Glass of Portimão Anyone?
On Sunday 2nd July 2017 22 members and spouses congregated at Gatwick to try the new Len Hards diving trip to the Algarve. None of us had dived this area before and had no expectations of the trip except, perhaps, for the fine weather. The Tivoli Marina Hotel in Portimão was to be our home for the next week with the first day at leisure enabling us to transfer our diving equipment to Subnauta Dive Centre.
On Tuesday all our cylinders were laid out ready for use along with our equipment if we had brought it along. Every Nitrox cylinder was tested and the mix signed off prior to boarding. Following a comprehensive briefing we all piled onto a series of electric golf buggies for the trip to the harbour.
Our diving was to be onto a series of four former Portuguese naval ships previously cleaned and sunk as artificial reefs. The first was a dive onto the frigate Hermenegildo Capelo, the largest of the wrecks. All of these wrecks were firmly buoyed so descent was straightforward from the bow of the dive boat. It quickly became obvious that the two main concerns were the water temperature, it varied from 16°C to around 19°C, and the poor visibility, starting at around 1 metre and by the end of the week could be as much as 5 metres.
Despite this the diving was worthwhile and enjoyed most of the time and each wreck had a high volume of sea life around and on it.
The wrecks varied in size from the Ocean Patrol Zambeze at 44 metres long to the frigate Hermenegildo Capelo at 102 metres long.
During our explorations we were split into teams of four and each team had a local dive guide from Subnauta to take us through the paces of each wreck.
Fish life was plentiful on each dive site, the problem was the visibility. This did improve through the week but we only got about five metres on the last day.
One of the wildlife pluses was a profusion of octopi on the wrecks. Each one seemed to be camped on a pile of discarded shells so this made it easier to locate them. On one dive some of us were lucky enough to see two fighting fiercely over their territory.
There was the chance for some wreck penetration for those that wished to try. Reports were that the visibility was much improved inside. The downside was the size of some of the swim through access holes. Whilst Jackie Maskell was able to ease her way though one particular entry Ian Angus had to be forced through with the help of the next diver. It would seem that Ian’s dignity was slightly dented by the experience!
Along the long sandy beach there were ranged many restaurants and they often were able to copy with most food allergies without difficulty. It was also a great place for non divers to relax either round the pool or to take trips around the area. The only down sides to the diving was the poor visibility on the dive sites and the rather cool water temperature.
However, all in all a great trip and thanks to Len for all his efforts in organising it.
(Ed. Big shout out to David Nicholson our very own Membership Secretary, for such a great write up! Thanks David!)