Navagio: Abandoned MV Panagiotis on Shipwreck Beach

"Navagio" (Shipwreck) Beach is home to the wreck of MV Panagiotis (Image: Walkerssk. “Navagio” is home to the wreck of MV Panagiotis)

According to Adventurous Travels, this isolated cove boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Navagio, or Shipwreck Beach, is nestled in a remote location amid the sheer white cliffs of Zakynthos, in the Ionian Islands of Greece. And true to its name, Navagio is home to the twisted wreck of MV Panagiotis, a 1930s Scots-built coaster that was abandoned after running aground in 1980.

Abandoned MV Panagiotis in Navagio (Shipwreck) Bay (Image: Badgernet. Abandoned MV Panagiotis in Navagio (Shipwreck) Bay)

The only way to reach Shipwreck Beach is by boat (though there is a viewing platform on the clifftop above), which is all well and good. The water is a clear blue that matches the sky, and the white sand is wonderfully pristine. What could possibly spoil it, other than the hoards of tourists visiting the beach that took its name from the rusting remains that have laid there for almost 40 years.

(Image: KatarzynaTyl)

MV Panagoitis was launched in 1937 by Scott & Sons of Bowling, on the north bank of Scotland’s Firth of Clyde. Originally named MV Saint Bedan, the 157-ft-long coastal trading vessel weighed in at 452 gross register tons and was fitted with a fitted with a 500 bhp diesel engine manufactured by British Auxiliaries Ltd.

Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach on the Greek island of Zakynthos (Image: kristijan_meh)

The Panagiotis passed through several owners over the decades, and was ultimately registered at the Greek port of Piraeus. Her service life came to an end on October 1, 1980 when she ran aground on Zakynthos in a storm. Just how the ship ended up on what soon became known as Navagio Beach has until recently been a source of speculation.

(Image: Skyscraper. Map of Zakynthos showing the location of Navagio)

One version of events claims the Panagiotis ran aground while being chased by the Greek authorities, who suspected the ship of carrying a cargo of contraband cigarettes and alcohol. When MV Panagiotis struck the seabed, the smugglers were allegedly brought to justice, and the vessel was abandoned on ‘Shipwreck Beach’.

(Image: Steve N)

But this story was debunked last year by the Greek Reporter, which said that its former captain had explained what really happened amid news the historic landmark is set to undergo conservation work.

The website wrote: “Signage will be constructed to give greater insight into the history of the wreck that many mistakenly believe belonged to a ship smuggling contraband, cigarettes, wine, and women. Captain Charalambos Kompothekras-Kotsoris, however, recently came out with the real story of how his ship ran into disaster due to bad weather conditions and mechanical failure on October 2, 1980, while traveling from the isle of Kefalonia to Albania.”

(Image: nistorarmin)

The Panagiotis was initially seen as an environmental hazard before its locals noted its tourist appeal. Interestingly, Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire, where the coaster originally called MV Saint Bedan was built, is itself now home to myriad abandoned vessels from decades past, beached and rotting away on the banks of the Clyde.


About the author: Debra Kelly




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