No matter our age, the summer represents something special to many of us. Whether it’s a couple of days off work, a summer break from school or plenty of opportunities to sunbathe. This season has something special in store for each of us. As a child, there was nothing more special to me than to take an 18-hour train ride to the coastline. The trip was filled with laughter and anticipation, many children such as myself waiting impatiently to see a landmark that would mean the start of our holiday at sea. The Evangelia shipwreck is that landmark, a ruin which in time turned into a tourist magnet. It is the symbol of Costineşti, a coastal village in South-Eastern Romania.
If you mention the village of Costineşti to Romanians, you will find out that it’s considered by the majority as the coastal resort of the youth. When you visit it, the amount of teenagers there is astonishing. There are many reasons why this is so. Costineşti is known for its nightlife, as well as its closeness to Romania's Black Sea party hub, Vama Veche and the must-sees in Constanța: The Casino and The Naval Shipyard.
Going on holiday in Costineşti is cheap, and the beaches have very fine sand. Visitors can also rent small boats to row on a lake that leads to the sea or take pictures with the Obelisk of Costineşti, the second landmark of this coastal city. Most visitors of Costineşti only partake in these activities or take a bath in the Black Sea after they have seen the Evangelia shipwreck.
What do postcards and souvenirs all have in common in Costineşti? A ship that stranded on the beach in 1968, on the 15th of October. The way it stranded, and its rescue operation conducted by a Romanian rescue ship make today’s ruin the protagonist of a very interesting story. There are many speculations as to why the Evangelia, a 131 m long,17 m wide, and 17 m high Greek ship beached in Costineşti, making it a total loss. Yet the researchers in time have come to the same conclusion. If you are curious, then let me take you through the chain of events.
The Constanţa port received an S.O.S from the Evangelia cargo ship on the 14th of October. They sent out a rescue ship called Salvator Voinicul to help them with their troubles. This rescue ship was sent out for a fool’s errand, the Evangelia crew giving them bad coordinates twice on where they were located. Mircea Ionescu, the person in charge of the rescue operation and the master of the Voinicul ship, figured out that something was wrong and went in the opposite direction of what they were telling him. This is how he eventually found the ship after an entire night of searching, stranded on the single sand bench in the area, in the Costineşti village.
This is where the story gets more interesting. With the help of another rescue ship, Albatros, Mircea Ionescu pulled the Evangelia off of the sandbank, and its crew seemed eager to continue the voyage. Yet, the next day, Voinicul found Evangelia on the same sandbank. After an investigation, it turned out that the crew of Evangelia purposefully damaged the ship by guiding it with full force towards the shore. The navigation right of the ship had expired two years previously, and the owner convinced the crew to wreck it so that they could get the money from the insurance. This wasn’t possible in the end since the Romanian rescue crew figured it all out and wouldn’t take a bribe from Evangelia’s owner. The Greeks abandoned the ship and were also left with no insurance.
While Evangelia’s stranding story is interesting on its own, there are a few extra things worth mentioning. The ship was built in the same shipyard as the Titanic, in 1942, and its first name was Empire Strength. The ship remained 44 years stranded in one piece in extreme winter weather conditions before breaking in two. This happened due to an intense storm on the 20th of December, 2012 when the temperatures dropped very low. This was the ultimate fate of all shipwrecks in time, the erosion deteriorating a ship gravely. One local story also mentions there being oranges all over the Costineşti beach, the day after the ship stranded, to the delight of all passerby.
I’m sure that after discovering the lesser known story of the Evangelia ship, you may want to visit Costineşti, just to see it. You’re in luck, there are boat tours you can book, and they will take you around the Evangelia ruin. Visitors are advised not to swim close to the ship or to try to embark it since the structure of the ruin isn’t stable. This shouldn’t stop you from admiring this shipwreck turned into a tourist magnet out of a boat or from the shore, while sunbathing or swimming. Let the Evangelia, the symbol of Costineşti mean the start of your fun holiday at the Black Sea in Romania.
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