We check our dive kit and run through Nick’s kit list because he always forgets stuff (pointless exercise, he forgets his dive boots which were next to his dive bag!). The dogs are sulking because they see the dive kit being packed and know they aren’t included on this trip. In the village the farmers are revving up their tractors ready for a day of grape picking once the dew has dried on the fruit. Mother next door is rushing the goats out of the gate and shouting at her daughter to hurry up with the grape trays.
The village restaurants are already busy when we leave the village, gearing up for the busiest day of the week serving Sunday Breakfast well into the afternoon. As we pass the turning to Ephesus I see the first tour bus of the day creeping up the steep road to Meryamana Evi. At Aqua Fantasy hotel just below the dive centre the pools are still empty, all solid blue and inviting, and the slides are bubbling away waiting for the guests to finish breakfast.
Mid morning – We meet Serhat, the newest dive instructor at Active Blue, at the gates of Ephesus Princess and he kindly helps us carry our kit down the hairpin bends to the beach. Pamucak bay is flat calm today, the lodos wind has blown itself out and the water is glassy clear. We meet today’s fellow divers, a visiting dive master from Germany with 400 dives under his weight belt, a newly qualified open water diver and an unqualified guy from Switzerland who will be supported on this, his first open water dive, and is very laid back about it.
With the help of the interns at the dive centre we load the boat and head out for two boat dives, both of them are easy dives and are only a fast ten minute rib ride away. Emin is leading the dives today and Nick and I are diving with the visiting dive master whilst Emin closely supervises the less experienced diver and the novice.
On site at Pamucak Reef. The dive site is an outcropping of rock with thermal springs just to the left of Pamucak Bay. It drops from an easy 6m to a healthy 33m at the north end where it gives out onto the flat silty bottom of bay. Today we’re not going deeper than 15m, skirting the edges of the reef, looking for octopus and grouper as well as visiting the cracks where the hot thermal water seeps into the sea. Emin gives the dive briefing and Nick, the visiting dive master and I descend and wait at the drop off at 7metres as Emin wrangles the less experienced into the water and nurses them under.
The dive goes well, the new dives don’t gobble too much air and it’s an easy 45 minute dive in clear water before we surface, take the rib over to the next dive site at Kamil cavern and change tanks for the second dive.
I love Kamil cavern, its shallow sunlit waters are wonderful for photography, which is what I am mainly interested in, and the light through the surface brings out the colours in the fish and the weed and the sponges reaching up from the rocks. Makes it easy to photograph!
Kamil is another easy dive, I barely use air there because it is so shallow and I won’t go anywhere near my decompression limits so I can dive again in the afternoon.
Lunchtime – Back at the dive centre we rinse and hang our kit up, grab a quick lunch and spend a few hours giving guidance and briefings to tourists on the Try Scuba excursion. Here people get a chance to see if they like scuba, they get a full safety briefing, get fitted with their dive kit and are gently encouraged under the water for a twenty minute session in the shallow waters off the beach. Scuba isn’t for everyone, no matter how good a swimmer you are you may not like scuba because of a strong gag reflex or a you may just feel terrible breathing underwater so Try Scuba is a great way to see if it’s for you. Serhat is handling the majority of the try scuba excursions this summer and he is sweet and encouraging and patient and he rarely fails to get people under the surface.
Mid afternoon – Tagmac, the dive centre owner, wants to place a marker buoy at a new dive site and Emin has one young boy to take on his first open water dive so we kit up again and take the rib to an outcropping of rock just east of Pamucak reef. Whilst Emin teaches and Nick and Tagmac do enthralling boy stuff with ropes and knives I fin around the new site, discovering new overhangs and fascinating rock shapes and curious fish. I hang in the water watching Emin and the young lad he is teaching slowly descend through shafts of light, the boy is spreadeagled in the water, holding onto Emin’s hands and slowly drifting down. It is an extraordinary beautiful sight.
Back again on the beach we pack up our kit and catch the little hotel tractor and trailer up the cliff to where the car is parked. The sun and the sea salt and the compressed air you have breathed underwater make you lethargic and relaxed and laved by the light. It’s an amazingly relaxing feeling. At home we throw out kit in the pool and dive in ourselves to get the salt off, rinsing the kit with fresh water and hanging it to dry. We then normally sleep for two hours!
We dive with Active Blue Dive Centre at the Ephesus Princess and Aquafantasy hotels out at Pamucak beach. You can can contact Tagmac, the owner, by email through his website at Active Blue