Feb. 12, 2007 - Wrecked
As a diver coming from a place where the summer lasts two or three months (if you’re lucky) and the rest of the year you got to deal with persistent and sometimes torrential rainfall not to mention the mighty strong Westerlies, Greece is an amazing place to live. The climate is pleasant to say the least. The winter is cool and mild with very little rain or snow and the water temperature never goes below 11 or 12 Celsius. The summer can be very hot with temperatures often in the mid thirties and the water temperature averaging around 23 or 24 Celsius in July and August. You can add to the basket the fact that the viz is usually way over twenty metres. Of course this is not meant to be a scientific report but merely a brief and approximate description for any of you guys who have never been and would be interested in having a rough idea of diving conditions here. You’re probably curious to know if you can dump the dry suit for a shorty. Well, you really don’t need the dry suit here unless you’re getting old and frail or you simply don’t eat well. Be advised though that a shorty only finds its use during the hottest months and only for short and shallow dives. A 7mm is usually recommended for any serious diving here even in summer, especially if you’ve got a lot of dives in and you’re starting to feel it (if you know what I mean). However, the good news for the avid diver is that you can really dive all year round here. And that’s great!
If you’re looking to fill up a tank or rent any gear there are a large number of dive centres or clubs, call them what you will. Most centres are only open for the tourist season which goes from 1st May to 1st Oct approximately and there is a lot of competition between them for business. (I’ll probably set up a link if I can get around to it.) Anyway, one thing at a time. I could say a lot of bad stuff about diving centres located on the islands that are only interested in a quick profit during the short tourist season because there are not always, how should I put it? On par with what you might see in
. Yeah, sometimes managed or rather mismanaged by ex-navy or commercial divers turned ‘businessmen’, poorly paid if paid at all unmotivated staff, and sometimes rustic conditions, but you know what? That’s kind of an old cliché, isn’t it? I’d like to put emphasis on the positive in this blog so I’ll avoid mentioning the aforementioned and please interrupt me if I do.
Seriously though, there are some very good dive shops and centres in
and in my personal opinion it is those that are open all year round that tend to get top marks from me. I’m in
most of the year where there are several very good well-equipped dive centres managed by friendly staff and frequented by friendly divers. I won’t be writing reviews of these centres but rather I intend to visit the actually dive sites around
to give an idea of the diving. All I can say about the centres is that in general they are equipped to standard and have Nitrox/Trimix etc. and that you can buy most of the standard scuba gear and all courses are available too. However, they might not always be perfectly designed for the average female customer. What? Forget that!
Now, on to the heart of the matter – the sites! I suppose you’ve heard, or for those of you who have dived in
, have seen, that the fauna in Greek waters is not that spectacular. We don’t have hammer-heads or manta rays or not even Napoleon fish. True! However, there are a number of spectacular sites due to their geomorphology, notably the volcanic sites of my paradisiacal
, which I remember mentioning I a previous entry. There are also loads of wall dives and cave dives around the coast where there are many things to see. Now, I’d like to say something about seeing. Yes, it’s true there are no mantas, as we established, but trust me if you use your eyes you will marvel at the flora and fauna of the waters around
. We’ll get to that in detail later on though. The divers of the coast of Attica (that’s around
) are also very inventive and seek out sites that can provide some form of spectacle. That’s why one of the first sites I dived on after arriving in
from the islands was this one here. I promise to get back to the islands at a later stage: I mean there’s no point in me raving on about the islands now when everything is shut down and everyone is resting after their long hard six month spout of seasonal work. For Zeus’ sake give them a break! No, my intent for the moment, as I think I said, is more of an anecdotal nature. Yeah, so anyway, one of the most visited sites near
is in fact what I call the car graveyard, located about 55 km from
on the coastal road to the ancient temple site of Cap Sounion. (And boy is it a nice drive!) As you might know the coastal road from
to Cap Sounion is quite a cliffy one with many small rocky inlets or bays at the bottom of steep or not so steep cliffs. Most of these bays are accessed by foot if accessible at all, but fortunately for the local divers this site is accessible by car down a steep winding dirt track. Apparently, a few people either deliberately pushed their old and ailing jalopies off the road and down the cliff into the sea below in order to claim insurance, I don’t know, or joy riders got rid of their evidence or whatever; who cares, and you hear so many tales these days (especially at the work place, I’m sure all you secretaries out there will agree) that you never know what to believe anyway. It doesn’t matter. What we’ve got is a dive site with a few car wrecks at a reasonably shallow depth which most divers can access; and it provides shelter for the few remaining fish that have decided to stick around in the area.
It’s not a bad dive at all but you need to pass the basic fitness test because the entrance isn’t the easiest and there’s a surface swim of a couple of hundred metres to the site. The interesting thing is that a few months ago we drove to this spot as we often do on a Sunday morning and low and behold what do we see? Well basically what you can see in the picture! The gods had sent us a ‘boat wreck’ to add to the car wrecks, thus making the site at least twice as interesting. As you can see from my wonderful photograph, it sunk less than 50 metres from shore and the mast was still 'standing' at a steep angle out of the water! We donned our gear investigated!
Of course, my tethered dog barked from the rocky shore at the disappearing heads as we descended, as you’ll know if you paid any attention to my previous entry. He's always got a serious concerned look on his face when we leave him on the shore. Check him out in this picture! Although I must say he does a good job of guarding my stuff.
Everything is more exciting in the water, isn’t it? In fact, it turned out that it was a small yacht which seemed to have been scuttled against the rocks by immigrants or their traffickers and sank to a depth of about 8 metres only – a hole in the keel and clothes and bits and pieces everywhere. Makes the mind of any sane sea-loving man voyage endlessly this kind of stuff, doesn't it?
Inside the wreck I found various objects you’d expect to find on a small yacht: screwdrivers, hammer etc. the on-board communications system was still intact but nothing else of much interest or value … wait … except for a passport. Yeah, I found a passport outside the wreck on the seabed well hidden in the sand. It belonged to an Iraqi woman born in 1941 which makes her 65 now I think. She looked old on the photo and I wondered how she survived such an ordeal at her age and what else she left behind and what else she lost in the water some dark windy night that surely changed her life for ever.
Anyway, this reminded me that diving is not just jumping into the water and sinking and making bubbles or taking pictures of sharks. Diving can be a lot of things and we can all get something different out of even the most banal sites. That’s what I do, because I can’t be in the
every weekend. So I go diving not far from the house and I make the most of it and I love it. I suppose every time I dive I go on a trip inside my mind and it’s as if the whole world becomes my personal space an everything I want to believe I can believe – there’s a certain inner peace, a silence, a tranquil beauty perhaps, and the idea that ‘the world is my oyster’ to quote myself. Well, I’d better stop raving now. Perhaps I’ll be back soon with some tales of other sites in the region. If Zeus wills it! If I don't fall down a well ...