AFCENT Diving Club Expedition
When I started working at the NATO E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen at the beginning of 1995 I was informed about all the sports clubs that were active around the component and I was especially interested in the Scuba Diving Club. A couple of phone calls with Tim Satchel, the Training Officer at the AFCENT Diving Club and a visit to the pool in Brunssum later I had signed up for the Sports Diver Course. After having done the theory lessons and passed the exam we could start the practice dives in the pool, followed by a set of open water dives where we could prove our skills. Most of those dives were done in het Grevelingenmeer, a salt water lake, in Zeeland, the Dutch diving Mecca.
There was quite bit of pressure on the diving as most of the novices were really interested in joining the dive expedition to L’estartit in Spain that had been organized by Tim, Carmen, Sue and Mauro, the most senior divers in the club.
Fortunately all succeeded so on the 26th of May all participating members of the AFCENT Diving Club gathered in front of the pool in Brunssum for the long bus ride to L’estartit.
Almost 14 hours later we arrived over there, exhausted but eager to start our diving adventure. First we checked in in our apartments after we headed straight to the local diving shop to buy our new equipment so we could start of our diving in style.
From where we stayed we could see the Islas Medas, a group of small islands in front of the coast line, where most of our diving would take place. It was a couple of hundred meters walk to the harbor and with no changing facilities available over there we decided to dress up in our brand new wet suits before we went over.
In the harbor our boat, the Calypso, was waiting for us to bring us to the island and within a couple of days we had established a good routine to load the boat and formed a human chain to quickly and efficiently load and unload our gear.
Once on board each of us started to prepare for the upcoming dive, we were briefed about the dive site and the mandatory buddy checks were performed. Still there was time enough to have some fun and on more than one occasion laughter filled to Calypso.
A short boat ride after leaving the harbor we arrived at Islas Medas and each of us could feel the excitement growing. The water was so much clearer than what we were used to in Zeeland so all of us knew we were in for a treat.
One final check and off we went. As already expected the dives were marvelous, there was enough marine life to explore and by the end of the week we even swam through some caves, our training had proven worthwhile to explore areas of our earth we would not even have dreamt of going a couple of months before.
The days went by far to quick for our liking we already were enjoying our farewell dinner. A dinner spiced up with speeches where Tim had a funny story about each of us and our behavior during the week. It turned out each of us had tremendously enjoyed ourselves, partying where possible but well behaved and responsible when needed during the diving.
Tim, Carmen, Sue and Mauro had taken a tremendous gamble taking a group of rookies who just passed their sports divers tests on a diving expedition like this. It could have turned into a nightmare for them where they would end up babysitting a bunch of inexperienced divers. Things did turn out well and I personally think it is thanks to the high standards of training we received we could enjoy a week of diving without even coming close to a single incident. Tim, Carmen, Sue and Mauro, my respect for a job well done!!!
It was time to board the bus for the long way home but deep down inside I was already counting the days for the next AFCENT Diving Club expedition. This week opened up a complete new range of places for me to visit on my future traveling.