I have dived at least a week every year about ten years in row at the Zenobia wreck 1,5 miles off the coast of Larnaca, the airport town of Cyprus. All my dives there have been with Dive-In, the local TDI technical dive center here in Cyprus. Thanks to them I found out about this Mazotos fieldschool because they posted in Facebook a link to its web page. If somebody would like to explore Zenobia, one of the 10 best dive sites in the world, I can recommend Dive-In Larnaca as the most professional and safety oriented dive center I have ever dived with.
Days here are long. We start around 6:00 AM and the lectures continue till 7:30PM. After dinner at a nearby tavern we still need to document the dives, tag all photographs, prepare reports of the day´s activities etc. The mornings and afternoons we do the actual fieldwork on board M/S Queen Zenobia. Everyone dives once a day at the site. I was surprised we actually participate in all activities on site already during the first days here. We have been surveying the site, inserting tag numbers on amphorae and tomorrow we are supposed to start excavating the site and lifting amphorae onboard, which I am very much looking forward to. Every task is taught on site or the previous evening during the lectures which take place at the Town Hall of Mazotos village.
Photo thanks to Christos Iliadis
The RIB that takes us to the site carries only one third of the number of people needed onboard so it takes altogether few hours every morning to get things running. After the dive briefing we have had more and more to do every day. First few days we mostly waited till it was time for us to dive. But as the present condition of the site has been explored, more and more chores need to be done. We for example help to keep the dive log, take care of the decos (see below), fill the tanks etc.
In order to keep it simple we all dive according to same deco plan. Bottom time is 20 min. and the decos are 2, 6 and 12 minutes in 12m, 9m and 6m respectively. If the bottom time is exceeded for some reason, which of course shouldn’t happen, a new deco plan will be given from the surface. We don’t carry any stages with us but the deco gases are supplied from surface. At 9m meters we have EAN80 and at 6m we have pure oxygen. Communication with surface crew is done with a slate sent to divers from aboard.
Photo thanks to Christos Iliadis
Not everything goes as smoothly as one could wish. The number of people onboard is around 40 and the space is limited. For example to find a place for diving gear is sometimes challenging and you might find your gear someplace else you left it.
The fieldschool participants are divided into three groups. Each group has a marked area, a trench, at site to explore. Our group of four is exploring the bow of the wreck and today was a good day for our team since we finished the tagging of amphorae on our trench. During the ascent of the dive I felt I was totally wet inside my dry suit. At the 6m deco stop we had good time to try to find out what caused it. My dive buddy saw bubbles coming from my back and when we got onboard and I took the suit off there was at least 10 ltr of water. The chief dive master suggested I must have been days without peeing. But after closer look at the suit we found out I had a 1cm wide puncture at the back of my suit caused by too long back plate screws in the tanks so I suggest everyone checks the length of the screws in their tanks.
In spite of the setback with my dry suit I must say that this fieldschool has more than fulfilled my expectations.
Jouni Kalliomäki, Finland