Rounding the stern of the Giannis D

Dive sites (Red Sea): Giannis D (Sha’ab Abu Nuhas)

In the gap
In the gap

I think it was a photograph of the wreck of the Giannis D – possibly this one taken by Andrew Taylor and published in The Dive Site magazine, that made me want to go to the Red Sea, and dive this wreck. The Giannis D was a Greek freighter carrying a cargo of sawn softwood, and ran aground on Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef in the Strait of Gubal in 1983. She was travelling at full speed, and this along with the fact that her crew’s extremely smooth disembarkation, have led some to suspect a case of barratry.

Tony and a coral encrusted mast
Tony and a coral encrusted mast

The wreck is broken into distinct pieces. We started amidships, having dropped in near the A frame that tilts crazily at the shallowest part of the wreck (no more than about four metres’ depth), and swam towards the bow. This part of the wreck is extremely crumpled and jumbled, with the bow section lying completely on its side with the mast parallel to the seabed. It is clear from the damage to the front of the ship that she was doing a considerable speed when she struck the reef.

Christo swims up a toppled mast
Christo swims up a toppled mast

Between the bow and the stern is a wide area of sheet metal, masts and booms, and other jumbled pieces. The structure in the photo below, which is the same one as in Andrew Taylor’s photo, is what remains of a cargo hold – completely burst open and exposed to the ocean. When I swam through that part of the wreck ahead of Tony, Kate and Christo, I felt a bit choked up – it was this particular part of this particular wreck that I’d wanted to see with my own eyes, and there I was. Maybe I’d left my big girl panties back on the liveaboard.

Tony, Kate and Christo swimming through a broken up cargo hold
Tony, Kate and Christo swimming through a broken up cargo hold

I got over myself and we swam towards the stern, which is an iconic structure that you might recognise if you look at a better photograph of it than my one. You can just make out the propeller on the far right of the photo below, about two thirds of the way from the top. It’s quite close to the ladder that still hangs down the side of the ship.

Rounding the stern of the Giannis D
Rounding the stern of the Giannis D

The photograph I took of the stern of the Giannis D also brings up some complicated feelings that I had while diving the wreck. I’d imagined exploring it many times, but – as I realised while jostling for space with (I estimate) seventy other divers – in my imagination I was always alone. My feeling of disappointment and a little confusion at the large number of other divers who were at the site fought against feelings of excitement and fulfillment that I was finally here. I took a little video clip of some of the traffic on the wreck; I’ll share that tomorrow.

Tony on the tilted top of the wreck
Tony on the tilted top of the wreck

The stern superstructure tilts at a crazy angle that made me feel quite disoriented as we swam around it. After exploring it we did our safety stop near the A frame, and surfaced to hop onto our Zodiac. There were so many other divers and liveaboards in the area that about six Zodiacs were daisy chained to one another on top of the wreck. About ten of us climbed into one of our liveaboard’s two Zodiacs – the other was dropping divers off back at the liveaboard.

A group of Swedish divers from our liveaboard couldn’t fit onto the Zodiac, so they just went to the next one in the queue (which was not connected to blue o two or our liveaboard in any way whatsoever), threw their gear on board and tried to climb in. The crewmember on board shouted frantically at them to go away, because they were not his divers! It took some persuading to make them put their gear back on and wait in the water for the other Zodiac to return.

Dive date: 23 October 2013

Air temperature:  25 degrees

Water temperature:  27 degrees

Maximum depth: 18.3 metres

Visibility:  30 metres

Dive duration:  46 minutes

Divers safety stopping at the A frame
Divers safety stopping at the A frame

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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.

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