1st May 2008, the first day of a new job. Today I am taking up my position as a PADI / BSAC diving instructor with Scuba Mallorca, a very successful and popular dive centre in Puerto Pollensa, in the north of Mallorca.
Having taught as a BSAC Instructor for some years, last October I had completed a PADI Instructor Development Course and Instructor Exam and now after retiring in the UK I am ready to start on a new career.
Between 8.15 and 8.30 nine divers passed through the door to be kitted out in preparation for the mornings diving. With bags packed on to the trailer and taken to the boat we walked down to the port and the “Miss Connie”. Our dive boat is a 12 metre planing hull design, cruising at 15 knots. She is licensed for 12 including the Skipper and one or two Instructors.
The first dive site is The Pinnacle, a tall rock jutting out of the sea, with a nice reef and finishing with a high arch swim through.
After a light lunch during the surface interval, the second dive was at Formentor Island. This is a lovely dive starting in a large cave, exiting through a hole called the “Eye of the Needle” and down over the reef wall. Following the wall brings you to three or four arches at 12 metres. The underside of these arches is covered in soft corals, sponges and anemones in reds, whites, yellows and oranges.
Back at the dive centre the kit is washed off and hung up, some of the divers are taken back to their hotels and preparations are made for the afternoons diving.
The staff at the centre consists of owners Mick and Jessie Elliott, Sebastian the Argentinian skipper and Instructors Sonje from Holland and me.
The dive shop is situated in Calle d’Elcano between the beach and the main street. Scuba Mallorca is a PADI 5 star Instructor Development Centre and together with its partner Scuba Majorca, a BSAC Diver Training Centre, form the combined Centre. Incidentally Scuba Majorca is the only accredited (number 0739) BSAC Diver Training Centre on the Island. We are able to run courses up to Dive Leader and some Skill Development courses as well as take referrals and sign off various elements of training.
There is a shop selling everything you might need, a classroom, a kit room, a changing area with toilet and shower facilities. The kit consists of Cressi and Mares regulators, BCDs and wet or semi dry suits.
Later that afternoon it’s back out in the boat to the shallow area around Punta de l’Avanzada with some Try Scuba divers. This area is one of the sites for the confined training and drops off slowly to 6 metres for some of the Open water training.
The Try Scubas are kitted up, briefed and taken for a 40 minute tour of the area by one of the Instructors. Lots of small fish and a sandy, rocky, weedy bottom give the divers plenty to see.
More cleaning and tidying back at the centre, cylinders are charged up for the following day and taken to the boat.
The following day I am back out on the boat, this time our first dive site is Formentor Steps. The site is named from the remains of some ancient stairs leading from the bay up an impossibly steep cliff face to the lighthouse high above. A descent to the seabed at 22 metres brings you to a large cave and a swim through exiting at 14 metres. The bay is strewn with large rocks, themselves forming overhangs and swim throughs, hiding lots of life including, later in the month, a stingray.
The second dive site is Ron’s Cave / Cala Enfeliu. The entrance to the cave lies in 5 metres of water and rises up to 3 metres, there is no exit but room to turn round and you can always see the light at the entrance. You can surface in to two separate air chambers for a look at the rock formations. Once you have investigated the cave, the wall takes you slowly round into the bay.
Day three and I am off to the swimming pool at Alcudia to do some confined skills with a student doing a Scuba Diver course and once accomplished we did open water dives 1 and 2 from the boat in the afternoon.
Throughout the month we have been taking out regular morning boat trips for certified divers to a number of different sites. These include the famous “Jeronimo”, a huge cave that you can enter at a depth of 3 metres and surface inside to view the high vaulted ceiling with its stalactites. The “S” cave with its entrance at 6 metres and after a swim of 10 metres or so the bottom drops away enabling you to “freefall” down a chute to a large cave with the seabed at 24 metres with its resident conger eel. The “Tunnels of Love” with various swim throughs and reef walls such as “Ron’s Reef” and “Pedro’s Wall”. “Formentor Island” and the “Pinnacle” are favourites and make good second dive sites.
Other training is ongoing with Scuba Diver and Open Water courses running as and when required. On Tuesday 20th I took a student off the beach at Puerto Pollensa for his confined water skills and in the afternoon took him and one other to Cala Carbo, a shore dive, to complete open water 1 and 2.
Later on the 28th May I went to a pool at a private villa to teach an 11 year old his confined water skills, how posh is that!
Marine life is also prolific. So far this May in the Bay of Pollensa we have seen; Wrasse including Peacock Wrasse, Salema, various Bream, Damselfish, Barracuda, Lizard fish, blennies, gobies, Moray eels, Sea slugs and Common Octopus. Not so often seen are Scorpion fish, Stingray, Conger eels, Flying Gurnard, Cuttlefish, Spiny Lobster and Blackfaced Blennies. The reef walls and swim throughs abound with urchins, starfish, Wreathy-tuft tubeworms, Snakelocks and Yellow encrusting anemone, Peacocks tails, Mermaids Cup, grasses, sponges and soft corals.
Also prolific at the beginning of May were jellyfish in their thousands but they know seem to have moved on.
I have also seen a Triggerfish in the harbour.
Other jobs undertaken regularly include, pick ups and returns from and back to hotels in the surrounding area, visiting hotel pools giving try dives to promote the dive centre and distributing leaflets.
Charging cylinders, the centre runs a Bauer compressor in house, and a lot of equipment maintenance, cleaning and servicing of regulators first and second stages etc.
Maintaining the boat is carried out routinely during non diving periods.
All in all a busy dive centre increasing in business as the month progressed. No easy retirement for me but lots of fun, diving, no stress and what a great place to live.
So some statistics; during May I have done 24 dives taking 129 divers, 33 Try dives or training dives with 36 divers, maximum depth 26.5 metres and 9 hours 42 minutes underwater.
And finally a photograph of me hard at work in the office.
Best regards to you all, hope to see some of you in Mallorca later in the year.
Telephone: 0034 971 86 80 87 or 0034 616 32 44 22
Left to right: Sid, Mick, Jessie, Sebastian, Ian Willis-Bentley (EM Photography)
(another diver at the back)
The S Cave
John Dory at Formentor Steps
Open Water training at Cala Carbo