Day 17: Diving El Encanto

Thur. 30th August 2012

Dive shop at Maria La GordaEl Encanto is one of about 30 dive sites at Maria La Gorda and as we sat on the dive boat ready to go out, the dive master announced that this was our destination. This was my 10th dive and so I am by no means expert. I don’t find it easy to equalise the pressure in my ears and I’ve had a bit of sinusitis in the past, so I am always a little nervous before a dive. The dive boat was full, about 15 – 20 people, many of whom have fancy dive computers on their wrist or their own kit with them. I looked around hoping to find people who looked more nervous or inexperienced than I was!

The check dive yesterday was really helpful. Whilst I didn’t do exercises such as mask flood & clear or ‘fin pivots’ just having the reminder on how to set up the kit and the basic hand signals is a big help when you are with a boat full of people who know what they are doing and don’t want to be diving with a gumby.

Air tanks being delivered to the dive boatOnce in the water, all was well – I know the routine. Find your dive buddy, wait for the dive master to signal descend and down you go following the boat anchor line. Take it steady and equalise pressure as you go. So far so good. Remember to relax, breath slowly and have just enough air in the BCD so that you rise and fall in the water with your breathing. Watch the dive master, your buddy – but most of all look around and marvel at the clear water, the abundant fish and the incredible sights. Enjoy!

One small hiccup as we were heading down following the rocks that mark the wall that drops off into the ocean as I couldn’t clear the pressure in my sinuses. Go up a little to ease the pressure, get comfortable and then head down slowly again and all was well.

It's art Jim, but not as we know it!What an experience. Not just the variety of fish – we saw a big Lion fish; a (Moray?) eel guarding its hole in the rocks; Barracuda cruising around looking like lords of the sea and myriad smaller fish in shoals, in couples and by themselves. All in all the colours of the rainbow.

This was also my deepest dive yet at 26m. The sensations really don’t change as you go down – all the more reason to be careful and why regular divers invest in dive computers to track their dives and to monitor the decompression stops.

Most memorably of all we swam through a couple of short tunnels – down at the ocean floor, there we caves in the rocks and when you looked through you could see the deep blue of the water at the far end of the tunnel. I must be getting better at controlling buoyancy through breathing.

You don’t really notice the water gradually becoming a lighter shade of blue as we followed the wall up into shallower waters. We spent a few minutes just floating above the sea bed at about 10m and then on a little further and it we were back at the boat anchor line for our safety stop at 5m. Where did the time (and the air in my tank) go?

I’m very glad to have my PADI Open Water qualification and to have brought my card and log book with me. I would rate diving here on a par with the Maldives (clearly not an expert judgment). If you are a diver and in Cuba, then this is a great place to come. Conversely, if you are not a diver, then there is little point in being here – but that is the topic for another post!

PS – I hope to have some more / better pictures to add to this post at a later date.

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2 Responses to Day 17: Diving El Encanto

  1. Jackie Byrne says:

    Hi Dave

    Love the blog and to read about your adventures.

    Back to work for me tomorrow after bringing our new boat back to Holyhead from Falmouth over the summer break.

    You will be pleased (??) to know our IT is just about (!!) up and working. Delays with the Virgin Broadband caused a lot of problems! But I’m sure that seems another world away to you now.

    Keep the updates coming!

    Best wishes, Jackie (TEMA)

    • Dave says:

      Hi Jackie,

      Fantastic to hear from you – thank you so much for getting in touch.

      Glad the IT is OK for the start of term. I will keep my fingers crossed that this is just the start and it is onwards and upwards.

      Keep working on your plans.

      Dave

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