It’s the commonwealth long weekend, and where to go best than the Ocean Revival Park in Portimao, Portugal. Just a 4.5 hours drive from home. I had previously dived here during my Tec diving training in Lagos, a town close by. But I wanted to go back and photograph the wrecks and marine life there.
The Ocean Revival Park, is a demarcated area in between the towns of Portimao and Lagos, which holds 4 ex-naval vessel wrecks; consisting of a hydrographic vessel, patrol vessel, frigate and corvette vessel.
Just as the clocks hit 1700 on Friday evening, I left work straight to the Spanish border, with a fully packed car, ready to hit the 450 kilometres of road ahead. Late that evening, I started setting up my camera, for wreck photography. It was an early wake up that next morning, as I had to be at the dive centre by 0800. After analysing the nitrox tanks and setting up the rest of my gear, we made our way to the marina. A short 10 minutes away, we made it to the Ocean Revival Park.
The first wreck we dived on was the Olivera e Carmo. She was an ex-naval corvette. The visibility was about 4 to 5 meters, of which I had expected. The water temperature on the other hand was colder than I expected! We penetrated most of the vessel and took the opportunity to take us many photos as possible.
After a 1.5 hour surface interval, we went on to dive the second wreck; the Zambeze. This vessel was an ex-naval patrol boat. She is the smallest of all wrecks, yet still an impressive size, to what I’m used to seeing. She lies listing heavily on her starboard side. Close by on her port side, lies a beautiful coral garden.
Well that was both dives done for the day, and guess what? I was freezing! I had taken my 5mm wetsuit only!
The next day we dived the two remaining wrecks I still had to see. The Hermegildo Capelo, an ex-naval frigate, and the Almeida Carvalho, an ex-naval hydrographic vessel.
The frigate is extremely impressive. As you descend down the fixed shot line, reaching the end of the line you will soon see the destroyer’s gun at its bow. Also impressive is her enormous size and amount of rooms and levels to have a look in. My favourite part in the frigate must be the engine rooms. The pistons have been removed, I am guessing in the process to remove the oil before scattering it. On the engines, a few pistons have been welded on top, on display for divers to see. The engine room itself lies in 32 meters of water, this was the first part of the wreck we went into, and then slowly working up to the other levels. The bridge and wheel is also very impressive.
On the Almeida Carvalho, my favourite part was visiting the rooms inside, which contained a gym and playing area, containing a foosball table!
On my 3rd and final day of diving, I was given the choice of choosing the dive sites, as I was the only customer the dive center had that day. I decided to change my camera setup for macro photography. I decided to go back to the Zambeze, to visit the colourful coral gardens lying in close proximity. This was well worth it, there was so many types of corals and marine life. I took so many photos!
For my last dive, I told the instructor I wasn’t fussed where to dive. He suggested either a reef wall or diving the engine rooms and mast on the frigate. He said he could take me to a place in the engine rooms where I could find shrimp and a sort of anemone that only opens up in the dark. Well this is where I decided to do the second dive, and as promised we found the shrimps and anemones and as a bonus, there was also a slipper lobster in the engine room! We then headed up to the mast to photograph the fish eating the muscles which grow there.