Having spent a lot of time in Torrevieja in the past, I was intrigued when Kaycher Diving started to offer dive trips to deeper wreck sites. They were running a 3 day trip over the 2nd May Bank Holiday, and I decided to book. The price was £420 for 3 days diving, cylinder hire and 3 nights accommodation. I flew with British Airways. Their new baggage policy meant that I had 23kgs of hold allowance and 23kgs of hand luggage allowance. This was enough to take everything with me including my drysuit, steel backplate and 4 sets of regulators.
I was met by Stuart at Alicante airport and he drove me to the accommodation, which was an apartment in the marina. It was very convenient for the boat and there were several bars in the complex, so we met for breakfast every day before going diving. Unlike the UK, there are no tides, so everything was a lot more relaxed as you didn't have to hit the water on slack.
The boat was laid out like a UK hard boat, with benches and a lift on the back. There were 8 of us on board, which meant that we could all get in the water in one wave. With more divers, I think you'd have to do a couple of waves, but with the lack of tide, that's not really an issue.
The first dive was the SS Lilla. It lies upright in about 47m. As I descended the shotline, it quickly loomed into view as the viz was about 20m and the wreck stands up about 15m from the sea bed. It's quite open though there are a number of places you can swim around inside particularly down by the bow. At the stern, the rudder was still there but one of the blades of the prop had sheared off, presumably when it sank. There were quite a lot of fish on the wreck, though they were all small apart from the conger whose tail I saw. The only other type of fish I recognised were the red mullet. There were quite a few of them. Water temperature was 15C at depth, though it warmed up to 18C at stop depths.
It wasn't that dissimilar to diving a wreck in the UK only with much better viz and slightly warmer water. There was quite a lot of sponge growth on the wreck, including some brightly coloured yellow ones and what looked like small patches of coral. It was a nice dive. I managed to get around the whole thing and back to the shotline in 30 mins. We ascended the line until about 10m and then bagged off from there.
The next day we did the SS Doris. This is deeper. You could easily get 51m and is upside down, so you spend most of your time at the maximum depth. I found the dive less interesting as there was rather a lot of hull plate and not a lot else. The propeller was an impressive sight and apparently the bow has also split open, though we didn't make it quite that far. The viz was also disappointing at around only 6m. That said, if we'd done that dive in the UK, I think we'd have been happy. We'd just been spoilt by the previous day and I did see my first sunfish on the wreck, so not all bad.
The last dive of the trip was the Mardinian and the best had been left to last. It lies upright with the stern the deepest part, where it's possible to get 55m. The holds are still full of cargo including bales on linen and bottles of whale oil. The whale oil apparently stinks, so bringing it up will not make you popular.
The wreck was covered in a lot of net, though it was old and encrusted and not monofilament, so not a safety issue. At the rear was a gun with the sights still on it. There were lots of small fish mid-ships and no less than five sunfish. As we were doing our deco, shoals of sardines swam around us. It was definitely the best dive of the long weekend.
It was an enjoyable long weekend. With the vagaries of the British weather over the last few years, it was nice just to not get blown out. Combine this with good viz and warmer seas, and it was a great alternative to a weekend diving in the UK. I think I'll probably go next year too.