Ibiza – May

Five Putney BSAC divers ventured to the “White Island” of Ibiza in May, known for hippy culture in the 60s and raves in the 90s and beyond. Despite some jocular comments at the HYC that “larging it at Pasha” can not be logged as a dive, there is also some excellent underwater activity to be had in the marine reserves and wrecks, including the extremely impressive Don Pedro, a 160m container ship wrecked in 2017.

We dived with Scuba Ibiza, a dive operator in the Marina Botifac. Paulo and the team operate a large commercial RHIB with the berth by the dive shop. The cost of the diving for the three days was €209 (plus €10 fuel surcharge) .

With sea temperatures around the 17-18 degree area, there was some debate as to what to wear, with the party splitting between wet and dry suits. Both parties seemed to be perfectly comfortable with the usual advantages and disadvantages of both types of protection. Should we return later in the year (and we might!), it will be very much a wet suit environment.

The first day’s diving was requested to be relatively easy and a “shake-down” before the deeper adventures on day two and three. It proved a little more challenging than we would have liked with a circumnavigation of the small island of Malvi Gross, just off shore from Platja de’Bossa. Wind and moderate-to-rough sea conditions also caused some additional challenges. Helen had some problems with her BCD inflator and abandoned the dive early, ably assisted by her buddy Paul. The rest of us pushed on round but ended the dive on low gas after a long swim (by UK standards). The second day’s dive, on a shallower profile and smaller island proved easy going.

Day two saw the weather ease and the team head over towards Espardell , near Formentera to dive La Patforma, a huge sunken concrete structure, originally used as a fish farm before sinking in the mid-nineties. The structure lies between 12 and 32 meters, and is teeming with wildlife; eel, lobster (I think slipper lobster) , scorpion fish and a huge shoal of barracuda. The structure is very photogenic and the dive was enjoyed by all.

The third day’s diving was the big wreck dive; the Don Pedro, which sank quite recently, in 2007. Some salvage has been performed but the wreck lies intact propellers and many features visible. The holds can be penetrated and there are swim-throughs of various lengths. We dived on Nitrox 29, using 15l cylinders. The first dive took us down to the upper deck, and then to the propellers at around 35m. We did not have much time to spare (it was a no-deco dive) so a quick trip round the stern and up to a shallow profile on the upper rail before ascending. The second dive saw us penetrate the forward hold via a hatch, exiting at the bow ramp and then swimming back to the shotline at roughly midship.

That brings me to the end of the diving, but several members of the party added on extra days to enjoy the islands, with Byron and myself visiting Formentera.

In summary, great diving, comfortable accommodation with a rooftop bar, a party vibe and fun to be had exploring the beaches and town. Ibiza is very accessible flight-wise and in the off-season, reasonably priced. I would also note that the Don Pedro is of similar size and depth profile to many of the Scapa wrecks, and can be used as useful familiarisation for those dives, but in a warmer and high-visibility environment. We hope to come again.

Credit – Mark (Trip Organiser)

Isle of Wight – 28 April

Over the bank holiday weekend, nine members of Putney BSAC headed over to the Isle of Wight to dive the wrecks in the Sandown Bay conservation area. Following some trial runs, the trip was the first major outing for our club RHIB, Femti.

On Saturday, Femti was loaded up with seven divers and ably crewed by Steve and Brian. Femti had been resting in Bembridge Harbour overnight and after necessary preparations, we headed out to sea. We met some navigational challenges in the harbour channel; however, these were soon fixed with the help of some oars. Once out to open sea, we headed to Sandown Bay for our first dive. The wreck of the Camswan sits about a mile offshore, in 18m of water. The 335ft, 3,426-ton ship was a cargo vessel sunk in 1917 on her maiden voyage. We managed to shot her on the first attempt and descended the line to see what we could find. The visibility was restricted to say the least, with the spring algae in full bloom. We saw some of her cargo of coal and the odd crab. However, the dive was mostly spent in close observation of small details and keeping a hold of our buddies, rather than appreciating the full wreck.

Mark & Michal in Freshwater Bay.
Tim strikes a commanding pose aboard Femti.

The second day saw a reduced party on the RHIB of four divers. We had learned the previous day that seven was a stretch for Femti. With a lower complement of six she handled and cruised much more comfortably. At 18 knots we were headed for the wreck of the Highland Brigade, a 385ft, 5,669-ton merchant vessel. The Highland Brigade was torpedoed by UC-71 in 1918, carrying a cargo of tin ingots and telephones. In deeper waters of 28m, a few attempts were needed to shot this site; however we were successful in the end. The dive proved to be quite challenging; at greater depth the algal bloom obscured all light, creating night dive conditions in the middle of the day! With visibility at less than a metre we hugged the surface of the wreck, hunting out pieces of old telephone and the odd bit of marine life. For those who didn’t join the RHIB on Sunday, a trip to Freshwater Bay was made. The picturesque alcove on the Southwest shore of the island proved a good spot for Mark and Michal to splash around and a prime spot for Paul to grab a coffee whilst providing ‘shore cover’. The day’s diving was rounded off with a good BBQ, held at our caravan accommodation.

The Highland Brigade.

Whilst the visibility limited the diving somewhat, the trip was an enjoyable and valuable experience. We have learned a lot about how to load and handle the RHIB to best effect. As ever there are a few issues to take away and work on; for example, a new chart plotter would be a worthwhile addition. We also now know that about 6 divers is the limit of her capacity. We look forward to getting the RHIB out again soon for more diving, hopefully with more to see!

Sunset at Ventnor.

Credit – Nick H (Trip Organiser)