One of two marine diesel engines in the engine-room at the stern of the White Star.

ON THE AFTERNOON OF MY FIRST DAY in Cyprus, I dive a wreck. This wreck is not the Zenobia.
The White Star was a Cypriot-owned fishing vessel that had been partially stripped and then abandoned in the harbour at Paphos, becoming derelict and sinking after water entered through cracks in the hull.
The vessel was raised and made good so that it could be towed to Limassol to be scrapped, but sank while under tow on 18 February, 2007.
Finding the wreck means using techniques that must have been employed in this part of the world for thousands of years - transits, and looking over the side.
Only 14m below, in typically perfect Mediterranean visibility, the hull of the wreck can be clearly seen against the fields of dark seagrass.
I arrange to flop in early to get some photographs inside the wreck before everyone else arrives. The White Star was less than 30m long, so there is only a limited amount of inside to see. Two sets of steps from the main deck lead to a combined lounge and galley area and to the engine-room.
For me, the choice is easy. I head for the engine-room. This is not a wreck that has been sanitised for divers. At the bottom of the steps, the entrance is guarded by a tangle of electrical cabling that dangles across the way. I am half-tempted to get my shears out. Clearing the obstruction would simplify entry and make it safer, but it would also destroy the visibility inside.
I push through the best gap I can find, holding my forearm up to brush cables clear of my pillar-valve.

PLENTY OF LIGHT ENTERS from behind me and through a small hatch in the roof. I dont even need my dive light to help focus my camera. Even so, I take care with my buoyancy, to minimise the silt and dirt I will inevitably disturb in such a small space.
On either side is a diesel engine. Then, at the end of an alleyway between this pair, a separate generator is located against the bulkhead at the stern. Turning, I see gauges for the engines lined up against the forward bulkhead beside the stairway from which I came.
Having had the first hole to myself, I head forward 10m or so to the other steps to the lounge and galley area.
A line has already been tied to the railing, leading to an instructor and student doing a wreck speciality course. In these circumstances, I have not bothered with lines, but its good to see the course being taught thoroughly.
All too often, I meet divers whose instructors have been lazy about this part of their training.
As in the engine-room, plenty of light comes in through the entryway, and through a hatch in the deck at the aft bulkhead. This has a tight spiral staircase leading up to it, though the hole is far too small for a diver with cylinder attached.
I just stay at the entrance and take a few pictures of the divers working with the line inside. Entering any further would only mess up their training.
On the seabed below the stern, I am pleased to see that the two bronze propellers have been left in place, even if they do have more dings than my local dive clubs outboard motors.
A fine covering of hydroids is already well established over the blades, unless the growth was already underway from the time the White Star spent in harbour at Paphos.
Higher up across the stern, Cyrillic lettering is still raised on the steel from the White Stars former guise as the Ivana Ivanova, in the Russian Black Sea fishing fleet. I find the Plimsoll marks similarly raised below the bow.
Checking the UK divers favourite wreck section, the toilet is of the continental squat variety. Beside it, the broken mirror is propped against the gunwale. A rainbow wrasse is looping round and arguing with its reflection, protecting its territory against an interloper that matches its aggression and retreats perfectly, leaving no clear winner to the contest.
A smaller female peacock wrasse pays occasional attention to her makeup, while a two-banded bream makes cursory passes, unsure whether the reflection in the mirror is a friend to shoal with or not.

THE WHITE STAR MAY BE THE LATEST attraction, but I also visit some of the longer-established dive sites.
North from Paphos, a dive at St Georges Island runs deep enough to get below the thermocline and convince me that bringing a full 5mm wetsuit was worth the effort, though others seem quite happy in a shortie, or no wetsuit at all in the shallows.
Even at this depth, the main bits of wall are covered in banks of grass, giving way to sponges only where there is enough overhang to provide heavy shade. Fish life can best be described as small and intermittent.
The compensation is a range of caves and tunnels beneath the volcanic rocks, all providing a chance for colourful sponges to prevail, and the general fun of exploring holes.
In the shallows, the back of one cave develops into a narrower tunnel 30 or 40m long that eventually pops out through a crack in the roof.
At nearby Manijin Island, the dive stays shallower but offers equally well-developed caves, some quite a bit larger. We finish with a narrow crack/tunnel that meanders for 30m before popping out beneath the boat.
I am back in the boat and have just stripped my kit off when a call comes from divers still waiting to climb the ladder - a shoal of jack is circling below. So there are some big fish after all.

THE TRICK TO ENJOYING the diving here is not to worry about depth. On a dive in Pistol Bay, the deepest point is below the boat in 6m, with the real part of the dive in shallower water among the reef and in caves beneath it.
I see a moray eel with its head sticking out of a distant crack, but by the time I get near, it has retreated out of sight. An octopus has a much shallower hole, so even though it wants to hide it stays visible, holding a door of stones across the entrance to its cup-shaped den.
A day trip to the marine reserve at Akamas holds promise for richer fish life. We begin with a 7.30 start from Cydive to load a small coach with a trailer for the dive kit. Ninety minutes later, we arrive at a harbour where Cydive keeps Cydiver III for such outings once or twice a week.
While Cydives boat in Paphos is
a practical working craft, a large, open, glass-fibre hull with outdrive and sunshade, Cydiver III is an attractive traditional ketch, though still with plenty of deck space and a motor.
From the harbour, its a two-hour journey to Kakos Kouli island, and the prospect of some pristine diving.
It doesnt quite work out. Halfway out, the sea is picking up from the north and it appears foolish to continue. By the time were back in harbour, white foam is blowing from the tops of the waves. We wouldnt dive in these conditions in the English Channel, so we certainly wont be diving here.
It gets me out of an embarrassing problem. When leaving Cydive, I had bundled my wetsuit into my crate and loaded the trailer. As the spray across the deck picked up I had decided to put the suit on, only to find that the inner part was actually the wetsuit for a petite female. I had picked it up by mistake in the store-room. By no stretch of wishful thinking would it ever have fitted me.
The coach heads back towards Paphos via the scenic route and a shore dive. When we arrive at the approach to the Amphitheatre dive site, a pick-up from Cydives Coral Bay dive centre is waiting with a wetsuit for me.
The underwater amphitheatre turns out to be an enormous circular pit in the reef behind a headland, a ring of wall
a few metres high with nooks and crannies in which critters can live. I had already fitted a macro lens anticipating nudibranchs at Akamas. I dont find nudibranchs, but there are plenty of tubeworms and cup corals, peacock and rainbow wrasse, a variety of gobies, a few bream and a spiny lobster.
Back in Paphos, one of Cydives staff welcomes the return of her wetsuit. Im relieved that I hadnt picked up a garment belonging to a customer who had to fly home.

ZENOBIA DAY ARRIVES. I could hardly go to Cyprus and not dive one of the most famous wrecks in the Med. This 12,000-ton ro-ro ferry sank following
a problem with the ballast management computer in 1980. Cydive organises day trips a couple of times a week.
From Paphos, its a 7am start to load all the dive kit into a luxury coach. It seems that everybody I have met over the past few days is on their way to the Zenobia, though, like me, they soon drop off to sleep for the journey.
At Larnaca we transfer to the biggest dive boat I have ever been on. The large contingent from Cydive is just one of six on board. Organisation is a little chaotic as we work out which corner of the deck is ours, then things settle down for the short journey out to tie off to a buoy above the wreck. Tied to buoys the length of the wreck are more normal-sized boats from other dive centres.
Yet the Zenobia itself is surprisingly uncrowded. I am aware of other divers on the dive but there are no queues, or competition to get though a hole, as there would be on the Thistlegorm.
The wreck is so big that it can absorb all these divers and more. It takes me two dives just to get an overview.
The only place that feels crowded is the buoyline where divers decompress. Groups with longer stops spread out on deco stations suspended above the wreck, before using the clear visibility to cross back to the dive-boat.
Others float free, using any of the multiple hang-tanks as reference points.
On my first dive I do the stern half, exploring the open part of the vehicle deck and the pile of trucks that has fallen to the seabed below. For a second dive I tour the forward half, with many more opportunities for exploring inside, though I limit myself to a brief excursion into the cafeteria.
I had half-intended to swim through the wheelhouse as well, but after checking ecompression requirements against air remaining I think better of it.
No lives were lost when the Zenobia went down, but quite a few divers have subsequently pushed fatally beyond their experience and luck.
I can understand divers who go to Cyprus and dive only the Zenobia.
I could easily do that and explore inside, what with all the passenger space, the enclosed part of the vehicle deck and the engine-room to play with.
But Cyprus has a pleasant selection of other diving thats worth a look.
My last dive is a return to the White Star. I take a macro lens and spend ages with a cute little triplefin on one of the props, then watch the rainbow wrasse still harassing itself in the mirror.
The success of the White Star has added new momentum to a long-standing plan to sink artificial reefs. It could get underway in 2008, with another new wreck for Paphos, followed by one a year spread around the other main resort towns.
I could have spent the evening on a night dive off the old wall. The shallow reef is reputed to be good for moray eels and octopuses.
However, the Rugby World Cup final is showing at the Keg & Barrel, unofficial clubhouse of the local rugby team.
Its packed. I stand and cheer, then commiserate. Perhaps I should have gone octopus-watching after all.

Squat toilet with tiled floor above the deck
hatch at the back of the lounge/galley
one of a pair of bronze propellers with bent blades.
Crossing the top of the reef at little more than snorkelling depth at Pistol Bay.
Cup coral at the Amphitheatre.
Tubeworm at the same site.
Loading the boat in the harbour at Paphos.
A derelict lifeboat lies where it fell as the Zenobia capsized
Open hatch in the bow of the wreck.
An algae-covered wall is broken by a small overhang on Manijin Island.

GETTING THERE: British Airways operates flights to Cyprus from Gatwick through GB Air, A divers baggage allowance is available at check-in. A number of other charter airlines also offer cheap flights.
DIVING : Cydive,
ACCOMMODATION: Basilica Hotel,
WHEN TO GO: Year round, though the weather can be stormy in winter. Its more crowded and more expensive in summer. Water temperature 24-27°C
LANGUAGE:Greek, but English widely spoken.
PRICES: Return flights from London Gatwick to Cyprus start from around 100. A twin/double room at the Basilica costs 108 euros a night. A 10-dive package with Cydive costs 358 euros, a Zenobia or Akamas day trip including coach, two dives and lunch, 128 euros.