Diving the Zenobia with Alpha Divers

16th July 2013   |   Jackie Hutchings

A family wedding in Cyprus gave us the ideal excuse to finally taste Cyprus diving and discover the famous Zenobia wreck.

We arranged our accommodation and diving through Chris Martin at Alpha Divers, which started our planning off with ease. We decided to fly with British Airways to get 23kgs baggage allowance each and unlimited weight on hand luggage – and that was it… the easiest dive trip we’d ever arranged.  Chris at Alpha Divers arranged our airport transfers and a car for us too. We stayed in the quiet village of Pyla just outside of Larnaca town and 5 minutes from the dive centre. The village was perfect for us, a few places to eat, a couple of shops but mainly….peace and quiet.  We stayed in was at the Pyla Palms complex and was immaculate, well decorated and had everything you could need – books, DVDs, hundreds of TV channels, iron, hairdryer, washing machine, tumble dryer and a shared pool – brilliant.

Anyway, on arrival at the airport, Olav from Alpha Divers was waiting for us and drove us to the dive centre where we finalised the details of our diving. Chris emphasised that this was our holiday and that they are there to make that happen. We arranged to do several dives on the Zenobia wreck, exploring as our confidence built and our skills allowed.

Chris came across as very safety conscious but in a way that wasn’t going to inhibit the diving we wanted to do, but that we could be adventurous with our diving and do so safely. This was a welcome change to some of our previous dive trips elsewhere, where safety has been used as an excuse to often do just OK dives rather than great dives.

After a lovely meal at the local tavern that night, we settled down to watch a DVD about the Zenobia and looked forward to the next morning’s diving. The Zenobia is a roll on roll off ferry that sank in 1980, it still holds its original cargo – 3 decks of huge lorries. Nothing has been salvaged or taken from the Zenobia.

Back at the dive centre the next day we gathered our kit together with other divers and set off for the Marina. Don’t expect everything to be done for you here ‘a la Indonesia’, if you are fit, willing and able you work as a team with the staff to get the day’s kit, tanks and resources on the waiting boat, Kalypso 2.  However, if you feel unable to help then help is at hand.

The dive centre is a welcoming and friendly environment, with nice window displays and a variety of equipment and clothing on show to buy. There is a classroom, customer toilets, bottled water, seating (inside and out) and a great fish tank.  All the hire kit is in good condition using Mares BCDs and regulators, the wetsuits are Alpha’s own design and are comfy, 5mm longjohn and/or shortie combinations.  Samantha (a self admitted fussy female) used one of Alpha‟s shorties and was warm
and comfortable.

Alpha Diver’s boat was the biggest surprise so far, a large well maintained boat that had plenty of room for either a small or large group of divers. It’s was a lovely stable platform, with a good dry area, small onboard head and a place to sunbathe too. The dive platform at the rear is big enough and has a single ladder for exiting. Obviously we saw other boats whilst diving but this was by far the best boat we saw.

The sea was still and the dive site a 10 minute gentle boat trip out of the marina. When we first moored above the wreck we looked overboard, and there it was, 17 meters below us we could clearly see the top of the wreck – yes, 17 metres below us!  Not quite the UK viz we were used to.  Chris’s briefings were really good – I don‟t say that easily. We don’t often get briefings with really detailed knowledge and real enthusiasm – but this is something that Chris excels at. Chris also expertly juggled the different levels of experience on the boat so that everyone had the best dives their experience and qualifications allowed.

We were soon in the water, diving on Nitrox to give us some extended bottom time, and dropping down to the immense sight of the Zenobia. As we dived around the stern and the sight of both propellers faced us, the huge scale of this wreck became apparent. This added a certain amount of excitement and the wreck was clearly going to be a wreck you can dive time and time again and still enjoy.

Everything is still mostly intact but encrusted with life too, the funnels, the propellers and the lorries, all just waiting to be explored. On our first dive, we were followed throughout by a small Barracuda and just at the end another 2 joined him. These are the friendliest Barracudas we‟ve ever seen. We also saw a school of Jacks around the funnel and various other fish around the wreck – different types of wrasse and groupers too. We didn’t experience any currents on any of our dives.

Each dive plan built on our last dive and at our own speed we progressed to explore the wreck and diving different areas of this huge site. Chris is an empowering person to dive with, respect goes both ways with Chris and he really wants to enhance your diving journey and the Zenobia is some journey in your diving.

The Zenobia isn’t the only diving to be found in Cyprus, there is shore diving, caves and other wrecks, but with our limited time available, we decided to only dive the Zenobia.

Chris had 2 dive guides working with him while we were there, Calum and Olav. They were great and are learning from Chris how to be safe, lead exciting dives and give great customer service. We enjoyed their company.

There are 2 things at Alpha Divers that seemed to govern the way they work:

  • “We love the life we live and we live the life we love”
  • “ENTHUSIASM is the dynamics of your personality, without it, whatever abilities you may have lie dormant. You may possess knowledge, sound judgement, good reasoning faculties, but no one will know it until you discover how to put your heart into thought and action. A wonderful thing is this quality which we call ENTHUSIASM. If you would like to be a power among men, cultivate enthusiasm, people will like you better for it; you will escape the dull routine of a mechanical existence and you will make headway wherever you are.”

Alpha Divers’ love for life and their enthusiasm for diving in Cyprus and in particular the Zenobia.

© Mike and Samantha Muir, Warwickshire, UK

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