deck with trucks on the sea bed.

About The Zenobia

The MS Zenobia was a Swedish built Challenger-class RORO ferry launched in 1979. She is 108 meters in length and lies on her port side with 104 articulated lorries scattered around the seabed and cargo decks, which can still be seen inside and alongside the wreck. She left Malmö, Sweden on her maiden voyage with 121 passengers and 30 crew, bound for Tartous, Syria on 4th May 1980. Having experienced ballast problems while en-route to Athens, her ballast tanks were emptied. Arriving at Larnaca on 2nd June 1980, the ballast problems reoccured, the engineers finding a software glitch that was pumping water into the ballast tanks. Ordered out of Larnaca harbour so not to become a hazard if she were to sink, she anchored some 1.5 KM away and on 7th June, she finally capsized and took her £2 million cargo with her including livestock, eggs and rumoured munitions. 

Another 'must see', these lighter than water ethanol bottle litter the ceiling.
Ethanol alcohol bottle suspended on the ceiling of the upper cargo desk.

Your Invitation

The trip will be as flexible as you wish it to be. I will organise the diving with Alpha Divers and you will organise your flights and accommodation. I am flying out on Thursday 4th June from Heathrow on British Airways and will return the late afternoon of Tuesday 9th. We will dive a minimum of two days on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June, with options for diving either side of these dates. I plan to dive Friday 5th as a check-dive and no-stop recreational dive, planning Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th as technical dives and possibly Monday 8th with some non deco dives. Some others have also expressed a lengthened stay with their partners, while others may choose a shorter stay. Such flexibility will allow you to plan to your own budget with choice of airlines, departure airports and accommodation. Alpha Divers are located some 15 minutes to the north the centre of Larnaca and will be happy to collect us from our hotels in the morning. Depending on arrival times, they are also happy to arrange transfers from the airport.

Diving Costs

Single Cylinder

Recreational Diving
80
00
Per Day For Two Dives
  • Maximum 60 minutes
  • Nitrox 12 litre @ €5.00 per dive [*]
  • Nitrox 15 litre @ €7.50 per dive [*]
  • Nitrox 18 litre @ €10.00 per dive [*]
Two Dives

Twinset / Sidemount

Technical or Recreational Diving
90
00
Per Day For Two Dives
  • Maximum 60 minutes
  • Twinset €10.00 per day [*]
  • Nitrox €20.00 per day [**]
  • 7 litre stage €7.00 per day [***]
Two Dives

Closed Circuit CCR

Technical Diving
90
00
Per Day For Two Dives
  • Maximum 60 minutes
  • Lime €10.00 per KG
  • 7 litre stage €7.00 per day [*]
  • 11 litre bailout €5.00 per day [**]
  • 2 or 3 litre O2 and Dil €10.00 per day [***]
Two Dives

The Diving

All diving will be with professional guides from Alpha Divers. Having dived with them during a recent holiday in the Red Sea, I can testify to their credentials. There will be two dives per day, spit into recreational and technical groups with the groups being guided appropriately. You can expect to circumnavigate the ship including swim throughs into the accommodation block, cafeteria, captains quarters, bridge and of course the upper and middle cargo decks. Those divers able to drop to 40 metres can expect a cracking swim through of the two lorries laying opposite each other hear the stern along with the port propeller. A ‘must do’ is a photo on the port side propeller at some 28 metres.

For A Little Fun

For a little fun, see if you can find and photo the following. Those into Geocaching will find a there is a cache on the Zen.

  • The Swedish forest painting
  • The chequered carpet
  • Half a dozen eggs
  • The PIE tarpaulin
  • The kissing lorries
  • The laundry
  • The port side propeller
  • The port side anchor
  • The PIE tarpaulin
  • The blue Ethanol bottles
  • A bone of a cow
  • The lorry with electrical generator
  • The captain's blue Lady car
  • An orange forklift
  • A TIR sign
  • The starboard side propeller
  • The bridge

Kit Requirements

A 5mm wetsuit is very doable, especially that time of the year. However, I’ll be in a drysuit with a thinner thermal layer. Those wishing to penetrate the cargo decks will need a primary light as a pre-requisite and a recommended backup light too. I’d also recommend a second mask for those penetrating. Someone panicking and kicking your face mask off at 30 metres in the dark could cause you a problem. DSMBs are not necessary, but it wouldn’t hurt to carry one.

Alpha divers will provide all cylinders as per the aforementioned prices and weights. You should bring all your other dive equipment. That said, Alpha Divers has a wardrobe of kit for rental, including sidemount kit should anyone wish to try or indeed take a sidemount course.

The 'must see' captain's Lada car is easily found in the middle cargo deck.
Beautiful to see, but lionfish are becoming an increasing menace to the Zen.

Training

Alpha Divers is an accredited 5 star PADI diving centre and offer a wide range of PADI Specialities, including a free Naturist Speciality for those over 21. Those divers who may wish to take their PADI Deep, PADI Nitrox, PADI Wreck, PADI Sidemount or indeed PADI Tec40 course can do so while on this trip. Please let me know separately and I will advise Chris of your interest.

To Reserve Your Place

Using the contact form, simply enter and confirm your details. In the first instance I would like to generate an initial  list of those interested before Christmas. This will help with planning.

Chris has told me that if we exceed 18 divers for Kalypso, then he has access to other boats. I’d prefer however to limit my organisation to 18 divers. I ask you therefore to express your interest before Christmas. Once I have something resembling a bunch of keen divers, I will look to secure the booking by asking for deposits, probably February 2020. Obviously nothing is secured until a deposit is paid.

If you fancy any courses or Specialities, then the Zen is ideal. With warm waters and excellent visibility, you can concentrate on you skills while also enjoying the wreck. She’s an ideal depth and profile for those who may wish to complete the PADI Tec40 course.

Find A Hotel

I’m staying at the Josephine Boutique Hotel on a B&B basis, some 100 metres from the beach and promenade where there are ample bars and restaurants. The hotel is 10 to 15 minutes to the dive centre and features free WiFi access, air-conditioned rooms with roof-top terrace and pool. Larnaca Airport is 2.5 miles away. If you choose not to stay at the Josephine, I’d suggest somewhere local to facilitate simple transport logistics for Alpha Divers. Links to local areas and the Josephine are below.

Booking.com

What To Expect

And finally. Just shake the cheese off from this 2019 Legends of the Deep documentary by Céline and Fabien Cousteau, grandchildren of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and this episode from the mini-TV series will show you exactly what you are in for! There’s no PLO missiles or guns to find or illicit mysterious sinking story to resolve, but cracking wreck dives for anyone. The filming was made from Alpha’s Kalypso II, the same boat from which we will be diving.

https://scuba.to/zenobia
Page published and managed by Mark Lewis

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