Arriving at the dive site, we moor at the large peaks that emerge on the surface, and we begin our descent following the guide cable leading us to the quarterdeck. The area is not subject to strong currents, but it is advisable to stay in close contact with the mooring line to avoid distancing yourself and losing your bearings, which would lead you to descend far from the wreck on the bed at 80 metres. Reaching -32 metres at the top of the quarterdeck, we leave the mooring line and begin our external exploration of the underlying bridges. At 40 metres, after peeking inside the large windows of the penultimate bridge, we cross the main deck toward the stern, heading for the formidable smokestacks.
During this phase, it is important to maintain our depth, because the main bridge below us lies at –55 metres. When we reach the smokestacks, we begin our ascent spiraling around it until we reach the top at about 32 metres. The walls of the smokestack, like the rest of the wreck, are covered entirely with large and sturdy oysters, brightly coloured sea anemones and other interesting shapes.
The top of the smokestack was lopped off after the shipwreck to avoid impeding navigation. It opens below us like a startling abyss, and shining our flashlights inside we can spot all sorts of Lobsters.
Returning to the quarterdeck, we can enter the command bridge, the only section of the wreck that is safe to enter, because it offers easy access. Carefully looking into the recesses and between the pipes we can find conger eels, spiny lobster, and shrimp, and while looking out of the ample windows that run along the perimeter of the command bridge we enjoy an alluring view of the deep surrounding blue, interrupted by the swift passage of large pelagic fish. At this point we leave the wreck and begin our ascent along the guide cable and make our safety stop.
PORTOFINO MARINE PARK
The Marine Area History: The Marine protected Area of the Portofino promontory was established by the Ministry for the Environment in 1999 with the goal of making the most of the biological and geomorphic resources of the area and promoting wider understanding of ecology and biology.
Departing from Camogli, the reserve stretches to the gates of S.Margherita Ligure, and is an ideal place for tourism, both diving and scientific.The Promontory, situated approximately 20 kilometres from Genoa , stretches into the sea for about 4 km, and represents one of the most alluring landscapes of the Ligurian Riviera. Bordered by the Gulf of Paradise and Tigullio, it is characterized by a remarkable variety of environments. High cliffs throw themselves into the sea out of the coves, and they descend down to depths of 50 metres, ending in vast sandy expanses.
The statue of the “Christ of the Abyss” is famous worldwide. Situated in a bay in the cove of S.Fruttuoso at 17 metres underwater, it welcomes divers with open arms in one of the most famous and fascinating dives around.
Diving off the Portofino headland
Since the beginnings of underwater diving, the Portofino headland has been a favourite destination for Italian divers and over the past ten years, thanks to the professional development of diving centres there and local nature conservation policies, it has become a destination for divers from all over Europe .
Deep rocky falls are typical of the seabed here, and an unusual play in the currents has formed a unique underwater environment, with a rich concentration of all the animal species found in the Mediterranean .
The water temperature during the summer, in the beginning of autumn and at the end of spring, is around 20/25 ° Celsius in the first 20 metres; in the deepest parts there is a constant temperature of around 15/16 ° Celsius, and during the winter the temperature remains constant at 15/16 ° , both at the surface and further down. Visibility varies according to the weather, averaging around 20 metres, with peaks of about 40 metres during the summer when the water is calm. Thanks to these characteristics and the shape of the headland, which offers numerous sheltered areas for mooring, diving is possible all year round.
There are 19 dive spots along the coast and a marvellous shallow, called “L’Isuela” around ½ mile from the Punta Chiappa coast. The beds have jagged rocky drops, with many caves and inlets acting as dens for moray eels, conger eels, sea bream, and numerous spiny lobsters. The walls are all covered with bright yellow cluster anemone , and red and yellow sea fans offer hiding places for nudibranches, goby fish, blennies, shrimps and crabs. At the end of the rocky area, in the sandy beds, it is easy to meet large octopus and squid. Inside the cracks and caves, which start at a depth of around 25 metres, there are whole colonies of the precious and now rare red coral (Corallum Rubrum) with their white mother-of-pearl polyps permanently extended in search of food, providing a truly unique show of colour by torchlight, and an excellent setting for the photographer.
In some points, such as Punta Chiappa, La Carega, la Punta di Portofino and the shallows of L’Isuela it is easy to meet pelagic species, sea-bass, greateramberjack, sea-bream, snapper and bonitos and with a bit of luck, in some periods of the year one can meet the enormous Moonfish (mola mola) and other extraordinary species. Also present are the dog fish, small sharks endemic to the area (maximum length 50/60 cm). With a spotted livery, they live between the cracks and cavities in the rocks, and their eggs, with their characteristic sack shapes, can easily be seen between the arms of the sea-fans.
Another location of note is the Christ of the Abyss in the San Fruttuoso bay. An enormous 4 metrestatue, at a depth of 17 metres, representing Christ with his arms extended towards the surface, this is a pilgrimage destination for Italian divers, especially those undergoing their “Baptism in the Sea” or their first dive. Some dedicated divers have even held their weddings at the foot of the statue, with the bride in a white wet-suit, and a diving priest.
HAVEN & PORTOFINO MARINE PARK PROGRAMME:
First Day (Thursday)
Departure from London Gatwick on board flight BA 2614 at 0740 a.m. to Genoa , arrival in Genoa at 1045 a.m., transfer with private car/minibus will be provided to Hotel La Capannina, Genova Bocadasse. Accommodation in your reserved room. Afternoon is free fpr relxing or a visit to the city. In the late afternoon, before dinner, there will be a meeting in the hotel with staff from the Diving centre Polo Sub, to explain the dives for the next day, registration and check of licenses and the storage of equipment.
Second Day (Friday)
Breakfast in the hotel. Walk down to the Diving Centre (approx.10 minutes). Briefing and transfer to the pier for boarding. The first dive takes place on the wreck of the Haven. Packed lunch on board. Afternoon dive to the wreck of a war-ship. Return to the pier in the late afternoon, storage of equipment at the dive centre. Rest of the afternoon and evening free.
Third Day (Saturday)
Breakfast in the hotel. Walk down to the Diving Centre (approx.10 minutes). Briefing and transfer to the pier for boarding. Morning and afternoon dives off the Portofino headland. Packed lunch on board. Return to the pier in the late afternoon, storage of equipment at the dive centre. Rest of the afternoon and evening free.
Fourth Day (Sunday)
After breakfast, transfer by car/private minibus to Genoa airport in time for check-in and boarding on flight BA 2615 to London Gatwick at 1130 a.m. Arrival in London scheduled for 1235 p.m.
The dive programme is subject to changes depending on weather conditions, at the discretion of the Diving Centre.
The basic travel programme can be extended or amended, departures are daily.
Diver - La Capannina*** £ 319,00
Diver - La Capannina dependance** £ 273,00
Technical Diver – La Capannina*** £ 340,00
Technical Diver - La Capannina** £ 294,00
Non Diver – La Capannina *** £ 187,00
Non Diver - La Capannina** £ 140,00
Extra days - Diver La capannina *** £ 117,00 – Diver La Capannina** £ 102,00
Non Diver La Capannina*** £ 46,00 – Non Diver La Capannina** £ 31,00
All prices are per person – 3 nights accommodation in twin/double room at hotel La Capannina*** or La Capannina Dependance**- Continental breakfast – private transfers between Airport and Hotel – Diving – Two full day diving on board (incl 2 tanks, meal on board and guide diver) Haven and Posamine wrecks and Portofino marine park.
Flights : From £ 50,00 plus airport tax – fare will be quoted when booking, as the fare level may vary.