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!
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.
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!
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
Dover Subs Weekend with(out) Innes Mcartney - Day 4 - The B2 and UB78
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.....
(ed. I was pleased as I managed to find the crowbar I'd left on the wreck 2 months ago)
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.
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.
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
Sunday 14th February - Non Dive Report
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.
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.
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.