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There is Something Sensual About Saying the Words “I am going to Scuba Dive in Ibiza”

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There is something sensual about saying the words “I am Scuba Diving in Ibiza,” so I was hoping the reality was going to match up!

Arriving off our Norwegian Airlines flight on the white isle late in the evening meant an early morning rising in order to arrive at Scuba Ibiza’s dive shop by 9.30 am. I stood bleary eyed on my hotel balcony listening to the relaxing bird song which was emanating from the surrounding pine forest.

The drive from our hotel to Marina Botafoch (where the dive school is situated) took approximately 35 minutes. The roads were signposted clearly and the dive school at the marina was pretty easy to find without being given directions.

I had been in contact in the weeks leading up to the trip via email with Yaqui, the co-owner of Scuba Ibiza, and he had informed me that the boat left the harbour around 9.30 am and arrived back to shore about 13.30. As he asked me “not to be one of these people who do not turn up.” I wondered if this happened a lot in Ibiza.

The whitewashed building looked full of hustle as I peeked my head into the changing room and was directed to the shop entrance by the other co-owner Paulo.

Scuba Ibiza

Yaqui greeted us with a smile, handing us a form to fill in for the company Padi records. I paid 6 euros for dive insurance – which is a necessity whenever you scuba dive in Spain. Usually I sort dive insurance out in the UK, but this time, I thought I would try out how it all worked in Spain. It couldn’t have been easier. Arranged in just a click of a button. Within a moment, my dive insurance for the day had been sorted out.

Yaqui then took me out the back to size me up for wetsuit and fins. I noticed all were in excellent condition. I was to wear a 5 mm wetsuit with a shorty on top. Scuba Diving Ibiza had advised completing a drysuit course, as wearing a drysuit was the best option for scuba diving in Mediterranean waters at this time of year (15° is the average water temperature in the month of April, rising to a balmy 30° in the summer months), but alas I didn’t have the time, so settled for the next best thing.

Up one side of the wall, plastic boxes were laid out in rows and numbered – the shop being a safe place to leave our clothes and valuables whilst out on the dive. Scuba Diving Ibiza were making things easy.

At each step Yaqui explained what would be happening. After sorting out the correct gear, our next step was to head to the boat and connect our tank to our regulators. I always find I’m a bit rusty with this step, no matter how many times a year I dive. Yaqui advised spending a week with a dive school, so the first day nerves and jitters could be got over and out of the way, leaving the rest of the week to enjoy the diving. His advice made sense and I definitely would like to find somewhere where I can make the most of good weather, warm relaxing calm conditions (small group numbers) and great customer service to really get the best out scuba diving without feeling continuously challenged. I’d like to relax into it…

Yaqui supervised my connecting of my regulator to my tank, sharing with me the way in which Scuba Ibiza checked out the gear, leaving the tank turned off for our return back to the shop to kit up.

Once we were all ready we made our way back to the rib, where we effortlessly glided out of the harbour to our first dive site. On the way Yacqui explained the kind of dive we would be experiencing at Llado Sur just 4km from Ibiza harbour.

“Currents are normally found here, around four times a year,” was the last thing I can remember him telling me before finally kitting up, feeling claustrophobic and back rolling into the sea. This dive was one of those four times.

Paulo had thrown out a buoy line to assist with the drag of the current and to pull us to the anchor line, if needed. I needed it.

Llado South Ibiza

I realised one of the differences between scuba diving in Europe, as opposed to diving in countries such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand. When descending the group has gone down together. In the places I have dived in Europe, each diver descends individually. I found this more unnerving initially – especially knowing that I have trouble with my descent because of nerves, but here I just kept hold of the anchor line and crossed my legs behind me to stop their unconscious kicking. Then calming my breathing to a slow and steady rate, I made my way down to the others at 16mtrs – eventually hovering above a green meadow of sea grass.

The cold hit me as soon as I entered the water – an immediate headache (brain freeze) pounded me in the cold. I had chosen not to wear my hood, as I don’t like feeling enclosed, which I instantly regretted. I concentrated on my buoyancy as we began to make our way round the craggy shelf observing  a small school of barracuda. I thought I would be more nervous as this was the first time I had dived without Vinnie for a long time, but dealing with the current as Yaqui assisted the other divers, acknowledging the brain freeze as it continued and enjoying the brown octopus as it suckered itself to Yaqui’s gloved hand – held me mesmerised for the 40 minute dive.  One of the things I managed to sort out during this dive was how I let the air out of my BCD – Yacqui corrected my technique. He recognised that I wasn’t upright each time I attempted to do so, and showed me what to do with hand signals. I finally managed to get it right and it made things so much easier. One more thing I learned. Our ascent had us committing to the 5 metres, 3 minute safety stop, and as soon as my cold head broke the surface tension, Paulo was directing me to the back of the boat. He then helped me up, removed my BCD, tank and fins and I was able to flop down exhausted.

Scuba Ibiza

I was immediately hit by seasickness.

Vince had already been throwing up, after a failed attempt to snorkel in the strong current, and our pale faces were a reflection of how the other was feeling. The point on my body between my wrists and elbow seemed to be the coldest and my mind felt a tad overwhelmed and confused as I lent my head over the side of the boat and promptly brought up my breakfast, cooked for me by Michaela that very same morning. I don’t normally suffer with seasickness but today was going to be my first experience of it.

Both Yaqui and Paulo were attentive while Nuria (the other instructor) was busy helping her divers out of their gear.

“You must drink water.” Paulo said to me. “It will make you sick again but your stomach won’t spasm. Like it will with nothing in it.”

I could only manage the tiniest of sips before once again draping myself over the side and enjoying the feeling of the rise and fall of the choppy waves. There was something restful about it. I wondered if it was to do with the cold on my head, which was making me feel bad rather than the actual seasickness.

Yaqui offered me a square of chocolate to eat. I took a bit and threw it back up over the side.

Both Yaqui and Paulo encouraged me to get back in the water for the second dive. ” Your seasickness will disappear.” Paulo said. ” It is better to be in the water than on the boat.”

My head span – I didn’t think it was better for me to be in the water. Instead I stood on the back of the boat with the wind in my face. I felt exhausted.

Surprisingly the time flew by.

Scuba Ibiza

Paulo shared with us that his home country was Brazil, and he had come over to Ibiza many years ago to visit his sister and had decided to stay. Scuba Ibiza had invested a lot of money in buying drysuits recently so their customers could scuba dive in Ibiza waters all year round. Such was their passion for the local waters and they wanted to share this with others. “It’s a change of mindset, not a change of water conditions that’s needed,” We were told.

“I like September best,” Paulo continued. “The fish aren’t so sleepy. It’s a good time of year to dive in Ibiza.”

Between them, Yaqui and Paulo had many years worth of diving experience. Their customer service skills, knowledge and customer care were excellent – the best I have experienced. I felt that I was treated the way all dive shops should treat their customers on a fun dive. Scuba Ibiza placed their customers having a good time as a priority, saying to me “Well, you are on holiday after all!”  It wasn’t their fault I felt ropey and as a result how my dive unfolded.

As soon as my foot hit solid ground, once we were moored again in the harbour, I began to feel better. The tanks and BCD’s were all left on the boat – the staff sorted that out and all I had to do was make my way back to the shop.

The showers were communal but because of the way the whole dive had been handled, I actually didn’t feel uncomfortable stripping off in the communal changing area. There was a large pile of fluffy towels for the patrons to use and in the shower area, in each of the cubicles, the water was hot and each had shampoo and shower gel available to use. I thought this was a nice touch.

I walked away from Scuba Ibiza impressed with the company, particularly Yaqui and Paulo’s thoughtful attitude towards customer care. Their member of staff Nuria was always smiling, pleasant and helpful when approached.

Scuba diving Ibiza

Although the actual dive may not have been all I wanted it to be, Scuba Diving Ibiza showed me what could be achieved with a lot of thought and care put into the dive service they supplied and a genuine interest in their customers’ needs.

If you’re taking a trip to Ibiza, check them out.

What sort of Customer Service have you experienced?

As always,  I’d love to know your thoughts…

For more tales of diving from the Stringer family, visit www.travelwiththestrings.wordpress.com.

Janice Stringer is a Writer blogging on travelwiththestrings.wordpress.com exploring long haul and short haul travel, with generous shots of family experiences of scuba diving and street food and her humanistic musings on life as they appear along the way.

Marine Life & Conservation

Scuba Diving Pen Llŷn, Wales 2020 (Watch Video)

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The Welsh coast is home to a biodiverse range of species and habitats which are found within the shallows along the coast out into the open seas. Much of the coastline is accessible and can be explored with basic snorkelling gear or you can adventure deeper using scuba gear.

The coast around Pen Llŷn is no exception and provides exciting encounters with a range of marine life. Take a journey around the Pen Llŷn coast to explore the range of species which can be found on the shallow sandy shores of south Pen Llŷn to the more rugged rocky shores of the North Pen Llŷn. As darkness falls taking a dive below the waves at night to reveal more species that are often hiding away in the day and always some surprises.

Now we are into the New Year, it’s time to start planning the year ahead which involves exploring new sites and locations which hopefully brings new exciting encounters with species not seen before.


You can find out more about Dan Dŵr Cymru (Under Water Wales) and their new series that we will be showcasing in 2021 at https://dandwrcymru.wordpress.com.

Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Where History and Diver Meet: Wreck Diving in Narvik

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Guest article by Petra Pruden

Cool, clear waters provide exceptional conditions for preserving shipwrecks, and a one-of-a-kind opportunity for divers seeking to explore them. There is one particular location in Norway, near the city and fjord of Ofotfjord, Narvik, that, due to its ideal conditions and historical significance, make it remarkable for diving. Not only are the landscapes spectacular, but during WW2, three significant navy engagements took place there resulting in 16 wrecks accessible to divers today. It’s no surprise that divers such as Australian diver and wreck enthusiast, Edd Stockdale, have been drawn to this location to discover and learn about the wrecks left behind.

Diving with a Story

Located just north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, the coastal city of Narvik offers ice-free access to the North Atlantic. Narvik was a particularly important location in years past as iron ore from Sweden could be shipped there by train, loaded onto ships, and distributed. The city’s strategic foothold caused tension between the British and Norwegian navies and German forces, and they eventually fought to control the transport of iron. From April to June in 1940, three major battles were waged in this fjord resulting in many lives lost and numerous sunken ships. Today, the Narvik fjord is a popular wreck diving site, as the pristine, yet chilly, waters of this protected harbor offer divers and tourists alike an unforgettable, historical experience.

Edd Stockdale and His Trip to Narvik

Edd Stockdale

One such diver who found himself drawn to the history and wonder of Narvik is Edd Stockdale. Edd first picked up diving as a boy, and his passion for the sport quickly turned into a lifelong career. Originally from Australia, Edd followed his love for cold dives and made Sweden his new home. With over 5,500 dives in his logbook, 20 years-worth of diving experience, and his name gracing the cover of several prominent training course manuals (RAID instruction manuals), Edd is the kind of guy to take you on a true adventure. Given that his home in Sweden is (relatively) close to Narvik, this last year he made the drive to the famous location to discover some of the wrecks for himself.

Once Edd reached the harbor, he was joined by a group of Swedish and Finnish wreck divers, explorers, and historians aboard an old Swedish minesweeper, the Galten. “Our days generally consisted of getting up at a reasonable time, having breakfast, and getting our rebreathers ready for the day’s diving,” described Edd, then further adding, “We dropped a shot-line at each wreck we visited, then staggered the entry teams to allow time for decompression. Each dive took between 2-3 hours, and after we were finished and the shot-lines recovered, we got to enjoy a relaxing evening on the ship, which, in true Norwegian form, even included a sauna.”

The Erich Giese

With as many as 16 wrecks in the vicinity of Narvik, it’s difficult for divers, Edd included, to choose a favorite dive. “On past dives, I enjoyed visiting the Erich Giese, a German Z class destroyer that sits in about 65 meters of water,” recalled Edd. Back in the late 1930s, the Erich Giese was part of Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine, or, in other words, the German navy. During the early stages of the Norwegian Campaign, this ship engaged in naval combat with two British destroyers as it tried to make its way out of Narvik Harbor. Although it was temporarily successful in defending its escape, narrowly dodging five torpedoes fired by the British, it was eventually reduced to a burning wreck after enduring as many as 20 turret shots.

Aft Torpedo launcher Erich Gise

The Landego

Apart from diving the Erich Giese for the first time, Edd was also able to explore the D/S Landego, which he described as “stunning to see up close, with many of its details remaining intact, if not for the Arctic marine life that has taken to living onboard.” The Landego also shares a rather intriguing war story. According to Norwegian reports, the ship was requisitioned by the Germans and used to lay cable for military communication purposes. However, as it turned out, the exact spot chosen by the Germans for laying the cable was an active minefield. The Landego struck a mine, exploded on impact, and cost the lives of 9 men onboard. Today it sits approximately 300 meters offshore and provides divers with an extraordinary diving experience.

Diver on port side of Landego

If Wrecks Could Speak

It seems the more you look into the history of each wreck in this area, the closer you come to understanding the difficult circumstances many of these men were forced to endure. For Edd, learning the stories of the wrecks he dives has become standard practice. “As with every dive we go on, we are briefed beforehand on the history of the site, which we can then use to compare with the photos and videos we later capture on our dive. This provides our trip with extra meaning, especially in a place like Narvik, where such a large naval conflict was carried out in a relatively small body of water.” It’s interesting, yet also harrowing, to think that a German invasion from 1940 ultimately turned into what is today seen as one of Europe’s top wreck diving destinations.

After learning about the ships’ backstories, Edd and his team are eager to get in the water and start exploring. Edd dons his Liberty sidemount rebreather which allows him to better pass through some of the smaller doorways and access points of the wrecks. Once in the water, Edd and his team take their time searching the sunken ships, combing over details such as torpedoes and bullet holes, and comparing what they found under the water with what they had learned during the briefing. They also take care to document everything they see with their underwater cameras, and even go so far to share videos of their experience on YouTube. This is the perfect way for Edd to relive some of the moments of these dives, while also providing newcomers with some insight on what to expect before getting in the water.

Ladego Stern Deck

Plans for the Future

When asked if he would recommend Narvik to fellow divers, Edd replied with enthusiasm, “Basically, if you like brilliant wreck diving, clear water, stunning scenery, and impressive, historically-relevant dive sites, Narvik is the place for you.” He then went on to add, speaking as a professional diver, that one of Narvik’s greatest advantages is that many of the wrecks sit in 10-30 meters of water, meaning even shallow range divers can discover these remarkable WW2 shipwrecks.

Plus, with so many wrecks located in one fjord, Narvik is the ideal location for divers to make return visits. Edd is already planning his next trip to the area, adding, “Narvik is one of the greatest places to go and teach wreck penetration courses. And, given that wreck photography is a hobby of mine, there’s no better place for me to keep visiting and get all my amazing shots in one place.”

A Destination to Dive

For most divers, just the fact that 16 accessible shipwrecks can be found within such close proximity of one another is reason enough to visit this unique spot. Plus, with the striking landscapes of the Norwegian fjords, the rich history to be discovered, and need we mention the saunas, it’s easy to see why Narvik could command the top slot on divers’ bucket lists. If you’re ready to see for yourself what Edd Stockdale and his team have been so enchanted by, pack your gear and head north to this unforgettable place. Perhaps you could even join Edd there!


Edd Stockdale is an Ambassador for Divesoft. Find out more about the CCR Liberty at www.divesoft.com/en/products/ccr-liberty

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Competitions

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