James Bubble Blog No. 2
James’ Bubble Blog No. 2 - Gran Canaria and La Gomera
Gran Canaria (Puerto De La Luz) - 28° 08.957N 015° 24.175W
During our time in Gran Canaria, I got itchy feet to go diving again so I went to have a nose around the Dive School on the Marina premises and check out the prices. Buceo Canarias was definitely an outfit on the up, I had dived with them last time I was in the Canaries, when they had a small back-street premises, but now they have a very plush looking shop in the Marina. They were quite thorough in checking qualifications and insurance and all the kit looked good and I booked in for a boat-dive on a wreck just outside the main harbour breakwater.
We were a really mixed group with some very inexperienced divers and some obviously old and bold bubble heads but everyone was very friendly and made an effort to try and chat to me in ‘Spanglish’. My buddy was Viktor, from Fuertuventura and, despite not speaking a word of English and having very suspect facial hair, we got on well and had a very relaxed dive together. The wreck was nick-named the ‘Refrigerator’ and was a 150m long Russian cargo ship that sank at its mooring in the 70s. It had broken it’s back and lay at about 50 degrees on it’s Starboard side with the deepest part being at about 38m. The brief given by the divemaster seemed pretty comprehensive when given in Spanish, and I think I may have got an abbreviated version of about two sentences, but between the two I got the gist.
We descended the anchor-line to the bow of the wreck and worked our way into the ½ knot current down the Starboard side and whizzed back down the Port side. The wreck was fairly intact and had a lot of fish life around it and inside the superstructure and holds, including some Parrot Fish, Barracuda and lots of Wrasse. The dive was very chilled and enjoyable and we pushed the no-decompression limits of our computers to stay down and nose around the holds and superstructure, before returning to the anchor line and starting the ascent.
This is where things got a bit messy, with the majority of our group of a dozen divers clamouring to hold onto the anchor line at the 5 metre mark for a safety stop (waiting at 5 metres for 3 minutes provides some insurance against decompression sickness) It was a bit of a mêlée and Viktor and I waited at the side at a safe distance, exchanging amused looks! The scene was even more complicated when the Divemaster lifted the anchor with a flotation bag and all those clinging on to the five metre mark ended up on the surface as the rope became horizontal! When it was all sorted out we got back in the boat and headed back to the Marina. All in all a nice dive with some really friendly people, although the promised turtles were not to be seen. (Sorry, no phots, I forgot the Camera…doh)
La Gomera (Playa Del Guicho) - 28° 02.869N 017° 09.421W & 28° 02.660N 017° 09.686W
Before leaving the Canary Islands we decided we needed to say a proper goodbye to our good friend Denny, who we met in mainland Spain. Denny is a keen diver and has his own cylinders and an air compressor on his rather lovely 53’ yacht so when we met up with him in La Gomera we decided to go diving. Just south of the Marina there are a number of small sheltered bays and we decided to go and explore one that had been recommended to Denny by a local divemaster (Playa Del Guicho).
Denny generally never sees any sign of life onboard Rahula until about 1000 so he was shocked to see me arrive at 0900 with all my gear (Amelia followed 10 minutes later with bread and donuts) As always there was some fresh coffee waiting and we got underway shortly after finishing the donuts and pouring the second cup. It took about an hour to get to the little bay, giving Denny and I a while to talk about the dive and look at the chart while Amelia sat there and looked pretty (Denny was the skipper and that was all he wanted her to do!) We anchored in the middle of the bay off the beach and started to get all our stuff ready, which included inflating Jubilant’s huge Zodiac tender which was to be our dive-boat for the day, not as much of a chore as I thought because Denny had an electric pump which took most of the hard work out of it (Jubilant is not short of comfort or convenience!).
Preps For Diving
Finally we were ready and, with Amelia coming along to do some snorkelling, we set off in the tender to anchor off Roque Del Herrero at the northern extreme of the bay. I was to lead the dive and the plan was to follow the large rock from the western extremity around to the northern side and then return the same way at a slightly shallower depth. We kitted up and got in, descending along the anchor line to about 10 metres before starting off around the rock. We quickly descended further to about 20m and continued round, seeing plenty of Ornate Wrasses, Canary Damsels (only found in the Canaries surprisingly) and the bizarre looking Atlantic Cornet Fish. We also saw an eel garden with a couple of dozen Brown Garden Eels with half their bodies poking out the sand swaying to the ½ knot current we were finning into, it was as we passed this that the current started to get a little stronger and we were making very slow headway so we turned around early and rode the current back to the anchor line. We were both enjoying ourselves and were reluctant to end the dive so we went past the anchor line, where there were a lot of large boulders and volcanic rock formations at about 10m to explore with sea urchins in every nook and more Cornet fish hiding in various small caves and crevices. Getting close to the sand revealed some sand-sole and some Leopard Spotted Gobies (forgot the Camera again doh!) Looking up we saw Amelia snorkelling overhead so we went to say hello (well blow bubbles at her anyway) with all our swimming in and out of the garden of boulders, it was difficult to keep track of where the boat was but we found our way back to the anchor and returned to the surface after 45 minutes to find Amelia sunbathing in the dinghy after her exhausting snorkel.
We returned back to Jubilant for a large lunch, making it a little difficult to muster the enthusiasm to go back in for our second dive but eventually we found the energy and after a bit of a debacle trying to find two cylinders that were full, Denny and I jumped straight off Jubilant and went to explore the southern part of the bay. This time I remembered the Camera, but sod’s law dictates that this dive wasn’t nearly as photogenic! We descended from the boat to about 10 metres and swam to the rocky outcrop at the southern edge of the bay, planning to explore north along the shoreline until we made our way back to the beach opposite where Jubilant was anchored. The dive started fine with a similar view to that of morning dive, although with less interesting rock features and more shoals of sardines! But as we swam along the shoreline we were increasingly affected by some strong surge and the visibility became worse and worse with the stirred up sand. It was a shame, because we had found a quite interesting volcanic boulder, but the surge and sand meant we couldn’t really give it as close a look as we would like. Underwater, hand signals and expressions said it all and we continued until I could hear the surf on the beach and we then surfaced to swim the short distance back to Jubilant. I did manage to get some photographs, but the morning’s dive was certainly the best and we only spent 25 minutes down in the afternoon.
On getting back to Jubilant we clambered back onboard and rinsed off on the foredeck (pressured fresh water hose on deck, oh the luxury of big batteries and a watermaker!!) With our coffee cups filled from the seemingly never-ending supply, we weighed anchor (huge electric windlass, none of this pulling up by hand business we have to go through) and headed back to the marina after a thoroughly enjoyable day with great company and on a beautiful boat!