Having spent most of the summer in southern France in preparation for fatherhood, it gave me the opportunity to explore the Mediterranean coast. Here are my memoirs of my dives with the Centre International Plongée (Nice International Diving Centre – CIP).
The Centre International Plongée is located on a backstreet in the Port of Nice. It is a bit of a contrast to some of the yachts tied up alongside. The usual Mediterranean dive centre, looking a bit dilapidated and run down but filled with the exuberance of two lovely chaps (the owners), their students and a gaggle of excited pleasure divers. Summarised in two words, “lively” and “inviting”.
With very limited English and my limited but improving french, I managed to check in and eventually found some kit. The fins were interestingly marked as 41 on the top and 47 on the heel.
Still, once kit was found, I was buddied up with a lovely couple who live in Luxembourg and are staying at their holiday home. Melanie and Claude. Happily enough, Melanie was originally British although left when she was young. We had a good chat about rebreathers, as well as the way we dived, our aspirations for diving and what we like. She loves caves.
Once the van was loaded up it seemingly slid along the narrow alley to the main road. How it managed is beyond me as it didn’t look like it could fit past the motorbikes from the garage next door. Somehow it did.
Loading up the boat was easy, a human chain was formed and the kit just appeared on the boat. With so much space for everyone and their kit it would have made a wonderful technical diving deck space as they have space below the benches, a good amount of space between the benches and the bulwarks as well as storage above the benches!
A short trip to the east of Villefranche saw us cruising past the usual yachts worth too many zeros’s to count, saw us arriving at the dive site. Crystal clear blue waters awaited!
Jumping in with my single cylinder and a wetsuit – both novelties for me these days – didn’t even make me shudder with cold. It was like bath water. All three of us in the water and down we go (do I have to dump my wetsuit gas? Do I have to deflate my loop?)
The clear blue water stretched seemingly to infinity (and beyond!), the visibility must have been at least 40m, even then it didn’t just stop, merely got darker. Dropping down into this blue did get colder so off came the mask and on went the hood. Down at 37m it was a tad chilly but the landscape was so different to that in Britain. Plants and fish! I have no idea what the plant life was but it was plentiful. The sea creatures were therefore abundant. Throughout the deeper parts of the dive we saw a couple of moray’s while on the shallower parts, a stone fish and two octopus.
As we got shallower the temperature went from a tad chilly back to bath water so we just bimbled about at 5m, off gassing happily. As time passed we decided to head for the boat but couldn’t find it. Ascending from the blue to about 3m Melanie decided to surface and have a look. With a direction known, off we went and the anchor cable appeared in front of us. We were the first ones into the water but not the first out which was good.
Getting out of the water was really simple but the ladder was a bit slippery. If the weather had been not flat calm and a bit lumpy it could have been interesting. The vast amount of space available made de kitting an absolute delight so I decided to answer the call of nature and jump in again. Just enjoying the clear blue water.
After all divers were back onboard and the anchor back in the pocket, off we went back to Nice. During the trip back I had time to chat with some lovely chaps including one (who just happened to co own the dive centre) AP CCR instructor where we chatted around the cool box over a glass of Diabolo grenadine!
Apparently in the winter they do a lot more Trimix CCR diving so now I just have to work out how to bring my kit here!
Once again, with the van loaded it managed to somehow squeeze down the alley outside the dive shop, seemingly by millimetres. Who applied the lubricant I wonder?
- Wetsuit diving can be warm!
- Open circuit diving is not just for bailout!
- Open circuit diving gas consumption is massive when compared with CCR!
- Centre International Plongée (CIP) has a really good boat, ideal for technical diving!
- Max depth: 38.9
- Dive time: 47 minutes
- Date: 12th July 2021.
- Equipment: Open Circuit, 15ltr, 6mm long wetsuit with integrated hood. 6kg weight (a tiny bit too heavy).
- Buddies: Melanie and Claude.
I’m not that good a photographer. Images courtesy and copyright of Centre International Plongée.