Date: 16 to 26 September 2017
Itinerary: Club trip
Two members Mick McCarthy and Liam Greene went with Ryan Air from Luton to Luca airport in Malta. We landed on a very humid night at Luca airport picked up our bus and travelled to our hotel The Ambassador in St Pauls bay. The area is very quiet no bars and two restaurants so you were limited for entertainment. I provisionally booked 10 dives with Agnes a Scottish lady owner of Maltaqua, the diver guide collected us from our hotel and took us to their dive shop. The dive centre has its own apartments for rent if you wish stay near the dive centre in Buggiba which is a busier town which has pubs and restaurants and night clubs. The dive shop was very well equipped with all the equipment that you would need with workshops and gas mixing stations and class rooms for any dive theory you wanted to learn. BSAC, PADI, SSI, TDI dive agencies were covered here so it is possible to arrange any training here that you might require. The beauty of the dive shop is that they are small enough to treat each diver as an individual and to cater for their requirements. We had to provide proof of our qualifications to dive and we were required to complete a medical screening questionnaire.
On the first day the weather was 30C and the water temperature was 29C.
Paradise bay Cirkewwa A beautiful site with intriguing rock formations and a reef that’s teeming with life including fish large and small alike. We accessed the site from the shore. The access was assisted with the use of a metal railing; you had to use extreme caution as the rock is extremely slippery and sharp. Divers have suffered head injuries getting in and out of the site, so use appropriate precautions to avoid spoiling your holiday. Depth here was 20 metres with a slight current.
Following on from that, we took our next dive after a two surface time interval
Paradise bay Cirkewwa with outstanding underwater topography drop offs walls caverns arches tunnels and swim throughs and a virgin Mary grotto. All very accessable and easy diving within the sheltered bay. The water was crystal clear with 30 metre visibility. Depth was 20 metres with no current.
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The second day took us to
Ghar Lapsi this time buddied up with German instructor Claus along with Ulrich and Milai two Swedish PADI divers. The wind had picked up in the night which brought some rain in the night. Spotted a large barracuda possibly 6 foot in length with a huge eye looked like a saucer on the side of its head. It was unusual to see such a large predatory fish in shallow water but it must have been swept into the bay by the high winds throughout the night. Depth 12 metres.
Ghar Lapsi wild life spotted a blue fin tuna its has an unusual swimming pattern very fast swims in a straight line then goes side to side and zigs and zags. Rounded body with pointed tail and fins. As I swam over the sea bed a particular section looked out of place here I spotted an octopus buried inside a cove with just his eye poking out through the sand. Octopus will sometimes arrange stones and terrain to mark its layer which can be a give away sign to their lair but you need to swim slowly to spot them.
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On the third day
Wreck X127 is reached from Manoel Island in Marsamxett harbour. We took a south easternly bearing from the entry point and swam at 10 to 12 meter depth to reach this wreck. The sea bed was very muddy and scattered with hospital beds bottles of all sorts and wheel chairs all thrown into the sea during and after the war. The torpedo damage to the stern of the vessel is extensive there were thousands of damsel fish swimming around the wreck. The metal plates on the side of the ship are peeled back it is incredible that this ship saw action in the two wars. Wildlife spotted was a fire worm looked like a large centipede covered in white fluff which is its protective layer of stinging tentacles. Depth 24 metres.
Wreck X127 we went to the stern of the wreck. Tied off a line on the old railings fed out a line and dropped to the sea bed to 25 metres. But my attempts at heading in a straight line were in vain which would have got me 30 metres. At this stage my contents gauge started leaking so required a new o-ring back at the dive shop. Depth 25 meters.
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On the fourth day
Wied iz-Zurrieq Wreck Uml al Faroud was sunk in 1998 following a terrible explosion on board that killed nine workers. Welding plates to the hull of the ship. Lying on the sandy sea bed of Wied iz-Zurrieq the Uml al Faroud weights 10,000 tons and is 115 meters long. The depth on the top bridge is 18 metres and 25 metres to the main deck. The wreck can be easily entered through its large size. We swan through the living quarters of the wreck. As we back to the reef about 100 metres there was a lot of boat traffic above so we had to keep close to the sea bed at 12 metres. Depth 30 metres.
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Wied iz-Zurrieq East Reef I was elected to lead this dive we headed south on a compass bearing. We first go down to 10 meters in the inlet and swim across to the far side before turning left and heading along the reef. Keeping the rocky shoreline to our left, we drop down to between 12-30 meters and follow the natural contours of the reef. We found fishing line and lures Mike attempted to collect the lures and put them in his bcd with the risk of puncturing his bcd. Wild life spotted was an octopus hiding in a cave. The SPG failed again so had to purchase a new SPG and hose. Depth 23 meters.
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On the fifth day
Inland Sea & Tunnel is one of the most popular scuba dive sites in Dwejra. Inland Sea is a shallow semi-circular lagoon of about 60 m wide connected to the Mediterranean Sea by 80 m long Tunnel cave through the rock. There is actually not much to see for divers in Inland Sea itself, but the Tunnel offers amazing diving experience.
In the Inland Sea maximum depth is 2 m. The bottom of Tunnel gets progressively deeper, starting at 3 m in the lagoon side, and at the seaward end reaches 26 m. The tunnel has vertical walls and pebble bottom, ending to a lot of big boulders around the seaside exit. Outside the Tunnel the seabed drops down to around 50 m.
From the Tunnel it is possible to either dive the reef walls, north or south of the Tunnel exit, and return to Inland Sea through the Tunnel. We dropped down to 36 meters to get some depth progression. Before we entered the tunnel we dropped back to test Mike dive leader skills to see if he would notice the missing party but he passed and stayed with us. Depth 36 meters.
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Blue Hole Rated among the best 10 dives in Europe is the famous Blue Hole. The site is situated underneath the prime attraction in Gozo, namely the Azure Window in Dwejra. Which no longer exists. The deep blue water here provides the right marine environment for many types of fish and other marine life. The Blue Hole is really a cave without a roof, but the underwater surroundings and light falling through the water are beautiful. Although the site reaches a maximum depth of around 20 meters, the best opportunity to discover fish life is between 10-20 meters, so any type of diver will have a super time. On our way back, we can visit a big cave, right underneath the hole, we entered the chimney which you could only do single file before levelling out and entering this coral garden. Depth 22 meters.
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The Team: Mick McCarthy, Liam Greene.