|GODS: El Hierro|
Reporting back from our GODS (Golden Oldies Diving Society) Centenary diving trip (i.e. Shane Gray’s 100th organised trip) to El Hierro…
There were 20 of us, from all parts of the country, including current and former members of L.S.A.C.; Maeve Callanan, John Mullins, Tom McDonnell, Colm O’Shea, Manuel Di Lucia and yours truly. We were later joined by Pat Hehir from outside Ennis, who just happened to be over there on his own. Most of the party had been on Shane’s first ever trip way back in 2001, so it was to prove to be a pretty nostalgic return!
After flying out of Dublin, overnighting in Tenerife and speeding out by luxurious high speed ferry in a 2 hour run, we reached El Hierro, the most westerly island in Europe. The ferry docked at the Island’s capital Valverde, whence we undertook the one hour trip in 3 vehicle convoy, to our destination, the small fishing and diving village of La Restinga. Too late for a dive we chilled out in the 20 degree evening sunshine, gathering in Shane and Ollie’s apartment, as we did every evening, for Happy Hour drinks and a surprise presentation of lovely commemorative polo shirts. Onwards then and every night, to local restaurants for grub, usually finishing up in “El Bar”, wearing only pants and tee shirt, at whatever hour of the night or morning took our fancy.
Speaking of mornings, the first stick of divers (those planning to have a second dive), took off every morning at 9:00 from the jetty, just a short stroll away from the dive centre, which, incidentally, is owned and well run by Joe Devanny, owner of Oceanlife Dive Centre in Kilkee. The boat returned in time to ferry out the elderly and the drink-drivers, for their leisurely plunge at approx. 11:00. I think that I should mention at this stage that our own Doctor Tom took top spot in the list of dives recorded, i.e. nine, in just four and a half diving days and nights! My score? A leisurely four! Some of the diving was truly memorable, in lovely warm water, frolicking with manta rays etc. All the dive locations were within 10 minutes of base but many featured pretty strong currents, particularly on the truly awesome El Bajon marine reserve site, a dramatic pinnacle of rock, rising from 9- metres to within 10m of the surface.
Photsub, the Spanish National photographic contest, featuring the great excitement of 9 or 10 contestants’ ribs accompanied by Spanish Naval security and rescue high speed vessels covered by helicopter support, was taking place while we were there. Most interesting!
A few of the hardy ones, Dr.Tom included (wouldn’t you know), made the run for a quick dive before departure on Friday midday, then it was all aboard for the return ferry to Tenerife and a final sociable night and fllowing day in the sun of Los Cristianos before heading home.
All told, a most happy and enlightening experience, especially for Tom, after his first trip with the oldies, having had to listen to all the nostalgic gibberish talked by such a heavy complement of Irish diving GODS.