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Hi all,

I thought a report of Leeds Univeristy SACs trip to Malta might be useful for anyone planning a trip there - esp if you are taking a large group.

We stayed in St Pauls Bay, Malta, using Maltaqua to provide accomodation, tanks, weights and of course to arrange everything we needed such as vehicles, medicals and advice about dive sites. Agnes and her crew are highly experienced and very well recommended as a dive operation - this is the 3rd year we have used them and are always amazed by their ability to cope with such a large group.

Present on the trip were 6 OWIs, 9 assistant OWIs 30 trainees and 5 dive leaders of allsorted teaching experience. The best bit------I was in charge of the lot of them!!!!

We used Air Malta to fly us there, sadly we had to use 2 different airports, but we got there everntually. I was fairly impressed by this airline, leg room very good. Big problem was however that thay charged 3 of our group £58 for having too much baggage (limit was 30Kg if they proved they were divers) - HINT if you have too much, try to check in with some of the little old ladies who have a single suitcase, the allowance will be split up to allow you to take more without paying.

Arriving at 0300 wasn`t the best of times to arrive, but at 0800 we were at the Maltaqua dive centre with 7 jeeps, a kit van, wetsuits ready and a GP to carryout medicals. This is the best thing about Maltaqua, they deal with groups like us so often our job is made very easy.

We arrived on the 1st dive site at 1100, not bad considering the amount of medicals that had to be carried out as well os many other admin and logistical tasks.

1st Day = Ocean diver Day 1, lessons 1 and 2. Qawra Point,  St Pauls bay, Max depth about 12m if you swim miles, perfect however for the 6m depth for this training. Toilets and Cafe on site - take Loo roll with you though!!

2nd Day = Ocean diver Day 2, Lessons 3, 4 and 5. Sirens, just down to sea front from Maltaqua. Large jetty area for kitting up etc, giant stride into 3m, progressing to 12m further out (apparently). Boat traffic a bit of a worry, we placed 3 SMBs in a line 25 m from shore to try to warn boat traffic of divers down, we had no problems - they all seemed happy to avoid us. Exit onto rocks O.K, bit slippy and a struggle for some of the smaller divers. Agin Loos on site, take loo roll and a nose plug - they stink!!!

3rd Day = Pleasure diving, Marfa point (Gozo ferry port). This is a fantastic dive site, slope to about 6-10m, the drop off down to max of about 25-30m. With instructors briefed they would be castrated if trainees went over 18m, everyone was very careful, but a huge smile on the face of every diver who exited the water, VERY nice site. Of course the Rozi is just of shore in about 35m, one for another time sadly! Cafe (which sell nice pizza) on site, loos in there.

4th day = Sports diver training dives 1,2 and 3. Ghar Lapsi in the south of the island. This is attractive to us because of the nice bay to teach AV, towing, de-kitting and recovery from water, as well as the caves which are absolutley fantastic. Out of the bay there is an area of reef between 4 and 15, then sand, perfect for training. Octopus, Moray and othe critters were common here. The problems with this site are firstly the ability of the dive marshall to see divers on the surface. We had to post lookouts to ensure anyone surfacing behind the cliffs could be seen, 1 group reported severe currents, on checking this out, I could not feel it. Secondly,  the access, a long slope leads down to 2 picnic areas before a slipway goes into the water. All kit has to be carried up and down here. Cafe and public toilets on site.    

5th day = Sports diver dives 4 and 5, and first dive without instructors.  Most of Malta blown out by strong Easterly winds. Most divers on the island ended up at popeye village. This is a small bay perfect for teaching the use of shotlines, distance lines and SMBs. Some of the group found 18m, they swam a hell of a distance though. This finished off sports diver training and signalled the dive which is every DOs nightmare - the new sports divers go in on their own. This site was perfect for this, the long jetty provided a nice barrier to stop the going out too far and 5 stand by divers could be on top of divers in seconds if the started to stray or seemed to be in trouble. The look in their faces when they get out is worth the stress on us during this dive! NO FACILITIES ON SITE - there are caves though!!

Final day = Blue Hole, Gozo. My god this site is fu*king awesome!! Theh good lady and I hit 40m along with most of the other instructors. We then paired the new sports divers up for a very carefully marshalled dive without us. Again this is a nice site for that as even though it goes very deep, they have to really try to reach the slope. Only problems with this site are getting to the hole itself over some rough rock and being able to stand on the rock over looking the site as its a bit harsh on the feet.

We did have some hassle from the lady who runs the cafeteria there. She seemed to think that because no one had been to her to buy anything we must be in trouble - she for some reason nearly called the emergency services. If anyone takes a large group there you might just want to mention you are diving to prevent her having a go at anyone. Sadly she didn`t choose to have a go at me - instead she shouted at 2 of our female trainees, who got a little upset by it all - WATCH THIS ONE.  

All in all a very good week had by all. The total cost of the trip was £340, I spent about £150 in total while there - mostly on errhem.... Beer. As far as entertainment goes, all of the local bars are friendly and most do food. If you stay in St Pauls bay, you should certainly look at "nostalgia" = 20oz steak for LM6, or the fish restaurant on the seafront (La Galeria - or something similar).  

If anyone has any questions about this trip throw me an email, PM or reply

Cheers

Paul
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Certainly beats the Newcastle Uni SAC training weekend I went  on earlier this year - Wastwater in February  - brrrrrr........  

Chee-az
Steve
 
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