The Mighty Zen
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
If I didn’t have a reg in my mouth, my jaw would have dropped! Although I had heard a lot about the Zenobia, I was still amazed by the sight that greeted me as I descended the shot line (in warm, clear water by the way!). Lying on its side was a surprisingly intact wreck - 170m long at a depth of 17 - 43m.
The Zenobia is a Swedish ro-ro vessel that listed and sank on its maiden voyage to Syria (fortunately with no loss of life) in 1980. At its shallowest it is 17m, with shot lines regularly spaced out along its length. A group of 18 of us headed to Larnaca to dive it - a mixture of first timers and veterans who have been coming here for over 20 years. After having my first taste of it, I can see why people keep coming back. No matter how easy or challenging you want your dive to be, Zenobia can accommodate you…
My heart was in my mouth as I entered an opening into the dark upper lorry deck, and I only started to relax when I saw light in the exit in the distance - as I had been assured I would. On my second dive through I was able to relax more and really take in what I was seeing - HGVs on their side and evidence of their loads - in particular bottles.
My confidence boosted, I was also able to enter the wreck through the crane shaft and see the laundry room and some of the crew’s quarters.
The exterior of the vessel was no less remarkable - particular highlights were the huge propellors and crane on the upper deck.
Of course the wreck has attracted wildlife - although I was not fortunate enough to see the turtle, there was no missing the lionfish, and one of the guides noted that their numbers had increased significantly over the last year.
The staff and facilities of Viking Divers were excellent. It felt luxurious to be picked up from our hotel to find our kit and cylinders waiting for us on the boat - I shall think of this wistfully next time I am dragging my kit around Vobster in the rain. When ascending the ladder at the end of my first dive, one of my weight pouches snagged on a rung and dropped 43m to the sea bed. I was wondering how much it would cost me to replace the lead, but one of the crew very kindly retrieved it for me - I showed my gratitude in the traditional way (bottles of something cold and fizzy!).
Our hotel was ideally located right on the seafront with plenty of bars and restaurants right outside - and a short walk to the old town for more traditional venues. Sun Hall apartments, were cheap and cheerful with spacious, clean rooms and large balconies perfect for drying kit.
Having just got my sports diver, this was an ideal opportunity to work on my depth progression in comfortable, benign surroundings (it was a novelty to see the first digit on my temperature gauge
read “2”!). I look forward to returning next year and hopefully pushing myself just a little bit more.