Malta/Comino Expedition July 2016
DSAC Malta and Comino expedition
Veronica, Brian and myself traveled to Malta during their hot season. We were accompanied by my partner and her friend, (land lovers). We also met up with a travel friend in Luqa, Alan Porteous from the Netherlands. An old friend of mine was to meet us at the dive centre, Willie Thomson. All of us had been waiting for this for months. This was to be a Malta/Comino based dive trip.
12th of July 2016. Ryan Air was our transportation to the Malta from Edinburgh. Finally Landing in Luqa airport at a delayed time of 21:45 instead of our scheduled time of 20:15. All 6 of us trundled out of the airport to find our mini van who was to take us to our accommodations. Two apartments, housing three each. After one hot, sweaty and very white knuckled drive to Mellieha, we arrived to find the apartments ready. We then took the next 36 hrs to relax and acclimatize!! Hot is not the word for it!
Day 1 Dive 1
Our dive center was Paradise Dive Center, located at the north of Malta, (35°59’12.5″N 14°19’53.9″E).
One of the few that use boats on the island. Our first dive of the day a boat dive on Comino Reef. Lots of swim through rocks and crags, with a few fish and a Moray Eel. Vis was a lovely 30+m. Dive was to be a 35m depth but spent too long at 20m to go deep, it was a restful dive! Depth 21.2m (Veronica, Brian, Alan and David)
A boat dive at the Blue Lagoon. 14m depth and again full of swim through and a few caves. Alexander Cave was a huge cave but we only went in half way due to the large group of people diving. This was our first days dive finished. Easy going and vis again was 30+m. Beautiful. Depth 14.8m (Veronica, Brian, Alan and David)
Day 2 Dive 3
So day two came around and off we went for shore dives due to the wind picking up over the night-time. Dive one was an hours mini bus, white knuckle trip to Maneol Island wreck. The X127 was a fuel lighter that carried shale oil to the ships in WWII. The ship was bombed in the Marsamxette Harbor Malta. Geared up and ready we did a large stride entry of the dock into murky green waters.
The bow of this wreck sits at 6m and the stern is at 24m. Vis on this dive was low, about 8-10m due to the winds the night before and during the day also. We circled the wreck and had a good swim over it also, then a follow the leader back to the stair exit. On the way back I seen what I think was a Scorpion Fish just sitting under a rock! Maneol harbor itself was littered with broken bottles and rubbish. X127 was interesting but unfortunately murky dive! Depth 22.4m (Alan, Brian and David)
Our second dive of the day was to be another insane drive away. Arriving at the Grand Harbor in Birgu, opposite to Valletta Malta, this was to be another shore dive. This dive was on SS Margit with a depth of 19m. A surface swim to the red buoy in the harbor was a little taxing, and then we grouped up as it was to be a murky dive again.
As we descended, we definitely knew we were in for a murky dive! Less than 2m vis and a group of 10, we had our work cut out for this one. Due to the murk some metals and shapes were seen but of what we could not really tell. Paulina, our guide did her job superbly, as she guided us back to the slipway under water . In the low vis, it was remarkable for her to get us back right on the money! Needless to say this dive was a bust!! So we decided to have the next day off and let the waters settle! Depth 19.8m (Alan, Brian and David)
Day 3 Dive 5
After a great day off and a wee walk about to Popeye Village and the Red Tower in the north of Malta, we were back in the water for a boat dive and off to Lantern Point East on Comino Island.
We dropped in the water and a shallow swim to a chimney and in single file we descended into darkness. Exiting out into a beautiful vista and continued to have multiple swim throughs. Thankfully after the wind, the water had settled and cleared to make it a great dive The dive finishes with a swim through to the Right Arch. Depth 28.4m (Veronica, Brian, Alan and David)
P31 between Comino and Malta. A small patrol ship that was purpose sunk to give new and trainee divers a wreck to dive. It sits at 18m and on a flat bed of sand. This ship was a lovely wreck to swim. The hull and also the main deck had a swim through. Also around the ship was sea grass and baby sting ray. Again great vis!! Depth 19.7m (Veronica, Brian, Alan and David)
My third dive, as everyone was tired, was to the Santa Maria Caves on Comino. Wow was I in for a treat!! These caves had multiple ins and outs. Crags and gullies, this dive turned out to be the second best dive so far. Also the darkness in the caves was amazing and torches at the ready made it so colourful and amazing!! Depth 14m (David)
Day 4 Dive 8
P29 was to be the first dive of the day on Malta! This ship sits at 35m on a flat bed of white sand. A short boat ride around the point to the yellow buoy for the ship. We dropped in and then descended to the bottom. While going down in perfect blue water, the shadow of the ship slowly appeared. Haunting is the only way to explain the view!
We bottomed out at 34m and swam to the bow. The group had a small swim through of the main deck, and a good swim around. There was a Conga Eel on the top mast but I was busy else where. A large caliber mounted gun at the fore of the ship gave great photo opportunities. We then turned east and swam back to the shore to make a slow but gentle swim to the boat. Therefore an amazing dive! Depth 34m (Alan, Brian and David)
Lantern Point West on Comino. At this point we were unfortunately introduced to the Hobbit family! Father, mother, two sons and a daughter, that looked like they bumbled out of the shire! A good laugh was had and then we went diving. We had five swim through and lots of large boulders and a wall to enjoy and the dive was finished off with the Right Arch again! Depth was 26.5m (Veronica, Brian and David)
Crystal Lagoon on Comino. A lovely shallow dive. We dropped in 6m where the dive guide had bread for us to feed the fish. Vee and Brian were like kids!! Happy and excited. We then had a tunnel to go through with amazing colours and stunning light!! We turned right and followed the wall to the Alexander caves but did not go in we did a U-turn and headed back to the tunnel and to the boat! Lovely end to the day! Depth 13.5m (Veronica, Brian and David)
Day 5 Dive 11
The first dive of the day was to be a treat! Malta Inland Sea. This was to be in my top three dives of my holiday. There was a great swim through a shallow entry to a a large open top cavern, the sun spilling in through the water and making the colours come to life! We took a small crack in the wall to the inland sea where we surfaced and could see the boat. descending back down, we enjoyed a different exit to the sea. The cracks and gullies were stunning and the caves amazing! A snake through some of the little caves to the surface and then back to the boat. Depth 22.4m (Brian and David)
Santa Maria Caves. Again I totally enjoyed it! We dropped in and followed the wall to a cave, we had to keep low as the shallow waters into the cave had boats coming and going. On the entry we took a right and into a smaller cave. A swim through to the outer wall and again we took another left into another cave system where it became very dark quick. The group surfaced into a small pool that could be accessed either by water or land. Dropping back down into the darkness, we swam to towards the deep blue light of the entrance and out we went! Turning right, we swam back to an arch that we entered through. And back to the boat! Depth 10.7m (Veronica, Brian and David)
Finally, our last dive of the holiday was to be the Blue lagoon again but with the full Alexander cave swim. Dropping in at 3m we took a short but beautiful tunnel to 8m depth. Swimming to the right and found the Alexander caves. A group of us had been in the mouth of the cave before but never the full extent. We swam in and in the brief were told that torches were needed. And with in 1 minute they were needed. Darkness fell and torches on to show a sandy white bottom and brightly coloured ceiling. Following the cave to the end where we ascended to an underground pool with air.
Stopping in the pool, we had a wee talk and told there are small fishers in the rocks to allow air in. We then descended again into total darkness. Torches on again and followed the dive guide out. The cave mouth came into view and the blue hue of light filtered in was stunning. Heading straight out and around the large boulders, we came to an overhanging with a beautiful garden. Then back through the small tunnel to the boats to end it all. Depth 15.6m (Brian and David)
This was our Matla Expadition July 2016
Veronica Taylor, Brian Webster, Alan Porteous, William Thomson and David Craigie.