Where: The Algarve, Portugal, Diving in the Ocean Revival marine park.
When: 16th– 23rd April
How Many: 42, of all ages, experience and certifications.
Organiser: Emma K
Accommodation: Self catered apartments 2 minutes from the dive shop and the beach
Dive Centre: Subnauta
Boats: RIBs, a little one for 12 and a bigger one for 16.
Cost: £617, including transfer to the airport, flights, accommodation and all the diving stuff
Day 1: Those on the group flight met outside Bar One at the upsettingly early time of 3am for the trip to East Midlands. Once at the airport Check in and Security were navigated surprisingly swiftly, and the sunrise was greeted with breakfast (by most) or with a pint (by some)!
The flight to Faro and coach transfer to Portimao happened without incident (I caught up on sleep!) and we arrived at the accommodation for lunchtime, leaving plenty of time to explore and settle in before the diving started the next day.
Day 2: The first day of diving. I was in the afternoon wave so there was time for a lie in and funtimes at the beach before heading down to the dive centre.
Dive 1: Nudibranch Garden. Scenic dive along some rocky shelves. Didn’t actually see any nudibranch but did get to see an octopus and Ross P’s special “look it’s an octopus” dive signal. Happily disaster free for my first ocean dive.
Snacked on chocolate muffins and regretted drinking so much water without access to a toilet during the surface interval whilst the guys from the dive shop changed our tanks over for us.
Dive 2: Neptune’s Pool. Another scenic dive through some reef like rock formations, did actually see some Nudibranch.
Day 3: Another lazy morning as I was on the afternoon wave again.
Dive 3: Gunship Faro. Vis was pretty terrible from groundswell and silt kicked up by the morning divers. Had a bit of a look at the boiler and saw a few fish, grew to appreciate Gerd’s easy to spot day glow fins!
Dive 4: Pedra dos Arcos. Was saved from having a very wet and miserable dive by one of the Subnauta guys, who pointed out I was kitting up with my drysuit unzipped! Much better vis. Did some pretty swim throughs and saw a lot of fish, witnessed Gerd deciding he had too many fingers and prodding the biggest spider crab I have ever seen into coming out and saying hello.
Day 4: Morning wave, so down to the dive shop early to assemble kit.
Dive 5: Oliveira e Carmo (Ocean Revival wreck). First of the serious wreck dives of the week, and the first time for me going down to 20m. The wreck was stunning (to me as a novice anyway) and doing a swim through the bridge and playing around with the wheel was a lot of fun.
Dive 6: Bota da Fora: Nice relaxing shallow scenic dive, again saw lots of fish, starfish, an octopus that couldn’t decide if it wanted to pretend to be a piece of rock or a shadow and my first cuttlefish!
Afternoon was spent drinking Sangria and realising that SUSAC aren’t the best at Bat and Ball.
Day 5: The day the bad weather came. Headed down to the dive shop for the afternoon wave and was greeted with the noticeboard now having a (fairly long) chunder list, and stories that being out in the boat in the current weather was the worst experience in the entire world. Not believing them I happily began kitting up.
Dive 7: Hermenegildo Capelo (Ocean Revival wreck). The less said about the journey to the dive site the better, the swell was large and the boat was bouncy. The wreck, once we got down to it, was excellent. Had a poke around the big gun on the foredeck (apparently there was a conga in there but I didn’t see it), did some swim throughs in the super structure and had a look at the bridge. The surface swell made the ascent and safety stop interesting to say the least, so I was very glad to make it back into the boat, though I did later disappoint Vicki who thought I was leaning over the side to help her out of the water, but was actually “feeding the sea-gulls”, as the skipper tastefully put it.
Due to the bad weather we didn’t attempt the second dive.
Day 6: Dive 8: Almeida Carvalho (Ocean Revival wreck). Having dosed up on seasickness meds after the experiences of the day before the journey out to the dive site was a lot more enjoyable! Once we got down to the wreck the vis was low (2-3m), swam along the upper deck and once again did some simple swim throughs of the superstructure and the bridge.
Dive 9: Pedra do Albano. We’d been told by the morning wave that the vis was dreadful, so a number of more experienced divers on our boat opted out of this dive. The vis was dreadful (1-2m), and most of the dive was spent staring at Paul S’s fins or checking to see if we’d lost BB. There was also a noticeable swell at depth which was actually quite fun.
Day 7: The day of the SUSAC Olympics!
On our off-gassing day before the flight home, SUSAC gathered in all it’s multicoloured finery to compete in the SUSAC Colour Beach Olympics! Teams competed in events ranging from a piggyback relay to a sandcastle building competition, all ably judged and refereed by Martin and Kath W.
In the evening the whole group went out for a meal (there was lots of very delicious seafood!) and the trip awards were handed out. The “Port Awards” were many and varied but the ones that stick out were Chris T for bringing easter bunnies for the whole group to eat on easter day, Phil C for being sexy, Yike H for spectacular chundering and Adam K for being a knight in shining armour. In the more serious awards, Becky W was deservedly named Diver of the Week, and from a long and equally worthy shortlist I was named Muppet of the Week for my attempt to kit-up unzipped.
After the awards had wrapped up we moved onto the beach for a bonfire and a bit of a sing song that stretched long into the night.
Special Mentions: to Emma K for somehow organising the whole trip without murdering somebody, the SUSAC OWI’s and DL’s who patiently took the novices through their first ocean diving flailings, Alana D and Jimmy M for organising the Olympics and Phil C and Chris T for getting their Ocean Diver qualifications on the trip.