Diving in Cuba

Name of walk Diving in Cuba
Date of walk 2002-08-05

In 2001 I met John and Lesley Reid in Varadero Cuba. We got on very well. John was a scuba diver so we arranged to meet up again the following year in Cuba to do some diving together. John had been diving there for a few years and knew many of the best sites. I had originally learned to dive as part of my degree course in Marine Ecology, I had trained with BSAC. Then upgraded to ‘PADI Advanced’ to include Underwater Navigation, Wreck Diving and Deep Diving. I had also done PADI Medic and Rescue Diver courses. Diving in Coniston Water was my usual destination where it is pitch black at 60ft and very cold. I have been below 100ft in the pitch black with a torch and zero visibility as well as scuba-diving in the lake in December. By comparison diving in warm water in 100ft visibility was a breeze……apart from the sharks!

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John and Lesley with Tom.

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We did a few reef dives. The water was very warm, no need to suit-up. Just needed a T-shirt to prevent chaffing. I always buddied with John. He was constantly disappearing down holes!

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I don't have an underwater camera so these shots are with John's camera.

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Loads of rays, moray eels and always a multitude of fish.

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This is me with my plastic bottle for feeding the fish. We used to fill a bottle up with bread at breakfast. Put some holes in the lid, and then you could squirt out bits a bread to attract the fish.

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Like so!

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We used to be able to catch some odd looking ones too.

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We also used to nick hard-boiled eggs, the fish loved these too. John was very much a gadget man. Everything was computerised, he even had an underwater GPS. Me, I just took my watch and my underwater compass, and I had to work out my dive times manually using my dive planner.

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Our dive boat.

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Alfredo was in charge of the boat. This was the most clothes that I ever saw him wear......not that I am complaining!

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Juan Carlos was the dive master.

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I had been looking forward to our wreck dive on the 318ft long Russian Destroyer. (Pedro Boat) It was in about 100ft of water several miles off the coast. It sank on 16/07/98. We located the buoy and travelled down the shot line towards it. John had dived here before and had said that it could be seen from quite near the surface. But we were diving just after a storm so the visibility was poor due to the amount of sediment churned up. So I had followed the line down for about 70ft and could still see nothing below us. Then suddenly out of the gloom I could see the enormous great gun turret and attached to it was a bloody great ship! The photo above is of me holding the gun barrel. John's flash was bouncing back off the floating particulate matter, so the pix from this dive are not the best.

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We swam down the side of the bow.

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We entered through one of the doors. There were compartments going off into pitch blackness. I avoided these! Keeping to where I could see light. We swam through the major part of the ship and up through the rusted deck attempting to avoid sharp edges. We also looked into the engine room.

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There were lots of small groupers about and other kinds of fish. I could also see barracuda groups in the distance. No sharks!

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Me having a post dive swim.

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On one of our other dives we met a 5ft grouper. It would come right up to me, go face to face and let me scratch it on the chin. They have teeth too!

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Juan Carlos and the grouper. The funniest thing I saw was John swimming along oblivious to the fact that this enormous fish was coming up behind him, him then turning and jumping out of his skin! I also discovered that if I laugh too much my mask just fills up with water! Diving with John that happened quite a lot!

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My fellow scuba-divers, including John and Lesley, Matt, Marco, Juan Carlos and Tony.

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Sometimes when we went out diving we would have some nervous first time divers with us. It is only John and me smiling in this photo,

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At other times it would just be us and we could head out to where we wanted. Photo includes Matt, Andrew, me and Juan Carlos.

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John down another hole!

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Me posing.

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Matt always struggled combining diving with drinking the night before.

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When John returned to England Marco became my dive buddy. He was dutch, but spoke perfect English. He was 6ft4 and very solidly built.....hell, I didn't miss John at all! ;-) Marco had a bad habit of hovering directly above me when we were diving. So I'd be looking for him left, right, and behind me, only to find him highly amused looking down on me from above. He managed to get me every time!

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Another ray.

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John and his eggs.

Brendan, Tom and Lesley who don’t scuba dive, got an awful lot of reading done on this holiday!

2002 was the last year that two dives a day was free with the all inclusive hotel package at the Puntarena Hotel, which was a great pity as it was very good value for money. We went been back to Cuba in 2010, but this time to Guardalavaca.

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