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#1 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 04:50 AM

After the cold, green and murky waters of the Orkneys, cluttered with mouldering warships, the northern divers of Digigreen thought about better visibility and barbecues: September in the Maltese Islands!

Gozo_2010_11_089_Blue_Hole_.jpg

Gozo is a small sister to Malta, inhabited for 6,000 years and, like Orkney, home to massive stone monuments from prehistory and a long, long history of warfare. There are also high winds, and diving needs to move around the coastline to exploit the shelter offered by limestone cliffs and deeply incised bays. The buildings of these densely populated islands are still built from the warm, yellow local stone and face inwards away from the midday heat and glare. The food is fresh, vegetables are home-grown; lamb, rabbit, fish and goat's cheese are typical meals and the local wine improves year on year (and after a day's exercise!).

Gozo_2010_02_154_Inland_Sea_.jpg

There is a lot of shore-diving and, although the island is a lot more rugged, it is rather like Bonaire in that the dive shops will hire gear to qualified divers and there are a lot of battered jeeps to hire: many of the dive sites are signposted, but the limestone does make for some interesting entrances to and exits from the water. In September the water temperature was 25C (a respectable 80 F). Some days were calm - some weren't!

Gozo_2010_45_675_Xwejni_Bay_painted_comber.jpg

I flew to Malta and caught the ferry across to Gozo, arguing on my mobile with my credit card company who couldn't seem to cope with the idea of travel from England to another part of the EU. I perched my GPS on the dash of a Suzuki, and eventually wriggled through the narrow streets to find a rather forbidding wall pierced by a small door, behind which was a warren of irregular rooms, lots of pot plants and a delightful kitchen facing onto a curiously deep swimming pool on the edge of a steep valley running south to the blue sea. I joined the German, Swedish, Dutch and English team and had to admit to my new Nauticam - and that it wasn't 100% fit.

Eight days of diving: caves, caverns, clefts and cliffs. Unfortunately, the dive gear has to get up and down some of the cliffs...

... and the steps are steep. A few sites had ladders into the water, particularly by the artificial reefs at Xatt l-Ahmar. Some of the ladders, however, have collapsed into the sea, like the one at Ta'Cenc (the odd names come from an Arabic heritage, rudely terminated and tenaciously resisted by a confederation of European knights from the Middle Ages; their fortresses opposing Turkish reconquest still dominate the skyline of the islands). A leap of faith into the water, but a bit of a struggle to leave at the end of the dive!

Gozo_2010_35_632_Xwejni_Bay_Double_arch.jpg

The highlights: swimming across the lake at the "Inland Sea" to enter a narrow tunnel that reaches over 30m or 100' and the open sea; hunting scorpionfish in Xwejni bay; struggling over a fossil reef to the "Blue Hole", a collapsed cavern, smaller but much more attractive than Belize's famous one; the chimneys of Reqqa point where the cliff just keeps on, down and down into the deep blue and a warren of little passages around the tiny island of Comino, midway between the islands of Gozo and Malta.

Gozo_2010_52_773_Reqqa_Point_.jpg

The lows: driven from north to south, and then south to north as the autumn winds whirled around the passage between Sicily and Libya, we never got to dive the WWII Blenheim bomber at Xorb-il-Gaghin (a challenge at 42m, 140'); hunting across endless Posidonia seagrass for the fabled "Double Arch" at Marsalforn; my impressive Nauticam housing being repeatedly dismantled as the LiveView controls jammed and the leak detector took to going off at random and suffering from the new viewfinder not fitting the old acrylic mounting.

However - this was the result: a little European interest, anyone?

http://www.flickr.co...57624892249969/

I have to thank Sarah for appearing in so many caves, and for modelling for so many photographers; she also, eventually, abandoned her snorkel!!

Tim

:D

Edited by tdpriest, 23 September 2010 - 06:48 AM.


#2 londonsean69

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:27 AM

That's a very skewed question.

Sarah stayed on with us the week after (the YD gig) and whilst the fish quantities are nowhere near the standard of the Red Sea, we had plenty of very nice dives, with enough fish to keep me busy for a week.

Then again, we have all heard the saying "The Med is Dead". Whilst I wouldn't say it's dead, I think people just need to have different expectations of what to expect (thats not a dig directly at you BTW). It's not tropical, so no corals, and the clear water indicates not much plankton, so not a huge amount of smaller fish, which in turn mean not a huge amount of bigger fish.


Nowhere in the Med is going to be a Red Sea beater, but with a 3 hour flight, and dirt cheap diving, I will certainly be heading back.

Cracking photos BTW :D
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#3 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:46 AM

That's a very skewed question.


Thanks! Vote "yes", then!

I think I'm being too clever: my Flickr collection has quite a lot of fish and I was actually thinking that there are more fish than I would have expected having first dived in Gozo twenty years ago. The "no" option is a feeble attempt at wit...

Tim

:D

Edited by tdpriest, 23 September 2010 - 06:50 AM.


#4 londonsean69

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:57 AM

I did a couple of dives in Malta a few years back and wasn't overly impressed.

I went on the YD trip looking on it as practice with the SLR (I've only been using it underwater 5 months!) and was pleasantly surprised. Girlfriend was happy too, which helps.

Certainly at some of the sites, there is a lack of fish, but the scenery makes up for it (Blue hole for instance)

A couple of my efforts;

There really were a load of Combers
Posted Image


The girlfriend
Posted Image


Fish!
Posted Image
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#5 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 07:01 AM

Nice macro, nice wide-angle, nice sunburst!

Just how much have you been practising over the summer?

Tim

:D

#6 londonsean69

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 07:13 AM

Nice macro, nice wide-angle, nice sunburst!

Just how much have you been practising over the summer?

Tim

:D

Thank you :lol:

I did a Martin Edge course in April (that was the first time I used the D90 underwater), well worth it!
7 Dives in Mozambique
4 UK shore dives
4 UK boat dives
3 UK puddle jumps (Wraysbury - yuk)
The Gozo trip

So about 30 dives with it now :)
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#7 Damo

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:23 PM

Gozo is brill...Comino island and her caves are brill.....but............more importantly...........dont forget Malta!!!!!!!!!

She has got some really beautiful dive sites....stuffed with lovely photo oppertunities.....The S.S. Rosi, The S.S. Um El Faroud and the nearby blue grotto boat channel, The P-29(??), Ghar Lapsi, Delimera Point, The Blenheim bomber, .......I dived most of them........but didn't photograph half of them properly!!!!

Visited this island many many times...and have many many memories of diving on her sites.... and would just say....when you cant dive in Gozo...you'll get a dive in Malta!
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#8 tdpriest

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 04:59 AM

....when you cant dive in Gozo...you'll get a dive in Malta!...


errr...

... not exactly.

You can always dive somewhere, but it might not be a great dive (see the non-diving of the Blenheim above). Struggling to ferry divers in jeeps over to Malta isn't the best way to spend a holiday!

If the wind is bad in Gozo, it'll still be bad in Malta. I would go so far as to say that this is why the islands aren't better known as a world-class diving destination.

Tim

:D

Edited by tdpriest, 24 September 2010 - 07:38 AM.


#9 londonsean69

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 06:20 AM

The P-29(??),

We did the P29 as a boat dive from Gozo (I did the nearby reef). It's a fair old swim ou to it from shore, not good fun with a big camera rig.

From the boat, people dropped straight down onto the wreck, then some made their way back to the reef at the end of the dive
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#10 scotdiver

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 04:45 AM

Just came across the thread. My fault for not keeping up to speed with the forums. :-(

I tend to take the opposite view on diving the likes of the P29 in that I prefer diving from the shore. The swim out takes 12 to 15 minutes, but I use that time to reset the old brain to being underwater and to "tune in". The swim back and safety stops on the reef all add to a different set of images as well.

Competing for space on a dive boat with non photographers and trying to protect your camera rig from the occasional oaf trying to sit on top of you is way more stressful.

On the other hand - early or late season boats dives to the likes of Comino Caves can be very rewarding with a big camera rig.

Cheers
Rob
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http://www.lonedolphin.com - the images

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#11 AndyBarker

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 10:02 AM

Hi All,
I have dived Malta quite alot over the years & always have enjoyed them for all sorts of reasons,
when the weather has blown up you will always find somewhere to dive. Both Malta & Gozo I have
mostly dived from the shore. Apart from the Caves & some of the wrecks. I have always dived with
Dive Deep Blue out of Bugibba this dive centre is onec of the best I have ever dived with.I would say
that the most memorable are the Blenhiem Bomber after 6years of going to Malta & the Imperial Eagle.
But saying that I dived the Blue Grotto twice one morning as the weather was so rough & found two
sea horses, in a max depth of 6 meters, all in all great times & I still keep going back.
Regards,
Andy :B):

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#12 tdpriest

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 11:58 AM

And everything is relative: not content with Maltese island weather, Digigreen went to Shetland, for some proper North Atlantic weather this year!

DG goes north: the Shetland Follies

Shetland 2011 Wetpixel trip report

Tim

:B):

Edited by tdpriest, 29 August 2011 - 12:00 PM.


#13 derway

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 06:13 PM

Nice story, good pix. Thanks Tim. You have a gift for gab.
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