Meeting at Heathrow T4 for our Air Malta flight the 9 of us checked in for the Aquanaut Malta Trip 2013. Our great group consisted of Matt, Brian, Martin, Cathy, Jon, Anna, Nick, Paula and Emile. 8 divers although Cathy was very poorly, so couldn’t dive, and one non-diver. Our flight with Air Malta was relatively uneventful and a smooth transfer to our hotel, the 3 star Topaz in St. Pauls Bay. The hotel is situated just round the corner from Scubatech who we rented our cylinders and kit and organised the vehicle hire for us.
Our first diving day saw us take on a couple of check out dives just to blow off any lingering cobwebs. We did two great reef dives straight off the shore from Cirkewwa in the north of the island, checking the nooks and crannies for scorpion fish, morays and octopus.
Our second day was back to Cirkewwa, this time to venture a little deeper to the famous wreck of the Tug Boat Rozi. Purposely sunk in about 34m of water to her keel and cleaned to be diver safe, she’s the perfect wreck for penetration and exploration. For our second dive of the day we split in to two groups with Billy taking Martin and Emile to the wreck of the P29 whilst the rest of us stayed on the reef to check out the sea life, with an abundance of small fish, crustaceans and starfish being found. Our exit from the water was complicated by the waves having picked up whilst we were down! So with masks on and regs in we all safely scrambled out of the water with the help of another group of divers. Good Submariners!
Thursday turned out to be a less than ideal day for diving as overnight the wind had picked up and so we had difficulty finding anywhere to dive. Final with Billy and Sophie’s expert guidance we found a suitable dive at Zonqor Point, diving the wrecks of two tugboats, St. Michael and 10. Unfortunately the visibility had dropped because of the weather, however we persevered and most of us found the second wreck, although not all made it! A nice easy dive over a sloping reef out to the wreck of the 10 at about 20m then a left turn and a fairly long swim to the St. Michael then back to shore. Again both of these wrecks had been on purpose for divers. Once at the exit point the fun and games began in earnest, the wind and waves having picked up again. However all lost fins, weight pouches and stranded divers were recovered with only minor bumps and scrapes! Oh the hazards of shore diving. After this experience we decided to call it a day as the weather was only getting worse, so we headed to Marsascala for a spot of lunch and a cold beer!
Again on Friday the wind was slightly up so we headed to one of Malta’s sister islands, the beautiful Gozo. We had planed to dive the Inland Sea and the Blue Hole however it was like a washing machine and undivable so we took a few photos and headed off to the other side of the island to Red Bay. Again we split into two groups with Billy, Matt and Brian heading to the wrecks of the Cominoland and the Karwela whilst the rest of the group had a great dive on the reef looking for sea horses and sea hares led by Sophie. For our second dive we travelled up the road to Mgarr Ix Xini where we had lunch at the beautiful bay then headed out to dive it. A full 60min run time followed for all, taking in caves, cuttle fish, morays, starfish, scorpion fish and the odd sand fight. A great dive to end our day on Gozo with. And so back to the ferry, home, and more cold beer!
For our last diving day we chartered a traditional Maltese boat for two dives off Comino, the smallest of the Maltese islands. A beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and hardly a breath of wind to speak of. Our first dive was at the Comino Caves, with the first 10 minutes spent in a feeding frenzy of saddle bream and bread the rest of our dive was spent exploring the many caves and arches that make up this beautiful cove. Once all were safely back onboard after dodging the carpet of jellyfish on the surface, we chugged round the corner to the idyllic crystal lagoon. Although very busy made a perfect place for lunch and a great holiday snap. So back on the boat and off to our next dive another purpose sunk ship the P31. A lovely final dive with buddies sent off to explore the wreck as they liked, some great photos the result. One last time the group emerged from the stunning blue sea, all safe and full of great stories.
This trip to Malta was a great success with everyone having a great time. My thanks again to the team at Scubatech, in particular Billy and Sophie and the great group of people who made this trip such fun.
By Matt Noel (before jetting off to work in Bermuda!!)