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James Gardner: Home > Life > Dive > Vela Luka, Croatia

Vela Luka, Croatia

Map of the harbour

Gommoroizzo, Dave Alden, Thor 11-VL

Dive 37

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Date:11.10.2009
Start Time:08:46:00
Dive Time:47
Water Temperature:23
Maximum Depth:24.38
Average Depth:13.89
Place:Sea Bream (Bass?) Point
Buddy:Martin
Equipment Details:8Kg, 5mm wetsuit, 5mm shorty, 15L steel tank, no hood or gloves which was a very welcome change from Tobermorey! 4Kg on weight belt (which kept moving around) and 4Kg integrated.
Visibility:15m
Water Speed:0m
Weather Conditions:Drizzle
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:200
Air out:70
Cylinder:15L

Very organised dive outfit. They had us put fins in one box, kit in another place and called our names to get us into the boat in the right order. Before dive had agreed signals for tooth pain (open and close fists each side of the mouth) but in fact my dentist had done a great job and there wasn't a problem. Back roll entry at 5m off the boat, swam down beach and along wall with to our right, lots of small black fish (goldfish bowl type). At one point I thought I saw an octopus but Martin pointed out later it was a sea cucumber! Guide (Marcus) pointed out a huge scorpian fish. I clearded my mask a bit and ended up floating up into Aiden who kindly pushed me on my way. Headed back the way we came, gradually ascending. Saw a large dalmation Nudybranch. Surfaced back at the boat gradually as I had a bit of Sinus pain (1 Sudafed tablet not doing it's job). We took our kit off in the water and handed it back up to the staff on the boat. After the dive I floated in the water for about 40mins and drank coffee, very relaxing!

Dive 38

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Date:11.10.2009
Start Time:10:45:00
Dive Time:61
Water Temperature:23
Maximum Depth:23.77
Average Depth:11.85
Place:Monk Seal Bay
Buddy:Matrin
Equipment Details:Same but I moved 4Kg from weight belt into my pockets which gave me far better balance. Possibly slightly under weighted at the end.
Visibility:15m
Water Speed:0m/s
Weather Conditions:Sunny, some rain.
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:200
Air out:70
Cylinder:15L

Entry via a back roll again (I was last in). Descended to the sea bed (about 5m) and then down a wall where I had a bit of sinus trouble. Lots of the black fish again. Swam with the wall to our right this time and passed a huge clam vertical in the water. Kept getting kicked in the face by blue fins. Came back along a similar route but further up the wall. 7 dalmation nudybranchs on one brown sponge at onw point, all of them quite small. Spent quite a lot of time around 10-5m and ended up with a 60min dive. The guide took a group photo with Phil's camera at the end.

Sarah lost her watch

Dive 39

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Date:12.10.2009
Start Time:08:11:00
Dive Time:47
Water Temperature:23
Maximum Depth:30.48
Average Depth:12.95
Place:Blue hole
Buddy:Sarah
Equipment Details:
Visibility:Good
Water Speed:0m/s
Weather Conditions:Mainly sunny
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:
Air out:
Cylinder:15L

Had trouble anchoring. Aiden lost his knife but I spotted it at the bottom. Sarah and I got in on opposite sides of the boat so I swam around. We went down and Marcus soon spotted an octopus 10m from the anchor. We went right along the top a bit before heading left with the red gorgonia growing off the wall which dropped to about 40m. We went to about 30m. Swam with the wall to the left then turned into the cave area. Over the rocks and into the tunnel. We turned around in the cave and Sarah found about 4 tubes (12cm diameter, by 25cm long) spaced about 2m apart with tentacles at the top. Swam back over the pebbles and out. Went back towards the boat and Marcus had picked up the octupus. I started feeling sick and surfaced then threw up. Sarah stayed down.

Pulled up in a sheltered bay so I floated around again whilst eating my twix and drinking coffee.

Dive 40

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Date:12.10.2009
Start Time:10:23:00
Dive Time:61
Water Temperature:23
Maximum Depth:28.35
Average Depth:13.04
Place:Vertical Limit
Buddy:Sarah
Equipment Details:
Visibility:
Water Speed:
Weather Conditions:
Entry/Boat:
Air in:
Air out:
Cylinder:15L

We descended and went along the wall to the right. Marcus pointed out a Peacock fan worm, and Sarah and I saw loads of nudibranchs, so many that the novelty of our 3 part signal began to wear thin, particularly after we saw 15 on one sponge! Sarah's campagin bag drifted off but I managed to catch it. We continued around to the right and then moved up along the top of the wall back to the left with the shore viisble. Waved to Naoko snorkelling and enjoyed the scenery with the long grass. At 57mins thought we'd stay down for the hour.

Saw a baby morray eel, loads of dalmatian nudibrachns, an octpus in a hole, lots of starfish, some of those worms that look like spider webs, some sea-cumcumbers and some animals which looked like starfish arms.

Dive 41

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Over-night it had been extremely stormy so we were worried the dives today would be off. Phil and I had gone to the pharmacy and supermarket for mosquito-related merchandice just as the rain started and got caught caught out in the storm so we had a cup of expresso while we waited for the worst to pass. The others had been up the mountain but luckily were down just in time. We had to use a bedside table to keep the doors to the balcony closed over-night it was so windy. In the morning it had died down a bit but was still windy and very cold so Emily didn't join us. Because I was sick yesterday I took a sea-sickness pill, a sudafed and one of Phil's trapped wind tablets to see if they did the trick.

Date:13.10.2009
Start Time:08:12:00
Dive Time:53
Water Temperature:22
Maximum Depth:30.18
Average Depth:14.68
Place:Wreck Graveyard
Buddy:Boggie and Martin
Equipment Details:
Visibility:10m
Water Speed:Strong current at first
Weather Conditions:Cold wind, overcast
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:200
Air out:70
Cylinder:15L

This was the site where a restaurant ship sunk, along with all its wooden lifeboats. We had trouble getting the anchor to hold because of the waves so ended up anchoring some distance from the dive site and had a 5 minute swim against a strong current to get to the place the dive normally starts. Marcus had been our guide up to this point but today it was Dave. He was wearing a drysuit!

We swam through the grass and slowly downwards over a wall/slope. As we got closer the debris increased, from plates, pipes etc to whole ovens. Eventually we saw the site with about 6 or 7 old lifeboats strewn around. The main ship must have rusted away or been mostly salvaged because there wasn't much sign of it. One of the boats was nearly vertical and resting against the wall, its paint was intact and you could read the numbers 1155 on its side in red paint against a white side with a blue trim. The others were in worse stges of decay wih some just being ribs. Dave spotted two lobsters as we were leaving the site. Beautiful blue colours.

We headed on up the wall and then back along the top, as it gradually got shallower we arrived at the boat and surfaced.

It was bitterly cold at the top so most of us soon got back in the water to try to keep warm during the surface interval, having our tea and bananas in the water. I actually ended up kitting up for the second dive in the water.

Dive 42

(Full properties)

The second site was close to the first so we swam over to it and met Dave and the others at the bottom of the anchor chain. Boggie had a dive-aware black bin liner and it wasn't long before Martin and I were filling it with rubbish from the bottom including cans, a shoe and a waterproof jacket.

Date:13.10.2009
Start Time:10:11:00
Dive Time:61
Water Temperature:22
Maximum Depth:15.85
Average Depth:8.81
Place:St Ivan's Point (Bay??)
Buddy:Boggie, Martin - then Sarah!
Equipment Details:
Visibility:10m
Water Speed:None
Weather Conditions:Windy at surafce, bit sunnier
Entry/Boat:Kitted up in the water
Air in:200
Air out:70
Cylinder:15L

This was a nice gentle dive mainly around 10m where we got a chance to remove litter (bottles, jars, etc) but also to poke around in holes. Martin, Boggie and I all had a bottle at one point and Martin and I did a cheers with ours. I saw two baby moray eels (but failed to show Martin or Boggie), a little shrimp-like thing plenty of dalmation nudibrachs, sponges and other goodies. About 3/4 of the way through the dive Boggie and Martin didn't notice me looking in a hole and swam off. By the time I'd noticed they were too far to catch (bit of a current) so I waited for Akiko, Aiden and Sarah. Phil had actually gone with Martin and Boggie so I buddied Sarah for the rest of the dive. She gave me her torch so I could poke around a bit and while I was looking in one whole she had spotted an octopus in another and everyone else was looking at that! Amaxing things. This one just watched us back. Eventually Aiden decided it was time for us all to surface so we did as we were already by the boat. Turned into yet another 60min dive.

Dive 43

(Full properties)

I'd left my wallet somewhere the day before (only remembering as I got onto the boat) but luckily when we arrived the next day it was still at the Dive centre.

This was the first time I'd buddied Emily so was rather looking forward to it. The dive site was quite a long way from Vela Luka so it took a while to get there. The air temperature was still pretty cold so it was a bit chilly and I wore a T-Shirt under my wetsuit to try to stay a bit warmer.

Date:14.10.2009
Start Time:08:02:00
Dive Time:47
Water Temperature:22
Maximum Depth:24.99
Average Depth:15.11
Place:Posiden's Cave
Buddy:Emily
Equipment Details:8Kg + Torch
Visibility:Good
Water Speed:Slow
Weather Conditions:Cold and a bit windy
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:190
Air out:50
Cylinder:15L

We moored in shallow water above and a bit to the right of the wall containing the cave. We entered and went straight to the edge of the wall and over the top. We descended down the wall and into the cave from the right. I had a good poke around in allthe holes but Emily just headed at a constant speed about a meter from the edge without looking too closely. I found two of the red shrimp/lobster things but Emily was too far away to attract her attention so I showed Aiden instead. I caught up with Emily and we went deeper into the cave. Loads of sponges on the walls, sea cucmbers, a fire-worm, pretty annenome-type things etc. The cave goes deep into the wall but we headed across at the same point as everyone else and explored the other side. On the way out I found a clam-digger and showed Aiden, but again Emily was a bit far away and I couldn't catch her attention. We spent a bit of time going back up the wall and peering into all the gaps before reaching the shallow area again. We had a poke around and followed Marcus but it wasn't long before we were on 60bar and headed back to the boat.

The walls themselves were very good with lots of life on them. On one of today's dives I found some old fishing line and started bringing it up but there was too much of it. Boggie found it after me and than Aiden who started coiling it up only to abandond the excersise too!

Back on the boat the wind was still blowing and it was bitterly cold. A large school of fish passed us jumping out of the water at one point. We had a biscuit and then headed to the next dive site, Smuggler's cove, but it was too windy for the boat so we headed to a different dive site, Ementhal, so named because it is full of holes, like the cheese.

We anchored the boat but it was still very cold so I stayed in the water with my shorty on whilst everyone had their donuts. We had tea and coffee, but no cups this time so I missed out on a hot drink.

Dive 44

(Full properties)

Date:14.10.2009
Start Time:09:54:00
Dive Time:47
Water Temperature:22
Maximum Depth:21.95
Average Depth:12.94
Place:Emmental (wall dive)
Buddy:Emily
Equipment Details:8Kg + Torch
Visibility:Good
Water Speed:Slow
Weather Conditions:Cold, windy
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:200
Air out:70
Cylinder:15L

After kitting up Emily and I were the last in and the others were already descending so we joined them after a very quick in-water buddy check. We swam to the wall and descended, this time keeping the wall to our left. Emily only had 180 bar on a 10L cylinder so we thought this might be a quick dive.

Again the wall was rich in wildlife with plenty of holes to see things in. We enterd a cave at one point and swam over a raised point, exiting at another entrance to it. On the way in there was a large scorpion fish and on the floor of the cave were a few huge clams anchored vertically firmly in the sand. The first had a yellow nudibrach on it. We swam out and along the wall again, Emily soon spotted three small fish perched on sponges on the wall, quite close together. I seemed to spend quite a lot of my time upside down looking in the crevices.

As we headed up Emily pointed out a blue/purple nudibrach and I saw another higher up. We had plety of air this time so spend about 15 mins looking in all the holed for octupus but all we found were starfish, fan worms, sea grass, two huge anenome's, plenty of sea-urchins and lots of fish. I also spotted some pipe fish on the surface but by the time I'd grabbed Emily's attention they seemed to have gone. First time I've seen pipe fish.

We all got very cold on the long ride back and ended up huddled together at the front end of the boat.

Dive 45

(Full properties)

Because Martin decided not to come diving today and Emily had gone back with Gareth, there were two spaces on the boat so we were joined by a German buddy pair, one of whom had a Canon EOS 1D rig for underwater photography. I have a hunch that we were diving the Blue Hole again for him but Bobby said it was because the light was so much better we'd enjoy it more.

Date:15.10.2009
Start Time:08:14:00
Dive Time:54
Water Temperature:22
Maximum Depth:32.61
Average Depth:12.7
Place:Blue Hole
Buddy:Aiden
Equipment Details:Same as yesterday but I got one of the small yellow torches and Naoko's camera
Visibility:Good
Water Speed:0m/s
Weather Conditions:Sunny, calm but still cold air
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:190
Air out:60
Cylinder:15L

After some deliberations the night before I buddied Aiden (Sarah had wanted to but buddied Phil instead!). The dive was the same as the last time but this time Naoko lent me her camera so I started the dive snapping fish and red gorgonia. Aiden had asked whether I was task-loading by taking a torch and a camera but I thought it would be OK. As it was my boyancy was a bit all over the place when I was taking photos and videos (mainly because I was holding my breath for some reason) but it was fine. The photographer went very deep so he was on the bottom when Aiden and I were peering into gaps in the wall. Saw a fire worm on a gorgonia and then saw a yellow sea-slug which Phil and I photographed.

We went up the red rocks again and entered the tunnel, going a bit deeper this time. There were a few gold-coloured fish in the tunnel and we saw a few worms on the sea bed. Aiden waved his hand at them to make them go in but actually the tunnel they live in was very flexible so it just moved with the flow. We headed up to the surface agian and saw Naoko there.

Because the next dive site was going to be out of the sun we spent our surface interval there and had some tea and donuts.

Dive 46

(Full properties)

This was our last dive and it happened to be the place where the dive centre tend to do their night dives. It was cold out of the sun so we kitted up pretty quickly and got in.

Date:15.10.2009
Start Time:10:16:00
Dive Time:60
Water Temperature:21
Maximum Depth:28.35
Average Depth:12.74
Place:Vranine
Buddy:Aiden
Equipment Details:Same but without the camera
Visibility:Good
Water Speed:0m/s
Weather Conditions:Sunny, calm but still cold air
Entry/Boat:RIB
Air in:200
Air out:50
Cylinder:15L

This was a wall dive so we quickly found the wall and headed down, looking in the cracks. There wasn't as much life in the cracks as I was expecting really but we saw some gorgonia again. At one point as I was peering intently into the wall, Akiko pointed out there was a scorpion fish sitting there about 40cm from my face! We continued on and saw Sarah and Phil photographing a white nudibrach, the last type we hadn't seen yet so I was very pleased. Aiden gave the string a twirl. As we moved on Aiden was very pleased to find a rope and an Anchor - he picked it up and attached it to his D-rings as before. There was also a toilet seat but we left that alone! A bit further on Sarah had found an Octopus in a hole but Aiden attached the anchor to her so she quickly ank the few feet to the bottom looking very surprised!

We headed up back onto the top of the wall and pocked around a bit amongst the sea urchins but I was delighted to see Phil filming a cuttlefish. It was very well camoflaged and subtley changed colour as it moved around, amazing creature.

All in all it was a fantastic trip and I was very lucky to see the white nudibrach and cuttlefish on the last dive. Apart from a jellyfish I'd seen everything I'd hoped to.

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