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When my friend Giorgio Canepa told me about his idea of planning a week of diving to visit some of the most interesting wrecks that lie in the southern seas of our peninsula, I immediately decided to participate.
The opportunity to be part of a team of professional divers with whom to share a unique experience stimulated me substantially and as we discussed the goals to be reached and the divers to involve I began to fantasize and plan this wonderful week in detail.
Giorgio, Yme Carsana and myself left Pisa for Brindisi on Thursday 31 May. Although it was almost midnight, Stefano Levanto, the owner of Scuba Diving Otranto and a member of our expedition, welcomed us at the airport. His contribution was invaluable both because he perfectly organized the first stage, which took place right in Otranto at his diving center, and because he made the van on which we traveled on the streets of Southern Italy available to the entire team.
However, in the afternoon, we first went to Lecce station to welcome Roberto Bottini and Andrea di Vaira who were arriving by train from Milan and then to Brindisi airport where we met Florent Locatelli.
The team that would participate in the first leg of the tour was therefore complete.
In the morning of Saturday the 2nd of June, the XR Wreck Tour 2018 officially started with the dive on the wreck of the Hadonis, a steamship, almost 100 meters long, flying the Honduran flag.
In February 1960 it had just left with her cargo for Greece when due to a boiler explosion it was forced to launch the mayday. The Ardimentoso tugboat left the port of Brindisi and found it half sunk. Despite the attempt to tow it, the Hadonis ended its agony by sinking on a sandy bottom, at a depth of 72 meters, no more than a couple of miles away from the port of Otranto, on the Adriatic coast of Salento. It is perfectly positioned for sailing.
The Otranto Canal is often be aten by treacherous currents and we noticed it as soon as we entered the water. The descent was quite demanding and required strict planning and above all a very close contact with the reference peak and with the diving buddy.
Unfortunately, the visibility was poor and the shape of the ship began to be glimpsed just before the impact with the stern quarterdeck, at a depth of about 55 meters. We headed to the foredeck and then into a hold in search of some cargo residue. Time passed inexorably, we went towards the stern visiting the left side where we reached the maximum depth. The side was intact and was populated by huge starfish. We began going towards the railing of the covered bridge and then returned to the starting point where we found the reference peak near the gash produced by the explosion of the boiler that caused the sinking.
The planned bottom time had run out, Stefano and I, with whom I will pair up for most of the next dives, began the long ascent that took us to the decompression stops. We spent interminable minutes hooked to the top that violently moved us due to the current.