Darren had arranged a standard 10 dive package with Strand dive centre, this involved picking us up from our hotel each day and taking us to the dive location, mainly shore dives. So the first day, as every day would be, we were collected by Alex from Strand in an old Transit van/minibus. The two doing courses were left with Lawrence, Strands owner. We went to the shop and sorted out our kit, then set off to our first dive site, the tug Rozi.
The Rozi is a shore dive with a 100m swim out to the wreck. We kitted up after messing about with three weight belts that had fallen apart and then jumped in. I haven’t dived with a single cylinder and a dry suit for many years, I tried to work out roughly what weight I would require but was wrong. After faffing about on the surface for a while trying to get Alex’s attention to no avail they swam off without me so I ended up snorkelling back.
The second dive I took loads of weight and went with Sharky to dive the tug while the rest dived the adjacent Cirkewwa reef, which I had snorkelled earlier. The tug was upright and in fairly good condition and it was probably a lot better with only Sharky and I on it rather than the large amount of divers that were there in the morning. A very nice dive. It had been sunk deliberately for a tourist submarine to view, it wasn’t running now and I don’t think it has run for years. I did hear stories of divers hitching lifts on the sub rather than swimming out to the wreck. Pity it wasn’t still running.
Day 2 started as day 1, this time we took the arduous journey to the Um El Faroud. I say arduous as there were nine of us in the truck altogether, with around twenty five cylinders for the two dives and all the dive kit. The Transit was in a pretty bad way, combine that with all the weight and our internal organs ended up seriously bruised. The Um El Faroud was a longer swim from the shore than the tug, we got to it easily enough, swam through it then were signalled to go back. That was short a short dive! Someone was low on air already.
The second dive was the Wied-Iz-Zurrieq East reef at the bottom of the steps where we had entered to dive the Faroud. It was exactly the same as the last reef, covered in brown weed with no fish, very unexciting apart from one John Dory and an Octopus that was squeezed into a hole. After the dive the Transit van struggled getting up the hill and needed some assistance.
The next day for a change, we walked a couple of hundred metres down the road to a small quay, where we were collected by a converted painted Maltese fishing boat, a Luzzu, and taken to the island of Comino. The first dive was Lantern Point & The Chimney Cave, probably more of the boring brown weed. We headed down with the group following Alex, when all of a sudden he was signalling everyone to go up, we were at 44m and apart from a couple of us, no-one else was qualified or had ever been to that depth before. So they hurriedly made their way to shallower waters. The small chimney cave that came up under the boat was the only interesting bit, apart that is, from Alex’s face when he realised how deep we all were. I asked Alex if he ended up in deco, he said yes 8 minutes, I asked what computer he was using as I only had 3 minutes, he said he doesn’t use a computer and does it in his head.
The second dive were the Santa Marija Caves on Comino, they were small shallow caves and were very picturesque. The blue colour of the sea looking back out was very nice and made some great silhouettes with divers going in and out. We could have spent more time in there really, but instead, Alex decided to show us some more boring reefs!