Shaab Abu Nuhas - Carnatic
A.k.a Bottle wreck.
The second half of the eighteen hundreds was an era when tall ships ruled the trade routes, beautiful slender vessels that overlapped the time of sail and steam. The Carnatic was one of these proud ships. With 34 passengers she was trafficking the route Suez to Bombay and China for The Peninsula & Oriental line under the command of Captain P.B. Jones and his 176 members of crew. The cargo was cotton bales, Royal Mail and £40.000 worth of gold and copper species.
Just after midnight September 12th 1869 The Carnatic hit the reef of Shaab Abu Nuhas. The night was tranquil and the breakes over the reef didn’t quite give its position away until it was already too late to correct the course. The Carnatic ran aground and was firmly stuck on of the reef. However, the situation seemed safe and Captain Jones was sure that the pumps would be able to rid the inflowing water. He trusted the P&O liner Sumatra, that was due to pass shortly, would be in time to help. For more than 48 hours he was right but before The Sumatra steamed into sight the reef ate through the iron hull and The Carnatic broke in two.
The aft section was ripped off, rolled over and sunk followed by 5 passengers and 26 of the crew. This caused the bow to re-float, roll over to the portside and disappear beneath the waves. The remainder of the passengers and crew saved themselves into the lifeboats that came off as The Carnatic sunk and went for safety on Shedwan Island. All the £40.000 worth of gold and copper specie was recovered and the myth of “half the treasure still waits to be found” is just that; a myth.
This wreck is likely to be one of the most beautiful in the Red Sea. The wooden deck is long gone and the metal framing is covered with soft coral offering exquisite photo opportunities. The stern-section is resting on portside with the rudder and propeller screw in 26 meters of water.
The mid-section has collapsed but is still an interesting part of the dive. Here you find the boiler and the masts reaching out over the sandy seabed. Like the stern, the bow is a framework of metal incrusted by one hundred and fifty years worth of coral growth. Where the bowsprit once was attached a peeping hole now opens for a classic and world famous camera angle.
Once the wreck was full of wine bottles but years of souvenir-hungry divers have deprived The Carnatic from this treasure. Now all you can find is a few broken bottles here and there. Look but don’t touch is the rule here.
Big thanks to Anders "Samaka" Jälmsjö (https://www.facebook.com/redsea.equalizer) for the site map and description.