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dannygoesdiving This is a blog & photo journal of the trips that I (Danny) and Jo (wifey) have taken over the past few years.

The first dive job abroad

MALTA | Friday, 15 July 2005 | Views [4138]

Boring - another pesky seahorse

Boring - another pesky seahorse

It was July 2005, how did I end up standing at a check-in desk, all my belongings in 2 bags, heading to Gozo, hoping to secure a job as a dive instructor ?  So began a new chapter in my life and the biggest adventure to date.

We all get fed up with our lives and talk about throwing it all in and following our dreams, however, in my case that was exactly what I was doing.

Ok, so it had not happened overnight, it had taken a year of planning - clear debts, sort out house so it was fit to rent, sell or store possessions and most stressful of all sell my business, but now here I was.

I had spent the previous evening with my best mate Kes, who had dropped me at the airport, chatted over a few pints of guiness, he also has similar plans and would be leaving to UK in October.

After a 2 and a half hour flight I found myself in Malta, a 40 minute drive and I was at the ferryport, then standing on the ferry during a 30 minute crossing, I watched Gozo approaching. Another taxi and I was in Marsalform, where I was met by Jo who has been out for a month working as a divemaster, whilst I had remained back home to sort out the final bits and pieces.

Jo was not being paid to work, however, accomodation had been provided, a large apartment on the 3rd floor (top floor), with a large balcony overlooking the bay in Marsalforn - this was to be home until November, not too bad !

So .............. a little about Gozo. Gozo is the sister island of Malta, measuring nine miles by four - and only 3 miles from Malta, Gozo has 35 miles of coastline, and a population of 30,000.  All roads in Gozo lead to Victoria, also known as Rabat, which is where the fortified citadel sits atop a summit. Marsalform is the main 'tourist' town on the island, with a number of bars and restaurants.  The island itself is steeped in history, the most fascinating site is Ggantija – the oldest freestanding temples in the world (A UNESCO World Heritage Site).

My initial plan was just to chill for a few weeks, adjust to life and unwind after the hectic few months I had had - 2 days later I was climbing the walls and decided I needed to look for work.

I had checked out diving centres before leaving the UK and had sent emails saying I was arriving and looking for work.  There are 5 diving centres in Marsalform and I chose to visit Gozo Aquasports (GAS) first, as I had heard good things about them.  I met one of the owners (Gail) and she suggested I just came along for a few days, see how the place operated, work with the instructors and go diving - if nothing else it was a few days of free diving !!!  There were 3 full time instructors, Glen, Ross & Gary, a fourth instructor who was leaving in a few weeks (Frank), and Keith, a newly qualified DM.  The place was organised and very busy and I threw myself in at the deep end, doing anything and everything to impress.  I was rewarded, as 5 days later, my name was on the board and I was scheduled to teach a course.  I was to be employed as a freelance instructor, through to the end of October, as and when needed.

I fitted in well, the work was hard and days were long, the team was good though and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.  As an instructor at GAS, you are quite self-sufficient.  The night before, a schedule is worked out, the next day you load tanks into your own truck, ensure everyone is ready and drive to a dive site of your choice (based on weather, requests, experience etc), brief, dive, return, fill your tanks (and repeat).  There is a morning dive and afternoon dive, as well as courses etc. The majority of the dive sites were shore dives, however, we had a RIB available to visit sites less accessible and also to travel to some of the wrecks off the coast of Malta, and sites of the small island of Comino. It was as much a learning experience driving to the dive sites and not getting lost as it was learning your way around the sites.  The sites differ from the quarries I was used to teaching and guideing in !!! The visibility is good to start with, and there are more than 30 sites.  I slowly built up confidence, expanding routes and trying different areas as I grew in confidence.  The sites are spectacular, with amazing topography, big boulders, swim throughs, chimneys, caverns and caves.  The dive site names say it all: blue hole, inland sea, cathedral cave, billinghurst cave, coral cave - just to name a few. My favourite dive sites were Inland Sea, Reqqa Point and Billinghurst Cave.  In addition to the topography, there is marine life ! Not an adundence, but enough to point out.  I saw seahorses, flying gurnards, octopus and cuttlefish (all new to me). In October we had the tailend of the 'baitball', accompanied by lots of bullet tuna and big shoals of barracuda.  We would also do staff dives, early in the morning before work, the favourite was called 'the bottle', you entered a cave at 55m and then ascended up into it, it turned into a chimney which you exited at about 35m - so I got my first 60m dive under my belt !

During the next 2 months, days off were few (maybe one day off every 2 weeks), so exploring the island was not possible.  In the evenings, however, we would get together with friends and customers, have a drink in the bars (Cafe del Mar was our chosen watering hole), then often Jo and I would go for a meal, or on Fridays, everyone would go out for 'chicken curry & Chips', (known as 'CCC').  Thursday evenings we would go to the cinema, films were always 3 months behind the UK, and as there was only one projector, there was still a interval as they changed the reels.

Over these months, we had visits from my parents, Jos mum, Kes & Sarah, and Sally & Owen.  It was always great to see people, it provided you with a link back home, allowed you to catch up on the gossip, and show off both the island and diving.

The last few weeks in September were quiet, so with no work avaiable at GAS, I freelanced at another centre (ScubaKings), and also took the opportunity to visit the island.  I spent time in Victoria, visiting the Citadel and walking along the alleyways and backstreets, Rambla Bay (the main beach), Ggantija, and the various coves along the coastline.

The weather both turned (with alot of rain) and cooled (jumpers and long trousers) during October and all to soon the season had ended.  Glen and I had already arranged to return the following season, Ross was going travelling with his girlfriend, and Gary had had a parting of ways with the centre owners a few weeks earlier !

It had been a great indoctrination into the world as a full time instructor, I had learned lots, made new friends, and realised that apart from family and friends, I did not miss my old life.

Now it was time to travel, November through to April, now what can possibly happen in that time ?

Tags: Work


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