“Hi Sheila”, It was Councillor Steve Gerald’s voice on the phone, “Coastal clean up on Sat 9th Aug, can you put it on your news, we need volunteers………………and you’re taking part too – aren’t you”?
“Oh er um – yes, I think I’m free”. It was a 9am start – hate getting up that early on a Saturday but it was a worthwhile cause and it’s always a good story for this news blog, so a note was made in the diary.
A few days before the event I received another call. “Can you help out at the dive centre we’re busy and could do with an extra pair of hand for a few days”?
I was there in a shot, any excuse to get me out of the office and go diving for a while. DaRKeTaMiN, losgigantes.com webmaster, volunteered to answer the phones and keep things ticking over for a few days.
Now there was a problem how could I take part in the clean up as well as take people diving. Talking it through with instructor Andy we came up with a brilliant idea – we would all take part in the clean up. There was a beach we passed regularly which was covered in rubbish, it didn’t look nice, and there was also one of our popular dive sites which needed a good tidy up too. How to get volunteers? – you offer them a free dive. In a few minutes we had a full boat of volunteers. So it was a call to Steve to let him know.
So on the day it was the usual 9.30 kit up for a 10am start. Our 1st job was to clean beach at Octopus Cove (called Echo bay by tourist boats) the rubbish included the top half of a pedalo, which had been washed up there about 2 years ago. The sea had been very flat and calm for the past few days but on this particular morning wave action made it difficult to get on and off beach and it was also difficult for the dive boat to stay in close. Rubbish consisted of shoes, fish boxes, the pedalo, and a huge length of rope easily 3 inches in diameter (very heavy), many bottle, cans and cartons, which filled 4 large bin liners.
Next stop was to drop of rubbish of in Puerto Santiago. This proved difficult as wave action prevented us from going against the harbour wall and everything had to be swum to the steps. The local firemen were taking part in the clean up too and were waiting for us. We did get some odd looks from them as we pulled in with the pedalo balanced on top of dive gear. At this point the harbour crane developed electrical difficulties but after much twiddling and banging they eventually got it working and lifted the pedalo from the water. Our next planned destination was dive site Punta Barbero – the rocky point off Playa Arena beach – a lovely dive site, but spoilt by rubbish. It has been cleaned up by us in the past so the opportunity for another clean up was taken.
Divers spent approximately 45 minutes in the water and once more many bottles, cans and cartons, as well as an old tyre were collected. A large item we wanted to move was a supermarket trolley which was tangled up in an old fish trap. It was sent to the surface on a lifting bag but was too heavy to safely bring on board, it had very sharp, rusty edges. It was decided that it was too risky to try to tow it back to Puerto Santiago harbour in the swell, so we towed it further out to sea and cut it loose. How a supermarket trolley got there in the first place is beyond me!
The decision was then made not to go back into Puerto Santiago because of the swell so we went back to Los Gigantes marina and disposed of the rubbish in the bins provided by the marina.
Thirty other volunteers including the Surf Club Punta Blanca and the volunteer Firemen took part in the beach cleanup of Crab Island and the beaches at Puerto de Santiago and Playa Arena. A total of almost 500kg was collected.
The event ended with paella at Puerto Santiago square for the volunteers, sadly Andy and I had to miss out because we had to get back to work!
A good day was had by all.