Thursday, July 1, 2010
After a leisurely morning in the hotel enjoying the reliable internet connection and catching up on some blogging Catherine and I decided to get cleaned up and head out for some lunch and the beach. About halfway through my shower it dawned upon me that it would probably be a long time before I could go scuba diving around the beautiful cliffs of Portugal's southwestern tip.
A quick call from our hacked iPhone and I was informed there was one last dive that afternoon leaving in ten minutes. I asked Catherine if she would mind flying solo at the beach while I enjoyed diving in some 15C water--she had no issue leaving me on my own for this side adventure and informed me I could meet her at the beach when I was done.
I snarfed down what was left of my traditional Portuguese breakfast, grabbed a bottle of water, my dive log and hauled butt down to the marina. Within 15 minutes I was being outfitted by the very kind shop owners with the necessary gear for our dive:
3mm shorty wet-suit
6mm full body wet-suit with insulated hood
6mm neoprene booties
and last but not least....
A quick lesson on the differences in European diving gear
For those of you who are not divers, let me be the first to tell you that this about as much neoprene as you can squeeze around your body before you move on to a dry suit--that means COLD WATER! I buddied up with our dive master, Chris, who was a local surfer from Sagres and we were joined be another pair of Italian guys which made four of us.
I took 16kg of weight on my belt on the divemaster's recommendation and followed him flipping head over fins off the back of the boat into the cold waters of the Atlantic. It took me almost half of our 42 minute long dive down to 18 meters to finally get somewhere close to neutrally buoyant. The current was ripping something wicked through the great rocks and visibility was no more than 2 meters. We saw some octopus, sardines, a spiny lobster, walls of jewel anemones, and my favorite--several multi-colored shell-less sea-snails called Nudibranches.
[CULINARY SIDENOTE: The Portuguese know how to cook some octopus, you boil it for 90 minutes and then grill it--yumm!]
It wasn't the best dive I've ever been on, but the camaraderie was excellent and the Sagres Divers staff were awesome. I was most excited to have made it (fairly calm) through one of the most strenuous dives I have been on--and hey, it was diving in Portugal!
NOTE: I pinched these pics off the web so you could better visualize what a nudibranch and octopus look like in the wild.