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Thistlegorm, the queen of wrecks

Thistlegorm shows up in every diving chart, being highly praised and recommended by those who visited it once, as well as by the professionals who know it as well as their own pocket.

Located in the Red Sea, in the Strait of Gubal , the wreck is accessible from Sharm el-Sheikh, as well as from Hurghada (or even Eilat), after just a few hours of sailing. Many of those who visit it choose the safari/liveaboard alternative, which is more comfortable, as it doesn’t involve midnight departures as it happens in the one-day trips.

With a length of 126 meters, Thistlegorm is a British military vessel sunk in 1941, following an aerial attack from the Germans. Even today her war load is very well preserved in the depths, the underwater visitor having access to different weapons and artifacts, motorcycles, Morris cars, locomotives and even Bedford trucks. The stern was destroyed by two bombs which hit her right on target, while the surrounding area is dotted with various elements laying spread even today for everyone to explore, starting with the anchor resting at 200 meters in front of the bow.

Even though the ship was discovered by Cousteau in 1956, she really entered the diving circuit just in the nineties, when she was found for a second time by a group of divers. The visibility is moderate, and the site is well-known for its strong currents, which can change direction during the day (from forward to aft and the other way around); this makes it a complex site when it comes to diving difficulty level (there were reported cases of divers taken away from the wreck by the strong currents). There are quite calm days also, with very good visibility, and inside the wreck the divers are anyway sheltered from the current. But regardless the condition at the location, the Thistlegorm remains a destination for advanced and technical divers.

You descend on a rope, against the current, and you ascend with the current. The vessel is located starting from 31 meters of depth and it goes up to 13 meters. You can penetrate the wreck from the destroyed side where the bombs hit her, but also from the bridge area. It is recommended to do more than one dive in order to take in everything – the first dive is a recognition one and usually outside of the boat, the successive dives are dedicated to exploring in detail the inside. For the interior, torches are necessary and you have to be careful not to lose yourself from your group.

The Thistlegorm is more often than not a very crowded dive site; during the day you can have even up to 20 dive boats moored close to the wreck, which can turn a dive into a real chaos. Unfortunately, some of the divers visiting the ship thought of taking souvenirs from the site, forgetting that all these are collected in a real war cemetery. The large number of divers is also an explanation why the fauna is quite poor here – however you can still encounter fish like tuna or barracuda, as well as turtles. 

Even though affected by the increasing number of scuba divers, the Thistlegorm continues to be one of the most celebrated wrecks in the world. For all those who descend into the depth we make a plea to keep it as a legend for divers, and not their victim…


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2 responses to “Thistlegorm, the queen of wrecks”

  1. si eu vreau de multa vreme sa ajung la thistlegorm-poate cineva sa-mi spuna cum imi aranjez o excursie si cam cat costa?

  2. says:

    14 Nov 2010 at 19:07

    Păi e simplu, aproape fiecare centru din staţiunile egiptene aranjează astfel de excursii, la multe poţi să faci şi rezervare online; preţul nu ar trebui să depăşească 100 euro la un mini-safari de o zi. Mai multe detalii despre safari ai în articolul dedicat.

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