As Kostas joined up for training and freediving with us last year, I’ve asked him to write a small report on his journey to Greece last Christmas. Enjoy the story:
When I returned from Greece after my Christmas vacation I was completely blown away. The reason was that I went for the first time spear fishing during winter and it was an amazing experience. When I told Sanne about it, he asked me whether I could write a short story about it so he can upload it on the site. Well, it’s been four months since I was in Greece for Christmas and I am about to keep my promise… 😛
The most incredible thing about the spear fishing trips was not the depth of the dives, nor was it the fish we saw or speared. It was in fact the realization that we were experiencing all this in the middle of the winter, the season I used to sit in a warm place and watch the sea from a distance.
Having been used to visit the sea during the summer holidays, I was thinking of winter as the time of the year when weather conditions, the temperature of the water, were making water activities, especially spear fishing, a thing for a few life defying people. How wrong I was…
The plan of going for spear fishing during our holidays in Greece was already fixed in our heads months before, but we were still not quite sure about the sanity of it. As we left Thessaloniki on our way to Chalkidiki the sky was changing between clear and cloudy and Karin and me where wondering what we would confront once we arrive. We were already tipped about three spots we should visit. The first location was windy and high waves were hitting the shore. Not ideal. We moved to the second but conditions were still not good.
After being two hours in the car, having rejected two out of three locations and being almost convinced that this will not happen today we arrived at the third one. We drove off the main road and down a narrow curvy one surrounded by dense green vegetation that would take us to the small port. Curve after curve as we were getting closer to water the excitement, as to what conditions we would find, was rising. Taking the last curve the landscape revealed itself: a bay surrounded by green hills, and in it, secluded, a small port with a small beach located at its left and a rocky formation on the right. To the south-east the horizon was clear and the sun was shining above us. The water was as calm as I have seen it during any nice summer day. The sight was thrilling.
Acceleration… we couldn’t wait to get into the water. Gear out of the car as fast as we can, putting it on in no time and into the water. Here we were, floating in cold water. Visibility was 15-20 meters and coping with the cold was no issue with the 5mm wet suit. We stayed in the water for almost two hours, saw plenty of activity, and even took an octopus home weighing almost 2 ½ kg. One of the greatest things during our stay in the water was the complete silence. No motorboats around, no boats at all as a matter of fact, something that is just unimaginable to experience during summer in Greece, especially if you don’t own your own boat to take you to remote locations.
The first experience was so positive that a second trip was planned after five days already. This time Karin stayed back and a friend of mine, Kostas (very popular name in Greece), joined me. He was already wound up to the extreme from the story of the first dive. This time however the weather was worse and I was less optimistic about it. The sky was cloudy, it was raining slightly and the forecast was talking about winds of 4-5 Beaufort strength. We drove off, telling ourselves that in the worst case scenario of forbidding conditions we will have a coffee and drive back and consider this as a nice short road trip.
Our destination was the same location and it seems that it is a good one as conditions where unbelievably good. The water was even calmer than the previous time, almost mirror smooth, and the visibility unchanged. It was raining during the whole dive and some waves picked up as we were leaving. This time my friend took an octopus out for dinner (the octopus was the dinner).
What an eye opener! All these years the thought of going into the sea during winter seemed to be so daring. How wrong I was. Given the right weather conditions, a protected location and good gear, freediving or spear fishing during winter is just as fun, if not more, as during summer. Having the chance to experience this made me think of all the miss beliefs I might have about many things in life and that the only way to overcome these is to get out there and try them out.