Dive Reports

Current season 2012

4th January - Holborough Lakes

Rob and I departed Canterbury 0900 hours, at the speed Rob was going I think he was trying to get there yesterday!
Our destination was the Nemes Dive Academy at Holborough Lake Snodland.

We arrived at 0950 hours 10mins before opening and the security guard at the site entrance wouldn’t let us in. We didn’t have to wait long until the owner turned up and we made our way to the lake. We emptied our kit out of Robs van I assembled my twinset and then realised I had forgotten the 2 nuts to secure my suit inflation cylinder to my backplate.
The suit inflation hose then had to be transferred to my left post reg, once that minor fix was completed we humped and dumped all our kit close to the lake and onto the purpose built kitting up tables.

Once in both sets of thermals I then struggled (thanks to Santa and gluttony) to get into my drysuit.  I chose to wear my 5mm O3, Rob sported his 2mm O3, good choice on my part as the water was a positively tropical 7 ?C!
I was in the water first and floated about while Rob carried out his 15 hour rebreather pre-dive checks....
The owner asked us if we could recover the santa suit from the dummy in the lake. The dry gloves Rob and I had brought along to try use had failed to keep the water out but we still had enough dexterity left in our fingers to cut the cable ties, remove the suit and then re-apply cable ties, I then had to drag a goody bag containing the suit around for the remainder of the 45 min dive.
Skill fade was very apparent by me as my buoyancy was all over the place, I got so exasperated with it I decided to empty the air out of both my suit and wing and take myself back to day 1 week 1 buoyancy training.
The vis was quite poor, about 2m max and with me causing the occasional silt out and bringing it down to 0m didn’t help, luckily there are ropes to guide you around the sites of the lake.
Rob found the remains of a Mitten Crab, which turns out to be a pest of the waterways! (The Alien Crab)
On ending the dive we de-kitted and made our way to the shop for our free brew. A joint decision was made that there would be no 2nd dive so we sorted out the kit and went for a burger and a pint, then a white knuckle drive back to Canterbury.

John McKinnon

(2007, 2008, 2009 seasons)

2011

11th July - Leicester

We went to the Leicester, there was about 1.5m of viz, Rob used up slack tieing us in ;) the shot was by the boiler, or the bow if your Rob ;) plenty of spidge came up including some nice bottles of pickled creatures by Gerry and bits of a lamp by Derek & Kay Skinner. The sea was flat as a flat thing and Carl kicked Paul in the head a couple times as he (Carl) flapped about, but being the only one with split fins he was not going to get away with it. 3 (Nigel, Celine & Craig) failed to find the shot and their DSMB's drifted about a foot past it. We had beer and crisps at Cullens Yard :)

Paul Oliver

 

3rd July - Strathclyde

After some excellent diving on the Shenandoah it was decided that another trip on the VA was on. Simon confirmed this on Facebook after he had at last dragged his sorry backside into the 21st Century and joined FB and so as well as emailing about upcoming dives we will get updates through the Canterbury Divers Facebook page.

The scurvey crew: Tom, Ian, Matt, Kay, Craig, Debs and Roger (Rob) who was a little lacking in the tea making front. Simon brewed up as we all piled our kit on board - Rob was his usual happy self but the rest of us were rather pleased to be going out to the Strathclyde.

The weather was fantastic, calm seas and sunny. We set off to the site nice and early, shotted quickly and drifted around for 30mins. Tom found all the excitement too much and had to have a lie down.

Roger went in first, slack was a way off and he had to haul himself to the shotline ...... and then realised his torch was still secured to the back of his rebreather. So back on board, torch retrieved, and dropped back onto the line. Eventually the bouy bobbed up with the anchor. The dive was on!

I went in first with Tom and Matt followed by Kay with Ian and Craig.

We dropped to the bottom of the shotline to find 4m or so of vis - I quickly tied my distance line on and went off to find my buddies. Matt hadn't realised I'd secured my line and was faffing around with his reel. I assumed he was just rearranging his kit and so set off. We immediately came across Rob with a bulging goodie bag - so I asked where he'd found the bottles - helpfully he vaguely pointed towards the wreck. With those pinpoint directions we headed about 10m and found a hold full of glass bottles. I went in first and pulled out several bottles and then let Tom have a rummage. He hadn't realise that I'd retreived anything and started hauling out numerous bottles - I put my hand out to stop him but he assumed that I meant I wanted 5 bottles and then couldn't understand why I wasn't putting any of them in my goodie bag! About this time I realised that somehow we'd managed to loose Matt - so in best BSAC tradition we carried on with the dive. We pottered around with my bouyancy all over the place with hauling seveal rather heavy bottles, every time I put my bag down I went up and soon as I picked it up I landed on the decks - sigh! We trundled around the wreck, picking up the odd bit of tat and then at 100bar headed back to the shotline, passing through a huge bank of silt which Craig was stiring up getting out stone gin bottles. At the bottom of the shotline we met up with Matt, carrying a bottle of champagne, and up we went.

Back on board we all compared finds, Rob and Craig had stone gin bottles, Kay produced proudly from her goodie bag an intact stone inkwell and others had champagne, bottles and a clay pipe. Between us Tom and I had bottles of pickled goosberries, rhubarb and blackcurrants which were already starting to emit a rank smell.

Rob with a stone gin bottle Tom risking his sinuses
Matt with his champagne Ian's pipe
Kay's stone inkwell Deb's collection of picked fruit

 

Back on shore I found that the bottle with the rhubarb in it was starting to fizz, so rather than let it burst in the car I opened it (ugg!) and poured some of it onto the carpark. A hopeful seagull paddled across to eat the fruit and hurriedly backed off when it smelt the evil stuff, giving a mournful yarp as it went.

We rounded off the evening in Cullens Yard, Rob had decided to try the contents of one of his gin bottles - we all tried to stop him but he wouldn't be pursuaded; he opened the bottle,

.

causing other visitors to the bar to move tables, poured out the contents - which were cloudy

and even though it smelt vile actually tried it - this shows that a seagull has a higher IQ than Rob.

So another excellent dive in fantastic conditions - roll on Tuesday for another trip to this great wreck.

Debs

28th June - Shenandoah

14th June - Drumtochty

19th May - Strathclyde

Simon's email came through Wednesday evening - after a couple of cancellations due to high winds the dive, at long last, was on. This was to be the inaugural trip on Simon's new charter boat 'The Valerie Ann'. True both Derek and Rob had been on her when she was brought to Dover but this was the first dive trip; a shake down dive to see that everything worked before the club trip to Weymouth.

Ropes off was at 16.00. I arrived in plenty of time to see that Rob - the cabin boy - was already there and he leapt into action getting the tea and coffee ready for divers as they arrived.

Simon's new boat is fantastic - plenty of space to kit up, full facilities - toilet, tea and coffee and even a microwave - and all the GPS, sounders etc to get us spot onto a wreck.

The guinea pigs for the trip were Debs, Derek, Tom, Rob, Phil, Craig and Rich all eager to get onto the Strathclyde to see what tat we could get.

The valiant captain gave a full briefing, which was sort of listened to

and then we set off.

Within 10 minutes Tom had broken part of the boat

so he was told it would better if he went off and have a lie down

 

It was a short trip to the Strathclyde, Simon went over it once, then doubled back, slowly approached the mark again, loitered over the mark shouting to Rob to drop the shotline over - and shotted in one - perfect. The much harder task was to convey to the cabin boy how to leave the anchor on the wreck.

Rob wasn't convinced but it was eventually decided to leave the anchor where it was and then at the end of the dive drag it to where it could be pulled up.

Rob went in first followed by Debs with Tom, Phil with Rich then Derek with Craig.

As we tried to get down the shot line we realised that slack was yet to happen and 40 bar later we tied off on the bottom of the shot line, knackered, to find the vis was about 3m. After a couple of minutes to get our breath back we set off against the current happily puttering along. We saw lots of broken crockery but no intact stuff and lots of sea life including 3 dog fish in a line who were quite happy to have Tom stroke them. After about 25 mins Tom went back and I pottered slowly back. The other divers seeing which direction we had gone decided to go the opposite way and came across all the bottles, pipes etc about 10m from the shot-line - ho hum!

Getting back on board was a little tricky and I ended up elegantly tripping up and needing to be caught by the Captain - Simon has since altered the ladder and it is easy now to get onboard.

Once all the other pairs got back they showed Debs and Tom what they would have got if they'd only gone a few fins strokes in another direction

including rather nice bottles, pipes, pickled gooseberries and Rob, of course, a lobster.

The shot line and anchor then had to be retrieved which after a bit of swearing, sweat and the best efforts of Rob to try to tip Simon out of the boat was accomplished and off home we went. Rob by this time had started to slack off and Debs had to brew up the tea, which although everyone agreed looked awful actually tasted quite nice.

So a cracking trip with the usual laughs, great captaining and some quality finds - can't wait for the next trip.

Debs

 

September 2010

Dover Subs Weekend with(out) Innes Mcartney - Day 4 - The B2 and UB78


Sunday had been a day for battening down the hatches, putting an extra reef in your mainsail, and lashing yourself to the mast.  It wasn't looking good for the prospects of a fine diving day just a few hours later - but the early hours of Monday morning brought an eerie stillness to the misty air as the divers began to gather on the quay.  Even more bizarre was the fact that no less than 9 members of Canterbury Divers would be braving the murky green waters today.  The morning dive was to be on the B2 an early British "proper" sub that went down in 1912 following a collision with a liner.  This dive would see Jon Bramley, Debs, Rob, Paul, John Scubahippo, Matt, and myself joining a few assorted YD'ers aboard Neptune.  The afternoon dive (on UB78) would see Debs and Jon B replaced by Nik and Craig.

At 11:00 we slipped our lines and set off as the sun began to burn through the last gossamer threads of morning's misty cloak.  The sea was calm, the mood was good, and the tea flowed freely (though the coffee took some time to arrive).

We found the mark and it took Dave very little time to hook us in.  The tide was still running a touch so we decided to sacrifice Rob for the good of the group by sending him in early to sort out the shot.  Paul assured him the current was no more than 1 knot as he cajoled him into the water.  Rob jumped in, sank a little then emerged some distance away from the boat and began to drift quickly away.  Using the might of his trusty scooter he was soon able to get to the shot and down he went into the cool (but not cold) depths.

The rest of us kitted up and waited for the tide to slow down a touch before plopping gently in and off on our way to the sub.  I descended the line slowly as I had been a bit bunged up that morning.  The intra-venous Olbas Oil had done its work and my ears cleared nicely.  At the bottom the B2 emerged out of the gloom.  The visibility was about 5 metres and there was still enough ambient light to navigate without your torch.  I think it was my first dive on her and I was surprised at how small she is compared to the majority of the subs we normally dive.  The conning tower is definitely not big enough for Noel Coward to stand in - surrounded by his fellow officers all stiffening their upper lips.  There is no outer skin to her just the pressure hull, and the prop seems little bigger than you might see on the average small trawler.  The bow has a single opening that I guess must be where a single torpedo tube may have had its hatch.  Inside sits the mother of all lobbies - gesticulating at you with its one remaining claw as if to say "Come on then, I've still got one claw left to rip your head off with."  At the bow there is a distinctive scour in the chalky seabed where all the sand has been swept away to reveal what may have been the crater her bow made as she sank.  The sub is sufficiently small that you get a good look around in half an hour or so and the deepest depth I got was about 34 metres so its nice and deco-friendly too.  After a gentle ascent and safety stop I climbed back aboard to find a group of 3 YDers who had had some kind of problem that forced them to cut short their dive - and meant they would not be coming out on the evening dive.  The others gradually appeared and everyone told their tales of giant lobbies and scarily small submarines as we drank more tea and headed back to port.

After a change of personnel and a very long surface interval (much of which I spent asleep, doing maths with Rob as we wrestled with calculations over pressure/volume/gas percentages before coming to the conclusion that our guages were about 30 bar apart, and trying unsuccessfully to dry my wet suit) we were ready to go out again.  The sea was still every bit as calm and as the evening light faded we headed into the most beautiful sunset on our way out to UB78.  This is one of my favourite subs as you can get a good look inside and even have a bit of a rummage amongst the debris that has poured out of the broken hull.  Being able to see the subs innards really brings home just how small and claustrophobic it must have been to serve in a U-boat - knowing that at any moment there could be a shuddering bang, the lights could go out, icy water burst in, and the boat lurch deeper as you and your crewmates each dealt with the knowledge of the almost certain fate that awaited you.  But enough of that stuff.  Once again it seemed only fair that Rob be the first in as he had done such a good job last time - so he was duly despatched.  The rest of us followed in turn.  Slowly the sub emerged from the gloom.  This time the vis had dropped a little to about 5 metres and the darkness up top meant there was no ambient light.  I had a poke around the conning tower and what looked like a deck gun emplacement (with no gun, possibly?) before heading forward to the point where the bow had been ripped away.  Using everything I had learend from reading "Shadow Divers" I began to edge my way into the hull with my fingertips as I strove to achieve a zen-like oneness with the sea.  I tried turning off my torch and using The Force to navigate but it was pitch black so I switched it back on just in time to see a juicy lobbie walk straight past me.  I ignored it and edged further into the boat where I found some small cylindrical ceramic objects of varying sizes from egg cup to coffee mug size.  Each had a terminal at either end and they looked like resistors or capacitors.  I brought some, along with a small cog, back out to have a better look but before I could go back inside the hull I felt a repeated tap on my shoulder.  This was accompanied by the retina burning x-ray power of what could only be Rob's torch.  despite my near blindness I could make out the universal signal for crabs and a pointing finger.  He was quite insistent so I followed him to the top of the hull where there were, indeed, two lovely crabs.  I began to pursue one of them at which point Rob let out a flurry of bubbled expletives as a VERY big Conger poked its head out of a hole and looked at us.  It seemed to lick its lips and then decided against the idea and popped back into the hole as we went about bagging up the crabs - which Rob was actually juggling at one point.  Quite a feat, I have to say.  He should consider going on Britain's Got Talent.  Crabs bagged we went our separate ways and I headed up the shot whilst Rob carried on with his dive.  Back on board the tea and sausage rolls were served and we all headed back to shore in the still night after what can only be described as a perfect day's diving.  Thanks go to Paul for organising the trip, to Dave for his immaculate skippering skills, and to the 326 divers who made it a fantastic experience.  If I don't dive again in 2010 it will have been a worthy way to end the season.

12th September - Canterbury Divefest II

The first delicate touches of golden Autumn began to lightly kiss the leaves as the cool north wind did its best to dislodge them.  The nights were drawing in.  The Starlings were beginning to dance in the fading evening light as they prepared for their long winter journey.  No more would our skin be bathed in the glow of July's warm caress - and we would see snow and ice before we saw another summer.....

However, despite all this several of us were still keen enough to attempt another Canterbury Dive Fest - and were rewarded with a Sunday of summery weather after enduring the rain and wind of Saturday.  It was time to go diving.  Our crack team assembled on the pontoon and boarded Excel III in search of the illusive September vis.  Craig provided tea and biscuits as we all settled into some end-of-season kit fettling and general chit chat.  As we left the western entrance the vast sea spread out in front of us like an unwanted brown stain.  It didn't look too promising.  However, we were determined to get a dive in so we headed off in search of a decent wreck still shallow enough to suit all abilities.  As we left the harbour behind we all gazed in wonder at what appeared to be the crystal clear waters of Shakespear Bay - looking for all the world like a caribbean lagoon surrounded by the cold brown sludge of the rest of the channel.  We joked about the fact that if we didn't find any vis we could always come back and dive there!!!

We reached our first mark and deployed the patented visometer.  The concensus was that vis was about 30cm.  Bugger.  There were murmurings among the crew but guided by Rob's firm hand we all put that behind us and pressed on to another mark - a little further out where Rob was sure we would find some vis.  At the second mark the visometer was deployed again.  We all held our breath and skipper Gerry informed us that the vis had improved!!  Our hearty cheers were shortlived as the visometer was now reading about 31cm.  We had a democratic vote.  Should we press on to another mark? (1 vote - Rob), go back and salvage something of our day at the caribbean lagoon? (4 votes), or "Undecided" (6 votes).  After an impassioned speech from Rob "Captain Bligh" Harrison the decision to carry on out was taken.  The murmurings continued.  I only caught odd words but I'm sure I heard something like..."blah blah...keel haul him...blah blah...I'll give him better vis the steaming great Bristolian git....blah blah".  The seas began to build as we pressed on.  Slack water was only minutes away and so the crew were told to kit up.  We reached the mark and didn't bother with the visometer.  Simply eyesight was sufficient to determine the water quality as no better than "Brown Windsor" bordering on "Thick Farmhouse Vegetable".

Gerry and Craig chucked the shot and Debbie was duly despatched to tie us in.  She was gone a while as we sweated in silence.  The minutes past and we wondered whether perhaps she was doing her hair, or maybe she had broken a nail - but then the bag appeared and with a hearty cheer we plopped into the water in twos and descended the shot with hope in our hearts and crap in front of our eyes.  Kate and I were last in and as we descended it was obvious that the vis was appalling.  When we got to the bottom we had a few problems and decided that this was a dive we could happily live without so we went back up - meeting Debs at the deco station.  Back on board the divers slowly began to return to the boat - each with his or her own tale of how crappy it had been.  No-one even got any spidge.  The highlight of the whole dive was when Nik began to de-kit and realised that he had been wearing his non-diving watch under his suit cuff - and it was now slightly moist.  I hope it wasn't a Rolex.

Despite everything it was (as always with Canterbury Divers) a fantastic day's diving that we all thoroughly enjoyed.  A quick drink at the sailing club bar and the day was perfectly rounded off.  The team was Skipper Gerry and mate Craig (thanks go to both), Debbie the shot, Pamper Harrison, Rich Cooke, Nik the Brief and Matt Drinkwater, Jon Bramley and Mandy Winch, Kate Boshier and myself.  Thanks to all involved.  Anyone up for Dive Fest III in October???

Simon

(ed. I was pleased as I managed to find the crowbar I'd left on the wreck 2 months ago)

June

Friday 4th June 2010 - Lariston

Rufty tufty Canterbury divers Debs, Matthew Drinkwater and I met in Dover to dive the Lariston and the Denbighshire from the Neptune on a lovely Friday afternoon (though any day when I’m not working is lovely in my opinion).  The weather was perfect, another blue almost cloudless sky and only a gentle breeze to keep us from overheating.  This time I took the unusual step of bringing ALL my dive kit (and even managed to not leave it behind afterwards).  I think it made for a much more relaxed dive and plan to try and do this in all my future dives.

Matthew and I decided to stick with the same plan as last time - a lobster for my increasingly emaciated children. 

After kitting up and dropping in once slack was upon us we descended the shotline to be met by a good 6 to 8 metres viz and a nice sandy bed to reflect the sunlight.  To be honest as a relative newbie I had no idea which of the two ship we were on but it was a lovely wreck with all sorts of recognisable bits and plenty of nooks and crannies to rummage around in for things that could be eaten or cleaned up and displayed as trophies.

Matthew and I came very close to our planned lobster but at the last moment he scuttled back in and refused to budge (we have a cunning plan involving crowbars for our next dive) so we made do with a fine sized edible crab as our consolation prize.  I was responsible for the reeling off and goody bag handling so I left the easy bit (grabbing the crab) to Matthew.  He dealt with this task with admirable ease though manhandling the bugger into the goody bag was a little more complicated that we’d first envisaged.

Debs very kindly tagged along behind like my guardian angel helping me disentangle myself from a bit of line as my intrepid buddy buggered off in front to scout the way as I tried to hold my torch, reel off and manage a wriggling goody bag.  Every now and again she disappeared to gather treasures for her goody bag.

The water was an amazing 12 degrees and we dived a squarish profile to about 30 metres before returning to the shot for our obligatory safety stop at a very crowded 6 metres.  Just before we ascended the shotline Matthew saw a second edible crab sitting out in the open begging to be collected so he was duly scooped up and thrown in the goody bag. 

We arrived back on the Neptune very pleased with ourselves, dumped the goody bag in a crate and started to de-kit, chatter about the dive and wipe the snot and bits of krill from our faces. In fact we were so busy doing this that we ignored the ominous crunching sounds coming from the general vicinity of the goody bag for a couple of minutes til Debs reminded us of our catch.  Matthew and I looked into the top of said bag to discover a crustacean version of Robot Wars underway at the bottom.  The slightly smaller (but obviously considerably harder) of the two (Rocky) had successfully won the battle.  This was clearly evidenced by the fact that the legs and claws of the bigger one had been ripped from his carapace and the crunching sound we heard was Rocky’s claws as the crushed their way into his poor opponents shell.  Needless to say we kicked them apart (whilst squealing like girls) and put them into separate bags.  I took Rocky home for my starving brats and Matthew took the loser back for a dignified funeral involving boiling water, mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Deb’s proudly showed us her collection of treasure which included a sort of manky clay dish thing, a manky clay lid thing and a plastic tub with a screw top.  Matthew and I were suitably impressed and didn’t take the piss all that much.

Nik

May

Saturday 22nd May - MV Flashee

Three hardy (should that be foolhardy) Canterbury Divers, Simon Woollett, Matthew Drinkwater and myself met on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon for a dive arranged by Paul Oliver on the MV Flachsee.  Unfortunately Paul himself was unable to make the dive but, as always, everything was immaculately planned insofar as Dave Batchelor and the Neptune were waiting at Dover for us all to turn up.

Cleverly (and for the second time this year eejit that I am), in my rush to get away from my family and off to Dover I arranged to leave my computer behind at home.  Fortunately Simon has the habit of not just bringing his own kit with him when he is diving, but also a complete additional set of kit just in case.  Not only did he have an old computer knocking around, he also had a brand new battery for it thereby saving my bacon once again.  Crisis averted we set forth from Dover to the edge of the shipping lanes to kit up and jump into the plankton bloomed slop masquerading as the Channel.

The MV Flachsee, built in 1945 is a freighter with a general cargo that sank following a collision in 1963, upright and very intact in 32m she stands 7m proud with her decks at 25m, damage at both ends and the superstructure blown off, the distinctive masts are prominently laying across the deck (I shamelessly nicked this bit of the report from Paul’s YD post organising the trip).

We descended through plenty of plankton and krill and it got progressively darker – at about 20 metres it got ‘quite’ dark but the viz at the bottom of the shot was a very reasonable 4 to 5 metres.

Matt and I had a simple dive plan, to get a lobster for me to take home to my starving children (I’d spent the weeks grocery shopping money on diving).  We had planned the dive and were fully intending to dive the plan.  Sadly the only lobster we saw was clearly an old hand (claw?) when it came to dealing with foraging divers and was entirely prepared for our cunning plan.  He backed himself into a very deep hole and refused to come out til we’d buggered off.  Afterwards Matthew said that he could have sworn he’d seen the glint of a watch in there with the lobster.  His theory was that the clever crustacean had been clock-watching til he was sure we’d be going into deco and would have no option but to leave him alone so he could venture out again.

Plan thwarted, we mooched around for a bit just about touching 30 metres in 8 degrees of balmy UK waters before reeling back to the shotline and ascending for a safety stop after a 30 minute dive just in time for tea, biscuits and a return to Dover. 

Upon returning home I discovered that my lads couldn’t have been that hungry as they declined my offer to scrape the krill from my kit to make a nice tasty soup so all’s well that ends well.

Nik

April

Saturday 24th April

Dive 1 - HMS Flirt - 3m of dark viz with a LOT of plankton.

Dive 2 - HMS Unity - 6-8m of light viz and a little bit of plankton - what a cracking dive dropping through the decks into the wreck with some stunningly clear viz when we expected a plankton wipe out - fabtastic

Paul Oliver

February

Sunday 14th February - Non Dive Report

Happy to report that all Canterbury Divers returned safe from today's clay pigeon shooting trip at Martin Gorse Wood, near Dover.

For several members it was their first time at shooting anything more powerful than a cap gun, but it didn't show, and instead of getting a refund for all the missed clays, as was had expected, we actually got some encouraging remarks from the instructors. I even heard a comment of 'nice shooting' for a couple of Canterbury members, of which more later.

The day began with an early 9am meet (not bad for Valentines Day) in the snow covered carpark of the venue, which actually was a rather lovely picture postcard scene; even better if you had 4x4 capacity (hopefully Paul O is able to read this if he did get his vehicle back up the track).   In time honoured diving fashion though we could not get started straight away as the draw of the canteen and the bacon butties lured as in until Chris Read, one of the instructors, managed to prise us away, with still steaming mugs.

After some initial instruction in the practise area, which involved H&S and the correct use of the guns, we were split into two groups and luckily the Abbats (who had brought their old poaching rifles) were separated. Jon B was first up in his group and promptly missed with the first shot but after that there appeared to be more hits than misses from everyone, except perhaps in the overhead clay category. Terry 'from the hips Greenan' even managed to bag a clay while contesting that the stock worked better when placed nearer the chest line.

On average scores seemed to hover around the 16 hits out of 30 shots mark, except for 3 folks. The first, John 'why use one barrel on each clay when you have two' Abbat had about 50 shots so we must discount but Paul and Terry showed there x military training with scores in the mid twenties, had 9 out of 10 scores in some disciplines and both headed their respective groups. Good to know that all our tax payers money was not completely wasted in training these two. Next time a handicap will be placed on anyone who has worn a uniform (excluding nurses, maids etc, so Phil B. and Chris W. will be OK).

After we had finished terrorising the instructors Chris Read showed us round more of the venue, where divers from other BSAC clubs were found lurking in the bushes - so now we know what they do in the winter season - and of course it was then back for more butties and tea before home.

All this for £13 per head, a really good morning - cheers everyone.

Many thanks to the instructors at the venue, they were both excellent and I see us returning here again for more socials in the future if they will have us.

Jon Bramley

Sunday 7th January - HMS Hermes

“You’ve got to dive the Hermes…” said Rob a couple of weeks ago.   “…it’s one of my favourite wrecks” he continued rambling on about spidge to be collected; cracking vis to rival the Red Sea; a light sandy seabed reflecting brilliant sunlight to bathe the entire area with ethereal light; mermaids galore and other rash promises.

Me, being a fresh out of the box newbie Sports Diver, listened eagerly believing practically every word insisting that I be included on the next dive he organised to this wondrous wreck.  True to his word Rob got his act together and a few texts on Friday and Saturday and the kind offer to sort me out a 35% Nitrox fill and we were good to go for Sunday morning.

A 7.30am meet for 8 o’clock ropes off on the Neptune was order of the day.  We met on an unpromising, cold and grey clouded morning.  Paid a fiver in coins for the dubious honour of parking at Dover Marina (yeah they’ve sussed that the ‘cheap’ ticket machine wasn’t working properly so be warned for future meets) and loaded our stuff.

Hardcore (foolhardly might me a more appropriate word) Canterbury Divers Rob, Nik, Nigel and Ian turned up at that ungodly hour. Obviously being early birds we were there in plenty of time but had to wait an extra few minutes for Chris from Shorncliffe to bring up the rear (insert your own Carry On line here). In total there were ten divers.

Our spirits soared as, despite the dull skies the vis changed from brown to blue as we crossed the Channel.  They then plummeted as it turned back to brown again the closer we got to the French side and our intended target.  The journey out is perhaps best described as ‘interestingly lumpy’ but we made it without anyone bringing up whatever breakfast they may have had earlier that morning.

It was already slack when we arrived on site so we kitted up as quickly as possible.  Nigel hit the water almost as the engines stopped he was that eager to get wet.  Rob and I dropped in, descended the shot pausing for a quick 6 metre bubble check before carrying on down to clip on and reel off.  The shot was at the bow so we reeled off down the starboard side until Rob ran out of line.  I then clipped on my reel and we continued, finning against the current all the way.  When we reached the stern we turned and Rob took over my reel for the return journey.

We took a short while to find the shotline again before ascending to about 12 metres at which point Rob stopped, looked at me sheepishly, and handed me the double ender boltsnap that had been attached to my reel.  He then looked apologetically at me as he clipped his spare reel onto one of my D rings.

We ascended to 6 metres for a safety stop whilst Rob went through a few drills and messed around with his stages before returning to the surface and the Neptune where hot tea and sausage rolls awaited.  We’d done a total of 36 mins – which was plenty long enough in 6 degrees with a max depth of 29.9 metres and an average of 20.1m.  Vis was about 5 metres or so.  When all were safely back on board all that remained was for us to undergo the bumpy journey back to Blighty.

I’m very keen to return and dive Hermes again.  It’s a lovely wreck with a great deal of recognisable stuff to see, plenty of life and loads to explore.  More importantly though, there’s a dirty great, bright yellow McMahon reel with my name carefully written on it somewhere on the bloody wreck.

Nik

January

Sunday 24th January - The Brazen

I'd decided I wasn't going to go on the following day's dive. However the target changed to the Brazen and even though the meet was at 5.30am (ugg!) I was up for doing the wreck as hopefully the winter weather might have moved some of the silt/sand from it and we might find something interesting.

Carl, Debs, Kay, Nik and Rob were on this one. The early morning start was not good for Kay, she forgot her undersuit and had to rush back home to get it, she belted back to Dover and just made it in time before ropes off. In all the excitement Nik then left his computer in his car; luckily he had the same mix as Kay with whom he was diving with for his final SD qualification dive. Off we went and underwater it was much the same story as the day before with fairly low vis. Rob came back with a crab and Nik got his SD - well done to him.

All ready 2 dives of the year and it's still January.

Debs

Saturday 23rd January - The Unity

Paul organised this one through Yorkshire divers - Carl, Debs, Gerry, John and Rob signed up for it. I arrived at a murky foggy Dover to find that Paul was suffering from the sniffles (he claims its a chest infection) so he couldn't go on the dive he organised so new boy John (Scubahippo) got his first trip on Neptune. As I lugged all my kit onto the boat Gerry and Nigel Ingram went off to find breakfast and the rest of us contemplated whether or not we would be able to dive The Unity in the fog. Rob, ever the laughing boy, was not impressed. So off we went and, much to Rob's delight, as we got closer to the target the weather cleared enough for us to dive it.

We all started to kit up, well except for Gerry who's unwise choice of a sausage sandwich was causing him to look very pale and queasy (nothing could damage Nigel's guts - he eats pickled eggs for goodness sake) and so decided to bin the dive. The rest of us dropped in for a low vis (2-3m) low temp (8oC) dive at 37-38m. Most came back with large bags of scallops including Rob with a bag full that he'd left back on the wreck in November. John, just to demonstrate the fact that Scots are 'well 'ard' went in without gloves, though did remark afterwards that he'd wear them next time.

So not the most exciting of dives but the first one of the year so we were all happy.

Debs

-