Submarine Safaris

Yesterday we drove over to Puerto Calero, about a 15 minute drive from Puerto Del Carmen, to take a submarine ride. The sub sailed for a one hour tour. As it cleared the harbor it began to dive.

As we dove deeper, it became obvious that the natural sun light was being absorbed and blue was the color that was left. The monochrome blue color was a surprise to Cathy.

The sub dove to a depth of 125 feet. We got to see a few ship wrecks and some sea life. On the way back, a diver was on the outside of the sub to greet us. Jill had fun signing with the diver by placing her thumb on her nose and wiggling her fingers. The diver reciprocated and did the same back to her.

Diving in Puerto Del Carmen

MJ and I took our first dive in the Canary Islands. We dove off of the water sports pier near old harbor. We rented all the dive equipment from Safari Dive Center and had a dive master with us. Our first challenge was figuring out the metric sizes and weights for the gear. The guys behind the counter asked if I wanted a 10 liter or 15 liter bottle of air. I’m use to 80, 100 or 135 cubic inch tanks. No clue as to liters. Since this was the first dive of the year for both MJ and I, we took the 15 liter bottles. More air the better. We had similar issues with wet suit sizes, fin sizes and lead weights. The guys at the shop were very helpful in getting us suited up with the correct size equipment.

After suiting up, the dive master gave us a dive brief. He detailed several dive options based upon our air consumption and comfort levels. One of the last options was the dive master giving us the buddy up sign and wave us off. In other words if he was comfortable with our diving skills he would send us off to finish the dive on our own.

We jumped into the water and dropped to 15 feet. The water was cool. We needed 5mm wet suits for warmth. The visibility was 60 feet plus. We swam along the storm break towards the old town harbor entrance. The water depth gradually dropped to 50 feet. There was tons of sea life around. Yellow jacks, Amberjacks, Wrasse, Parrotfish, Comberfish and Seabream were in abundance. Along the dive we came across an 8 inch squid, swimming along the sandy floor.

As we circled around, we swam out close to the underwater lava cliffs. At the cliffs the water depth plunges. at the cliff edge we found our selves at 70 feet deep. An eagle ray swam near us, allowing us to take soem great video. I had the Go-Pro camera with us. As soon as I get a chance I’ll post a video clip.

We started the dive with 200 bar of pressure in our tanks. Again, I have no real clue as to how much air that equates to. At 100 bar we were to tell the dive master and at 50 bar we were expected to be at the surface. In my mental gyrations I equated that to 1200psi starting up and 500psi being back on the boat.

We were at 180 bar of pressure when the dive master looked at MJ & I and gave us the buddy up sign and waved us off.
We proceeded to swim around several mounds of lava rocks, peering into the crevices, exploring. We stayed at 9 meters / 30 feet for the rest of the dive. At 100 bar of pressure we were both tired and called the dive. We were in the water for an hour and 15 minutes.

As we were cleaning up the equipment and turning it back into the shop, we talked to the dive master and the guys at the shop. They invited us to go out on the boat with them for some more difficult dives. I guess we demonstrated proficiency in our diving skills. The other funny point was that MJ & I became known as the “Americans” at the dive shop.

Friday’s Activities in Lanzarote

Today, our first full day in Lanzarote, was a recovery day for us.  We all got some sleep and started to get used to being 5 hours ahead of NY. I’ve loaded a bunch of trip photos.

We started the day heading down to Puerto Del Carmen’s old harbour.  We strolled around the seaport and the side streets.  I am finding that Lanzarote is a very safe place.  The policia take security and safety very seriously. There is an old world charm to the old harbour area.  Small side streets that hide a lot of shops.  Lots of hills.  The entire town of Puerto Del Carmen sits on a hill side.  You definitely need to have a good pair of legs and a good pair of walking shoes to get around and really see everything that is to see!

We found the water sports center in Old Harbour, where they had jet skis, parasailing and banana boat rides.  We had a blast taking a banana boat ride across the harbour. The water sports center sits on a pier that is about 10 feet above the water.  The locals were jumping off the pier into crystal clear blue water.

After jumping off the pier we walked to the other side to swim at a small sandy beach with large pumice stones scattered around the beach and water.

As we walked around, MJ & I wandered into each dive shop that we found.  We decided to use Safari Diving.   There are a ton of beach dives in Lanzarote.  Because the islands are volcanic, the water gets deep very fast.  Within 200 feet of shore the water can be 100 to 150 feet deep.  Tomorrow morning MJ & I are going for a beach dive.  I’m taking the Go-Pro, so I should have some video to share.

The Trade Winds

Yesterday I was concerned that we were going to be sleeping in a sweat box without AC.  It turns out the trade winds are constantly blowing over the islands.  When the sun sets, the temperature drops like a rock.  Around 2 am Jill and Cathy actually needed blankets.

Talking to the staff today I found out that there is a two week period, usually around the end of July or beginning of August when they have a heat wave.  During that two week period the trade winds stop.  If we were here during that time, my worst fears would have been realized.

Fortunately, we avoided the heat wave and sleeping here without AC is very, very comfortable!

Arriving in Lanzarote

The flights last night were interesting. It was the first red eye flight for the kids and Cathy. This morning as we were landing in Madrid, MJ asked why it is called a red eye flight.  I told him to look in the mirror.

The flight to Madrid was 7 hours long.  We landed in Madrid at 6:55am Madrid time or 12:55am eastern time.  By the time Jill started to settle down and get tired, we were an hour out of Madrid.  So much for sleeping on the long flight over. We did get to see the sunrise over Madrid as we were landing.  That was a very beautiful sight.

Going through customs in Spain was the easiest, convenient, pleasurable border crossing experiences that I have ever had.  We were literally through customs in under 10 minutes from the time we left the plane.

We made our connection in Madrid for Lanzarote with time to spare.  We were all spent when we boarded the Lanzarote flight.  The fly time was 2 hours and 10 minutes.  I think everyone got a full 2 hours of sleep.

Our villa has semi-private balcony overseeing the bay of Puerto Del Carmen. We have 4 pools to choose from.  The villa doesn’t have AC, however everyone reassures us that it isn’t needed.  The breeze is constant through the night and there is no humidity.

The views and scenery are spectacular.  The Canaries are volcanic, so the mountains are jagged, the beaches have long stretches of sand with occasionally lava rocks interrupting the flow.

Tonight we’re creating our game plan for the week.  I wasn’t going to rent a car, but the traffic is very easy to navigate and to see the island on our time-line, I’m really giving it thought.  MJ & I have already scoped out a dive shop.  There are some underwater lava tubes nearby that sounds awesome to explore.

Already this trip is going to be different…

We arrived at JFK at 3pm with plenty of time for our 5:55pm flight. Normally for family vacations Cathy & I split duties.  She handles getting the kids through the airport and onto the plane.  I handle the luggage,

On past vacations, depending on the age of the kids, we would have somewhere between 8 and 11 bags.  This trip has started with a really nice surprise.  The kids can handle their own luggage and they can deal with the airport security lines with just some guidance from Cathy & I.

I didn’t have to struggle with 300 lbs of luggage.  Wow.  What a treat.

Countdown to Vacation

We’re down to the final 24 hours to our vacation.  This year we are heading to the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara.

We will be on the island of Lanzarote, which is the north eastern most island.

The Canaries are largely a European vacation destination.  Spanish, English and German are the main languages spoken on the islands.  To get there from the US, you have to get a connecting flight in Spain.  On the way there we don’t really spend any time in Madrid.  However on the way home we do get a full day there.

We are planning to get at least one dive in and possibly try surfing.  We are also going to touring the volcano.  There is a restaurant, El Diablo, that uses heat form the volcano to cook.  If possible we may head to the north end of the island and spend a day on the black sand beaches.

Why the Canaries?  I’m tired of the Caribbean and Florida.  Really, how much rum can one consume in a week?  We wanted to try something really different. Something that a lot of people have not tried yet.

So tomorrow the adventure begins….