My First Activity Holiday

I have done the usual round of beach, tourist, sightseeing, market and attraction holidays. Diving in Gozo was my first action holiday. First time in Malta; until a few weeks ago I hadnít even heard of Gozo. What would it hold for me?

By my reckoning, having bought most of my kit, invested in BSAC and paid for the holiday, the change from £2,000 would just about buy a cup of tea as long as it wasnít at an airport or on a motorway. I was clearly expecting a great deal from this week, but at the same time had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Not least of all, this was my first time sharing a bedroom with a man since leaving the army 30 years ago.

So off we went with lots of mask clearing, losing and finding regulators, grabbing at the octopus, pretend rescues and all the other exercises we had practiced in the pool. This was a bit more challenging at sea, unsuccessfully trying to stay in roughly the same place without looking like a complete prat. All in all it meant that I was so busy I didnít have a chance to look around and experience the environment.

Finally the great day arrived. With most of the basic training out of the way (just donít mention buoyancy controlÖ.please) I had a chance to dive the Inland Sea. For those unfortunate enough not to have visited Gozo it is, well, an inland sea about the size of a football pitch, up to 4 metres deep and joined to the real sea by a tunnel partially submerged to 25 metres. This was for fun, no training, just go out and enjoy the dive.

Off we set, with a killing surface swim to the tunnel entrance (my un-named instructor/buddy was heard to mutter unkindly but truthfully ďIím falling asleep here waiting for youĒ). Down to the 4 metre bottom and swim/crawl along to around 15 metres, that dodgy buoyancy control again. I saw a few fish and started to develop an unexpected interest, but frankly I would have seen much more in comfort in the London Aquarium. Where was the payback for my 2 grand?

It happened when my buddy indicated that it was time to turn round. I looked out to sea and saw the most amazing brilliant blue scene framed by the tunnel opening. Two divers were silhouetted in black against the bright blue background.

Now I should explain that I am a consulting engineer. I deal in maintenance, air conditioning, heating, boilers and so on. I do inanimate objects. I do not do pretty, touchy-feely. I havenít got a sensitive bone in my body. The scene I was presented with that Monday afternoon changed all that. If I hadnít been underwater my mouth would have fallen open with surprise and pleasure. This was without doubt the most beautiful natural scene I could ever have imagined. I have seen many photographs of this sort of thing but none of them do the reality justice. I was totally hooked.

So, Mr BSAC, thanks to your instructors, you have me. I am your willing convert and look forward to the next experience.

By the way Ė just for the record, that £2,000 was well worth spending!

Stephen Woollard

This page was last updated on : 06 Sep 2011