So after three months and a half since the last single-cylinder recreational dive (yes, I actually checked the logbook), today I did just that! No twinset, no deco stages. Just one 12L steel cylinder on my back. And did it feel amazing! One fin-kick with the Seawing Novas and I was whizzing through the water. It was a reminder of how much more drag one has to put up with if they’re willing to explore deeper and stay longer. I rediscovered the sensation of turning upside down and deliberately switching to whatever angle I wanted, all with a simple twist and an ever slight fin kick. What freedom!
Now, if you’re thinking that this suggests in any way that I’m going back to doing just rec dives from now on – well, no, that’s not the case. Technical diving is where my heart lies. But what I certainly took from this morning’s dive is that every now and then I will definitely still want to do a single-cylinder recreational dive where I can chase after fish with my camera and soar (fly?) over the stunning underwater landscape to my heart’s content. Anyway, the bottom line is that despite knowing all along that I should expect to feel lighter, I was still really surprised.
Right, with that pressing information blurted out, let me now walk through the morning’s events in chronological order. As we kitted up, we were surrounded by the beautiful, muted colours of a cloudy Summer day. It was calm and peaceful, as Gozo can be on certain Saturday mornings. A few divers were already getting in the water (would they scare away all the fish before we got in?).
I would be diving with Denis Marin, the guy you have to talk to if nudibranchs are your thing. (He has a remarkably trained eye for them and is truly passionate about the myriad species!) We jumped in the water around 09:10 and, slowly, down we went. On our way we encountered a few hiding scorpionfish, brilliantly camouflaged as ever.
At a depth of around 30 metres, our hearts got beating as dusky groupers appeared from behind boulders, causing both of us to spend the next few minutes exchanging enthusiastic thumbs up and OK signals, signifying our satisfaction at being this lucky. We stayed for as long as we could, admiring these creatures as they came closer to us, before finally retreating to the depths.
As Denis would say later on, one would almost want to take a chair down with them and just stay there, but alas, our bottom time was up, and we had to start making our way to shallower waters unless we wanted to incur obligatory decompression stops, not something I’m keen on when diving on a single cylinder.
On our way back we encountered a variety of marine life, from Octopus and crabs to “baby” scorpionfish and cow bream.
One of the young scorpionfish was incredibly well hidden in a small hole in a rock, but keen-eyed Denis duly noticed it.
There were, of course, nudibranchs. Many nudibranchs. But I did not manage to take a half-decent shot of any of them. So that’s for another day. The cherry on the cake was some hunting Amberjack in the shallows. That kind of fast, powerful chase is best presented in a video rather than a picture. So here goes a very short clip of the hunting action:
What a fantastic way to pass the time during the safety stop! When you’ve got such fantastic action going on around you, you really want to extend your safety stop for as long as you possibly (i.e. safely) can!
Well, all good things come to an end. We made for the ladder, surfaced, and instantly started talking about how wonderful a dive it had been. An easygoing and very enjoyable dive with a maximum time to surface (TTS) of 7mins. For more details see the dive log below. Until next time, happy and safe diving to all!