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ISSUE 1 SEPT/OCT 2008

& Underwater Magazine

scuba
All About

DIVING WITH A CAMERA MORAY MADNESS CLUBZONE – BSAC TORBAY

P29 WRECK - MALTA
COMPETITION
Enter our great competition and win a Mares Puck Wrist Computer - see page 12.

P29 - A LITTLE HISTORY

EDITOR’S COMMENT/CONTENTS

EDITOR’S COMMENT

W

elcome to the first edition of All About...Scuba. You will notice that our magazine is FREE and you are probably reading it having picked it up in your local dive shop. We’d like to thank the 100+ dive shops and clubs all over the UK that are supporting All About...Scuba by stocking our magazine! Thanks Guys! Without your help, All About...Scuba would just be another regular newsagent magazine! If you would like to help by taking stock of All About...Scuba, feel free to call us on 01277 280091. Our aim at All About...Scuba is to get into the hearts of divers, instructors, resorts, suppliers and anyone involved with scuba diving. In our launch edition we have a feature called “A Diver’s Perspective...” which is about your views and opinions on where you have dived, people you have met and locations you have found most interesting. Our centre page feature is about “Diving with a Camera” written by Bruce Iliff. He has some useful information about that all important underwater shot. If you would like your club to be included in our next Clubzone feature then e-mail the editorial team. See page 18 for this month’s club – BSAC Torbay. Our competition this month is sponsored by Mares, turn to page 12 to win a fantastic Puck wrist dive computer. As time goes on All About...Scuba will become bigger and better. We are always looking for great stories, special events, and contributions from people who have something to share. So, get in touch!! Finally, a big “Thank you” goes to all our contributors and advertisers, we couldn’t have done it without you! Sonia Caprari Editor: sonia@allaboutscuba.co.uk PS: Make sure your dive related business is seen by the 20,000+ readers of All About...Scuba every month. Call Chris on 01277 280091x 10 to book your space for the November issue.

CONTENTS
4 WHY LEARN TO DIVE? 6 A DIVER’S PERSPECTIVE... 8 24 HOUR SCUBA DIVE FOR THE CHARITY DIFFERENT STROKES

10 12

10 TAKING THE PLUNGE WITH A CAMERA 12 COMPETITION SPONSORED BY MARES 15 MORAY MADNESS 16 WRECK DIVING P29 MALTA 18 CLUBZONE – BSAC TORBAY 19 CLASSIFIED ADS

DISCLAIMER/CONTACT INFO
Publisher: Bluenet Publishing Ltd, 18 Derek Road, N Lancing, West Sussex BN15 0NU Editor: Sonia Caprari E-mail: editorial@allaboutscuba.co.uk Sales: sales@allaboutscuba.co.uk Design & Layout: Stephen Rhodes. sters@btinternet.com Telephone: 01277 280091 Fax: 01273 371211 Website: www.allaboutscuba.co.uk Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the data in this publication is accurate, neither the publisher nor its editorial contributors can accept, and hereby disclaim, any liability to any party to loss or damage caused by errors or omissions resulting from negligence, accident or any other cause. Bluenet Publishing Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions or endorse companies, products or services that appear in the magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise – without prior permission of the publisher. Please recycle this magazine when you have finished with it.

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DIVINGLITTLE HISTORY P29 - A IN MALTA

should point you in that direction. Fitness to dive is not based on physical strength, although the equipment can be quite heavy out of the water. Once in the water, we become neutral and move freely, so no stress, no impact and only exerting as you want it to be What are the risks with scuba diving? Life has risks! The recreation of scuba diving (I don’t like calling it a sport as we don’t compete for medals or have leagues or anything that resembles competition – except with yourself and a few egos) is as adventurous as you want to make it or is as controlled and as easy going as you can imagine. Drifting along a few metres under the surface looking at the most beautiful coral gardens in the world will change anyone’s mind. Just remember there are limits and guidelines and that’s when good training comes into it. We can all learn to drive a car – how we then drive is our choice What are the benefits of Scuba diving? Please remember I am biased... it’s my recreation and my job and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Few people can say they work in a job they love. What does scuba diving offer – education, activity, see a different world, meet new people, increase awareness of ecological issues, gives sense of achievement and obviously it can be a life style change for anyone’s career and social life. How much does it cost to learn scuba diving? Cost will vary and depends on how far ‘up the ladder’ you want to go and you really need to ask local schools who have greater overheads than most resort operators like myself. But it is always worth the money you spend! Is there a qualification at the end of the course? Of course. PADI Open Water is the biggest certification in the world and PADI has certified over 15 million divers. I believe there are over 180 countries that will recognise this certification and therefore will take you diving Why is Malta a good place to dive? Clear, warm water. Good sunny weather. Easy, walk in dives. A variety of dives from reef, wrecks, shallow, technical, boat, shore and more....in fact I think Malta covers it all? And a lovely country with lots of history and culture for non-diving activities. l

Why learn to
A

Dive?
lan is the Platinum Course Director at Divewise in Malta and the only resident Platinum CD in Malta. He has been diving for over twenty-five years, originally through CMAS but moved to PADI in the mid 90s and never looked back. He currently works with eight instructors who are skilled in training those who have never dived before to instructor level. Having discussed a few things with Alan I wanted his expert opinion on how people interested in taking up diving should take the plunge!

If you are interested in learning to scuba dive, should you take lessons in your own country or can you come to Divewise to learn? Diving usually starts with Discover Scuba diving. In the UK this was nearly always a pool only experience. Here in Malta we have a pool like area which allows access to the sea direct allowing fish life etc into the area. Is there an age limit for when you can start learning? Discover Scuba minimum age is 10 but you still need to exercise some common sense. There is also a Bubblemaker programme that starts at 8 years old, which allows younger children to try with more ‘restrictive’ control measures. What qualifications should an instructor have to teach? How do you know if a dive centre is reputable/has the correct paperwork? The first level is Open Water Scuba Instructor but worldwide we need instructors that teach ‘Specialist’ areas,

so MSDT is ideal along with technical qualifications. Plus other skills such as compressor maintenance, boat handling etc...and especially languages. Checking a dive centre is difficult – do you believe their own press? The only real way is to do some checking around, ask others where they have been, see if there are photos of the centre and staff on their website.... and maybe ask PADI direct. Do you need to purchase your own equipment? Nearly all instructors are ‘self sufficient’ and are now expected to have all the basics needed to instruct – Scuba Equipment, slates, manuals etc... but not cylinders and weights, as nobody travels with those! Do you have to be fit to dive? I have been told asthmatics cannot scuba dive is this true? Asthma is a tricky one and you should really consult a doctor who is familiar with diving. Any decent dive centre will have contacts with such people and

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A DIVER’S PERSPECTIVE

I’ve known Kevan for a number of years and knew he was a keen scuba diver. He would tell me when he was jetting off to the Red Sea but I never really picked his brain... until now! It’s amazing what you find out about your friends that you didn’t know before!

A Diver’s perspective ... ’s
Name: Kevan Canham Age: 49 (sorry Kev – had to give your age!!) Diving Locations: Red Sea, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Cyprus and in the good old English Channel! Which location do you like best: For the marine life it has to be the Red Sea. I love the turtles. For scenery it has to be Thailand and for variety it has to be the Channel. Tell me about the Channel: Well you can see a sunken submarine, lots of fish including crabs and scallops. The water can be so murky that you have to put your mask against your buddies to see each other. On another occasion I have dived off Looe with 30+ metres of horizontal visibility. It depends where you are, the state of the tide or if it has been raining or stormy. What gives you a buzz when diving: It can be a fantastic thrill doing a drift dive when the tide is running and just being swept along with it – it feels like you are flying but in the water. Have you been close up and personal with a shark: Yes, when I was in Thailand I was about 20m above a whale shark, I’m
Kevan sat on the propeller of the Salem Express, Egypt

not getting any closer than that!! But they only eat plankton...this one was about five metres long. I’m not into feeding the sharks and all that. You have to respect the ocean, this is their territory and not ours. What was the most fascinating moment in Egypt: I love Egypt the sea is full of fish; it’s an amazing site the first time you dive there. On this particular occasion we were diving a wreck of a roll on-roll off ferry called the Salem Express. Me and my buddy were under the propeller when all of a sudden out of nowhere a five foot moray eel appeared! It startled us both but I did manage to take a photo of it! Where else would you like to go: I would like to go somewhere in the Caribbean. Have to save the pennies for that trip!! What diving qualification do you have: I am a PADI Rescue Diver. How did you achieve this qualification:

Well first of all I took the Open Water Diver then Advanced Open Water Diver. To become a Rescue Diver you have to do the Medic First Aid. Did you have a particular job in mind when you decided on this qualification: No not really, I just fancied going a bit further than just advanced diver. I found Rescue diver made me a better diver by knowing how to look after myself before helping others. So what does a rescue diver do that an advanced open water diver doesn’t do: You learn to care for yourself and your equipment and to avoid and deal with emergencies. New divers may begin to panic or could become unconscious under water and so you learn how to bring them safely to the surface. There are a number of reasons why these instances occur - hypoxia, you’ve run out of air or an asthma attack. Why do you enjoy diving so much: It is the thrill of being weightless. The buzz of diving somewhere new and the friends you are with. You can go back to the same place over and over again but the experience is always unique. l

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Drive&Dive package starts from US$658,per person. Based on 6 pax in a 3-bedroom. For more information check out www.buddydive.com or email reservations@buddydive.com

Drive&Explore package starts from US$647,- per person. Based on 4 pax in 2-bedroom apartment. For more information check out www.caribbeanclubbonaire.com or email reservations@caribbeanclubbonaire.com

Drive, Dive&Stay package starts from US$530,- per person. Based on 6 pax in 3bedroom apartment. For more information check out www.belmar-bonaire.com or email reservations@belmar-bonaire.com

All packages include accommodation for 7 days, all taxes, airport transfers, unlimited air (including nitrox) for 6 days & car rental for 7 days. At Caribbean Club and Buddy Dive the package also includes American Breakfast for 7 days.

CONTRIBUTORS WANTED!
Have you got something to say?
All About...Scuba magazine is looking for contributions from our readers who are involved with non-commercial Dive Clubs or organisations. If you have a passion for all things Scuba, then let us know. Suggested topics could include: A diver’s perspective (let us do a profile on you) Humourous stories Clubzone – tell us about your club Scuba Adventures, UK and abroad Moans & Groans – get it off your chest!

E-mail: editorial@allaboutscuba.co.uk or call 01277 280091

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7

DIFFERENT STROKES/ DIVE CONFERENCE P29 - A LITTLE HISTORY

Come and support Alex and Anthony who are doing a 24hour Scuba Dive at:
Maidstone Leisure Centre 18th and 19th October in aid of the charity Different Strokes
a week or 30 every single day. Stroke is especially devastating for younger people: one day fit and well, the next moment disabled; often with a young family to care for and support; and relying on employment for income rather than a pension. They must come to terms with physical and emotional changes as well as significant lifestyle adjustments – mobility, job, income, dependence, relationships – everything changes. l

D

ifferent Strokes is the only national organisation providing services designed especially for younger stroke survivors, including children. Stroke is the single largest cause of disability amongst adults in the UK. Each year around 21,500 people of working age or younger have a stroke – that’s 200

If you wish to make a donation to this worthy cause or want to find out more then visit www.bmycharity.com/scuba24

Dive Conference 2008 Oban, 15th November 2008

T

he Scottish Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) is delighted to announce details of our Dive Conference 2008, taking place at Oban High School on Saturday 15th November. The event is sponsored by Historic Scotland and welcomes a range of speakers and workshops. This year’s line up is bigger than before, and we welcome well known names in diving. Martyn Farr is a world renowned cave diver, explorer and photographer who will present stunning audio/visuals of “the most dangerous sport on earth”. John Bantin, technical editor of DIVER magazine, will talk about his favourite two subjects; himself and his job, and just what he loves most about travelling the world to dive, test new dive gear and write about diving! BSAC Chair and technical diver Claire Peddie will talk on expedition diving and for the technical divers we have Alejandro Gallego providing a workshop on the KISS rebreather. New this year will be a photography competition – delegates simply bring along a mounted underwater print and the conference speakers will judge during the day. SSAC’s Jim Anderson, will run a live Photoshop workshop with top tips for editing

underwater shots. Historic Scotland will also deliver a workshop on diver participation in the marine historic environment as will the Marine Conservation Society; RNLI and SSAC medical advisor will also run workshops. The conference will conclude with a prize raffle with top prizes including Uwatec Galileo Sol dive computer, Buddy Nexus Open Circuit/Closed Circuit Dive Computer and a very special Christmas dinner for two onboard a luxury steam train. The new Suunto Diver award for volunteering will also be presented to six deserving members each receiving a Suunto D6 dive computer. The conference is open to all divers. Tickets are available from www.scotsac.com, priced £8 in advance or £10 on the day. Ticket price includes full day access to the conference, conference pack, tea/coffee and a buffet lunch. All in all, the day promises to be a lively one, with something for everyone. l Full details on the conference available from www.scotsac.com

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COMING SOON...

scuba tv
All About
Over the coming months you will be able to visit All About...Scuba TV to view articles and dive clubs we have featured and equipment we have reviewed. We will also be running competitions for underwater photography and videography. Visit our website and sign up for our newsletter and submit your video clips and photos now!

www.allaboutscuba.tv
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P29 - A LITTLE HISTORY

TAKING THE PLUNGE WITH A CAMERA
Written by Bruce Iliff

A

fter a number of years diving, I finally took the plunge, so to speak, and joined the growing numbers of underwater shutterbugs. After reading all I could find and speaking with old hands at underwater photography, I have learnt that there is more to the art than strapping on a tank and clicking off a few shots. I am not yet at the stage of providing advice on taking the perfect shot, framing the subject, correct exposure and other myriad of variables – that’s best left to the artistic experts – but I have come across a number of different problems and solutions that help make diving and using a camera underwater enjoyable and safe. The first rule I learnt is to always have enough film or memory card space. This isn’t too much of a problem with new digital cameras, but if you’re using film and are loaded up with a twenty-four shot roll, Murphy’s Law dictates you’ll run out of shots just before a huge pack of manta rays glide through. Always plan to come out of the water with two or three exposures left. This ensures that you’ve got film if anything happens near the end of the dive. Imagine surfacing after a dive to find a huge humpback whale and its calf beside the boat and no shots left! No-one will believe you if you haven’t got the shots as proof. I was in a similar situation while diving with a camera buff on the Great Barrier Reef’s Lady Elliot Island. He fired most shots on those forgettable pictures of coral and small fish. Near the end of the dive I spotted a manta ray

coming in from the side. My buddy didn’t see it, as he was busy with his dive tables until it flew right beneath him. The tables were forgotten and the camera hurriedly focused, but unfortunately he had only one shot left. Development of the film revealed the tip of one wing. Using a camera underwater requires sensitive feel to make minor adjustments to focus, film advance and flash controls. Most cameras and housings are designed to be easily operated with a bulky glove; however, some divers prefer to use a bare hand on the controls. If this is required, keep a glove on one hand to grab hold of solid objects to steady yourself for a shot. Before I started using a camera I rarely had a need to stay completely still in one spot and gloves weren’t a necessity. But with a camera I found I always had to stop to shoot. If there is even a slight current

or swell a firm handhold is a must. This can be taken a step further by having the arms and legs covered. Sometimes you might have to wrap your legs around a piece of a wreck or the anchor line while using both hands to manipulate the camera. On my first few dives with a camera, I found I was using more air than usual. Initially, I thought of all the excuses – faulty gauges, incomplete fill and a leaking buoyancy compensator. I couldn’t understand what was happening, especially when my buddy would surface with half a tank while I was in the red. Finally I worked out the problem. I was running around the bottom like an over-active turtle setting up the perfect shot. On one dive I raced off to snap a huge barracuda when the dive guide caught my fin and pointed to a giant groper under a ledge.

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TAKING THE PLUNGE WITH A CAMERA
cameras open to prevent this phenomenon. This will also happen when leaving a camera out in the hot sun as the air inside heats up and expands, pushing against the O rings. Always be aware of who is holding your camera. Leaving it lying around is asking for someone to pick it up and start fiddling. Boat dives are an easy place for cameras to get damaged as the boat bounces in the swells and divers move around in the crowded area. Another useful hint I gleaned from an experienced underwater snapper is to put a clear filter on the front of the main lens. The idea is to provide some protection for the lens. It is better to have a cheap filter smashed than the main lens, which will lead to flooding the camera. My expert friend told me that a clear lens doesn’t have much effect on the shots. When entering the water, don’t take the camera with you as you do your giant stride entry or backward roll. The action of the sudden rush of water can force past the O rings. The lens can also bump against the weight-belt, the straps can get tangled amongst regulator hoses, or you may simply drop it. The best way is to get someone reliable to hand it over once you’re in the water. And make sure you can trust that person. I have heard one story of a dive master who dropped an expensive camera over the side thinking the diver would catch it. They didn’t and the camera went straight to the bottom, over thirty metres down. Fortunately the camera was retrieved undamaged, but could easily have been dropped into greater depths or damaged when it struck the bottom. To get the most out of your camera take a course with a reputable dive school. There are also many good books around where you can learn the skills and tricks for taking that perfect underwater shot. But the best lesson I have learnt is to keep taking shots and always think of what you are doing in relation to focus, depth of field and all the other variables that make up the great shots. Underwater photography is increasing in popularity, a camera buff can be found on nearly every dive boat. A camera can bring much more to your enjoyment of diving, but always remember that a camera should never affect the safety of a dive. l To read more of Bruce Iliff’s articles on scuba diving, visit : http://scuba-diving. suite101.com/articles.cfm/feature_ writers

I raced back wildly for the groper. The entire episode left me puffing madly on the regulator. Meanwhile, my buddy was breathing nice and slow watching my crazy antics. Before the camera, I too would have peacefully observed both fish from a distance without running an underwater sprint. Saying camera equipment is expensive is an understatement. Naturally, the service a camera gives depends directly on the service it gets. Most causes of cameras flooding can simply be attributed to bad maintenance. Divers don’t take time to check the user serviceable O rings before every dive or don’t rinse them out after a dive. Some try to save money by not having it serviced regularly by a qualified technician. Follow the instructions for the care and maintenance of your camera. I’ve been told by camera experts to soak the closed camera in lukewarm water (35 degrees maximum) for about an hour after the dive, occasionally moving the normal controls used underwater: shutter release, focus, aperture, shutter speed. The warm water dissolves the crystals and the movement of the controls ensures all crystals get dissolved. Some divers have told me they soak their cameras overnight before opening the back and removing the film. When travelling on a plane, always carry the camera as hand luggage. There are a few reasons for this, one being that the unique shot of the dive site from the plane as it wings into land can be priceless. And remember that the reduced pressure at altitude will affect the camera so that when you open it there may be a pressure difference across the O rings. I have heard some divers travel with their

BRUCE ILIFF
I am a freelance journalist based down under in Brisbane, Australia. I have been scuba diving for many years and have attained the certification of Divemaster. One of my simple pleasures in life is taking a slow, relaxing dive over a coral reef. During my years rubbing shoulders with the interesting mix of people in the diving world, I have experienced first-hand the mistakes, improvements and challenges present for today’s sport diver. The desire to write about scuba diving comes from two sources. One is to share the enjoyment I experience every time I strap on a tank and duck under the waves: those memorable dives, cruising the reefs and just watching the seascape drift by just have to be shared. The other is the anguish I have seen many times as divers are released from the clutches of their instructors and plunge out into the diving world: novices in the inner space with so much to learn. During my time as a Divemaster, I have seen the wonder as new divers, fresh from their basic course grow in confidence and knowledge of their chosen sport. To pass on the experience I gain from assisting those divers, I like to write scuba diving articles that are chock-full of hints, tips and solid advice on many aspects of scuba diving for today’s sport diver. Most of the subjects I strive to write about won’t be found in scuba textbooks. This is knowledge that a diver can only glean from many years in the diving scene: going diving, listening to other divers and learning from the school of hard knocks. Some of my comments, thoughts and opinions might challenge the accepted way of thinking. If there are controversial approaches, I encourage you to discuss them with other divers. If certain articles do nothing more than act as a catalyst for continual improvement in safer diving practices for the diver and the environment then it has been worth my effort. If you are a thinking diver and enjoy reading about diving, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my articles in All About...Scuba magazine.

All About...

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COMPETITION P29 - A LITTLE HISTORY

ADVERTISE ON THIS PAGE FROM £130 TO 20,000+ READERS PER MONTH. CALL: 01277 280091

ENTER OUR COMPETITON
Sponsored by

n our launch edition Mares have kindly offered a Puck Wrist Computer with a RRP of £69.95 as our competition prize. If you are interested in winning this versatile piece of equipment which has a range of features, then answer the question below.

I

Features
• Complete RGBM dive computer at an economical value • One button for easy operation • Easy to equip on both wrist and console boots The new Puck series computers are perfect for those in need of pure ease. A full function RGBM dive computer with larger digits for easy reading and backlight on demand. Single button to smoothly scroll through the menu options. Keep on your wrist or pop into one of the Puck consoles for maximum mounting options.
• DIVE LOG: 38 HOURS/50 DIVES • NITROX PROGRAMMABLE (21-50%) • ASCENT RATE INDICATOR (DIGITAL) • FULL FUNCTION AIR/NITROX DIVE COMPUTER • DIVER-REPLACEABLE BATTERIES • FRESH AND SALT WATER • POWERFUL BACKLIGHT • AIR/NITROX/BOTTOM TIMER MODES • NITROGEN BAR GRAPH • TEMPERATURE DISPLAY • AUTOMATIC ALTITUDE ADJUSTABLE • DEPTH: 150M/492 FEET • COMPUTER USER CHANGEABLE IMPERIAL/METRIC

Now for the question...in our centre page feature this month “Taking the plunge with a Camera”, where does our freelance journalist come from? Send your answers to competition@allaboutscuba.co.uk. Entries must be with us by 10th November 2008. For more information on Mares products visit www.mares.com or your nearest stockist.

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SEE RED
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Photo: Simon Rogerson

13

FEEJEE EXPERIENCE

F

Diversifies its Portfolio rtf rtfo
& Mantarays pass as of October 1. The pass, which costs approximately £214 (NZ$561), combines the Hula Loop with boat transfers to and from Mantaray Island Resort, which is located on the secluded island of Nanuya Balavu in the Naviti group, and three nights of dorm accommodation. Always seeking to protect the local environment and community, Feejee Experience now fully supports Tribewanted, an ecotourism project that enables travellers to live in a rural Fijian community on Vorovoro Island as a contributing member of the tribe. The package, called the Tribal Loop, combines the Hula Loop and the Tribewanted experience and costs £535 (NZ$1,399). Keith Marsh, Feejee Experience UK & Europe Sales Manager, said: “Our custom-

Feejee Experience

eejee Experience, the flexible adventure travel company, has further expanded its offering of experiential packages to include a number of unforgettable and life-changing travel itineraries. Currently Feejee Experience is working on an initiative to offer volunteer options to passengers who wish to give back even more. A few months away, the free programme will be offered as a hop-off option to assist the non-profit organisations SPCA Fiji and Homes of Hope Fiji, as well as teaching in schools in the remote Wailotua are on the Kings Road. Feejee Experience has teamed up with Ra Divers, a leading dive centre based at Volivoli Beach Resort, to offer some of the best diving in Fiji and, as of 1 October, two new passes will be added to the Feejee Experience pass page, the Feejee Dive pass and the Experienced Dive pass. The Feejee Dive pass includes a PADI certified Open Water Dive Course while the Experienced Dive pass is for those who are already certified open water divers and includes six tank dives. Both packages include the ever popular Hula Loop and four nights of dorm accommodation at the breathtaking Volivoli Resort. Due to popular demand, Feejee Experience will be bringing back the Mangos

ers choose to travel with Feejee Experience because they are looking for the ultimate in life-changing, experiential journeys. We offer a taste of the real Fiji and our new product allows visitors to get close to the heart of the island and community”. l Further information about Feejee Experience is available at www.feejeeexperience.com.

A VISION OF THE FUTURE...

O

cean Visions is continuing its successful underwater photography courses for divers with compact cameras by introducing new Composition Courses as well as a brand new onsite holistic luxury pool in Bromley, Kent. Midweek special evening courses are now available as well as Photoshop evening courses - the perfect way to hone your skills or learn how to touch up your holiday photos. Maria Munn has been using these cameras underwater for eight years and shows even complete beginners how to take great photographs underwater. She also runs overseas trips for beginners with Emperor Divers in the beautiful resort of Nuweiba. l For more information visit www.oceanvisions.co.uk or call Maria on 07957 621915.

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MORAY MADNESS

MORAY MADNESS A
s the weather has been so dire this year I have had plenty of time to think about dives I have done and one that stands out in my mind happened in Mallorca. I was based in Santa Ponsa for a few weeks passing the time doing try dives at the hotels and just generally enjoying life in the sun when I happened upon a diver called Dean.... or that “crazy idiot” as he became known for reasons that will become apparent. One night, me and my mate Steve who was also there for the duration were chatting to Dean when he mentioned a wreck that was home to a whole load of BIG eels. We stroked our chins, supped some San Miguel and thought, why the hell not, it’ll be a laugh. So, up early, down to the RIB we trot, camera in hand. Dean arrives holding a can of tuna in sunflower oil.... has to be in oil he says... OK says I but would it not be better to make your butties before you get on the RIB? Or course, the tuna was not lunch... well not for us anyhow, but there to tempt the eels out of the wreck...OK one can of tuna... twenty eels...not really going to upset the eco system, so off we go. After a twenty minute ride we arrive at the site, down goes the shot followed by some tired but excited divers. At around 25 metres we come across a pile of rubble that no doubt used to be a wreck. or something man made anyway, hard to tell, I looked at Steve and he back at me with a “is this it” kind of expression, no eels, just a pile of bent metal. Oh well, at least the viz is good. I look over to Dean who by now has taken the tuna out of his pocket and is pulling the lid off... very important to have the self opening cans, fiddling with a can opener is not to be advised at 25 metres. As soon as the oil hits the water a whole load of eels start appearing from everywhere... no word of a lie it was eel soup down there, sizes ranged from three feet to six feet at least, or that’s what my mind was telling me in between profanities, that’s why it’s called the eel wreck! So, out came the camera, but where to point it, there are eels everywhere, I am just lining up a shot when I glance down and either I was very excited or that was one huge mother of an eel that just swam between my legs! Click, click, click, Dean is still holding the can with bits of tuna floating about, the eels are ecstatic...mmm, free food with no effort, I guess with this number of large eels it was more of an amuse bouche than a meal but tasty none the less. I thought the dive should be marked with a picture of the crazy idiot that had taken us there holding his offering and feeding the eels, I turn just in time to see a chunk of tuna float out of the tin and settle under Dean’s chin. I am not the only one to notice this, a big eel also spots the stray chunk and goes for it, getting a bit of Deans chin into the bargain. It was only a scratch but enough

to draw blood as seen by the stream of black liquid coming from the small, non life threatening wound. It was about half a second after this event we thought we had betDean arrives ter make ourselves scarce, so holding a can back to the shot, up the line and into the safe surroundof tuna in ings of the RIB. Never have sunflower oil.... I been so glad to survive “has to be in a dive and at the same time so sad to end a dive, oil,” he says... a real adrenalin moment “OK” says I, “but for sure. Please don’t start bangwould it not be ing on about not feeding better to make the wildlife, I never have and your butties never will, this is the only time I have been in the water while before you get some one else was doing so. on the RIB?” Has anyone else done this site? Apart from it being out of Santa Ponsa I have no idea where it is but at some point would love to relive the experience. l

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15

P29 - A LITTLE HISTORY

P29
A little history

B

uilt as a Condor I Class Minesweeper at the VEB Peenewerft Wolgast (project number 89.118), for the former German Democratic Republic Navy. Registered with the ID 352 and named “Boltenhagen” she was commissioned on 19th September 1970. After the German unification the “Boltenhagen” was run by the Bundesgrenzschutz as BG 31 until 30th June 1996. In 1997, the “Boltenhagen” was turned into an unarmed patrol craft and delivered to Malta, where she was renamed P29. Around the Maltese Waters she was responsible for many offshore missions including asserting control over Malta’s Continental Shelf, anti-contraband missions, and numerous border control operations. The P29 was purposely sunk approximately 170 meters off the Cirkewwa breakwater on 14th August 2007.

placement of 361 tonnes. Her two Russian MD 40 diesel engines gave her 4000 horse power on the shaft and powered her up to 20 knots. Last armament was a 14.5 mm quad, which was added in Malta.

The Dive
The P29’s final resting place is on a sandy bottom between 37 meters off the bow and 36 meters at the stern. The deck lies at an average depth of 32 meters and the top of the mast, at 17 meters of water. Due to the depth, and the involved mid-water swim, it is a dive recommended for experienced divers. Even though it is a new wreck, one does not expect a huge amount of marine life, however the first bream and damselfish have already made it their home! A fair amount of growth covering the wreck has already occurred and as this is only after a few months, it looks very promising for the future. She is a very interesting wreck: the yard preparing her to be sunk did a brilliant job in cleaning her, removing all the hutches and doors which might have become a hazard for

trapped and entangled divers. Keeping her depth and the relatively short no decompression limits in mind, her open layout with light penetrating in all driveable compartments makes her a very good wreck for wreck dive training and penetration, and of course, some great pleasure diving! The reef close by is ideal to extend the dive a little without exceeding the no decompression limits and it makes it easy to do a safety stop without getting bored.

Answering a few questions
Another wreck just off another, lying out there that’s already been there for years? Now, what’s the purpose of sinking old ships so close to the coast? We all know that, properly cleaned, there is no known impact on the environment. In fact, we are creating an attractive habitat for a variety of sea life. Only after a few months the steel will be covered in all sorts of growth and more and more different fish can be seen around this wreck.

Some data
The P29’s overall length is 51.98 meters, a beam of 7.12 meters she had a draft of just 2.3 meters. Fully loaded, she had a dis-

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Exploring the P29 wreck in Maltese Water

Since we are all divers and these wrecks are one of Malta’s main attractions for the diving community, the places have to be chosen even more carefully. They need to be out of the main traffic zones but still easy accessible by divers and they can’t be too deep, otherwise they are only interesting for tec divers. Another consideration for finding a location to sink a wreck around the Maltese Islands is the general seabed. Close to shore in shallower waters, we find lots of big areas of sea grass, specially the Posidonia grass (Posidoniaceae). How boring, sea grass, we divers might think, but did you ever look into it? I don’t want to be too scientific here but as divers we should be concerned about our environment. We still want to go diving tomorrow and see the same beauty we enjoy today. Here I want to give you just a short explanation on how important sea grass is to keep the environment balanced and what it does for us divers:
● it helps to keep the water clear by trapping fine sediments and

particles with its leaves;
● it stabilizes the bottom with its roots and stops important soil

being carried away by water movement;

DIVE STAR RATING
VISIBILITY EASE OF PENETRATION MARINE LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY OPPORTUNITIES DIVER SAFE

● it provides habitat for many fish, crustaceans and shellfish; ● the grass itself and the organisms growing on it is food for

★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

many sea animals;
● even dead, piling up on the beaches in winter, it protects the

shore line by keeping sand from being washed out to sea;
● and most importantly, it is a huge producer of oxygen.

Summary
Let’s just be happy about the P29 and where she lies, it’s not a bad place overall. She is lying in the sand out of main traffic zones, deep enough not to get affected by every minor storm and away from sensitive sea plants like sea grass areas and coral reefs. l

Why so deep? Why there and not somewhere else? The exact answer for this is somewhere at the Maltese Planning Authority. But there are a few considerations for finding a location that we can follow easily. Malta is quite a busy shipping area and therefore the location and depth have to be chosen very carefully. While we are talking about shipping, we are not only talking about the big commercial ships. Since Malta is a very famous water sport location, there are, in the summer, thousands of yachts and pleasure boats around. Even medium size sailing yachts can draw up to 3 meters (10 feet). Since the wrecks are all sunk in open water, the weather is also a factor which has to be considered. The winter storms and the involved swell around Malta can be quite strong. If the wreck is lying too shallow, it doesn’t take too much to damage the wreck and it can even be relocated in a heavy swell. A big part of the bridge of the “Um El-Faroud”, Malta’s biggest wreck, was taken off a while ago by one of these storms. The Um El Faroud is a 110 meter tanker which is broken apart and the two parts are moving. Changes can be seen every time there is a heavy swell and the ship is lying in 35 meters of water.

With thanks to Stephen Clough - H2O Divers - Malta

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17

P29 - A LITTLE HISTORY

lubZone C
W
elcome to All About...Scuba’s Clubzone, my name is Paul Mason, I am the Vice Chairman of the Torbay branch of the British Sub Aqua Club, each month a different club will be profiled, we at Torbay BSAC have the privilege of getting the ball rolling so here goes. Torbay BSAC {008} was established in 1954 and is the eighth oldest BSAC club just missing out on the honour of being club 007, the prime number of SCUBA. Based in Torquay on the English Riviera we have an enthusiastic membership ranging in age from 16 to 70+ along with a range of experience from those who have just started to train to some of the older members who started diving in the days when you had to make your own wetsuit, buoyancy aids were unheard of and a flask of warm water poured into the suit at the end of the dive was your best friend. We own two boats, one hard boat and a small RIB and encourage all our members to be actively involved in driving the boats under the supervision of our very own salty sea dog, John Clee. There is nothing this man does not know about boats and he is always on hand to help train new boat handlers and keep everything working and floating. We have a kit room at Torquay harbour where the compressor is housed, again, John keeps this pumping and members enjoy the benefit of free air fills two minutes walk from the boat. John no longer dives, but try keeping him away from the club.....? Not a chance, his love of diving is still strong, even now, when he should be at home enjoying his cardigan and slippers he can always be found with oil and grease up to his elbows tinkering away with anything and everything mechanical. John, we salute you. A true diver’s diver. There have been many firsts in the clubs history. The first female diver to be awarded the level of first class diver, Kay Tompsett, back in the days when diving was the preserve of bearded gentlemen. The first large salvage operation undertaken by amateur divers when the club bought the wreck of the Maine and proceeded to recover the propeller, a brief history of this event is on our club website www.torbay-bsac.co.uk We are a very active club with a weekly dive calendar running over the weekends and, weather permitting, Tuesday and Friday evenings. In addition to the dives in the bay we organise trips to locations including the Red Sea and the Scillies, as well as along the coastline to Salcombe, Plymouth, Cornwall or anywhere else the members wish to dive. We are a dive club that dives, we meet on a Wednesday evening from 8.30pm onwards at Torbay Hospital Social Club to train, arrange and socialise. Come and say hello! Under the guidance of Madam Chairman Cathy Jackman we continue to push forward and are looking forward to our diamond anniversary.

BSAC Torbay

Paul Mason

Group photo Red Sea

Grabbing a pint

in Scilly

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