By David Watson, AIDA Instructor Trainer & PADI Master Freediver Instructor and Owner & Founder at One Breath Freediving
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
By David Watson, AIDA & PADI Master Freediver Instructor and Owner & Founder at One Breath Freediving, based in Malta
Freediving in the Maltese Islands has lots of wonderful features that make it spectacular; the stunning underwater visibility of up to 40m, the cliffs and caves that are prevalent across the islands, the deep blue colour of the water that is unique to the Mediterranean Sea. But one thing that really draws freedivers to Malta is the chance to dive on ship wrecks. Malta has a LOT of wrecks, some sunk by nature (storms), by humans (wars), or on purpose to create artificial reefs. The P-31 wreck falls into the latter category.
P-31 History & Key Information:
Since being purchased by the Maltese Tourism Authority and sank as an artificial reef attraction for divers, the P-31 now sits upright on the sandy seabed West of Comino( just South of Blue Lagoon and just West of Crystal Lagoon), approximately 200m from shore. The depth on the bottom here is 20m and the top of the wreck is at just 10m deep. In fact the P-31 sits so shallow that it was necessary to cut off the mast of the ship before sinking her so as not to obstruct boat traffic. The wreck can often be seen clearly from the surface when you arrive by boat and I have even seen it occasionally from out of the airplane window when arriving or leaving Malta on certain days! In the summer months you will see a yellow ‘X’ marker buoy above to indicate the wrecks position.
Since her sinking, the P-31 has had to weather some rough storms as the prevailing winds on the islands are from a NW direction and sitting this shallow in the water means that waves and swell have had an impact, but considering that she has been underwater for 10 years already the wreck is still in very good condition. Before sinking she was thoroughly cleaned and made safe for divers. This means doors and hatches were removed and obstructions such fixtures, wires and cables were cleared out. There are a number of levels to explore and for a freediver it is normally clear and obvious which direction it is possible and safe to go in.
Specific Tips for Freediving The P-31 wreck:
5 Essential Tips for Wreck Freediving:
Lastly, please remember, freediving, and especially wreck freediving, can be DANGEROUS. Always freedive with a buddy, never push your limits or enter enclosed spaces with no clear or obvious exit. Please take a freediving course for your own safety and that of your buddy.
Interested in wreck freediving? Then subscribe to One Breath Freediving and follow our ‘Wrecks of Malta’ video series! Speak to David about freediving courses and wreck exploration possibilities.
Those of you following One Breath Freediving on your social media channels will already know that I have been using the Paralenz dive camera quite extensively already, for both photos and videos, so for this review part 2 (part 1 is un-boxing and initial impressions),I wanted to look at it's use in the water. More than numbers such as pixels and frame rates, I wanted to discuss it's functionality and how well it works specifically from a freediver's point of view.
Firstly, it's primary mount method that I have employed so far with the Paralenz dive camera has been the mask mount. For me this has been the most convenient as I am normallly using it while teaching or guiding. Once the mask attachment is threaded to the mask strap, you clip the camera on using the 'T-Rail' mount system that gives a reassuring double 'click' when properly secured.
The first thing you notice while wearing it in the water is.....that you don't actually notice the camera! Despite feeling substantial and solid when held in the hand, once attached to the mask I can honestly say that I forget that the camera is actually there. Being so non-intrusive is a huge plus for freedivers as we take in the water minimum equipment and definitely don't like things that create drag or resistance.
Functionality from this position is another massive plus. The feedback loop of vibrations of the camera unit, mean that you do not need to remove the camera (and mask) at all to know what setting you are in! For example, rotate the selector ring clockwise while turned on gives one vibration for video, two vibrations for camera, three for settings etc. And then long or short holds of the activation switch can start or stop recording or offer other functions. This creates a simple user and selector operating system and excellent hands free usability.
Now lets look at the quality of photos that Paralenz is capable of (for videos, check the OBF YouTube channel). All the snaps in this review were taken from the mask mount position, so just a reach to the side of the head and a short pull on the activation switch can give you some great photos. While primarily a video camera, the photos are surprisingly clear, sharp and lacking in distortion at the edges (as can be common for extremely wide angle cameras). In these photos I had Depth Colour Correction (DCC) turned on and Depth & Temperature overlay turned on. The photo above from 5m displays nice blue water and clear white logos on the wetsuit hood. The first photo handles the reflecting light from the shallow water very well and also created a shot that is not blurred or distorted from the divers movement.
Initial in water conclusions:
So what initial conclusions do I have:
There can't be many places as alluring and iconic to freedivers as the Blue Hole in Dahab. With imposing, barren mountains just metres from deep blue water and a kaliedoscope of colours amongst the corals on the reef with every shape and colour of fish possible, it is a truely beautiful place and draws freedivers from accross the world.
A natural submarine sinkhole, the depth within the hole is 100m and just outside, on the reef's edge, the depth reaches over 1,000m. A sheltered location and lack of current just metres from shore means that this is a wonderful place to train for freediving.
One Breath Freediving will be conducting a Training camp in in Dahab Egypt in January and February 2019. Enquire for further information.
The 2015 'In Water Photographer of the Year' competition is now accepting public voting to decide an overall winner! Category winners are announced for the photography competition that is for freedivers, snorkellers, swimmers and others in the water without using breathing apparatus.
Vote by clicking the link below and deciding how many stars to give your favourite photographs. It's that easy!
Find out what the One Breath Freediving team is up to with the latest posts on this blog page.