Um El-Faroud – My favourite dive (so far)

Exploring the port side of the Um El-Faroud

Exploring the port side of the Um El-Faroud

The Um El-Faroud is a fantastic dive. You really need to be an Advanced Open Water Diver or higher to do this dive and to get the most out of it as a recreational diver you need the Deep and Wreck specialities . Honestly, you need to be a tech diver to really be able to experience properly (as I am only as a recreational diver I am looking forward to experiencing it again when I have my tech qualifications). So back to the dive. This was the last dive that I did when I in Malta this summer. In some ways this dive was a graduation dive. Usually I would lead a dive with other instructors at the same site but this time I was on my own. As I decided to use sidemount, I had to come in early and set up my kit. The Razor Sidemount harness is a sidemount specific harness and it does take time to setup, so I arrived at the diveshop for 7am so that I would have enough time to weight myself correctly and make sure the van was packed. I only found out once Brad, my friend who was coming on the dive, turned up at the shop that we were the only two going on the dive. We quickly go ourselves packed up and left 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I had dived the Um El-Faroud twice before (once in October 2012 and the other in April 2013) so I had a rough idea of where it was but I didn’t really know where I was going. Obviously I had a map (no) and written down directions (only verbal), however I made it there in about 40 minutes. The dive site was practically deserted. There were only a couple of other divers there and we asked them about the dive. They told us that the visibility was terrible and there was a strong current. So undeterred we kitted up and entered the water. I have to admit that I was nervous. I was completely unsupervised. The dive shop was 40 minutes away.No one was watching but I had my best friend’s life in my hands. We descended to 10m and followed the reef towards the open sea. I checked the compass, corrected our direction, and left the reef behind. There is a statue on the way towards the wreck that was placed by a dive shop several years ago, I looked but I couldn’t see it. I crossed my fingers that I wasn’t going to miss the wreck. Then from the depths I saw a dark and murky shape…it was the Um El-Faroud. I signalled to Brad that we should descend further.  We arrived at the stern, as we had planned to, and then started to explore. As Brad only had a 15 litre and that we were on our own, we had decided that we wouldn’t penetrate the wreck. So we bimbled around the wreck, making our way around the stern, along the port side across the hull and back up along the starboard walkway (our only bit of penetration). Once we had completed the circuit we had plenty of of air remaining and NDL so we went back and I messed around with my cylinders. Taking them off and squeezing through the railings. I then decided to go down and look at the propeller. I swam down towards it, turned and couldn’t see Brad. My heart skipped a beat. I turned back, looking frantically for him. What had happened was that he had been directly above me when I turned so I didn’t see him. Luckily I turned back and there he was. I gave him a look of “where where you”, he smiled. We then decided to end the dive as our NDL was getting low. We swam back to the reef and explored while we performed a swimming “deep” stop. Then made our safety stop next to the exit point. We quickly exited, packed up and headed back to the dive shop. It was a very freeing and exhilarating experience. I am glad I did it. I feel that due to the fact that Divewise put their trust in me I have become a better diver for it.

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