September 2017 saw 12 individuals from 159 Regiment RLC embark on a weeks Scuba diving in sunny Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. Ideally located just off the North African coast, it offered the chance to explore further afield while still being in Europe.
Diving commenced from the dive centre located in the picturesque cove of Playa Chica, in the beautiful town of Puerto del Carmen on the South Eastern side of the island. The first few days involved shore diving with the North Atlantic Ocean offering the perfect place to get stuck in to some intense skills and drills. Three members of the group who were already Ocean Diver qualified, brushed up on some dive leading and navigation exercises to then become fully qualified Sports Divers. This then enabled further assistance for the dive instructors and also gave a great insight into what will lay ahead for those wanting to progress over the next year to Dive Leader.
Evenings consisted of theory based lessons and experiencing the local culture and delicacies on offer. Harbour and beach walks highlighted local spots and sites with seafood as you can imagine being top of the menu!
The surrounding landscape of volcanic rock provided an amazing backdrop for the daily dives not only on the surface but as we would discover on the final day, under water too. A wealth of sealife greeted us daily from octopus and giant starfish to stingrays and trumpet fish. We also came to find out that some were partial to a tasty banana or two!
After 4 days of diving and building both experience and confidence in the ocean, 6 members became fully qualified divers. After all this hard work, it was now time to let the real fun begin with some boat dives. This offered the opportunity to explore further depths and new surroundings. We all broadened our horizons by taking a trip to the Old Harbour wrecks, which offered visibility of over 20 metres and produced a fantastic sunken ship in which everyone was able to appreciate. The wreck spanned from 14 – 21 metres so gave the Sports Divers the chance to head down to 25 metres for the first time and have a nosey under the ships hull. Stingrays and eels also became our buddies for this dive.
Later on that same day a recce commenced along the Harbour wall led by the Sports Divers, for the night dive that evening. Some members were a little apprehensive of diving in the dark but once the torches and strobes lit up the creatures of the night, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A few neon flashing critters and night animals gave us an insight into a whole new world and something none of us would have thought we would experience.
No sooner had we begun our diving adventure, it all came to an end with one final dive out to the lava rocks of Punta Tinosa. This was another breath-taking terrain, completely different to what we had been diving on all week and inhabited by new life. Urchins covered the rocks with some bright orange starfish and a few rays passing by in the distance. Shells galore covered the floor, which was a great little souvenir for some of the divers to take home.
Sadly all good things have to come to an end and I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say it was truly a once in a lifetime experience and worlds away from learning to dive in pools or a freezing quarry in England. Not only did we come away with memories for a lifetime but the RLC gained 6 new Ocean Divers, advanced 3 further divers and created a new passion and desire to continue to dive and hopefully for some, become leaders of the future. The future is looking bright for diving in the British Army. Roll on Exercise Dragon Barbarian Odyssey Expedition 2 in 2018!