Sorry for the late report, but time has been at a premium since my return from the expedition to Cayo Largo, Cuba in the early part of the month.
This was the only dive reported to me for the month of October with 115 dives being carried out by those who attended. This brought the total number of dives logged for the year to 737, which is just up on last year. The number of active divers within the club that logged double figures this year is also up on last year, but a major change is that the number of UK dives logged is up by a staggering 146%. This is borne out by the number of divers that are making the effort to attend organised dives, be they of one day or more.
My congratulation for this year go to Mary Hartigan as the Lady member logging the most dives (36) and Tim Clouter for logging the most UK dives, (36). It was also nice to see that there were 3 Ladies names in the top 10 list again this year, although slightly down on last year.
My thanks also go to those who have helped me throughout this season, you have made the job of Diving Officer that much easier. You know who you all are, but for those that do not, see the D.O. report from the AGM also on our web site.
Now a little about the Cuba trip.
This was the first all-inclusive holiday that I have ever been on, so it was a new experience for me.
The resort of Cayo Largo is an island approx 177kms south of Havana City, the island was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the New World. Limpid, calm waters with different shades of blue water, fine sand that is creamy white, all go to complete the peace and quiet of this island in the Cuban Caribbean that is Cayo Largo del Sur. An island that is rewarded by nature to give plenty of rest to all who visit. – if you’re lucky enough.
It has been specially developed for the tourist who likes water sports or just lazing in the sun, but has, as yet, not to an extent that it is spoilt. (This may in part be due to the embargo by the USA and the lack of tourism from this lucrative market.) If you are looking for anything else this is not the place to find it. There are horse and bike riding facilities available but, as the island is very small (overall surface area of 37.5kms2) with lots of mangrove thickets, you could see it all in a very short time. The entire southern beaches on the island make up a dazzling 25km long strip of fine sand. A coral reef that comes to the surface in several areas comprises a diverse underwater life.
The accommodation was very good, with all the rooms having air-conditioning, colour TV (CNN news channel) and a fridge. The double bed in our room had to be seen to be believed, it was that big you need a telephone to talk to one another. (There’s one of those as well, so you can call your friend’s room) There was also a safety deposit box, for which you obtained the key from reception. The maid service was also very good, with the bedding being totally changed every two days. (The top sheet became the bottom sheet; the bottom sheet was replaced.) There was an abundance of towels if you needed them, with beach towels being supplied as well. Each day we were met with a different sculpture, made from towels, placed on the bed. All the other staff were kind, helpful and cheerful. Nothing seemed too much for them when asked to do something.
All the drinks were within the cost of the holiday and the beer was always cold. Once you had obtained a water bottle this was also refilled for free. The meals were of the buffet style with both hot and cold food available, but if you are a vegetarian the choice on offer could become boring after a short time.
One of the main reasons that we went to Cuba was for the diving, and we were not disappointed in this aspect. We found that the diving was very well organised, from the pickup at the hotel until the return back again. The variety of dive sites were many and we did not visit all those that were available, over the 10 days that we dived we only revisited one actual site again, although some were very close to others. Our dive guides were excellent and they put everyone at ease with their attitude and dive skills. The briefs, although a bit sparse, gave us enough information for the planned dive. The main point of these briefs being our depth and air limits. All of them included signal’s for air levels and the safety stops with times at depths that were to be carried out. This became a bit of a joke in the end, as we took the mickey out of Carlos (our main dive guide) when he ran through them prior to each dive. (We all mimicked him as he ran through them, but he took it in the manner that it was meant.) The dives consisted of us playing follow the leader, but in very loose manner, our dive guide checking to see if we were all ok and within eyesight otherwise we were left to do what we wanted (within reason). Their main job seemed to consist of shaking a small tube that they had around their necks whenever anything of interest came within sight. They would rattle it and point in the required direction; this way very little was missed.
(This was another action that we decided to mimic later on much to our amusement and Abets (our groups guide) puzzlement). There were a variety of different dive sites to tempt us all, walls; drop-offs, reef, and wrecks were all explored. The wrecks were very sterile, with little growth in evidence despite having been sunk for many years. As there was very little growth the fish were also sparse on the wreck, but around the actual reefs there was an abundance of life. One site (Aquara I & II) was wall to wall fish, with numerous varieties in large numbers all around us.
Overall I could not find fault with the operation, but if I had to, I would say that the mid-day return to the hotel (approx 4hrs surface interval) every day could be changed for a stay on the boat instead. This would have allowed us to visit some of the more distant sites on offer.
I would recommend this resort to anyone looking for unspoilt easy diving, with a relaxed but efficient operator. (See our web for expedition report and photo’s – coming soon) The down side of it is the 9hr flight to the island and the island hopping on the return flight (18hrs in total for us due to our 7hrs wait in Havana airport’s departure lounge)
As the end of the normal diving season draws to an end, I would ask you to think about what type of diving would interest you next year. Are there any dive sites you would like to revisit or any new sites that you would like to try, especially if they would be of interest to the rest of us? Please note that there will still be organised dives throughout the coming months and that joyous dive site BARROW TANKS will soon be open, for those training dive assessments.
Please drop me an e-mail if you have any dive sites you particularly would like to visit or better still, if you are prepared to help organise the dive.
The remaining disciplines that are outstanding for our current batch of trainees with hopefully be completed in the coming month at Barrow Tanks. This site will sort the men and ladies from the mice amongst us, as it is a freshwater site that can get a touch chilly over the coming months. As previously stated in the past, there will be at least two, possible three dives available – the last being into the Winford Arms for a well-deserved refreshment and warm up. They do a very good and reasonable Sunday lunch as well.
A new training schedule for Club Diver will soon be drawn up for those that need it, if you know of anyone that would like to take part, let either myself or Andy Wilson know.
Congratulations to all those of those who have achieved a new diving grade this year.
We held our AGM early this month, where the new committee was elected, as expected there was very little change from last year. Mary and Carol stood for entertainment’s and were elected unopposed. If you do not know whom the new committee are – why were you not at the meeting. Pete Davies gave a brief outline of our plans for the coming months and we all hope that they bear fruit for us. Plans are also underway for events next year, with some dives already taking shape. Keep an eye on the club folder for information, as it becomes available.
The long awaited event in the Windows household has taken place and a baby daughter was born to Julie and Nick on October 14th. She weighed in at 8lbs 6oz and has been named Holly Ann Marie. Our congratulations go to both parents, with the news that things can only get worse, as she grows older.
We are now waiting for another couple of past members, who are expecting twins in the very near future. Watch this space for information as soon as it becomes available
Dates for your diary
Dive Leader lectures – See me for any lectures you may require.(There is no date for the end of this qualification as yet.)
7th – 14th April.2000 – Red Sea trip (Live aboard) (See Julie Ryalls for available space)
17th Dec. (Social Night) – Annual Dinner Dance at Cadbury Court (Get your deposits in to guarantee your place A.S.A.P.)
With the season drawing to an end there will only be day trips and Barrow tanks, so keep an eye on the Notices folder for going on’s (Unless someone knows different)
The Tryout Nite’s are still on going. The next is due on the 8th December. I will let those needed for pool work, know closer to the day.
DO’s thought for the month
IT’S YOUR LIFE, IT’S YOUR KIT – NOW’s THE TIME TO GET IT SERVICED