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2011-11-08: Lanzarote

Here is a copy of my report I posted over on the Potteries Divers website ...
Calipso Diving
After booking my holiday in Lanzarote (Costa Teguise), I decided to book a day diving. An internet search threw up several Dive Centres. I wanted a BSAC savvy place and cross-referencing with my dive magazines I homed in on Calipso Diving. After a few emails (prompt and informative responses from Calipso) I booked a day where I could do 3 dives. This gave me a RIB dive, a shore dive and a night dive ... a great cross-section for my first dives abroad. After drawing a blank with the BSAC endorsed Travel4Scuba, I got some competative dive insurance from Westfield. I was taking my snorkel kit anyway (mask, fins, boots), so I threw in a torch and my dive computer ... the rest I would hire from Calipso.

Calipso arrived bang on time at 8:45am to pick me up from my hotel. Since their office was only around the corner we arrived in no time. My experience had been discussed via email but they took the time to talk to me about it again during the filling out of the obligatory waiver form. They picked me some kit and packed it in a box ready to go. I made them aware that me and weight-belts do not get on. It would have been nice to have been offered an integral weight BCD, or maybe a weight harness. However, a weightbelt was put together (which I wasn't really happy with) and we were ready for the off.

Six divers (four paying customers and two guides) set off in the Calipso minibus for a small harbour at Puerto del Carmen. We would be heading out on a RIB and diving on a collection of wrecks called the Los Erizos Wrecks, located just outside the commercial harbour. The head honcho, Peter, buddied me with him, which was very reassuring for me. The briefing was followed by kitting up and buddy checks. We boarded the RIB as it arrived and immediately my weight-belt fell around by knees. To his credit, Peter spotted the problem and immediately got me to ditch the belt and put the weights in my BCD pockets, which suited me better and returned my confidence. Only eight minutes to the dive site, we exited the RIB and gathered by the harbour wall. We descended down the harbour wall to about 12m and headed off towards the wrecks. On reaching the corner of the harbour, the great visibility meant the closest wreck, a large steel transport, just opend up before us. We swam out from the harbour past this wreck (which we would visit on the way back) and headed down to a deeper funneled vessel at round 35m. Our route took us around the top of this wreck (about 32m) in a big ascending loop back to the large transport that we had swam past on our way down, the bow of which overhangs a ledge. We spent most of the dive exploring the transport ship, which was on it's side at about a 45 degree angle. We explored the deck and penatrated into the large empty hull, where my torch came in handy. A slow ascent back to the harbour wall via the wreck with a 3 minute safety stop at 6m. I was so fascinated by the wreck that I couldn't tell you what wildlife I had seen ... apart from the small jellyfish that seemed to gravitate to us at the safety stop. Stings avoided we popped to the surface an clambored back aboard the RIB via a ladder at the rear. Back to the small harbour, de-kit and back in the minibus for the half hour trip back to Costa Teguise. Back at their base, we washed out our kit and hung it to dry. It was then only a 5 minute walk for me back to my hotel and lunch.

The second dive was in the afternoon when we headed off to see the Mala Lava Flows. However, only at the last minute were we told that this part of Mala was a nudist resort ... the images will trouble me for some time to come. After briefing, kitting and checks we all waddled off to the rocky shoreline. 50+ steps took us down to a rock platform with metal ladder in to the sea. This time I was buddied with dive-guide Ian. A giant step had us bobbing around in a lively swell .. and a quick glimpse of the only fit bird on full show. A quick drop to about 6m and out over a sandy bed to a ledge dropping off to around 18m at the deepest. This was a scenic dive with the route taking us around some lava flow formations. At one point we all navigated a small swim-through with ease. Out onto the outer sea bed we could see a pack of Baracuda hovering just on the edge of our vis, presumably hunting for lunch. Peter lifted up some Electric Rays hidden in the sand, using his fins so as not to get a shock. We looped back to stepped lava flows an a gradual ascent, spotting an Octopus hiding in a crevis. The more observant of us saw much more, I was just happy finning around and trying not to be the first to run out of air. Back to the shallow sea-bed for our 6m safety stop, which was a bit of a struggle for me as I was a little under-weighted ... the swell and numerous jellyfish adding to the fun. Once up the ladders and out, we did the descent thing and told the naked Germans about all the jellyfish. Another half hour back to base, wash kit and off for some tea.

The last dive of the day was to be a night dive around part of The Harbour Wall. After paying the bill and collecting my souviner t-shirt I headed off with Dan and my buddy Kieran back to the small harbour at Puerto del Carmen (which we had visited earlier in the day). Dan briefed us in the minibus and the timing was perfect, allowing us to catch the sunset as we kitted up ... and darkness just as we'd finished, as if on cue. The brief was simple, a shallow dive, no more than 12m, pootling up the harbour wall and back, scanning with our torches as we went. At night all the predators are out and the fish hide away as best they can. I think this was my favorite dive of the day. Shining the torch along the sea-bed showed up a carpet of millions of Anenomes (aptasia). Octopus (we saw 5), long and thin, streaking along with a purpose. Sea Hares forraging on rocks and Arrow Crabs tucked under them. At one point we stopped and, as briefed, put our lights to our chest and flapped our arms .. at which point the water lit up as the tiny suspended creatures bio-lumineced (if that's the word). Back at the harbour we were climbing out when Kieran spotted an Angel Shark. Back in we went and caught it up. We managed to follow it for a short while, until it shot off out of torch-range ... a brilliant end to a great day diving.

In all, a very enjoyable experience, and my first in foriegn waters. After exclusively diving in the UK, the warm clear waters of Lanzarote were a whole new experiance. Calipso Diving were great hosts; friendly, jovial, accomodating and competent ... I would definately reccommed them to anyone visiting the region. (Take your own water as there was none provided.)