On July the 24th London International Club members Nick McColgan, George Balbino and Paul Maxwell flew out from London to Athens to meet up with Sakies (L.I.C) who comes from there. With them travelled well known party animal and lesser known boatsman, Mukthair Otwal.
In Athens we went to a carbon fin maker (M technic) to pick up Sakies new carbon fins. We were treated to a tour of the process. Mtechnic make carbon fins for the top Med freedivers and the completed custon fin costs just under £100. From Athens we traveled straight away to Porto-Heli, 3 hours drive from Athens, to Sakies holiday villa.
We had a quick kip and then headed to the beach for a quick shorie to shake the cobwebs and try new gear. I tried out a new mask and snorkel, bad mistake, I did not like them. It was good once to see people from so far away underwater and we all messed round in 18m of water, everyone experimenting with new kit. No-one saw anything worth shooting. Both George and I had bought a new 3mm Apnea suit. What a pleasure; very comfortable and only cost £95 from Fotis Stergiou who owned a spearfishing and fishing shop there.
The next morning Fotis met George, Sakies and I at the harbour and we got all the gear on the 5m RIB. Bugger! The engine would not start so we lugged all the gear to another beach and Fotis, George and I set to sea in a 3.8m RIB, the tubes all decked out in army camo. Our 1st area was very shallow and I bagged a small wrasse and saw very little else. Both George and Fotis saw some small Rofeous. The next spot was in 18m of water with very low reef.
Foties had taken some good fish off there during the winter and had shown us the pictures earlier on so we were keen on the area. We searched the area , 20m sq, but saw little other than small Steera. I managed to pick up a small clay vase that looked old so I was happy. I swam with Fotis Riffe gun for a while and when I finally lined up on a Sargos found the safety was on, it felt nice though, surprisingly light. After that we dropped Fotis back at the beach (some of us had to work) and headed back out further out to dive some cliff faces that looked enticing. We got a few small fish and George bagged a small Pompano like game fish.
The next day Fotis, George and I were joined by Nic (Greek) and headed out in 2 boats to an Island called Spetsis some 30 min away. The day was great, calm seas and clear skies. We kitted up in a small bay and swam out. On my second dive down I saw a nice MielieKoppe (Tassel) in the distance. I hit him and he took off into a cave going crazy. The spear tore off but I could still see his head so reloaded and went down again. I put in another shot and then saw that he was actualy hooked up on a fishing line connected to a Paragrathi (long line). I swam both ways to see if there was a float of sorts but both ends were hooked up and tangled in the shallows. I came back and cut the line. A nice start to the day. We had lost Foties so I got up on the rocks to find him. I saw him about 400m out to sea. On swimming out to him I see he is on a spectacular drop-off (ahhhh local knowledge) that shelves 17m-20m-27m-who knows never went there. He tells me that he has just seen a big Rofeous that has dissapeared. With that he swims off back to the boat. I stay there looking for him but cannot find this big fish. After we head off to a small island south of Spetsis. Foties has a quick dive and then heads off back to work leaving us with the larger wooden boat. The reef is really special with a long finger of rocks pointing out to sea and dropping of on both sides. At ther end of the underwater point I see about Sinigrida all about 2 kg’s. At this stage of the holiday I cannot manage the long Karteri for them. George has a go but they will not come in. Later that night I tell Sakies who is keen on them and is the only one amongst us who has the breathe for them. He is doing over 5minutes statics at the Pelezari course the week before. When we do get out there with Sakies the fish are nowhere to be seen. Swimming on a drop-off 18-20m I see movement out the corner of my eye which turns out to be 3 Pigga chasing small baitfish. They see me and quickly disperse to various holes nearby. BIGGGGG mistake. I spend the next 2 hours extracting these 3 fish from their holes, working only a few metres from the boat.
Nic is busy frying away on the boat and ends up with a touch of sunstroke that evening. George has seen some good fish.
We find the rest of the guys lazing on the fine beach near Sakies place. For the rest of the afternoon we play Volleyball and drown each other playing “water rugby”.
Late that evening Kostis and Jeorge arrive, 2 greek guys from Essex. With them they have brought an almost brand new approx 7m RIB, fantastic boat. Ahhhh but can it catch fish? See –http://users.otenet.gr/~mamassis/
Early the next morning George and I are up and head out for t
he far edge of Spetsus to see if we can find these elusive damn fish. With us is well known party animal and lesser known boatsman, Mukthair. With the few days diving together we are diving well as a team and doing the depths easily. We dive hard all morning but find very little. I find a good size octopus, Nic is going to prepare us his famous Red Wine And Olive Oil Octopus dish so I take it leaving Mukthair to fend it off in the boat. The ground we are covering is not great and we cover it fast. I spend a while taking some underwater shots. At lunch time, 3pm, we pull into a small bay and discover a really pretty grotto.
It gives us some well needed shelter from the sun. While we are relaxing the other guys fly past on a mission to find some far off pinnacles that we have seen on the chart. The end up not finding them but have some good diving around the nearby small islands. Nic manages to get some underwater footage of a turtle. Sakies actually rides the turtle for a while. That evening they only return at about 9:30 that evening.
The rest of the afternoon turns out well for us and we bag a few small fish and have a good time. The water is crystal.
The following morning George and I once again head out early using Foties small wooden boat. We have grown attached to it and got into a routine of taking watermelons, Turkeys, with us. One for breakfast and one for the way back. Today we head out to Spetsapula. Spetsapula is unique as it has a family that owns it and no-one is allowed to land on it. George has done a fair amount of translation work for one of the sons of the family so I feel comforted in the fact that he may be able to bail us out should we break any unknown rules. It takes us about an hour to get there.
Our first session takes into spectacular reef but once again very few fish. We are warned 3 times by various boats not to land on the Island. We take turns moving the boat and cover a lot of ground. I take a small SeaBass to my surprise. Towards the afternoon the other guys arrive and we pass them. Kostas and Joerge have seen some Rofeous and Kostas has a kingfish. Leaving them to the area we go past to the next point and dive there. On looking in the water I am sure that this is it. If we are going to take a Big One this will be it. On entering the water George spots 3 Steera but they dissapear never to be seen again. We go our separate ways and cover both sides of the point. I see nothing bar an enormoius Honeycomb Eel. Tired by this time I try hunting up close but nothing.
That evening after another fantastic meal we head out, into the pitch darkness, to Spetsas. Kostas’ RIB floats over the water and we are there in 10 minutes. The boys party hard and we leave the island at 7am as the sun comes up. Luckily today is an agreed rest day.
That Sunday we all relax at the house eating the homemade burgers and fish that Sakies mother has prepared and we have cooked on the fire. That evening Jorge and Kostas leave for some fishing down near Jorges house. Mukthair and Greek Nic leave. Sakies and his sister also leave late that evening.
The following morning we are up early and head out to Georges favourite fishing place. On the way we stop in 27m and try to find the Big One that I had seen earlier. Taking turns we try to find him but other than a fleeting glimpse during the 1st two dives he is nowhere to be found. We move on and anchor up at George’s favourite fishing place. I look in the holes where I have had fish before so do an enormous circle around the island. Nothing just a few Mielakoppa that made themselves very scarce on my arrival. George is way of to one side and returns with a nicer Pigga and a large grin.
He deserves it. Out of all of us he has been the most persistant. Not giving up at all during the 8hr a day dive sessions. While we are packing up we notice an Ezcalapez suit washed up on the shore.
Nic has rinsed his suit overbord a while ago and forgotten it was in the water. Luckily there was an island in the way. Strangely enough I happened to have taken a pic of the suit next to the boat before I got back in the boat.
That afternoon we hop on the Hydrofoil back to Athens and home.
Another great London International Club diving holiday. Not many fish but some fantastic underwater scenery and good friends (new and old).