28 September 2008

Diving in Croatia

Just back from a week in Dubrovnik , Croatia. For me there are usually two types of holidays, diving holidays or holidays with diving! Croatia was very much the latter (and possibly should always be). Of course the coastal water is called the Adriatic Sea (so I can add another 'sea' to the dive list) but we all know it's part of the Med and that generally means clean warm water with good vis and plenty of rocky formations as the 'top-of-the-bill' rather than a great deal of visible marine life. The coast is quite beautiful with myriads of islands and islets running for a couple of hundreds of miles or so and the walled city of Dubrovnik with it's ancient port is a world heritage site. Of course it's not twenty years since the area was a war zone, and whilst it is truly amazing how the city has been restored you have to wonder how more advanced as a tourist location Dubrovnik would have been but for the impact of the war on both people and places.

Not being a diving holiday I only conducted three dives over two days from a small but pleasant hotel based PADI diving resort. All the dives took place from the shore to sites in the Lapad Bay. Everyone used 15 Litre Steel tanks (I think this made the life of the staff more bearable as it gave the more novice divers a lot more air to play with, that said, on two of my three dives it was necessary for divers to use the alternate air supply (Octopus) of others!!

The first dive briefing seemed to describe a fairly adventurous dive , not least given the fact that two divers had about 25 dives under their belts. We would enter the water , swim over the shallows in to the 'blue' then descend to 15 metres and swim 200m further, there we would descend to 35m to enter what was described as a tight entrance to a 20m long tunnel that exited at 40m. From there we would ascend to 15m swim back 200m and then explore the shallows. None of the divers apart from the Instructor and I had computers and I'm not sure if they even had watches. As it happened the dive was more relaxing than the briefing! The tunnel was more swim-through like and not a squeeze at all. My computer showed we were inside no-decompression limits for the whole dive (just!) The 'tunnel' was quite attractive with two lobsters and quite a healthy amount of red coral. The dive was 49 minutes long, water temperature was 19 Deg C and we wore 5mm full suits with hoods & gloves.

The second dive took us to a maximum of 22m for a total dive time of 66minutes, the highlight of the second dive was meeting-up with a couple of octopus, one making it's home in a large and otherwise vacant shell! Not a stunning dive (that was never going to be on the cards ) but a relaxed bimble! The third dive made 24m for a total of 59minutes. That dive started with a 100m surface swim and the highlights were a couple of small moray eels.

The dive centre staff were all very pleasant as were the surrounding hotel facilities. The best dive was the 'tunnel' or swim-through dive as the coral added some colour to the usual rock & grass bottom of this part of the world. On the list of dive sites was a wreck , the Taranto, which depending on which day you asked was 40m or 45m to the top! I'll leave that to the daft or the technically trained & equipped !

I was touched by the local Instructor's theory on minimising nitrogen narcosis at depth, his strategy was to spend more time breathing out than in. It's a new one on me! Is Croatia a place for a diving holiday - not in my view but it's always going to be a holiday in which a dive or two can be tucked in!

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