Scorpionfish at La Lagunita.

I arrive in Corralejo to a classic example of you should have been here last week. In fact, any time in the past few months would have been good, explains my host Kristof from the Punta Amanay dive centre, as we drive north from the airport. Storm winds are picking up.
By morning it is obvious that Kristofs top dive spots in the channel between Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are out of the question.
Isnt Fuerteventura a bit windy for diving people had asked when I said
I was planning a diving tour of the island. After all, the island does have a reputation as a top place to go for surfers, wind-surfers and kite-surfers.
I would explain that there were no fundamental reasons why Fuerteventura should be any more or less windy than elsewhere in the Canary Islands. Its just that, while other Canaries have become known in the UK for diving, diving in Fuerteventura has been overshadowed by all the surf dudes flocking there.
The name Fuerteventura is often thought to be Spanish for strong wind, though it is also claimed that when Jean de Bethancourt conquered the island he described its terrain as fort aventure or tough adventure.
Kristof checks the forecast. The outlook for Corallejo looks better in a couple of days time. Were on an island, so somewhere will be sheltered.
Roland, one of the owners of the Deep Blue Dive Centre in Caleta de Fuste, and overall
co-ordinator of my trip, reports that Plan B is ready to go into action.
My room at Las Marismas is shifted back a couple of days, and Rolands colleague Lothar drives me back south.

Caleta is a complete contrast to Corallejo. With an offshore wind from the sheltered harbour, the windsurfers are still enjoying themselves but the sea is flat, the water typically clear blue and the conditions excellent for diving.
I join the afternoon dive at Barranco, a nice section of volcanic reef with an old navigation buoy serving as minor wreckage. The bottom of the wall is deeply undercut, providing shelter for groupers and sting rays.
Near one outcrop, the undercut has been sufficient for an entire corner to snap free and leave a narrow winding canyon through the resulting crack. It must have been a long time ago, because the canyons edges are smooth and rounded by erosion.
Anyone who has visited Deep Blues stand at the Dive Shows will have noticed laid out on the floor its intricate dive-site illustrations, which give a good impression of the scenery and put it into scale.
All are within five minutes of the dive centre, except for Horizonte, a 20-30 minute boat ride.
This site was discovered since I was last on the island, so after a quiet night in the nearby Barcelo Hotel, its an obvious morning dive. Roland lines up transits and we drop into blue water, the top of the wall instantly visible 15m below.
The reef is a buttress of rock in an otherwise pebbled slope, 100m long and stepping down from 15 to 35m.
In the gentle current the reef is a fish magnet. Clouds of grey-brown chromis swarm above the leading corner. The sandy patches below the reef are also the sort of place I would expect to find sting rays and angel sharks, but not today. It is only when decompressing that we spot a monster sting ray gliding past far below.
I last dived with Deep Blue on a tour of all seven Canaries (Whirlwind Canaries, August 2005). The biggest concentration of angel sharks had been just beyond the harbour outside the Mole, a site the dive centre uses mostly for training and try-dives.
I fit the Mole in as a quick dip between the main morning and afternoon dives, but the angel sharks are absent. I am happy enough on the shallow sand with a couple of friendly cuttlefish and a selection of part-buried lizardfish waiting for lunch to swim by.
My first angel shark of the trip ambles past later at El Portal, named for a large door-sized swim-through below a house-sized monolith of grey lava rock.
Even then, I almost miss the shark because I am concentrating on a shoal of amberjack, and I almost miss the amberjack because I am photographing divers swimming through the portal with my back to the blue.
The angel sharks are easier to photograph but harder to spot at El Tazar, where we find several snoozing on the sandy patches and well dug in.
From a distance, the reef looks like bare grey rock with patches of red sponge. Up closer, the detail of what can be found in the nooks and crannies turns every dive into a lucky dip.
As well as shrimp, crabs, blennies and gobies, larger critters such as octopus and moray eels add fun to most dives.
I finish on an outcrop of wall at Embrascola, another fish magnet, this time with sardines and barracuda.

Between dives at Caleta, the discussion turns to my return to Corallejo. Divers who know the area rave about Bajon del Rio, described as three mushrooms of rock with fish underneath.
I have difficulty remembering names like this, especially when j is pronounced more like an h. In fact, I have difficulty remembering names.
So back in Corallejo, I simply tell Kristof that everyone recommended the three-mushroom site. He instantly recognises the description - Bajon del Rio is one of his favourites, too.
We leave harbour as a Lanzarote ferry arrives, our route out to the channel almost tracking its course back before branching off to check out a winding submerged canyon at Bocayna.
Kristof dons mask and snorkel to look below while Gegge holds the boat on station. There is still a bit of ground swell. Kristoff can see the reef but says the canyon is full of suspended sand.
With a similar canyon further north at Calamareo likely to be the same, we head round the small island of Lobos to the east to La Lagunita.
Here the water is sparklingly clear above a flat lava field, though flat is only a relative term, as ridges and gullies give 2-3m ripples and cracks in the grey rock.
A shoal of barracuda takes advantage of the visibility to stay frustratingly just too far away, as do the plentiful grouper that lurk closer to the seabed, waiting for stray chromis to sacrifice themselves. A big, smug-looking scorpionfish is easier to approach. Then we meet a medium-sized sting ray as Kristof guides a wide-ranging loop over the reef.
Even with nitrox, the flat profile at 20-25m leads to a token decompression stop. Below us, a big electric torpedo ray winds its way along a sandy gully.
The famous mushrooms are at a shallower dive site. Convenient for the harbour, we head back to the dive centre for our surface interval and fresh cylinders. The current is barely perceptible at the surface, though amplified close to the seabed as it surges past the peculiarly cut reef.
An old lava flow has been cut into humps 30-50m across, then the scouring action of waves and groundswell on the sand has undercut the humps from the seabed, inward and upward, to leave what is almost a cavern completely ringing each hump. Kristof leads us round each mushroom in turn, cutting
the odd corner where arches and short tunnels have formed through the reef.
Even without the hordes of fish under the mushrooms, it would be fun just to play in the unusual geology. But I cant help imagining how much more fun it could be to zoom round on a scooter
The trouble with lightning tours is that I am just settling in at a location, getting an appetite for the diving and the locality, when its time to move on. Its like going to a top restaurant and eyeing up the succulent menu but having time only for a starter.

My last diving stop is all the way south on the Jandia peninsula. I am staying and diving at the Robinson Club. The beach at Morro Jable is fine white sand, swept by the sea along the coast of the island and deposited as a 14-mile stretch at the end. Divers kit up and walk down the beach while Stefan drives the boat round from the harbour.
The other dive centres I visited ran RIBs, but Stefan and Elke use two soft-hulled Zodiacs, because the flat hulls can easily be brought right into the sand.
The Zodiac takes only a few minutes to zip along the beach to Big Moray Reef (the other reef off the lighthouse is Small Moray Reef). Under water, both are in fact one long section of wall standing 10m from the banked sand, with a cascade of sand burying the wall just off from the centre.
There used to be lots of moray eels, but now there are a hell of a lot of grouper, pushy in the way groupers are when they are used to being fed by divers - a practice Stefan does not support. It is one or two of the other dive centres who swim out from the beach, he informs me.
Nevertheless, the groupers dont know which dive centre we are from, and consistently nudge in close. A few sting rays and an electric torpedo ray are similarly friendly. Whatever they are eating doesnt seem to be harming them.
I cant believe that a few hand-outs from divers keep this many fat fish satisfied. They must also eat their share of the grey-brown chromis and sardines that flutter above the reef, as must the big shoal of barracuda off the point.
Robinson Clubs are the German equivalent of Club Med, with a team of young, enthusiastic staff supervising sports and other activities by day, serving dinner in the evenings and starring in the evening shows.
The on-site dive centre is in fact a separate business, also open to divers not staying in the club hotel, but that doesnt exclude the dive-centre staff from having to do their bit.
I join the audience for the Rocky Horror Show. It is in German, but language doesnt matter amid the usual gags of rice, confetti, sparklers, water pistols and chocolate bars.
Stefan is backstage, shifting scenery and managing the lights. Next morning, the bearded sailing instructor who played Frankenfurter doesnt look quite the same without the stilettos and lacy black basque.
Elke heads the Zodiac out towards Punta Jandia, the westernmost tip of the island. It takes us a while, loaded up with technical kit for a wreck at 50m. When busier, divers would travel by minibus and let the boat skip along unloaded. Today Stefan and Elke have time to point out a string of other dive sites.
The wreck is a wooden ship with a cargo of agricultural machinery. To avoid damaging it, Stefan drops the shot deliberately off the wreck, but not so far that we cant easily see it.
The timbers are remarkably well-preserved, splattered out beneath a pile of iron machinery that includes bits of traction engine and wheels from ploughs. Big blocks of rock with shreds of rope tied to them are more likely to have been added later by fishermen.
At the stern, I discover one reason for the preservation. The rudder and what I can see of the lower hull are copper-clad.
The origin of the wreck is the subject of various rumours, from 19th century to a wartime cargo-carrier for Gustav Winter and his secret U-boat base (see panel, previous page).

I spend my last night back at the Barcelo Hotel in Caleta de Fuste. It is only 10 minutes from the airport, and makes my morning departure considerably easier.
It also enables me to join the goodbye party for one of Deep Blues divemasters. Roland reminds me about a similar party last time I was here, joking that I had better not return too often or he will have no staff left.
It seems unlikely. Another divemaster intern has just started. He was diving on holiday - and simply decided to stay.

Gustav Winter was a reclusive German engineer who, in the 1930s and through World War Two, held Fuerteventuras Jandia Peninsula as a private estate.
He built what was the largest villa on the island, on the remote north slopes of the Jandia Mountains, some say to conceal secret Nazi activities.
More likely, the north slopes were cool in the summer and gave an impressive view of the rough and exposed north shore.
Some say that the thick walls and deep cellars of Villa Winter were the defences of a camouflaged fortress, but such features were typical of local farmhouses, just that bit bigger.
Some say it was a hospital for injured U-boat crew, but that ignores the half-day trek along a mountain track from the nearest harbour, which was too small for a U-boat to enter.
Some say there was a secret supply base for U-boats, though there is no physical evidence.
Others say the base was a giant cavern accessible only through submerged tunnels and secret passages from the basement of Villa Winter. Again, no such cavern or tunnels have ever been found.
Navigating submarines through a long submerged tunnel is more akin to Hollywood than a realistic skill for a U-boat crew to master, and where did all the supplies for the U-boats come from
In his book U-Boats At War - Landings On Hostile Shores, Jak P Mallman Showell dedicates a chapter to analysis of U-boat orders, logs and mission reports concerning the Canary Islands.
U-boat logs and reports are comprehensive. Even gathering supplies of food from an isolated fishing boat is recorded in detail.
There are copious records of a U-boat supply base run not very secretly from an interred German freighter in Las Palmas harbour in Grand Canaria, but none hint at U-boats visiting Fuerteventura.
Of the various Gustav Winter rumours, the secret U-boat base is the least plausible.
The best description I could find online shared the pages that gave considerable detail of the still operational Nazi flying-saucer base hidden beneath Greenlands ice cap!
Loading the RIB in the harbour at Corralejo
At Bajon del Rio, Corallejo, mushrooms of volcanic rock have been undercut to form overhangs appreciated by two-banded and zebra bream
Octopus at Embrascola
angel shark at El Portal
black moray eel at Morro Jable.
an old navigation buoy at Barranco
Angel shark at Big Moray Reef, Morro Jable
Preparing for the next dive at Caleta Del Fuste
barracuda at Big Moray Reef
this unidentified sailing ship wreck at Morro Jable was carrying a cargo of agricultural machinery, possibly for Gustav Winter (see panel).
Sting ray and grouper at Small Moray Reef, Morro Jable
Bowsprit fitting from the unidentified sailing ship wreck.
Leaving Jandia Playa beach in the Zodiac
GETTING THERE: John Liddiard flew with Iberia from Heathrow via Madrid, Budget and charter flights are available from many UK regional airports.
DIVING: Punta Amanay Dive Centre, Coralejo, Deep Blue Dive Centre, Caleta de Fuste, Tauchschule Robinson Club, Morro Jable,
ACCOMMODATION: Las Marismas de Coralejo, Hotel Barcelo de Caleta de Fuste, Robinson Club Jandia, Morro Jable.
WHEN TO GO: Diving continues year-round, the coldest water temperature being 18°C in winter. Larger marine life such as angel sharks and sting rays are seasonal.
PRICES: Scheduled flights cost about £300, charter and discount flights start from £60. Package holidays with flights and budget accommodation cost £300 or so. A 10-dive package is priced at 230-300 euros with discounts for groups.
A room for two for a week costs from 400 euros, depending on hotel, board and season. Car rental from 180 euros a week.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Spanish Tourist Office, 020 7486 8077,