Laid back Sergey near the break in the wreck

Dive sites (Malta): Um El Faroud (part 2)

Tony checks out the rudder and propellor
Tony checks out the rudder and propellor

I’ve given a bit of an idea of the dimensions (epic) and history (tragic) of the Um El Faroud in my previous post about the wreck.When we dived her, Sergey obtained the prize parking spot at the bottom of the hill leading down to the water. He applied what he called a “Maltese handle brake”, in the form of a large rock placed behind one of the scuba bus’s rear wheels. Between dives we were able to relax on the jetty, pet the stray cats in the area, and observe the crowds of other (many local, but mostly British) divers also setting out for the wreck. The hill from Wied iz Zurrieq down to the sea is extremely steep (justifying the “handle brake” even on a car with all its mechanics intact) and we were grateful that our walk down to and up from the sea only involved a few steps. There’s a brilliant map of the entry point and the location of the wreck relative to the coast (and some stunning photos) here.

The anchor chain at the bow of the Um El Faroud
The anchor chain at the bow of the Um El Faroud

The reef adjacent to the Um El Faroud is a dive site in its own right, and we enjoyed very pleasant commutes along it on both dives we did. It drops off very steeply, so one can enjoy an interesting dive with an attractive, slowly decreasing depth profile (in other words, complete your safety stop without realising it!). The reef life is much the same as that observed at the Arch at Cirkewwa, for example, so I have focused on photos of the wreck here. One of the landmarks that shore divers use to locate the wreck from the reef is a commemorative plaque, in the form of a statue of an old diving helmet, that was placed just offshore, near the wreck, by the Atlam Sub Aqua Club.

Sergey watches us from atop the funnel
Sergey watches us from atop the funnel

The Um El Faroud was cleaned before scuttling, and there are multiple areas which are suitable for penetration. Tony took a brief swim inside (I’m not really interested in going inside a wreck at this stage of my life) – felt like forever before he emerged – and told me that once he entered the wreck he was amazed by the size of the interior, and the many passageways going off in directions that one could explore. There aren’t many tight spaces here, and apart from the (very real) potential to get lost inside and the cold water that settles inside the wreck, not too much to cause stress or discomfort to the careful diver. There is very little silt, and the waters around Malta are extremely clean. Significant amounts of daylight penetrate even to 20-30 metres.

We found this wreck to be an absolutely wonderful dive, and it completely justified the hype (I’d seen it given the accolade of “best wreck in the Med” more than once before our holiday started). The wreck is very large, and depth ranges from 35 metres on the sand at the rudder to about 18 metres on top of the superstructure. A reasonable level of fitness is required for the swim to and from the wreck, Nitrox is a distinct advantage, and obviously at least an Advanced or Deep qualification in order to get the full experience of the wreck.

Tony (foreground, with light) and Sergey on the bow of the Um El Faroud
Tony (foreground, with light) and Sergey on the bow of the Um El Faroud

Dive date: 5 August 2011

Air temperature: 31 degrees

Water temperature: 22 degrees

Maximum depth: 34.3 metres

Visibility: 20 metres

Dive duration: 49 minutes

The bow of the Um El Faroud
The bow of the Um El Faroud

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

2 thoughts on “Dive sites (Malta): Um El Faroud (part 2)”

  1. Dived there in 1996 all along the coastline. Beautiful clear water! Stayed in the hotel just up the cliff where everyone takes great pleasure in diving (jumping) themselves silly from high spots.
    Cheers

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