When the Going Gets Tough!!
by John Kerr
The coldest winter in 8 years, the biggest snow fall in recent times what else is there to do?
Well if it’s good for the Canadian Snowbirds, it will do for me ! – fly south to the sun & heat, (albeit in our case only for 1 week) and where else but to what was becoming our 2nd home, the island of Sal, Cape Verde (4 times in 5 years now). You know you are becoming a local when the good lady abandoning myself with the luggage is greeted by the reception staff with a welcome back and the query – “where’s the big man”.
Three days diving was the plan and Cabo Verde with the 0820 pick-up in the morning we were off. The dive sites were fast becoming as familiar as our favourites in Loch Fyne but that’s as far as that thought goes. Air & Sea water temperatures being 24 and 21 respectively (cold at this time of the year), visibility +15mtrs and abundance of marine life on both the reefs and wrecks resulted in six fantastic dives.
The two wreck dives this time were the “Kwarcit” known as the Boris which was sank in January 2006 and now lies a short boat ride from the pier at 28mtrs, upright and with the hull intact and the Santo Antão which sank in a storm 1966 and now lies broken into three sections at 12m of water. The nooks and crannies provided by both provide an excellent home for the numerous different fish species, very large shoal of spotted burrfish and two big stingrays which I was lucky to see this time.
The reefs 3 Grotes (caves), Farol, Lost Anchor, Caldaia-Boloma (starting at a large Boiler of a very old steam ship) and Dunas were all visited and did not disappoint. There was shoals of fish and soft coral at every turn to give the colours and natural habitats for the numerous indigenous nudibranch’s, the a male nurse shark skulking under the reef shelf, a “greater locust lobster” content to sit on the reef wall for a photo-shot, lots of Moray eels (Golden Tail, Black & Honeycomb) either swimming in the open or content to show off their dentures, the unusually shaped Scrawled Filefish, the beautiful Spotted Trigger fish” showing incredible markings, similar to the cross section of a Kiwi fruit in way of the pectoral fins and for the “piece de resistance” - two cuttlefish hovering and feeding right before me.
The bad news is that this will no longer be an easy holiday option with TUI stopping the direct flights from Glasgow this October. This is extremely disappointing as here was a destination which with a 6 hour direct flight gave us access to islands with guaranteed weather, friendly people and great diving in waters extremely well stocked with marine life – it’s a flight option that will hopefully return in the near future.
Postcard from the Edge
Story & Photos: John Kerr
It was holiday dive time again and we were off to the wonderful island of Sal, Cape Verde. Only 6.5 hours flying time direct from Glasgow to a choice of 22 dive sites, ranging from the easy dive reefs for the novices (8-10mtrs) to the more challenging(+30mtrs), wrecks and last but not least the caves, sea temperature of 23 deg C and visibility from 15 to 20 mtrs, don’t we just love it !!
This was our 3rd visit in four years and we were really looking forward to both the direct flight from Glasgow (had to drive to Manchester in the past) and seeing what the refurbishment of the Riu Palace entailed. The travel option made a huge difference to the holiday and with the rooms now having the Spirit Optic bar in the room and Prosecco on tap, the non-dive days lazing by the poolside were well taken care of.
As before the team at Cabo Verde Dive centre were on the ball with the pick up from the hotel at 0820 sharp being the order of the diving days, returning approx. 1300hrs after 2 boat dives. The exception to this being the cave dives which involved a slightly earlier pick up and 1400hr return to cater for the 40 minute car journey.
The marine life is plentiful and fantastically varied. Huge shoals of fish, large and small reef, sting rays, nurse shark, swimming with a cuttlefish (or should I say trying to keep up with it), Nudibranch’s, three types of lobster (green, red and the local “Slipper”, sometimes known as the bulldozer), trumpet & puffer fish, various types of Moray eels being some of the most memorable features of this holiday.
Oh!, we did manage to squeeze in the dive on the wreck “Boris”, this starting life as the Kwarcit a Russian fishing trawler which made its appearance off the coast of Cape Verde transporting illegal workers from Senegal. She was sunk in January 2006 and is now a fantastic artificial reef sitting upright and intact at 28mtrs with shoals of Jack fish, the odd stingray, nudibranch and a large “Slipper Lobster hiding under the stern quarter of the hull.
And as before my favourite - The Caves. The wind on the west coast had eased and the dive centre had managed to get the required number of divers for the journey (min 5) and we were off for the 40 minute car journey. The first dive site is known as the “Dois Olhos”, translation “Two Eyes” which from the photo is self explanatory. The second dive was “Regona”, this being a labyrinth of caverns of various dimensions, connected by horseshoe shape tunnel that eventually emerge into open sea. The backdrop and lighting in way of the natural openings in the lava rock is stunning as you work your way swimming along the passages carved over the millennium’s, marvelling at the diversity of the marine life in front of you, be it the crustaceans (various species of crab, shrimps, the 3 types of lobster), nudibranchs, morays swimming in the open, jacks & trumpet fish by the score.
To conclude another fantastic holiday with some great dives, wet suits for the hardy, 23 deg C sea water temp and 28 deg air temp, although – thought I would never have seen it, there were three people (German) diving in drysuits, this leading to great debates on the need for a pee-pee on a two hour boat dive, apologies for my German translation. Huge and varied marine life and some great support from the team at “Cabo Verde” dive centre. Many thanks to Hendrik, Davi and Moacir as dive team leaders who always ensured that I didn't miss the obvious.