GRAF ZEPPELIN 2010

GRAF ZEPPELIN 2010

This was my third approach to Graf in this year. As Santi, we decided to arrange a few journeys to this wreck for the people related to the Company. The first one took place in May, the second – in June, due to the weather, was cancelled, and the third had just ended.

Below, there is a brief report:

We departed from Darłowo on Monday, late at night. After 14 hours of travel, we reached our destination, we planned 2 diving sessions, but waves and a few hours of delay did not give us much hope for such a plan.

This time we decided to throw the anchor line very precisely, so as not to lose time under water trying to determine where we were. Graf is the larger wreck on the Baltic sea and one the largest wrecks worldwide. Length of 260 m, width of 36 m; it lies at the depth of 86 m, strongly tilted to the right side.

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scan by Sea Office in Gdynia

We wanted to get there from the front lift hatch, so that we could later dive in peace at the bow and the superstructures. We tossed the anchor line already at the first attempt at the wreck and, without much ado, we started to suit up. I dived together with Marek Cacaj (Łysy) and Łukasz Piorewicz, due to spine injury, provided surface support

We were to be followed by 2 groups of Italians. Air temperature reached 30 deg., so we tried to get dressed as promptly as possible, not to go crazy due to the heat. We jump – or rather we go with a lift to the water, checking whether the camera is OK, we start the scooters and go down.  After a moment we reach the deck at more than sixty metres, and we can’t believe our eyes – the line ideally enters the lift hatch, we feel much better immediately.

I start to set the camera up and Marek puts the flashlights on. After a while I see that that Marek got entangled with the scooter in the anchor line, but because he is a very good and calm diver, he needs no help and I continue setting the equipment. Actually after a moment Marek is free and we swim slowly towards the bow. Unfortunately Marek, passing under the net catches the valves with the rope, but because he is a very good and calm diver… I take a few commemorative photos of him:

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After a moments we go on, when I feel that that this time my scooter has got caught by the net. I turn around and I can actually see that I pull probably half of all the nets at Graf
I try to get rid of them and, out of the corner of my eye, I can see that the lamp of the camera has fallen among the nets.

Damn, I think, this is a bit too much for 5 minutes of diving… I get the lamp back and go towards superstructures. Unfortunately during this operation, the spherical joint on a lamp gets loose and the lamp starts to turn around, and I cannot set it straight before me. I start to laugh to myself and the water gets under my mask. With my left hand, I grab the lamp, and with the right hand – the camera and with my arms stretched to the sides I finally start diving.

We go one by one to all superstructures.

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Graf was sunk by Russians without any equipment.
Everywhere, we can see torn off remains of cables and a mess like in the shipyard on the vessel, but big hatches and huge stairs are impressive.

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We look at the computer, 23rd minute – it’s time to go back. Not bad for the first dive.
Now, only 85 minutes of deco and we reach the surface.

For the evening we plan the second dive, but the wind starts blowing to the west the after a moment waves reach 1.5 metres, and we cancelled diving for today. Waves make us tired for the next dozen hours.

We go to sleep to gain strength for the two dives on the next day. In the middle of the night, we are woken up by screams of the Italians, Łukasz rushes to their room and sees water flowing on the floor. Italians are pretty scared and chargers and extension cords left on the floor sparkle and smoke, which gives the situation a more dramatic character. Łukasz calls Darek from the crew, and he rushes in and calms down the Italians, saying: Take it easy man !!!

It turned out that valves between limbers got clogged and water could not go out, so it went up to the cabins. The failure is removed after a moment, and one of the Italians asks Lukasz. “Lukas, are we drowning?? because if we do, I’ll have a smoke – some time ago I quit smoking, so now it doesn’t matter” and he actually went for a cigarette;-)

I listen to this tale at breakfast, because I slept like a log. Łukasz wishes he had worn a safety vest and had informed the Italians that there were only 3 pcs available on the boat;-) The cook comes to us and asks why the Italians don’t eat breakfast, are they angry? We explain to the cook that not everyone is hungry after 2 days of rocking;-)

We spend time in this pleasant atmosphere. We check the weather once again and it seems that after 11:00 a.m.it should get better. Indeed, like clockwork, at 10:00 the wind stops and we can hope that it will be only better from now on. We quickly start to suit up, to be able to make 2 diving sessions on that day.

We go with Marek down the same rope as yesterday and this time without any problems, we reach the bow. Graf like a true aircraft carries, is covered with a runway and to see anything interesting, you have to go underneath. This is the situation on the bow and the stern. We go under the runway and we can finally admire a great capstan and an anchor chain.

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practically the whole bow part is covered with the net, so we dive in a closed space

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we pass huge bollards and we swim to see the very bow of the vessel

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The bow is completely covered with nets and we can clearly see fishing glass balls so sought after by all bars on Hel penninsula

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we turn back towards the anchor line and we pass, this time on the runway, the rails for catapults launching the planes

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We get to the hatch of the lifts which lowered planed to the deck the below. We go there and it turns out that water is even clearer.

Marek gives up at 80 metres, and I take photos from above. Later he tells me that at these 80 metres, he still could not see the bottom, and it might have been partially covered by a layer of hydrogen sulphide.

We slowly go to the deck and still have enough time to swim to superstructures again and take a few pictures.

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This time it was cool, satisfied, we come back to the surface (obviously then, we have only 80-something minutes of deco ahead of us;-)

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We go to the deck – the weather is just ideal;-) We change the cylinders for the afternoon diving, I look at the photos, it’s OK. This time, I decide to leave the camera on the boat and make my dream come true – that is swim around the whole Graf during one dive.

After 4 hours of break we are again in water. We go as soon as possible downwards and in the second minute we are on the wreck. We swim through the deeper part along the right board to the stern. On our way we pass the destroyed superstructures, and only now, without a camera, I can see the wreck in peace, and I see much more than at previous dives. The visibility is about 30 metre, but flashlights are visible even from the distance of 50m, we pass overturned masts, which I didn’t see earlier, a crack at the amidship and the stern is closer the right board than it seemed earlier. In the seventh minute we reach the stern and here we slow down to see the greatness of this vessel. This is my 10th diving at this wreck and only now, I can see it clearly. After a while we go towards the bow, we cross the runway at a big angle, heading towards superstructures, clarity is fantastic, so we can go some 20 metres from each other. We have really a lot of time we carefully go aroung each superstructure. Marek lost his backup stage during the leap and not now he cannot focus, and I can see him looking around all the time, hoping that it fell on the deck.

Unfortunately, we are not that lucky, we cannot find the stage and we slowly start to go up. At the first deep stop, we meet the Italians, who have only started diving, at the 39th meter, we can still see their lights, they are 35 metres under us – it’s magic;-))

In the 120th minute we reach the surface, a moment after, we are followed by the Italians. Everybody is happy and satisfied, and it’s 9:00 p.m., Baltic calms down completely. We take a few commemorative photos and we go to the port.

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Everybody is in a good mood, the crew plays Bob Marley at full volume. We open a few cooled bottles specially for this occasion and we sit to have dinner. Discussions go on and on, we recall the sinking vessel and discuss diving. The balance looks nice.  As to losses – we have lost a stage, a spinning wheel, 3 crushed nails and flooded Canon 450 D.

As to profits – Great diving, a few pictures and some videos, as well as unforgettable memories. We were diving from Nitrox with the best crew under the sun. And the sun was even too good for us;-)

Thanks to Sebastian for providing me with the date at GZ.

All the best!

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