James Bubble Blog No.1

James & Amelia Gould
Tue 7 Aug 2007 10:55
James' Bubble Blog No. 1

As I have finally managed to get some diving done, I thought it would be
appropriate to start a section for fellow bubble-heads out there. I'd like
to apologise in advance for descriptions such as 'blue fish' and 'spiny
lobster thingy' but my marine environment knowledge is not what it should be
(anyone who knows a good fish book divided into areas of the ocean and with
lots of pretty pictures, please let me know!). I was lucky in Porto Santo
as there was a dive-school very close by (based in the Clube Nautico) so
after a day at anchor I went along to try and book some diving. The
response was typically Portuguese: if you want to come along just turn up at
0930. So I did so the following morning. The diving school seemed more
like a club and I was diving with a group of Portuguese guys who seemed to
have dived together a lot. After a cursory dive brief (diving on a reef
wall, go down the anchor line, go west until you reach the wall, follow it
and go south at the end, Max depth 34m) we kitted up and headed back to the
Marina to load up the rather posh RIB. It was on the way to the boat that I
was attached to a buddy pair as the third number (they were both diving on
Nitrox which made things a little interesting towards the end). One buddy
was called Jesus so I felt relatively safe, although his buddy said that he
preferred diving with Jesus' dad! For those interested, I dived in a 5mm
full wet-suit and hood and was toasty throughout.

The cursory dive brief was just the start of a rather 'relaxed' dive. As
soon as the RIB lay back on the anchor, we all got kitted up and as I turned
around to Jesus and my other buddy to do a Buddy Check I found they were
already in the water. Oh well, maybe they just forgot me. All was well at
the surface and we quickly descended underwater, leaving our guide behind.
But hey, my buddies had done this dive loads of times so they must be ok,
right?! We reached the bottom at 20m and I followed Jesus. I was a little
confused as he was going East, still he said he knew the reef so I just
followed. The reef was volcanic and was an undulating landscape with plenty
of life with some Surgeon Fish (I think) and some Blue Wrass (fairly
confident on that one) and a great deal of Parrot Fish as well as lots of
other colourful fish around the blobs of lava. Visibility was excellent and
one of the reasons I wasn't so worried about the strange route we were
taking was that, even at 34m, the boat was clearly visible on the surface.
The dive continued with me following my buddies and generally enjoying being
underwater again. There was still no sign of what I would call a wall, but
never mind, maybe something was lost in translation. After about 25 minutes
at around 30m I was down to 90 bar so I indicated to my buddies that we
should maybe start heading back towards the anchor. They agreed and I led
the way back. When we got closer I saw the bubbles of the other divers in
the group so went over to see them, and found the wall! By this time I was
down to about 70 bar and was up at 25m so I only got a chance to have a look
at the top of the wall before I was in danger of busting my
non-decompression limits. But as my buddies were on Nitrox they didn't seem
worried. I signalled that I was off and started towards the surface where
the other divers (also on Nitrox) were heading already. Everyone made it up
ok, although my buddies were down to about 30 bar when they surfaced. Jesus
was very apologetic about going the wrong way, but I wasn't all that
bothered as I had a great time and was pleased just to be under water again.
But the jokes from the other divers about 'following Jesus' came thick and
fast in Portuguese and English!

Spurred by my first dive in too long, Amelia and I decided to go snorkelling
the following day along the beach side of the marina breakwater. Once again
the water was gin-clear, but this time we weren't wearing wet-suits so about
45 minutes was enough. The breakwater is made of a mixture of rocks and
giant concrete 'jacks' which provided plenty of hidey holes for fish, crabs,
sea urchins and more and we saw nearly as many fish as I had during my dive.
I enjoyed skin diving down to take a peak.

Overall, I would say Porto Santo is a pretty good diving destination and
there is an artificial reef wreck which is supposed to be excellent, but
unfortunately I didn't get a chance to explore it.