"Rip roaring" said the guide about the current. "I'll sit this one out" was my reply ... but the guide was taking no nonsense and told me to get kitted up. And I'm glad I did ... it was a 'full on' dive, but I loved it!
Carol from our office was in the Red Sea in September aboard the blue o two vessel MY blue Melody ... and SS Thistlegorm was one of her diving highlights.
The current was indeed 'exciting' and as we edged our way down the bow rope our bodies all swept horizontal by the current. We swam down the starboard side of the wreck, now out of the current, until we got to the propeller at around 29m. I saw motor bikes, guns, a wellington boot and ammunition shells (the guide wiped the sand away exposing the date of manufacture ... 1929). The guide reached back and handed me a torch ... OK, so we're going in! Being inside the wreck kept us out of the current and was a really fabulous experience (I didn't think I was into wrecks!). Eventually we emerged at the bow and grabbed back onto the bow rope. Swept out at arms length once again by the current, I hung on and completed my safety stop ... during which I decided I was a wreck convert!
Our group dived the Thistlegorm twice more ... later as a night dive and again the following morning. Both times with much kinder currents!
October 2016 marked the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea, with the loss of four sailors and five members of the Royal Navy gun crew. Her cargo included armoured vehicles, motorcycles, Bedford trucks, guns, cases of ammunition, wellington boots and other items destined for Allied forces in Egypt as well as supplies for the Egyptian Railways.
Jacques Cousteau rediscovered her in the 1950's and today she is one of the world's most famous dive sites and a permanent fixture in any 'top ten wrecks' list! Her bow is at 15m and stern around 29m which makes her perfect for recreational divers.
Image: SS Thistlegorm photographed by Steve Laycock in Sept 2016.