Day Three : Gozo 2008

23 09 2008

Day 3 – Double Arch, Mgarr Ix Xini, Xweini Bay

Today was always going to be a long day.

From the moment we agreed yesterday to do a night dive, I knew it would be a long and tiring day. I like night diving, but somehow, the idea always seems more appealing when you’re sitting having a beer the night before and not when kitting up in the dusk whilst everyone else is having a beer..

More of that later.

The first dive of the day was due to be Double Arches. Accessed by following the coast road past Xweini Bay and kitting up just round the corner opposite the salt pans.

When kitted up you tip-toe through the salt pans so as not to invoke the ire of a diminutive Gozitan salt farmer and head for a small inlet inthe rock known as the ‘washing machine’.

The Washing Machine

In diving there are many washing machines all over the world. They have one thing in common, when the sea is animated then things get spun round in them.. rocks, people etc and all of them get edges knocked off. As long as the sea is calm the entry here is fine. As it’s on the North side of the island you will only suffer chop when the South winds blow.. Today they were not.

We jumped in and immediately started a discussion about the correct bearing for the surface swim. Double Arches is a long surface swim or a short boat ride. Not having a boat, we opted for the latter.

There were two schools of thought on the correct bearing

  • Those who had a bearing (i.e me)
  • Those who didn’t have a bearing

My bearing was based on memory and was similar to the following thought process..

  • I think it’s over there (looking NW of the entry point)
  • I’ll take a bearing and use that, I’m sure it’s right

Those without a bearing were adamant that the dive boat in the distance moored NE of the entry point was likely to be in the right spot for two reasons..

  • There is nothing else (really) to dive at that spot
  • The boat was German, and they never get things wrong – not nowadays anyway

By consensus we swam along my bearing for 10-15 minutes (with me towing my tired buddy) until we achieved nothing.. At this point a helpful german asked us if we were looking for the Double Arches.. Upon affirmation he suggested we swim over to his boat and descend there, which would allow us to access the dive site we were seeking..

Double Arches is a naturally occurring reef arch which is about 36m at it’s deepest and 20m on the top of the arch..

Double Arches

This means it is theoretically possible to dive the arches and not go too deep (assuming you don’t mind not swimming through them). One you’ve dived the arches most people turn right and head back on their bearing (which obviously you remembered to take on the surface) toward the washing machine and exit from there.

On the way you can amuse yourself by annoying the resident cuttlefish, octopus, countless reef fish and the occasional jellyfish..

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