Project Apsrytus (pronounced Ap-si-t, no hang one, Up -sir, twat, no that’s not it…). PA Chapter one was completed in June 2013 by a team of DLL tec divers. and what an incredible, awe inspiring trip it was. The project is a plan to map and explore some of the less dived and unknown wrecks of the Kvarner bay region of Croatia. The trip was planed as an orientation at the tec 50 level to get a feel for the area and logistics but ended up as a perfect example of just how rewarding tec diving can be when done as team with excellent back up from the dive centre.
We flew into Venice so as to make transporting tec gear easier. Our last experience with Ryanair was less than satisfactory given that it would probably have been easier to put a human being in the hold than it was to get a rebreather onboard. This meant a 3 hour transfer from Venice, via Slovenia and then into Croatia. However we had air conditioning and beer so everything was OK. The dive centre is located in a tiny village called Krnica which has one lovely little restaurant. Amazingly they had stayed open for us so despite arriving at close to 11 we were fed a huge amount of Kum …Pizza. The restaurant is called Kum. It sounds like…. anyway moving on.
The next morning we were up early and over to the dive centre for the usual faffage before we could start diving. Tec faffage is like recreational faffage except with more onus on looking like you know what you’re doing. Maurizio, the dive centre owner, helped us as we set up, casting dubious glances at Dimitris and his ebay death machine I mean rebreather. Once we were sorted we headed out for our check dive on the wreck of the Lina, a wreck we were familiar with last year but now one we could get out teeth stuck into. As check dives go, the Lina is an excellent dive. It starts at 25 and then slopes away to 40 with a great penetration available between the decks. We got our skills sorted out, had a brilliant little dive and then headed back ready for the the action to begin properly the next day.
After a meal at a local agriturismo of slow roast meats and pasta (amazing) we had a good nights sleep and then got picked up for the days dives. We were going to head out to a wreck called the Baron Gautsch a huge passenger steamship that sunk in 1914 after hitting a mine. Whilst on the boat out there David continued his yearly tradition of enraging German divers by not touching their stuff. Their highly strung nature became more understandable when it transpired they were diving home made rebreathers something that would give anyone anger management issues. However once peace had been made we were on the wreck and it was time to dive. The Baron is a brilliant dive. the wreck sits completely upright and is full of amazing penetrations. We had tremendous fun navigating through the holds and swimming below the decks.
At the end of the day Dimitris entertained us all by deploying his new black SMB. This is supposedly marketed as being easier to see in certain lighting conditions where the black stands out as a contrast against the water. The picture below clearly shows this to be bollocks and we had a huge amount of fun at Dimitris’ expense. I can now say the Big Greek with the tiny black sausage in about 4 different languages thanks to Jules!
The next day the trimix dives began. We were diving a weck called the Argo, a fitting title given that Aspyrtus is a character from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and the Argo was the ship they sailed in. The Argo was a refrigerator ship that also sunk after hitting a mine in 1946. The wreck is in 2 separate parts at a depth of 50m and had just been cleared of all the accumulated fishing nets snagged all over the wreck by the lovely guys at Ghost Fishing. As a result the wreck was beautiful to dive and we had 2 fantastic dives on the bow and the stern. That evening we had a huge BBQ at the dive centre. It was perfect, eating food, drinking chilled beer and watching the sun set over the harbour in the warm evening.
On the penultimate day we dived the Luana and the Cesare Rossarol. Both of these wrecks are quite unbelievably pristine. The Luana sank in 1947 whereas the Cesare Rossarol sank in 1918 after, you guessed it, they both hit a mine. Both wrecks lie in about 50m of water and the level of preservation is amazing. On the Cesare you can clearly see the compass, ships wheel and other instruments. Items that have usually been long since ripped off other wrecks. Dimitris deployed his black SMB again and we were unable to see him so sadly he was lost at sea.
That evening despite the loss of Dimitris we had another great evening out at Kum pizza mainly excited about the next day and the dive on a phenomenal wreck called the vis.
The Vis sank in 1946 due to bird strike when a flock of geese entered the main funnel and blew up the engine room. Or it might have been a mine, I can’t remember now. Anyway it’s a brilliant dive, like a kind of supercharged Rosalie Moller mixed with Scapa Flow but again in a remarkable state of preservation. The funnel on the top is huge and the deck is littered with bottles and other detritus from the sinking. You are able to drop into the holds and swim through the middle of the ship. Although we were already one team member down with the missing Dimitris we were almost 2 down when Jules decided to walk head first into the side of the boat and wipe herself out. At first we thought she might be dead but we gaffer taped her up and she was soon back and ready to dive.
We rounded off the trip that night with a trip to a local nautical museum and then dinner in an incredible restaurant overlooking the Istrian hills.
Chapter one was a great success. Congratulations go to Steve Barham, Jules Claro and James Creighton for trimix distinctives and tec 50 qualifications. Our next trip will be based around 60m normoxic dives so let us know ASAP if you want to join us!