For a mid summer dive trip this year 6 members of BSAC 42 chose to visit the Mediterranean island of Malta. A place long steeped in history, a site of importance to any Empire wishing to lay claim to ‘control of the Mediterranean Sea’ Malta has been fought over, besieged, conquered, re-conquered & occupied for thousands of years, by at least 11 different Countries & Empires!
From the Phoenicians to Britain during the Cold War, Malta has been a naval base of critical importance. So although we had no ideas about capturing anything more than some hours underwater & a suntan …… it was with great anticipation that we jumped on an Air Malta flight at Gatwick to make our short 3 hour flight to the sun!
Sally had arranged everything for us, all we had to do was to turn up with our dive kit, some tee shirts & a valid passport, on time to check in! Literally everything else was laid on for us! Teresa, Ian, Paul, Fiona & myself all had a completely relaxed trip due to Sally’s preparation & efforts.
We based ourselves in the coastal resort of Bugibba using Dive Deep Blue Malta as our guides. They are a well organised & efficient set up. With their guidance, we elected to dive twice each day, at a start time of our choosing! All we had to do, was select our tanks & weights, jump in their wagon & off we went! It really was that simple!
Day 1. We chose to dive the Tugboat Rozi a lovely little wreck sitting in 35m of lovely clear, warm water. It was a great scenic dive. With Ian taking the opportunity to finish of the very last of his Sports Diver qualification skills! Second dive was along the reef next to the wreck. Lots to see & plenty of time to see it!
Day 2. Was a very chilled out day. Leisurely late start kicking off with a dive on the Al Faroud. A 100m long oil tanker sunk deliberately in 36m. As we had come to expect the water was warm & clear. Visibility was comfortably in excess of 30m & it was so warm that there was no need for hoods nor gloves! Wreck was teeming with fish & we had the whole thing to ourselves. On our second dive Paul & Fiona elected to re-visit the wreck as there was still an awful lot left to see, while the rest of us explored the reef, arches & wall adjacent to it. We had Nudibranchs, octopus, fish, fish & more fish! Beautiful! Our late start now making sense ….. as we chilled in a sea front restaurant, letting the stunning sunset unfold before, us ahead of an eagerly anticipated night dive! Dive 3. Was brilliant, a gentle hour bumbling along, mooching amongst the night time critters, trying & mostly succeeding, in NOT shining our torches in our Buddy’s eyes! A very nice way to end a very good day!
Day 3. We asked the dive guides to take us to what they would call the Signature Dives on the Island! So, no pressure there then! Did they disappoint? Not in the least! First dive was on Patrol Boat P29. Deliberately sunk in 33m of water about 200m out from shore. This wreck is a classic. Upright on a sandy bottom, intact, safe to enter & a very very nice dive! Pretty much a perfect wreck dive. Our second & final dive included a visit to the Sunken Madonna then a mooch along the reef & up over the shallows! Brilliant. A fantastic way to end the underwater phase of the trip!
The diving was all made very easy by our Guides. They knew what they were doing, excellent dive skills, great local knowledge & always made us feel like friends! If you are thinking of visiting Malta? then Dive Deep Blue Malta should be first on your list of partners to use.
Although this was not primarily a ‘Training’ holiday. We still achieved some notable goals over the trip: Ian Qualified as a Sports Diver. He smoothly eased into some depth progression over 30m, did his first night dive & managed to stretch his air to allow his first ever 60 minute dive! So thank you to everybody who made these milestones possible!
Our last day on the Island was officially for ‘Off gassing’ & kit drying, but Sally is never one to sit still, when there is 2,000 years of history to explore on our doorstep ……. so she arranged a private guided walking tour of Valetta, with a local guide/history teacher Mario! It was superb ….. his love & in depth knowledge of his home town shone through, with every step there were sights & stories & facts & marvels …… he made the place live! A very fitting end to a wonderful trip.
But what about the non diving stuff I hear you ask ….. well …. did we have a good time OUT of the water? Yes indeed we did. The group was excellent, we ate in a different place every night, with somebody new tasked with finding a restaurant each evening! This was not really that hard as it sounds as there were literally hundreds to choose from. Food & drink is cheaper than in London & the climate conducive to Al Fresco dining. In Bugibba everything is within walking distance & the streets are safe & the atmosphere friendly!
The only slightly unusual things that happened are more down to us, than the island. Firstly. The weather was hot, nudging 30 degrees! then it warmed up ….. & the next day got a bit warmer again! Except … when we asked Teresa to just quickly confirm tomorrows weather please, from the BBC, on her phone! Only for her to tell us all that its all changed & we can now expect 17 Degrees & heavy showers! ‘What!’ we all cried …. with not a coat or waterproof hat amongst us! ‘Oh yes’ she says ‘looks like its all changing!’ ……… ‘how disappointing!’ ‘Are you sure?’ we asked……….. ‘oh yes! its the BBC.’ We are told, with us all looking very sad, until we managed to look at her phone ourselves … to find out that Teresa had read out….. & believed…. the weather forecast for Anglesey in North Wales!!!!! I will admit that our reactions were just a tad influenced by maybe just a couple of beers ….. but everyone in the Hotel bar looked our way as we all collectively fell off our chairs laughing! Good times. Secondly, Fiona (our superb trip photographer) is vegetarian. Which is no problem at all on Malta, but not straight forward. The only impact on the group was that we gave Fi first glance at any potential restaurant’s menu, just to confirm there was something on there that caught her eye! Some we bypassed, but not many. Except ….. & this caused many a smile between us all (including Fi herself) that whatever vegetarian option where on ANY of the menus ….. after much umm-ing & arr-ing ….. Fiona ALWAYS ordered a mushroom pizza! every time! so surveying the menu wasn’t really that critical … it would seem! Although we all conceded that they do make VERY nice pizzas on Malta!
So in summary: Is Malta a good place to go diving? Yes. Is it easy to get too? Yes. Easy to eat & drink & enjoy yourself? Yes.
But most importantly: Is BSAC 42 & in particular, Fiona, Teresa, Sally, Ian & Paul great people to go away with? Yes ….. completely & utterly they are! & would you go again?
Unreservedly …… Yes!
Clive D. 12.08.18