Good afternoon to you all:) The last few days were quite adventurous and exciting! It all started with Alexandra’s (a wonderful young lady from Romania who wanted to do her Rescue course with Divewise) arrival. My part in her course was that I was the person to be rescued; to put it simply – I was a dead body:)) Or sometimes, a panicking diver both on the surface and underwater. I think I did quite well, especially as an unconscious diver, since I could just relax and have a nap! 🙂 Annabelle was Alex’s teacher and she instructed me how to simulate unexpected accidents, so it was real fun. We carried out a few scenarios, such as searching for a missing diver underwater or towing a tired diver. This was a valuable experience before I start the Rescue course myself.
Belle, Alex and I – Alex’s Rescue course
Vivienne was so kind to let me join a group going to Comino to have pleasure dives 🙂 We went by car to Bugibba. Funnily enough, I was buddied up with Alex again, which made me happy, since we seem to get along quite well underwater (apart from my unexpected attacks of panic and black outs during her Rescue of course:)) She was doing the Mediterranean Sea Slug specialty and so we were after these little buddies during our dives. Alex carried a camera, and I, a ruler and a magnifying glass. Unfortunately, we weren’t perceptive enough to spot them: Sarah had to show us them all. But at least they were there for us to admire:) The first dive was on P31, a Maltese patrol boat. We were on Nitrox and so could stay a bit longer. The dive was really pleasurable, quite a lot of marine life has settled there since the boat was sunk in 2009. At the end of the dive, when everyone else had already got back on board of the boat, Sarah found two sea slugs (I think they were cratena peregrina). I didn’t realise how tiny they are! They were only about 1.5 cm long. So you can imagine how hard it is to spot one:) Having taken photos of them, we ascended for the safety stop, got back on the boat and went to the other dive site, which was Santa Marija Caves. First, after descending to the bottom, Sarah fed bread to fish and they were all hunting for it in front of our faces. This time we all dived as one group (still divided into pairs of buddies) and Sarah guided us into picturesque caverns. At the end of the dive she showed me and Alex the nudibranches that she had found earlier during the dive. This were Flabellina affinis, I guess. So we went through the same procedure again: the ruler, magnifying glass and camera:) Now we were ready to go back to Divewise with another series of great memories in our minds!
Hello again 🙂 I have completed my AOW course recently! But first, I had to do a deep dive and chose a night dive as the last one of the course. The deep dive took place nearby Zurrieq, not far from the famous Blue Grotto. This time it was Tim from the Netherlands, Tara from England, Thomas from France and I guided by Richard. We all dived on Nitrox (I forgot to mention that I had completed the Enriched Air course – thanks for teaching me, Oz!) and, for that reason, Rich took two dive computers, one set for nitrox and the other, for air, just to show us the difference in no decompression time for these two gas blends at about 30 meters. He also took an empty plastic bottle in order to demonstrate air compression due to higher pressure at depth and a colour palette so that we could see ourselves that colours vanish as one descends. The dive involved a thrill of going deeper, yet, it was excitement rather than stress:) I am waiting to experience other deep dives!
And then… the night dive! The one I had been waiting for with the greatest impatience. It seemed to me that this kind of dive would be completely different from the rest and I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t disappointed at all! We (Valentino, his friend instructor, Sam, Dan, Tim, Thomas, Yeliz from Russia and I) started assembling our kit at 7.30 p.m., during the day light. Next, Valentino explained to us how to use torches and how not to get separated underwater. We entered water as soon as the sun began to set. First we had to carry out a navigation exercise (Valentino knows it isn’t my favourite one;)) and then we set off to search for marine life that is more active at night, such as octopi or cuttlefish. Before the dive, Alan challenged as and wanted to know how many octopi we would spot, since his record is 13. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to beat that. I spotted 3, but they all seemed very intimidated by our presence and the light from our torches. However, the most thrilling experience was switching the light off (or just covering the torch with a hand), trying to see anything in the dark and waving a hand gently to see fluorescent plankton, just as Juan advised me to do. This experience seemed completely surreal and that is why I will be coming back to this memory every now and then. Thanks, Divewise, for such great memories!
Hi there, I’m Anna, a student from Poland (I am doing an MA course in English-Polish translation). After a tough academic term, I have finally arrived in Malta to join the DiveWise team as an intern for 3 months. I am really excited to be in Malta for the first time and even more thrilled to be able to help the staff and enhance my diving skills in exchange as I’m an Open Water Diver with only little experience. Nevertheless, I will be doing Advanced Open Water Diver course and, hopefully, some other diving specialties and maybe even a Rescue Dive course.
Today was my first dive in Malta! I went for a check dive with Valentino, a friendly Italian instructor, and Luana, a girl from Brasil. Having prepared our equipment, done a buddy check and reached the shore, we submerged to practice basic skills, such as clearing the mask, using the partner’s octopus, and retrieving the regulator. Then we were ready for a proper dive! We set off to explore the bottom. The visibility was perfect and, despite having minor problems with equalization at first, I really enjoyed the dive! I felt very comfortable and safe underwater with Valentino and Luana by my side. Although I hadn’t dived for 9 months, I quickly got used to underwater environment and achieved nice buoyancy. Valentino found shells for us and showed us how a sea urchin sucks to the bottom of his palm. We also spotted a nice big fish and dived under submerged boat ladders. It was great and I am really looking forward to my next dive!
This is it for now, I will keep you informed about my diving adventures and progress!
My name is Yulia and I am 35 years old… OMG!! 35 already??? I feel like I am still 16.
Anyway… I come from Russia but I’ve been living in Italy for 12 years now. I speak both Italian and English and Russian, of course.
Today is my first day at Divewise and I am very excited about it (in fact it’s the first time in my life that I am writing a blog!! I guess it’s a day of firsts today). Actually it’s my third day in Malta too, so I am very new to everything here. But I must say that it’s love at first sight!! Malta is breathtakingly beautiful and breathtakingly hot as well :-)) That’s just the feeling I’ve got after a long cold winter in the Alps where I live, rainy or snowy or windy all the time. So I’d better enjoy the heat while I have a chance…
I haven’t seen the underwater life here yet but if it’s as amazing as all the rest then it’s really worth seeing. I think that my new boss Alan will be taking me diving really soon, I just can’t wait. I’ve seen many pictures on the internet, you know… caves and wrecks and fish life… but pictures can never ever give you the feeling of how it really is, you know… Anyway I’ll keep you posted on all my impressions on this incredible adventure I am having :-)))
Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee and see you soon… Oh no, I won’t really see you but I guess I can say it anyway.
The 3,147 ton vessel is a single screw motor tanker built by Smith Dock Co. Ltd, Middlesborough, England in 1969 and registered in Tripoli. With a length of 110 metres and a beam of 16 metres, the engine room, bridge and accommodation are arranged aft. The cargo section is sub divided into 4 centre tanks and 4 wing tanks on each side.
The ill fated tanker Um el Faroud was scuttled on Wednesday 2nd September 1998, three and a half years after the explosion that killed nine dock workers in Valletta Grand Harbour.
At an average depth of 37 metres and approximately 200 metres from the shore, this wreck will be reached after a gentle 8-10 minutes swim across the reefs. Flying Gurnards, Torpedoe Rays and free swimming Moraya Helena can be encountered along the way.
Regularly populated by Barracuda, the wreck is teaming with aquatic life.
The P29, formerly Boltenhagen, started life in former East Germany. She is a Kondor-class boat designed and built on the Peenewerft, Wolgast, In East Germany in the 1960’s.
With a length of 52 metres and weighing in at 360 tonnes, these vessels were primarily intended as minesweepers, though several variants existed, used for border control, fisheries protection or as part of the GDR logistical fleet.
The Maltese Tourist Authority bought her in September 2005 and was scuttled as a dive attraction 14th August 2007 at a depth of 38 metres.
In August 1997, after a 3 week voyage from Germany, The Armed Forces of Malta’s Maritime Squadron took delivery of their third Kondor vessel, the P29. The Kondor shipe were the first war ships the AFM ever commissioned, and it was thabnks to them that the Maritime Squadron were able to participate in naval exercises with outher European fleets.
From 1997 until 2004, when she was decommissioned, the P29 patrolled the coastal waters of the Maltese Islands, fulfilling her duties with search and rescue operations, fisheries protection duties and other exercises: of course the naval exercises took her further a field into International waters of the Mediterranean. In 2000 and 2001 the Kondors supported the prestigious Royal Malta Yacht Club’s Middle Sea Race off Lampedusa.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been watching everyone in the centre suit up and head off with giddy smiles of excitement. The idea that today, I would be one of them, was thrilling! My lovely instructor was Anne Japan and my buddy for the day was fifteen year old Robin. The briefing was succinct and humorous all at once and when it was over, my excitement became butterflies. As I put on the wetsuit, the butterflies became bats. The idea of going beneath the water was beginning to criple me. When I feel trapped, whether it’s a big space or small, I have a tendancy to panic, and the last place you want to panic is underwater!
My mind was abruptly jerked from my concerns as we put on the weight belts and cylinders. Under the beautiful Maltese sunshine, I was beginning to get warm in the wetsuit, and the addition of 8 kilograms of weight and a cylinder made me break out in a sweat; And then, we were walking down to the water. The cool water around my calves was a beautifully welcome relief and as we stepped in to our waists, the weight of the cylinders and weight belts began to lessen. We stayed close to the wall and put our fins on. Let me correct myself. Robin put his fins on, and I attempted to put mine on, those things are difficult to manage to an unpractised hand! Anne hurried to my aid and within seconds, they were attached. I learnt of the other problem with fins – balance. Having the equivalent of Donald Duck feet made me pretty ungainly!
Anne directed us to take a few breaths of our regulators and to gently lower our faces into the water. Robin dove straight in. I hesitated, encouraged by Anne’s friendly smile and supporting hand in mine, and lowered my head under the water. It was similar to breathing through a snorkel, but completely different at the same time. Feeling the sun on the back of my neck made me feel safe, and Anne squeezed my fingers every now and then to assure me I was doing well.
We then practiced swimming with the regulators and fins across the surface. Once again, Robin was an immediate natural. I was a bit more cautious. The cool water embraced me as I lay down in it, breathing through the regulator, and kicking. The fins, I immediately realised, were remarkably easy to manoeuvre when you weren’t trying to stand up in them and propelled me forward with little effort. My arms, so used to being instrumental in swimming, hung uselessly but later came in handy for balance. My breathing, on the other hand, was heavy with stress. I lifted my head above the water every few seconds, partly out of habit, and partly to reassure myself. Anne was right there with me to encourage me back under for a little longer at a time, and then … I saw a fish. It was tiny and a bright electric blue, shooting through the water like a bullet. I was so engrossed in watching it that I forgot to be afraid, and when it was gone, I had relaxed. I was breathing underwater. A bizarre realisation, of course, given that I had been waiting to try it for weeks now, but to realise that I was actually doing it was incredible.
My first real problem was when we tried to sink to the bottom in order to perform our skills kneeling on the shallow floor – and discovered that even with my BCD completely empty of air, I floated. (It was a nice little ego boost to be so light!) Adding another few kilograms of weights addressed that problem and we practiced our skills, which went relatively smoothly. Robin and I both passed the skills section, and Anne pronounced us ready for an exploratory dive along the reef. Skimming the floor, we left the sea pool and ventured out into the open water. And I loved it!
We sank lower and equalising became second nature. I didn’t lose my regulator, flood my mask, inhale any sea water, or panic. Instead, I stuck close to Anne and stared round at a world I hadn’t even known existed. My sole experience with fish in the past was looking down at them in a pond, or seeing them laid out on ice at a market. They always struck me as bizarre and a bit creepy, but seeing them from under the surface, they were transformed into objects of fascination. I spent the whole dive looking from one to another, occasionally examining the mountains of sand dunes covered in seaweed and underwater grass below. Anne encouraged me to look up, and staring at the surface, dancing with sunshine, was the most surreal moment of the whole dive. Towards the end of the dive, I looked up to see the sight again and found myself surrounded by hundreds of tiny Rainbow Wrasse and about twenty of the larger Cow Bream. Anne pointed out several starfish to us, demonstrating how they have tiny hooks on their underside which cling to rocks – or to a diver! It was wonderful to be surrounded and immersed in nature.
There was so much to see and do that I barely paid attention to my breathing, and during those times, I felt incredibly light and free. The water, after a while, lost its feeling. I instinctively reached out for it and felt nothing. My fear of feeling trapped by the mask or equipment or the water itself seems completely irrational now. The space and quiet nature of being underwater was surprisingly calming. The only sound I could hear was my own breathing! There were no car horns, no whirring computers; I couldn’t even hear Robin and Anne releasing bubbles. I could have stayed there, motionless in the water, and soaked in the peace and quiet for hours! If Anne hadn’t pointed out a few divers only a few feet away from me, I would have never know they were there.
The dive ended with both Robin and myself wishing we could have spent longer in the sea. Having adjusted to the relative weightlessness of the equipment in the water, it seemed doubly heavy when we climbed out, and it was a relief to shed it by the baths. I’ve never felt so light – it was like the fastest diet ever! The exhilaration I have felt since getting out of the water was, and still is, overwhelming. The Discover Scuba Course is perfect, giving you just enough time to adjust under water without overwhelming you, and Anne Japan was a brilliant, kind, and supportive instructor with whom I felt completely safe and secure. I will definitely be continuing to my Open Water Course!
Until one week ago, the first image that sprung to mind when someone mentioned diving to me was of Tom Daley springing from a platform into complicated somersaults. I am as new as can be to scuba diving, and I have quickly learnt that, like any other sport, scuba diving has its own language. There are terms that I had never heard before, terms that I thought meant something else, and new names for pieces of equipment I, and many others who are ignorant of diving, have always called by another descriptor.
My main terminological error in this regard was describing cylinders as ‘tanks’. I was overheard by an instructor, who reminded me that we were not in a warzone and is continuing to tease me over my ignorance. Other mix-ups that are common (but which I have avoided, thankfully!) are to call fins, ‘flippers’ and masks, ‘goggles’. These mistakes are easily forgiven, quickly corrected, and will inevitably result in gentle ribbing. If I’m honest, being teased just made me feel like I was part of the team!
A mistake which I was not so easily forgiven for was my calling a drysuit a wetsuit. When I admitted that I had never actually heard of a drysuit, the reaction made me wonder if I had committed a crime! What followed was a long and complicated explanation which boils down to the fact that drysuits keep you dry and wetsuits … don’t. My response of ‘Why would anyone wear a wetsuit?’ was met with chuckles of amusement.
As I’m further immersed into the world of scuba diving, the language which at first left me utterly confused is now becoming part of my own vocabulary. Yesterday, on my second trip to Cirkewwa, I was able to participate in a few conversations instead of listening with struggling comprehension. At first, the terminology can be intimidating and make a newbie nervous about fitting in to the diving world, but don’t worry! For every mistake I made, there are ten wonderful divers happy to help me and congratulate me when I understand a new concept. Hopefully, my victory over the words will extend into the water!