The shipwreck of Paronaxia.

Going down from North to South at the crossing between the islands of Paros and Naxos at Kyklades, approximately in the middle of the distance between the two islands, the naval map marks the existence of a reef. A small beacon on the sharp rocks of the reef, which appear in a shifty way just a few centimeters over the surface of the sea, signals the danger at night. The unsuspecting visitor, who sails in the area, will be surprised as soon as he notices from a long distance the small symmetrical mass which appears about 50 cm over the surface of the sea. It neither seems nor is a part of the reef. It is simply the only visible point which reminds us the tragedy that took place there. In reality, it is the funnel of a ship which now touches the ground forever. 15 years ago a small cargo loaded with sheet-iron was slowly going up the way to the port of its destination. For a number of reasons, which are not known to us, the ship ended up on the reef. The crash was vigorous and the sharp rocks of the reef tore apart easily the iron-plates of the small cargo. After the crash the ship was cut into two pieces and immediately sunk into its wet grave. The largest part of the ship stood upright on the sandy ground. The rest of it was swept away a few minutes further. With the passing of time the sand which was accumulated around the ships hull, supported the uprightly found hull. The ships bottom is found today a few meters sunk into the sand. It is easy to approach the shipwreck with a motorship from Paros or Naxos. A small ship can lay up on the funnel which sticks out, while a larger one will have to anchor a few meters further in order to avoid the entanglement of its anchor on the banisters of the shipwreck found beneath. The area is located near the course of many ships and motorships of the regular coastal shipping transport, and consequently an anchored ship should always be on the alert. As the point of reference when youll begin to dive you should take the funnel of the ship. Following the funnel you will find yourself at the first deck of the ship where you can easily distinguish the irons that once supported the tent. You can swim or even walk along the deck and go up and down the stairs that lead to the deck beneath. The diving will be continued from the external side of the ship and you will be leaded at the lower deck. You can get inside from the external corridors and find the opening which leads to the internal compartments. All the rooms are easy to pass through, and many objects that once served the needs of the staff are still at their place. It is time for an external guide. We are exiting the internal parts of the ship and going down from the part of the stern. The sandy ground shines under the sunlight, which still arrives intense at a depth of 27 metres. Until a few years ago the large propeller of the ship was standing still at its place, sunk deeply enough in the sand. But the value of her metal leaded the modern gold-diggers to its removal. A few cm over the grounds sand only its axis comes into view. All this time, while I was observing the solid hull of the ship standing upright on the ground, I thought I was observing a ship in the port ready at any time to set forth for a new trip. But now, in the front side of the ship the setting changes. The distorted and crashed iron-plates warn you about the next scene. The bow is detached and an enormous gap is found in its place. At the lower part, the holds of the ship, the sheet-irons of the cargo are still piled. Their ends are still distinguishable but oxidation has turned the sheet-iron into a unified mass. Time goes by quickly and now we should start the surfacing. We pass again through the corridors of the decks and following the funnel we stop for a while at 5 meters of depth. That way we can observe for another time the enormous rusty mass that fades away softly in the blue waters.

Santa Maria Diving Center

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