A week of great diving in Malta for Sheephaven SAC

A week of great diving in Malta for Sheephaven SAC
Ten members of Sheephaven SAC were on a diving holiday in Gozo, Malta earlier this month, led by John Joe Rowland.

Ten members of Sheephaven SAC were on a diving holiday in Gozo, Malta earlier this month, led by John Joe Rowland.

The group left Dublin early on the morning of Sunday, October 4th, and arrived in Marsalform, Gozo, Malta in the early afternoon.

Diving commenced with Calypso Diving on Monday morning, with a shore dive at the Blue Hole and Chimney. Maximum depth was 33 meters, with a 55-minute surface-to-surface, more than 20 meter in-water visibility and 25 degrees Celsius temperature, with air temperature was also around 25 degrees.

The second and third dives were out and back from the Blue Dome also known as the Cathedral Cave. Once we were in the cave the light under water was very spectacular indeed, with a vivid electrical blue colour. We took time out in the cave and consequently the return recorded up as a dive in its own right.

Tuesday’s diving started from Xhendi cove and its nearby swim through. Similar water conditions as Monday, with a good swim through where we saw an octopus, which was very special indeed and nearby a Moray Eel.

The fifth recorded dive of the trip was at Ras el Hobz, or Middle Finger pinnacle. Good water visibility and the best fish life to date, where we saw more octopus, jacks and a barracuda.

Throughout these dives the entry to the sites was a different experience to what we are used back in home waters, with big jump entries and ladder exits, all of which is quite demanding, particularly if there was any kind of swell.

On Wednesday we had two more shore dives, due to weather conditions preventing our scheduled boat dives to nearby Comino Island, which was very disappointing indeed.

Dive six was to the wreck of the MV Xlendi at Xalt L-Ahmar, an 80-metre ferry that was purpose sunk for a diving attraction, but due to the change in dive sites those on nitrox had the wrong mix, so we had to stay well up above the wreck. The wreck rests upside-down and consequently entry is forbidden.

We stayed well above and completed another 60-minute dive in good visibility of at least 25 metres. Once again entry is by giant leap from the shore, while the exit was by a ladder.

Dive seven on Wednesday afternoon was to Mgarr ix-Xini, and thankfully entry was from a gently sloping beach for a change. Maximum depth at this site was no greater than 15 metres, with water visibility also around 15 metres.

The site is well protected from the swell that had prevented our boat dives and has a sandy seabed; its most interesting feature are two caves, which we had a good look at. The site produced a 69-minute dive, which was great.

Weather on Wednesday was mixed, with a little rain and some wind, but still quite nice.

Thursday produced another two dives, with dive eight to the MV Cominoland, an 80-metre ferry sunk for diving. Maximum depth to seabed is 40 metres, while the deck and companion way are at 36 metres. In-water visibility was excellent at over 25 metres; maximum time was over 50 minutes.

Access is from Xatt L-Ahmar, by way of big step, while exit is up a ladder. It was a good dive, especially as it was the only decent wreck dive of the trip.

Dive nine was the iconic Inland Sea and Tunnel. Fantastic indigo water colour when in the middle of the 80-metre tunnel that leads from the lagoon out to the open water.

Maximum depth was 25 metres with dive time of more than 59 minutes, while visibility in the lagoon was poor; outside it was excellent at over 25 metres. This dive comes highly recommended and it stood up to all the hype: The colours are tremendous and well worth diving in Gozo alone.

Dive ten was at Xwejni Bay on Friday morning, out through the eelgrass lawn for 54 minutes in visibility of 15 meters to a maximum depth of 13 meters.

Some fish life was observed, including a good sized moray eel and a few octopuses. The dive followed a series of gullies and was very relaxing indeed.

We completed our Gozo diving on Friday with the last dive of the trip and dive 11, which was back to the Blue Hole and Inland Sea, which we combined for a surface to surface of 64 minutes, maximum depth 25 metres and he fabulous in-water visibility of at least 30 meters.

At the half-way point we were guided though the chimney that is a dive in its own right. It was a perfect end to our Gozo diving trip, after which it was degassing time in preparation to our flight home on Sunday morning.

We flew out with Ryanair from Dublin to Malta, and Calypso Diving provided our transfers to and from the airport, ferry and to the dive sites, along with air and weights. Eating out on Gozo was excellent and very cost effective.

Diving in Malta has issues with access and egress to the water, and marine life does not compare favourably with the Red Sea; other than that it is wonderful to dive in water temperatures of 25 degrees and comfortably allows for dives of more than an hour, and in-water clarity of up to 30 meters.

Once again a special word of thanks to John Joe Rowland, who organised the trip and kept the whole thing on an even keel through-out the week - well done indeed.