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Zante shipwreck may be fenced

- by Andy Cornish

A holiday on Zante is hardly complete without a boat trip to the famous Shipwreck Cove but visitors may well find the beached vessel fenced off.

Officials on the Greek island of Zakynthos are planning to give the rotting hulk in Navagio Bay a facelift.

If conservation work gets the go-ahead that could mean fencing the vessel off from the public while the shipwreck gets a clean-up.

Thousands of holiday visitors to Zante take the regular excursions boats to see the famous shipwreck.

The beached wreck at Smugglers Cove features on Zante island holiday brochures and makes a favourite snap for the holiday photo album.

Excursion boats make daily trips to the beach where holidaymakers can clamber over the rusting wreck.

Although touted as a romantic wreck, the beached vessel is just a rusty old steamer that ran around in bad weather.

Locals say the ship was on a smuggling expedition and was loaded with contraband cigarettes and booze.

It was being chased by a Greek navy patrol boat when it hit the beach and has remained ever since.

Once considered a ugly a blight on the beautiful bay, the ship has slowly deteriorated over the years and has now become part of the scenery as well as a major tourist attraction.

But much of the hulk is rusted and stained while parts of the wreck are covered in ugly graffiti.

Zante mayor, Pavlos Kolokotsas, wants to a conservation program for the eroding vessel which he claims is now part of the island's heritage.

As well as erecting fencing around the wreck he want to limit the access of beachgoers who he claims are responsible for some of the damage.

Latest plans also include hiring security guards to supervise access to the wreck and a portable chemical toilet for visitors.

A lifeguard may also be on duty when excursion boats pull into the bay as many visitors combine their trip with a dip in the sea.

But the waters in the bay are deep and the shoreline steep, with strong currents in the bay. There are no roads to the remote beach and emergency services can have difficulty in responding quickly to calls for help.

The island council could earmark €25,000 – €30,000 towards the project but it will also be looking to the private sector to help fund the clean-up.

It may only be a matter of time before Zante holiday visitors have to pay cash to explore the famous wreck which could be 'hidden' behind a fence.

The bay at Navagio is considered one of the most beautiful in the Ionian islands and the wreck has only added to its charm.

There will be some who will argue that a large fence around the wreck will be an ugly eyesore at such an attractive spot.

It was only recently that alarm bells rang over rumours that the famous Zante holiday beach could be sold off to a private company.

But the rumours were dismissed by the Greek Orthodox Church, which has considerable property rights in the area.

The photogenic Navagio beach is considered a must-see sight on the Greek island of Zante where near-vertical cliffs plunge down to a deep crescent of white pebble on a shore of crystal clear turquoise waters.