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What makes a man jump off a perfectly good boat?

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Good question. Monkey’s answer is simple. DIVING ON WRECKS!

Wrecks are usually too far from shore to access from land – I know I hate long surface swims – what about you? A boat is needed. The bigger the better in my opinion.  I know that I want a nice place to spend my surface interval, because let’s face it, you aren’t going to do just a single dive are you? You want to look, find, explore and take your time. Slowly slowly, catch the monkey as they say!

Divers are such a community of like-minded people from all walks of life that when you book a boat dive on the Zenobia Wreck  you know that you will be going to your form of church. You may dive with your dive centre, or you may have a group of friends who you buddy up with on a regular basis – whoever you dive with, boat diving is totally awesome in the sense that you know it will not just be your group on the boat ready for your next adventure.  You will arrive early in the morning, set up your gear and find a spot. Then you can chat, have a coffee and socialize!

The energy on board before a Zenobia Wreck dive in Cyprus is electric. A start of the engines is like a starter pistol at a very relaxed race, everyone starts getting into their wetsuits, donning their gear and making their final safety checks. The Zenobia Queen makes her way out of Larnaca Marina into the sunrise. In just ten minutes we are there, and the ocean at this time of the morning a so flat it looks like a mirror. Then, all lined up like penguins, we jump off the boat in our groups and make a slow controlled descent to the top 3rd wreck in the world! Wow.

The dive is over, you exit the water. You change your tank and check your air or nitrox. You drink a glass of chilled water and relax – the surface interval is here. Watermelon is passed around – big happy chunks of the stuff transform our faces into huge, red seeded smiles.  Beautiful. The boat rocks gently and cameras are passed around, sharing our visual bounty. Stories are swapped, new equipment is stroked and sun tan lotion is applied.

Before you know it, it is time for your second dive. Your equipment is happy to be climbed into – it has been waiting for you! Checks are made side my side and you jump in two by two – hurrah! Bubbles form rings around the boat lazily, as exhaled gasses reach the surface – the noise is eerily relaxing. You descend, you dive, you surface, you smile. As you surface the smell of fresh barbequed chicken fills your nostrils. Your stomach makes a noise and you mouth fills with saliva. You get back on board, de-kit and make your way to the full buffet that has been prepared while you have been underwater. Yum. Us divers love 2 things – good diving and good food! Within minutes the boat is back in the marina, hungry cats that are waiting for a prized piece of leftover chicken are all mewing in the sunshine. You exchange email addresses with new friends and slowly your diving day starts to wind down. A perfect end to a perfect day.  http://www.scuba-monkey.com/

 

What’s your favourite Wreck Dive? Have you met a life-long friend or even a partner on a dive boat? Tell us in the comments section below!

Alexandra Dimitriou is a dive center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner at Scuba Monkey Ltd.

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review – The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

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It was the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Cruiser Ordzhonikidz, supported by two destroyers, had brought Soviet leaders Khruschev and Bulganin to Britain for sensitive meetings with the British Government. The ships were moored in Portsmouth harbour and the Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, had expressly forbidden any clandestine inspection of them. However, on the morning of 19th April 1956 Commander Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabbe, an experienced naval diver, slipped into the cold waters of Portsmouth harbour. His top secret mission was to photograph the hull, propellers and rudder of the Ordzhonikidze. He was never seen alive again.

A badly decomposed body, with head and hands missing, was discovered by fishermen in Chichester harbour months later. It was claimed to be the missing body of Buster Crabbe – but many had doubts. The incident marked the start of a controversy that claimed the posts of several high ranking naval, government and intelligence service personnel. The author of The Final Dive, Don Hale, claims it is one that still rages and which may not be resolved even when secret government files are released in 2057.

Don Hale, an acknowledged campaigning journalist and former Journalist of the Year brings all his experience and skill to unravelling this longstanding scandal. He has drawn upon official reports and private letters, statements from government representatives, fellow officers and friends to piece together Buster’s life and events leading to his disappearance and subsequent investigation. He speaks of “inquiries blocked by intrigue, constant cover-ups and government bureaucracy coupled with threats relating to the Official Secrets Act” (p. xi). If you like reading about subterfuge on a grand scale you will enjoy The Final Dive.

Don Hale’s meticulous account of the life of Buster Crabbe is supported by dozens of black and white photos and extracts from numerous official documents. It reveals how an amazing series of civilian jobs, wartime activities and friendships with high ranking government officials, British intelligence officers, American CIA operatives. . . and now known spies, prepared him for his final dive and perhaps his fate. One of Crabbe’s acquaintances was the author Ian Fleming – of James Bond fame. Indeed, it is suggested that Fleming based the character of 007 on Buster Crabbe. After reading of his exploits, both before WWII, his bomb disposal work during the war, and afterwards it is easy to see why. Certainly, those who worked with Buster Crabbe “all agree he was fearless.” (p.59). After reading of his exploits one wonders if he was too fearless.

In the later stage of Buster’s life, prior to his disappearance, Don Hall recounts “a constant merry-go-round of overseas assignments” (p. 118) for Crabbe and how he “began to receive increasingly hazardous commissions” (p. 136). It culminated in the morning dive in Portsmouth harbour. Hale’s forsensic-like account of the events surrounding the final dive and aftermath reveals absolute panic and bungling behind the scenes as official answers conflict with known facts. He describes how “The whole incident still seems bathed in secrecy, with the true facts deliberately buried in bureaucracy, and supported at the highest level by an incredible cover-up operation”.(p. 205).

A final comment by Don Hale adds to the intrigue. He states “The only part of the Crabbe puzzle about which I am not certain is not who sent him – we know the answer to that – but why on earth he was he sent, possibly at considerable risk?” (p. 248). After reading The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe you will no doubt have your own ideas.


The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

  • By Don Hale
  • Stroud: Sutton Publishing
  • ISBN 978 0 7509 4574 5
  • 260 pp

Don Hale was a professional footballer before becoming editor of several regional newspapers. He has received numerous national and international awards for investigative journalism including Journalist of the Year. In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for his campaigning journalism in the Stephen Downing miscarriage of justice case. He has championed several others who have been wrongly convicted.

His other books include Town without Pity (2002), Murder in the Graveyard (2019) and Mallard: How the ‘Blue Steak’ Broke the World Speed Record (2019).


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… Catching up with Cristina Zenato and Kewin Lorenzen

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It’s a year since Gemma and Ian spoke with Cristina Zenato and produced Episodes 9, 12 and 21.  We also spoke to Kewin Lorenzen on Episode 13.  The year of 2020 was challenging for everyone but we hear that for both Cristina and Kewin it was a positive year with changes made to bring them both into 2021 with fresh ideas.  We hear how the sharks are and what amazing progress has been made with the cave exploration and the People of the Water Charity.

Have a listen here:


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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