We had some bad weather days and knew we could not dive the Britannic. However, there was one day that the weather was “iffy” and a dive on the Britannic was a “hard no” but we did have the opportunity to dive the Patris. Ben, Justin, and I all wanted to see and dive the Patris and it turned out great.
The Patris is usually the first dive that Britannic divers do when they visit Kea. It is a very unique dive and I’m very glad that we had the opportunity to dive her.
The Patris is an old paddlewheel steamship built in the mid-1800s. She had a length of about 220 feet (66m) and a berth of about 28 feet (8.5m) and powered by steam engines. She was built in Britain by the C. Lumgley & Co and was launched in 1860 with an original name of Otto, named after the former King Otto who ordered it. After his expulsion, she was renamed Patris and took passenger from Piraeus (a major port to the southwest of Athens) to the Cyclades islands. According to Yannis at Keadivers, the Patris (aka Otto) was actually the first ship under engine power to arrive in Greece. Until that point, only sailing vessels had arrived at the ports.
I found a drawing of what the Patris looked like on a Greek website and have included it below:
The drawing shows two paddlewheel. There is only one paddlewheel on the wreck as the port side one was pulled up a few years ago and is currently on exhibit at the Museum of Syros.
The Patris was on her way from Piraeus to Syros (in the Cyclades) when hit Koundouros reef on 23 Feb 1868 after a navigation error. She had about 400 people (reports vary up to 500) on board but everybody survived. However, the financial damage to the Hellenic Steamship Company was large.
She sat submerged for a very long time without even local Kea residents knowing about the wreck. It wasn’t until 138 years after the crash, in 2006, that she was discovered.
The wreck itself is in two sections at the base of the reef structure. The bow section lies on her starboard side and is shallower. There is a very interesting bow design and the deck is rotted away leaving only the support beams which makes for a cool picture. The stern section is a little deeper and is about 100 feet away. The stern sits upright facing a bit “downhill” with the rudder and stern closest to the reef. The paddlewheel is a striking sight.
The max depth is about 180 feet and the minimum is less than 100 feet so it is a great dive for anybody to do. The other nice aspect of this dive is that it is by a rock/reef so you can do your decompression up the structure and not just in open water on the downline.
The wreck of the Patris is very picturesque and offers a ton of wide-angle photos. It is also relatively shallow which means there is a lot of natural light. I probably should have increased the shutter speed on some of these photos to help with sunbursts and water color contrast, but they came out pretty good.
The stern section is about 100-150 feet away from the bow and easily visible from the amidships portion of the bow. It is also slightly deeper and downslope from the bow. The highlight is, of course, the remaining paddlewheel and then also the very stern area with the rudder. The colors are really nice when lit up.