Back to the Um El Faroud


This morning we headed south to the south western tip of Malta to dive the shipwreck of the Um El Faroud again.  We have already dived her once, so look back in my blog to last week and you will find more detail on the wreck.

It was a gloriously sunny day again with little or no wind.  Perfect for the Faroud.  We arrived and parked up, and I wandered down the slipway to the boatman office to get a boatman to take us out to the wreck.  The little cove is also the embarkation point for boat trips to the Blue Grotto, so there are a lot of small excursion boats clustered around ready for trade.  I got one for 15 euro.  They will only take you out there and drop you off, no waiting around, so you have to be prepared to swim back.  This is not a problem, it’s not that far.  However, if -like us – you are diving with a single cylinder of air, the boat trip out really helps as you have more left to explore the wreck.

Anyway, we kitted up and went down to the embarkation point.  Bad timing.  About 100 cruise ship passengers rolled up and they got boarded first.  We didn’t have to wait long actually, maybe 5 minutes.  He dropped us off on top of the wreck and we swam down through the blue.  It sits in about 36m to the seabed, maybe 20 to the top, and its fully upright, about 110m long.  A sizeable wreck and very spectacular to see.  The hatches are open and you can explore inside.  There are a lot of possibilities on this wreck.  Quite a lot of growth coming now, and it is so atmospheric to see the rigging, ropes, cables, swinging gently in the water.  There are absolutely thousands of fish too.  Clouds of small fish all around her and some larger ones down under the hull in the shadows.

We explored the mid section today and then swam back to the stern down the companionway.  Dropped over the cliff of the stern and down to where the propeller is still in place.  Absolutely massive.  I swam through the mechanism and touched the huge blades, now covered in soft growth.  Really beautiful.

As our air dwindled to half a tank, it was time to make our return.  We swam out in the blue towards the land, just visible in the distance.  As we left the sand and came over the reef below us we saw a massive moray out of his hole and free swimming along.  We got to the cliff walls and turned, swimming along them in about 15m till we reached the entrance to the little harbour/cove.  This time we did not have any stops to do so we swam up the inlet till we reached one of the ladders which gave us exit to the quayside.  A great dive, very enjoyable.  One of our favourites here in Malta if the conditions are right ie a north wind preferable.

Some video clips: here

and here

and here

We dried off over a couple of coffees in the little café and discussed plans.  We were going to have a second dive today and leave Thursday free, but the proposed second dive was not very thrilling so we decided to just have one dive today and then tomorrow early go back to Cirkewwa and dive the P29 again.   So, after our snack we drove back to Maltaqua and dropped off two cylinders, keeping 2 for tomorrow.  Went and had a look at their new diving warehouse shop.  Well, that was a mistake of course!!!  It was massive, with lots of goodies, and we ended up buying two new prescription masks.  Our masks are both probably about 25 years old++++ and the silicon skirt around the mask is going quite yellow from age.  A bit manky to be frank.  Bob has trouble with reading his gauges so he just needs a half reading lens adding to a mask, whilst I am shortsighted so I need fully replaced distance lenses.  Anyway, we chose too spanking new bright masks and the shop put the lenses in for us.  We honestly couldn’t believe the difference in vision….. it was almost funny!!!!  I guess the lenses get a bit fuzzy over the years and your prescription changes….. but… blimey….. it was like “OMG!  I can actually see!!!”  I think some of the dives I’ve been on have been in clearer water than I gave them credit for!!!!  Got a good deal from the shop, they gave us a 10% discount, and the two masks cost us around £70 each including the prescription lenses.  A lot cheaper than we paid 25 years ago.

Went back to Maltaqua and met up with Jack Ingle and also Scott Laddiman.  I’ve known Scott for about 20 years, we met online through BSAC Travel Club when I helped edit their website, and he used to send me some great reports of his dives around the world.  In more recent times we’ve been Facebook friends, also keeping in touch re diving overseas.  It was great to see him face to face anyway after so long, and we went to the little bar next door and had soft drinks (all diving) and swapped tales of travel, diving and families.  It was really good.  Poor Jack hoped to join us but was manically filling cylinders for his group so we didn’t see too much of him, he just rushed in and out!!!

Got back to the hotel around 2pm and spent the rest of the afternoon lying out by the pool, looking over the bay and reading.  Absolutely lovely weather.  This is such a nice time to come to Malta.  Still sunny and warm, not crowded and the sea is as warm as it gets.  If you haven’t been to Malta, you really should add it to your list.