Day 5 – Tue 25 May 2010
Now needless to say that the mother of all hangovers followed and the next morning was painful and Unpleasant altogether. Our plan to meet at 8 at the TEC LAB to sort out the kit of those who were leaving that day (Mike, Alex, Andris and Sean) clearly didn’t happen. I vaguely remember having this conversation with our gracious leader (Mr Toomer) and suggesting that we should move our start time to something later and Paul was like: “Yes how about 9 o clock?” hm…
Well we did met sometime later that morning and after a hearty brunch (no one of us made it up in time for breakfast at the hotel) we got to the TEC LAB feeling quite BROKEN!
As soon as the guys that were leaving got their kit sorted myself and Adam started the IANTD Normoxic Trimix powerpoint presentation Marathon. Paul was trying really hard to stimulate our interest with complicated maths and perplexing physiology for 3rd year medicine students!!! Now that is probably just me being a geek but I loved it!!! And honestly I can not understand why they do not teach that stuff from the beginning I mean I dive because I love diving and yes I want to know more about what is going on down there from what happens to my body to how to plan my dives. But it is probably just me…
Having finished with the coursework we decided that that was enough for a day and myself and Adam (the only ones left) went to back to Huggins for a very large glass of Orange Juice and Lemonade!!!
Day 6 – Wed 26 May 2010
Bright and early and feeling very healthy (unlike yesterday morning) we met Paul at the TEC LAB and went to Divewise to get our cylinders and go diving!!! Once we got there Paul had a quick chat with the Alex who was going to dive the Bristol Beaufighter and came up with a “Fancy a Boat Dive today lads???” to which of course there was a unanimous YEEEES!!!!
Got our kit ready and waited for the boat to arrive listening to an UBER hot Maltese singing in what looked like a rehearsal for a wedding reception at Dragonara (memo: find out more about singer!!!)
Once the boat was on site we jumped in the water and swam to it (the rock reef did not allow the boat to approach any closer) and boarded the boat. This time I had learned my lesson and my dry suit hose was not connected to the dry suit saving me the embarrassment (not for long though). Within minutes we were given the OK to dive and jumped in. Hasty as usual when Owen said Toomer in for some bizarre reason I thought: “Fine I am going in!” and as you can guess I found myself with my head under Paul’s Rebreather (Big painful boom followed) and can safely confirm that my (empty otherwise) skull survived the collision against the Sentinel!!!
Once back on surface with Danny and Owen commenting on my fantastic entry (no I am not going to write it here what they said) we started our descent. Although there is not much of the plane left the view is spectacular visibility was endless and it is really nice to be able to see it from above and slowly descent to it. We had a look around the fuselage, found a morey eel and a look inside the gun and with loads of bottom time to go we decided to go and have a look around the wreck for anything else… Didn’t found anything exciting and we made our way back.
With all the party people gone and Maxim enjoying his romantic holiday with Clare that left me and Adam (whom I don’t think he shares my enthusiasm for booze!) at Huggings working through our exam papers (fun times). Although situation looked a bit desperate the arrival of GLUG in Divewise helped things to get back to normal!
Day 7 – Thu 27 May 2010
There were a few people having a pleasant stroll at the quay at Poppay Village that Thursday morning and a few divers as well. And I bet you that when they saw us arriving they all though “BLOODY HELL!!!” how deep are these guys going??? We were going diving in full combat dress twin 12s and two 11 lt aluminium stages each!!! Yeah we looked COOL!!!
What they didn’t know is that we were kitted up and planned to dive for one hour at 6 meters!!! Yes more skill circuit! and although it was a bit silly having all that kit on to dive at six meters it was also really cool J Shut downs, gas switching, out of air drills, out of air drills with no mask and my buddy fining away from me!, Buoyancy Control Device failures, trying to maintain neutral buoyancy with all forms of buoyancy control lost and Paul dropping cylinders to us from the surface!!! Pretty cool stuff and I loved every minute of it! Apart from my exit when I got stuck in the ladder because I just couldn’t get through with my stages hanging from my sides J (Everyone else thought it was funny!!!)
Having completed all our training we were ready to go diving again and the plan was to dive “The Stubborn”! Now the HMS Stubborn is a notorious dive because I do not think that I know any diver who managed to dive it the first time they set out to do it. This may sound strange but something happens every time. I know divers who had to try three times and still failed to dive her. Suppose it goes with the name you have to be Stubborn to let you dive her. Anyway we planned our dive and our best Trimix and left the cylinders for filling. That night we decided to go for dinner at Huggins (for a change J). Now partly because of the presence of GLAG, partly because as Paceville approaches the weekend more groups arrive studying, revising or doing any exam papers was not the option and I believe that at that point having all of our course notes and exam papers we said that’s it! Time to close the books and order a well deserved pint of CISK!!!
Day 8 – Fri 28 May 2010
Friday’s morning was rather stressful because although our plan was ready and we were early to collect the gas and we had plenty of time to go to meet the boat our gases were off! We were expecting something around 20/30 for back gas and 30, 70 for our stages and instead of that we got hypoxic trimix on our back gas and 26, 50 for our stages. No one was particularly amused and although the guys at the filling station did their best to sort it out it was just not happening so we had to call Danny and tell him that we can not make it in time and that they should leave without us L
Quite disappointed we got back our cylinders filled with Normoxic (20/22 and 32, 70) mixtures this time and decided to head off to Gozo and dive there instead. Call me superstitious if you like but I was not upset I was a bit disappointed but I was not surprised You can not dive the Stubborn first time! It is the norm. It is the way of things in life. We will go back there again and we will dive her another time when she is happy with us!
While we were on the jetty waiting the ferry to board getting quite excited about diving the deep wrecks in Gozo the Paul’s phone rang and within seconds Paul was seriously agitated and he was looking at a way out of there (Mind you at the time we were in the queue waiting to board the ferry that has just got to the port and card were disembarking!!!). Having completed the call with Danny he turned around and said: “do you want to dive a new dive site?!” There was no thinking behind that!!! Myself, Adam and Hayden were like: F*&£! yes!!! Apparently the sonar at Danny and Owens boat picked up something on their way back from the Stubborn and they were wondering what could it be! So there we are thinking We are going to find a new wreck (although Paul hinted that we may end up diving over rocks…).
Quick u-turn and we are all very excited about diving a new site and by that time the mornings grief and stubborn were a distant memory!!! Once we arrived at the jetty Danny and Owen were already there waiting for us and quickly loaded everything and went out to find our new wreck!!! Owen dropped the shot and soon we were in the water. Visibility was great and it didn’t took long to see the bottom. Inspite the fact that we couldn’t see anything all our attention was focused on the sea bed trying to find something, anything. Paul took his spool out and started reeling off the shot line. We managed to do a half circle search at a 30 m radius (we know it was 30 m because Pauls reel run out of line!!!) and according to our schedule we started our ascent. Although we didn’t find anything it was a really really bizarre site because although there was sea weed at the sea bed there was nothing around the shot line for some reason there was a circle (about 30 m) around the shot line where nothing grew and outside that there was sea weed. Also loads of pieces of cloth or fabric.
Although I was disappointed because we didn’t find anything I was oh so excited about this was my first exploration dive and one of my best dives EVER! I am up for doing it again and again and again anytime!!!
Having had a great day out we went back to the TEC LAB and sorted out kit for tomorrow. The filling station guys made sure that our gases and for tomorrow were ready and were also kind enough not to charge for any gases we used that day which was very nice of them J. We agreed to meet at Huggins for dinner and for a last drink since Maxim and Clare were flying the next day and that would be their last night in Malta.
Day 9 – Sat 28 May 2010
Having had only a couple of drinks the night before and an early night and a massive Nutella and Banana crepe!!! we met at the TEC LAB, picked up our (19/29 twinset and 32 and 64 stages) and headed off to Marsa Scala to meet with Danny and Owen. The weather was a bit overcast and choppy and that got Adam very worried because he does not enjoy rough seas!!! Fortunately things were not that bad and the reason Danny and Owen were wearing their lifejackets had more to do with the coastguard patrol boat they encountered earlier rather than the rough sea!!! Still by the time we got to the dive site Adam was rather pale!
Owen had a bit of a trouble shooting the wreck (but more details on that later) and that didn’t help Adam who was turning paler and paler!!! As soon as Owen was happy with the shot we got in the water and started our long descent (my longest decent definitely!) Visibility was fairly good and I believe that the wreck revealed herself to us at around 30 meters and at that point I new I my heart beat had gone up, my breathing rate was off the scale I was overwhelmed with owe from what I saw!!! Le Polynesien is about 150 m long and lies slightly listed on her port side, with the masts lying in the same direction. Loads of openings that were crying to me “come in… come in…” and the bottom was at least 5-10 meters further down!!! As soon as we got to 60 m we could see what gave Owen so much grief when he was trying to soot the wreck. The shot line had gone through a handrail and got tangled up pretty badly. This is why he was feeling the line to be loose but in fact he would have never managed to lift it (unless he brought up the wreck with him!!!) So as soon as we untangled the shot line we headed to the stern section and continued our dive. Sixteen minutes later we started our ascent and swiched to 30% Nitrox at 30 m and then to 70% Nitrox at 20 completed our decompression stops at the trapeze that Owen and Danny had very kindly deployed for us. At that trapeze and while at deco I saw Paul pulling out his wet notes and writing something and I was like “what is it now???” but he turned the slate round and then much to my delight I saw:
“WELCOME TO THE TRIMIX CLUB”
Yes at that point I was a very but really very happy bunny !!!
Once back on the boat I was an uber happy technical diver who had just returned from my most challenging and advanced dive ever and by far the best wreck dive I have dived so far!!!
After many congratulations and handshakes we made it back to Marsa Scala were we waved good bye to Owen and agreed with Danny to come and meet us at Huggins for dinner to celebrate our first day in the Trimix Club!!!
In the evening the whole gang met up at Huggins and the usual festivities commenced loads of (fairly average but reasonable priced food) and CISK to be followed by more CISK, shots and shisha at PLUSH (which I successfully managed to dodge!) and not too late went to bed.
Day 10 – Sun 29 May 2010
The plan for Sunday was that we would go for a fun dive an nice shallow dive around the caverns of Poppey Village now primarily because it was pissing down with rain, it was windy and we were substantially hangover we decided to abort mission and take it easy. So under heavy rain went to Divewise to say goodbye to them and then to Huggins for a drink (more orange juice and lemonade).
Late enough headed to the TEC LAB to sort out my kit and return Paul’s kit and also sign my name on the TEC LAB WALL OF FAME!!! which was probably the coolest part of the whole trip!!! I mean my name goes on the wall next to serious divers that I have seen diving and thought “When I grow up I want to be like him” !!!
After that and on my way back to the hotel I stopped and got my lunch for Mr Maxims because no one should leave Malta without trying a pea-pie from Mr Maxims!!!
Surprisingly I did not spent my last night at Huggins drinking CISK but instead found myself with very good company in cinema watching Russell Crow failing miserable to convince as Robin Hood!!! and went back to the hotel early because I had a silly early flight to catch.
All and all it was a great 11 days. Did the most intensive diving training I have ever done in my life and I did actually got away having learned what I always wanted how to dive deeper and longer, how to plan and execute dives and how to have fun with my mates.
At the same time it was a great holiday with my mates with loads of drinking and loads of fun (hangovers and very embarrassing very drunken dancing antiques!) I made new friends and now I am only looking forward to go back and do it again!!!
Many thanks to Divewise for sorting out accommodation and transport
to Danny and Owen for the great boat trips
to Diving Leisure London Crew for making diving fun
to Alex for bringing DLL in Malta at the same time with me and being a great dive buddy
to Mike, Maxim, Sean and Adam for being the coolest course mates anyone could hope for (& guys I will dive with you guys again anytime!!!)
and of course many thanks to Paul Toomer and Diving Matrix for an awesome experience