Trip Reports

Date Trip Author Destination
July 2014 Club Trip Simon Woollett Plymouth
May 2014 Club Trip Simon Woollett Weymouth
May 2010 Club Trip Phil Buckley Weymouth
May 2009 Club Trip Phil Buckley Weymouth
October 2007 Club Trip Kay Skinner Ibiza
May 2007 Club Trip Paul Oliver Weymouth
October 2006 Club Trip Sheila Clements Ibiza
July - August 2006 Personal Holiday Beau Webber Malaysia
February 2006 Club Trip Paul Oliver Portland Winter Warmer
October 2005 Club Trip Paul Oliver Vela Luka, Korkula Island, Croatia
August 2005 Personal Holiday Paul Oliver Marmaris, Turkey

Plymouth 2014

12 go to Devon

And so it was on Friday 18th July that several hardy members of BSAC 326 set off westward in search of adventure. We had all arranged to travel at roughly the same time and precise details had been worked out about logistics - but in the great tradition of Canterbury Divers this all went out of the window and it was every man for himself. Mandy and Tom must have set off at the crack of 11:00 am as they were already sipping Pimms on the sunny terrace of the Mountbatten Centre while Debbie and Kevin, and Kay and Chris were bogged down on the M25, and Derek and Simon were heading in ever so slightly the wrong direction in order to pick up Nik "on the way". Malcolm and Marian (as well as Peter) were making their own way as they had other business to attend to after the diving was over, and Rob would be popping down in the middle of the night after work.

Most journeys appear to have gone without incident and the Friday afternoon traffic was not as bad as we had feared. Minor brushes with the odd rainstorm suggested that maybe the weather might be against us - but that couldn't have been further from the truth.

Eventually Nik, Simon, and Derek caught up with the others at the bar of the Mountbatten Centre and plans were discussed of what to do that evening. A tip-off from some of the boat crews suggested that the local pub was having a "cider and sausage" festival - and that sounded like fun.

The Mountbatten Centre is built on the old site of an RAF base (?) and is ideally placed for any kind of watersports. Indeep dive centre moved there recently and added to the existing sailing centre. It is also where Plymouth BSAC are based. Now the place offers accommodation that is literally a stone's throw from the water, an on-site bar serving decent food, a dining room, and lots of picturesque outdoor space. The centre is a short river taxi ride from the main part of Plymouth old town and the entire setting is tranquil, beautiful, and perfect for a relaxing dive weekend. Or so we thought.......

Meanwhile, back at the bar, a splinter group was formed to head off to the pub and check it out as time was getting on. Tom decided to stay behind as he had to unpack his silk pyjamas and dressing gown - which would be difficult without his batman. The advance party could hear the pub (and smell the sausages) a long time before seeing it as the journey proved slightly more complex than we had been led to believe. However, after some very beautiful windy roads with views accross the still waters of the River Plym we found the Clovelly Bay Arms and entered a world of unbridled joy. An Irish "diddly-diddly" band were playing all the classics and Nik was in his element as he found he knew all the words (even the naughty ones). The sausages were running out and some of us had to suffer the vegetarian option but the vast wall of ciders that awaited more than made up for that. I won't bore you with the details but suffice to say we drank generously from the never ending selection, and by the end of a perfect evening we were "diddly-diddling" along with the best of them. Through the bottom of a plastic glass we had all noticed that the bar staff seemed to be made up entirely of angels and sirens - and that one of them may possibly have been some kind of deity.

And so, the wibbly wobbly walk back to the centre and an attempt to go to bed "without waking Tom up". Which failed.

The accommodation had been arranged with a triple room for the "hot chicks", a six bunk room for the "young bucks" (average age about 48), and an "overspill" room for those whose nocturnal grunting, rasping, farting and otherwise snoring would be unbearable. In other words, Robs' room.

During the night Nik made a valiant attempt to join Rob by the sheer decibel levels he could achieve - despite Tom consistently kicking him "up the arse" from the lower bunk. By morning we had not had the best night's sleep but the day ahead promised two dives and endless fun. Also, Rob had arrived to complete the party.

Breakfast turned out to be a lavish buffet offering all you could eat. However, we were saving ourselves for the "packed lunch" we would receive on the boat so decided to keep it sensible.

Loading up was made very simple by the trusty trolleys that the centre provide. There are three of them and they look as though Lord Nelson himself may have used them but they work well and can carry about a dozen cylinders each. The boat was the "Seeker" which is an odd looking mix of trawler and charter boat but very well laid out for divinig with a toilet and a diver lift. Our skipper Sean was very knowledgeable and crewman Adam would be happy to help out with our every need. The only slight quibble would be the galley arrangements....of which more to come.

Once loaded up ropes were cast off and we were underway. Plymouth Sound is a very beautiful place and surrounded by fascinating military bits and pieces. In no time we were at the Scylla. Unfortunately, so were every other dive boat in South West England.

Even so, we kitted up and plunged in. The wreck is well known so I won't bore you with detail - suffice to say that the swim throughs and penetrations are well lit from outside and easy to do, the boat is boat shaped, and it was all very nice. Vis was about four metres or so - a little more inside. So with our ears still ringing from the first of Tom's shouting episodes we carried out our dives without incident, and ascended.

Back on deck we were regailed with tales of Malcolm's patented in-water kit servicing antics. If anyone needs their buddy inflator taking apart, cleaning, and rebuilding at six metres then I think Malcolm will oblige. Chris had also managed to take a selfie of him and Malcolm with Scylla in the background. Nice.

At this point Peter made an early bid for "fool of the day" by admitting that he only had one cylinder for the two dive trip. Oops. However, Tom was keen to better this by "fixing" his ailing computer by sticking it on the end of a reel line and giving it repeated rapid ascents "to clear it". This didn't work, funnily enough.

Now the moment we had all been waiting for.....packed lunch!!! The lunch began with Adam handing round a bag of squashed sausage rolls. Then lunch was over. Hang on a minute..... We had, at least been given a cup of tea. I fancied another but as I went to make one we rafted up next to the other Indeep boat and Adam made their divers a cup of tea. Fair enough, I'll wait until they have had one too. Seems only fair. At this point they cast off and with them went the only cups we had on board. And so it was to be a one-cup day. Some manky doughnuts were foraged from somewhere in the "galley" so that those who were quick enough to grab one could bring their blood sugar levels up to the point where they could remain conscious, then we were on our way to the James Egan Layne. And so were the other dive boats again.

At this point it was, dear reader, very very very hot. I believe it was Coleridge who wrote "Water water everywhere, and still the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere and no bloody tea to drink." Kay decided that she would sit this one out due to advanced heat exhaustion and suck a tea bag instead. The rest of us went in and had a very nice dive - none of which I can remember except that there were congers, railway tracks, pipes, and wheels everywhere. The vis was a little less than the morning dive and, oddly, we all agreed that it was definitley colder.

Malcolm had, by this time, decided that inflators were over-rated and that he would dive without one. His buddy check with Chris went along the lines of "Whatever you do, don't touch any of my kit". Tom also decided that computers were over-rated and he would dive without one. Just stay above your buddy and nothing can possibly go wrong, eh?

Surprisingly, no-one died and we all got back aboard safely to be met by a lovely cup of tea (only without the cup, water, milk, or tea). A leisurely trip back to the shore and time for a quick shower, then a pint and a meeting about what to do tomorrow. We had intended to dive the "Elk" but it would have been too deep for Peter's qualification so we decided on an "all for one" strategy and that we would do two shallow wrecks. We then bullied Debbie into changing the dinner reservation we had so that we could go to day two of the "cider and sausage fest" afterwards.

At 18:30 sharp we boarded the water taxi for the very short ride to Barbican. It was a beautiful evening so most of us took advantage of the open upper deck. When we got off at the other end Rob had disappeared - but he was oon located sleeping like a tramp on a bench in the lower deck. We took a gentle stroll to the Himalayan restaurant where we had a truly wonderful meal. Several Ghurka beers later we were back at the water taxi to our side of the bay where we set off in serach of cider and sausages...

There now follows a cautionary tale about why you should "never go back". We set off full of hope for a repeat of Friday evening's unbridled joy - persuadiing even Tom to tag along (though he didn't make it all the way to the pub - muttering something about it sounding "hellish" and how he had to go and iron his slippers). When our goal finally arrived there was an undefinable air of melancholy over the proceedings. Gone were the "diddly diddly" band (replaced by a perfectly serviceable but ultimately dull steel band), gone were the sirens and angels (replaced by some spotty lads), gone were all the sausages (and it was only about 9pm), but worst of all....gone was all the cider. The landlord took pity on my sobbing form as he passed and promised to see what he could do about it. I watched in slight shock as he produced a plastic bag of dregs from somewhere and proceeded to squeeze almost a pint of it into a glass for me. It tasted like donkey urine but I appreciated the gesture. We sat outside and listened to the band. The boats swayed gently in the bay, the warm night air washed over us, and all around were happy people enjoying this perfect setting....but somehow it wasn't the same any more.

And so to bed. Nik had been given a reprieve on the understanding that Tom would be kicking him "up the arse" at every opportunity should the need arise. This seemed to work as Nik was probably one of the least noisy among us that night. By morning the stale acrid air was stifling but Tom helped us all out by getting up at the crack of dawn and making sure that none of us slept in for too long. Ah well, at least breakfast was on its way.......

At this point Debbie burst into the "young bucks" room to inform us that the chef had not turned up for work and there was no cooked breakfast.

We consolled ourselves with tea, cereal, odd pots of yoghurt that you never see in real shops, and what limited toast we could scavenge. At least we had packed lunch to look forward to......

Boat loading went well - despite the carnage that was unfolding at the compressor shed where there had been some almighty admin issues and several hundred cylinders from various boats were all sitting around waiting for the single analyser to test them all. We had all booked 32% mixes but after Debbie's was analysed to 36% and then mine to 30% it was clear that all was not as it should be. After witnessing the dive centre owner tell one diver to "go away and never come back" (though he may have used slightly different wording) we decided that they had enough on their plates without us quibbling over a few percent of oxygen.

I was getting something out of my car some fifty metres from the centre when the sky cracked, the earth shook, and what I first thought may have been the voice of God rang out. "STOP!!!!!" shouted the voice. It wasn't God. It was some more of the legendary shouting of Tom as he desperately tried to prevent an idiot from ramming his plastic camper van roof into a steel straircase. Unfortunately for the idiot, everyone in Plymouth had now turned towards the sound just in time to see him ramming his plastic camper van roof into a steel staircase. He rapidly drove off with his metaphorical tail between his metaphorical legs, and we all waited for our ears to stop ringing.

We were soon ready to leave when some more of Tom's legendary shouting signalled that he had solved our breakfast problem. The details are sketchy but I believe it was something like this... Tom had received word that the chef had finally arrived. Grabbing Malcolm to act as a combination of lookout, backup, and distraction they stealthily made their way into the kitchen area and "acquired" several rounds of bacon sandwiches. Pausing only to wrap them in foil, they made their way out of the centre like a slightly more geriatric Butch and Sundance to share the booty among the waiting crowds. A masterstroke that should be applauded.

Soon we were on our way. This time Peter had two cylinders. Tom still didn't have a computer that worked, and Malcolm's kit was till largely made up of gaffer tape and cable ties.

The first dive of the day was the Coronation. Sean the skipper gave another excellent briefing before we set off - stressing that the site was protected and was strictly a "no-take" area. We were shown a plan of the wreck and the various anchors, cannon, and other features were all duly memorised. The features were, we were assured, roped together so we would just have to follow the rope.

When we got to the site there were two RIBs on the wreck. We duly kitted up and decsended the shot which was next to the big anchor. At this point, dear reader, I think I can confess that of the twelve of us on the dive only two managed to find any anchors or cannon. Everyone else swam pointlessly around in the vain hope of finding something - the rope maybe. Instead we all found various bits of crockery, dozens of sea cucumbers, and not much else. I was diving with Peter and he found a weightbelt and struggled to hoik it around the site for a while. Being the godlike Instructor that I am I volunteered to take this to the surface on his behalf in my goody bag. Eventually, when our time was up without a single cannon being seen we ascended from the 1691 protected wreck to be dived on a strictly "no take" basis to be met by our boat along with a couple of other dive boats on site. I boarded the lift and as I stepped onto the back of the boat with my bulging goody bag I was met by the stares of disbelief of all around, and the cries of "what the f*ck have you got in that bag" from our skipper. I assured everyone that it was only a weightbelt and that there was no need to call English Heritage. No other artefacts were brough to the surface by other less conscience-ridden divers as far as I know.......

The lucky two who actually saw anything were Nik and Rob. Nik had "Go-Pro'd" the whole thing so there was clear proof that we were indeed in the right place. At times his video would show some wayward diver sauntering past him on the sea bed between cannons. The rest of us must just be idiots, I guess. In our defence, the vis was not very good.

Anyway, tea was served and packed lunch would surely follow. Hilariously, Adam decided to joke with us by handing out some more squashed sausage rolls by way of a starter....and then lunch was over. Time to make another cup of tea, perhaps? Oh hang on a minute, the other boat rafted up, they had a cuppa, then buggered off with the cups again. Grrrrrrr.

Dive two was a French mine-sweeper that had hit a mine (?) and blown up. Now, I am no expert, but a ship that "blows up" then spends seventy years in exposed waters at no more than 17 metres depth on a rocky reef is, I would have thought, unlikely to make much of a wreck dive. And so it proved. The "wreck" is basically a reef with strewn debris. Some lumps of metal are quite sizeable, but no-one saw any of the legendary "fizzy" ammunition that is supposed to litter the site. It was really more of a wildlife dive - but enjoyable anyway.

Back on board to the long anticipated imaginary cup of tea. Then home to shore to unload, load the cars, have a quick shower for the more sophisticated types among us, then a lovely cup of tea (a real one this time) on the bar balcony while we all gradually came to terms with the fact that we had to go home. Malcolm and Marian got to spend the rest of the week in Devon but they would be painting and decorating the whole time. Rob was off to Weymouth to do some 70 metre dives where we all convinced he would die. Peter was off somewhere as well. The rest of us were off back to Kent and work in the morning.

All in all this was one of the best dive trips I can remember. The location is perfect, the dive centre very helpful (despite the gas fill issues), the accommodation is basic but everything you need is at hand, and the boats were not far short of perfect. Sean the skipper was excellent, and if they can just sort out the on-board catering (which, joking aside, is a real issue) then they will have one of the best set-ups around.

Thanks must go to everyone involved for making this such a great fun experience - but primarily to Debbie for organising us, and also to Chris, Mandy and Debbie for driving. Kevin regailed us all with hilarious stories. Rob provided his usual mix of intentional and unintentional comedy. Nik surprised everyone with his encyclopaedic knowledge of "diddly diddly" music, and everyone involved played their part in keeping us all entertained throughout. Lastly, I did have a few ear issues at first but special thanks to Shouty Tom for clearing my ears on a regular basis.

Can't wait for the next trip.

Simon

Weymouth 2014

After a quiet winter lay-off and numerous hours of boat-fettling it looked like Weymouth 2014 was going to be a pleasantly laid back affair with just a handful of trainees - each close to achieving their required qualification. And so it was, with hope in our hearts, that we set off for Dorset one bright Spring morning. Derek and I lashed the Sea Fury to the back of the mighty Forrester, hammered a few non-working bulbs until they were suitably road-legal, and started off on the 200 mile journey. Most of the way went without incident. We met up with Kay at one of the many identikit service stations for a cup of tea, then set off again for the last leg - pausing only to wonder what that strange burning smell was that was coming from the back of the car. Before we knew it we were at the marina, organising a berth, and setting off to Castletown slip to launch the RIB. We met up with Jamie and Stuart, and between us we got the boat ready to drop in. Everything still going perfectly. Now, where is that bung? Hmmm. It was here earlier…… Ermm. Hang on, it must be….No. It's not. However, we are made of sterner stuff in Canterbury Divers than to let a simple thing like a missing bung put us off. Stuart set off to get his van which, we found out, is an Aladdin's Cave of fantastic bits and pieces. Meanwhile, Derek and I set about 'borrowing' a suitable looking fitting from a nearby water tank, then fashioning a plug for it from abandoned bits of plastic. All very Bear Gryls, but unnecessary as Stuart had exactly the right bit on his Aladdin's van. And so we were off. Nothing could stop us now. The boat was in the water, the engine tilted down, the choke on, and…….nothing. The bugger wouldn't start. There followed one of those moments that can only happen when men gather in numbers around engines. Various other random divers offered batteries, jump leads, advice, abuse, etc until at last the engine fired up. Derek and Jamie set off on the 500 metre journey to the marina, I went to abandon - I mean, safely store - the trailer, and we met up in the comparative luxury and opulence of the Olympic marina to await the arrival of Derek, Jamie, and the Sea Fury. Many hours passed. We sought ways to pass the time. We fashioned scrimshaw trinkets from discarded whales' teeth and made up shantys to ease the boredom. Eventually, it turned out that Derek and Jamie had not been cast adrift or eaten by locals but were simply in the "wrong bit" of the marina. Once safely in berth A23 we all clambered aboard to go out and blow off the cobwebs with a spin round the harbour. This turned out to be a rather cold affair, ith the Sea Fury engine spluttering more than once before it seemed to clear its throat on the way back in and all was once again well with the world. Boat put to bed, off to check out the caravans, fish and chips aplenty, and down to the bar for tonight's entertainment......

Tonight's entertainment, it turned out, was a sad and tired looking performance from "The Fourmost" - who you will surely be aware were contemporaries of the early Beatles (only without the talent, tunefullness, or boyish charm). After playing exactly the same set for over 50 years things were beginning to sound a little stale - and The Fourmost managed to slowly strangle any life that remained from their own few hits - before going on to destroy those of other, better, contemporaries. It was a truly sad sight, brightened by the occasional arrival of more Canterbury Divers. Eventually, with the arrival of John, Liz, and Chris towing the Chinook we were pretty much all where we should be without incident. Much drinking, then we took the Chinook to where it could be safely abandoned, I mean stored, for the night before tea, wine, biscuits, toast, wine, beer, and bed - but not necessarily in that order.

I can only speak for myself but I am sure others heard the rumbling of a distant volcano that night, also. Was Portland really a dormant Vesuvius about to blow at any moment? Maybe it was just an earthquake that was about to unleash a tsunami over Chesil Beach? No, in fact it was Derek Snoring. Our shared room shook with every breath and gradually wobbled me towards the edge of my bunk and then out of the door. I didn't resist but grabbed my duvet and headed for the peace and tranquility of the lounge. It seemed I had only slept for moments when "The peace and tranquility of the lounge" was shattered by the arrival of Rob. It was early, but somehow his arrival seemed to be a good omen. Now Weymouth was really started.

After a classic Abbatt's Meats breakfast (during the production of which no horses were harmed) the young and keen set off to get ready, and rendezvous with our leader Phil B and others including erstwhile member Andy Wilson at Castletown slip. The old and tired caravan's group set off for the Chinook for the minor formality of starting her up and launching her. Word soon came to us that the Sea Fury was not starting. This would have been of little consequence had it not been for the fact that the Chinook was also not starting. Trainees and instructors were sent off to get ready at the slipway - buoyed with confidence that one of the boats would soon be arriving to take them out diving. the old and tireds then abandoned the Chinook and set off to the marina. It turned out that the Sea Fury just needed a pull-start to loosen off some rustyness around the starter gears. Then it was off to bring joy while we decamped back to the Chinook for some serious headscratching.

Dive one saw a group go out to enjoy some surprisingly good vis on the Countess of Erne, while another group did a shore dive. All went well, with skills practiced, confidence built, and satisfaction guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the Chinook engine was in about eighty pieces - many of them corroded, rotten, faulty, or simply unable to be accounted for. Chris and Rob had gotten fed up with the whole sunburn thing and gone off to console themselves with Retail Therapy at O'three. However, after some botching that Heath Robinson would have been in awe of, and a quick trip to a Chandlers for some 'ose (oh, how we laughed at that one, me and the salesman!!) the mighty beast was reassembled, the key turned, and the unmistakeable roar of Mercury and smell of Two Stroke filled the car park. The boat was hurriedly launched while divers hurriedly lunched, and we were ready for Dive Two...

Dive Two saw two full boats head off to do the Landing Craft and Bombardon Unit. This all went pretty well, more skills were practiced, more dives were led, more confidence built, and more sediment was kicked up (than ever before - you couldn't see anything at the back of the landing craft). However, as is so often the case one of our number managed to outfox the conditions and emerge with the finest bit of tat since his own "Loanda Gents WC" key. Yes, Derek struck again with a fantastic information plate from within the engine bay. It has a skull picture, the word "Warning" in red at the top, and "Vent before opening" at the bottom. An early contender for the awards season (are we having one this year?).

All safely ashore and tea, air fills, sunburn, and chips - it was time for Dive Three...

Dive Three saw a return to the Countess in search of the vis that had been so legendary that morning. Needless to say we didn't find it. Again, skills, leading, confidence, etc.... No major dramas and back to shore to put the boats away at the marina, fettle kit where necessary, then back to the caravans for curry (sit down variety for newly wealthy Rob, microwave variety for most of us) before the bar and tonights entertainment.....

Tonight's entertainment, it turned out, was a boy band called "The Future" - a thing which, ironically, they do not have in showbusiness. The only escape was endless drinking and playing pool. Quite how I managed to lose 7 games on the trot is beyond me. Good job it wasn't winner stays on. Eventually, the evening degenerated into me riding piggy back around the bar on Rob until he collapsed, then back to the caravan for more wine, biscuits, etc.....

Sunday morning saw a surprisingly lively bunch - even Rob who had been poisoned by Calor Gas overnight had only a slight headache. More excellent bacon based snacks, then off to the marina to get the boats. At this point, dear reader, I have a cautionary tale. Never leave the "elephant's trunk" drain down on a RIB. The Chinook had about 6 inches of water inside it, but was otherwise unharmed. Off we go to Dive Four.....

Dive Four was on The Spaniard. However, The Spaniard is no longer buoyed, we do not have a working sounder, and no-one could remember exactly where it is. As luck would have it the harbour master came to check our papers and we were able to get him to show us roughly where it should be. So, armed with a rough position we needed someone upon whom we could all depend to get the job of finding the wreck done with minimum fuss. Fortunately we had Rob. After rather a lot of faffing about with more and more weight Rob slipped soundlessly into the water with the gentle elegance of a grand piano falling on a pile of glass bottles. The hours passed, we began to question our own mortality, the fuel levels were checked (it wasn't good - lesson learnt), and I'm sure I saw a circling albatross mocking us. Then, up popped Rob's blob as planned. Now he would come up to the surface, we would hand him the shotline, he would go back down with his pre-arranged buddy, and all would be well. However, pretty much none of this happened. Without boring you to death the final outcome was that we all got a dive, some had good vis, and there were skills, leading, etc, etc, etc......

Back ashore, lunch, tea, sunburn, fills, etc, etc...Dive Five...

Dive Five was the customary "scallop drift". Only this time there would be a difference!!! Unfortunately, the difference was the total absence of any scallops. The drift, however, was described as "epic", "freightrain", etc. A pretty good time was had by most, the sea (just about) let us off with a warning, and back ashore for dragging the boats out, etc. Oh, by the way, the Chinook hull had a fair bit of water in it but the makeshift bung Stuart fabricated for the Sea Fury worked like a charm!

Some had already left for home, some were off about now, and John, Liz, and Kay were staying another night. So, after tea, packing, and saying our goodbyes we lashed up the Sea Fury again and set off for Herne Bay. The journey home was without incident so nothiing to tell there. Boat put to bed, home safe at about midnight.

All in all a great weekend. Trainees signed off, dives under people's belts, and fun for all. Can't wait for next year - I'm missing "The Fourmost" already.

Simon

 

2010 Club Trip to Weymouth


This year’s Weymouth trip was organised quite late in the day, but was somehow easily as good as last year.    As usual lots of members mucked in during the preparation for the trip.    Special mention must go to John Abbatt, who magically transformed the two bird poo covered hulks in his back garden into fully functional dive boats. The vanguard arrived in darkest Dorset on the evening of Thursday 29th, ready to dive.  After a few beers in the local pub we retired to the local youth hostel to dream of the next days diving. 

Friday Morning we set off for the small settlement of West Bay, where Rob had chartered a boat to take us out to a wreck called the St Dunstan.  As we watched the waves crashing into West Bay’s harbour wall it looked as if we were in danger of a dry day.  Luckily I had a boat attached to my car so we went and dived the Countess in Portland Harbour.  Just like last year on the Friday the viz. was apparently brilliant. 

That evening we made our way to the camp site where we had our first encounter with the military dance troop called the Scooby Patrol.    By day they were off in town collecting money for Help for Heroes.  Each night that they did formation dancing, with the help of the Sarge, a full size cardboard cutout of one of their team who had been unable to make it to the caravan park.  By the second night they had persuaded us to join them in a Canterbury divers/military ladies dance off.  I think it’s fair to say they won.  We probably hadn’t warmed up properly. 

Saturday saw Canterbury divers enthusiastically piling down to the quayside to dive the Countess of Erne.   It was my first time in the sea with a decent camera, so I spent the time taking moodily lit (i.e. blurry) shots of everything I came across.  


On Saturday afternoon Carl, Nick, Rob and Derek, cox’ned by Andy Wilson went on a scallop run drift dive up the side of Portland.  They returned with plenty of scallops and tales of hurtling currents with the odd scallop passing by at speed.  The rest of the divers went off in the Valiant and dived on the dredger outside the harbour wall.  Fergus the Forager lived up to his name by filling his and Kay’s BC pockets with tasty wholesome seaweed for a cookery course he was teaching on the following week. 

Sunday emerged cloudy and breezy.  It was decided to dive the Spaniard, and then see what the weather was like.  The Spaniard was an incredible dive, easily as good as the Countess. The Spaniard was quite broken up, with all sorts of nooks and crannies filled with interesting life.  I dived with Ollie, who showed near perfect buoyancy (I have the video to prove it)!  Others enjoyed the dive and we returned to Castletown just as the sea started to whip up.  Over lunch the wind got stronger until there were some quite serious white horses in the harbour.  We reluctantly decided to call it a day.  

 
 

2009 Club Trip to Weymouth

Phil Buckley, Photo’s courtesy of Nick Starmer-Smith

This years trip was a combination of stunning weather, great dive locations and patient divers meant that the trip passed with lots of fun and no major incidents.  


Nice view of the fleet lagoon

Thursday
Some divers arrived on the Thursday night for dives on Friday organized by Rob Harrison. We immediately got to work for the good of the club, testing the bar at the Royal Breakwater Hotel on behalf of the divers arriving the next day.  After a hard night of research we wended our way to the Portland YHA, full of good spirits for the next day’s diving.  

Friday
After a unique dawn chorus from Rob, we got up and prepared for the first dives of the weekend.  Jon Bramley was attacked by the shower, but that aside we managed to get out of the hostel without incident.  We dived the Countess of Erne and the viz was excellent, about 5-10 metres.  Lots of big wrasse watched us watching them, and the swim throughs were clear and stuffed with fish.  A great start to the holiday.  We then had lunch, followed by meeting up at 2 for the run out to the M2. 

 


Chris is mesmerized during his 574th Countess of Erne dive briefing

The ride out to the dive sight was a little rough and we arrived at the site with some of us feeling a bit green.  Once we were kitted up and in it was ok though and we descended into the depths. The wreck was great but a little crowded.  One group of divers were traveling line abreast from one end of the sub to the other.  As this line of lights headed towards us it looked weirdly like the sub was being photocopied! Exploring several small holes in the casement revealed a conger eel, which eyed me up, then lazily mooched through my torch beam into the darkness.  After a bit of floating round the wreck Richard Cooke and I sent up a bag then ascended gently back to civilization.  The tide had turned in the meantime and it was slightly less hairy on the way back. 

Saturday
Everyone was at the Castletown slip at 9am ready to go, a truly impressive sight for Canterbury Divers.  Unfortunately I decided at 8.45 that we needed more fuel and sent Simon into the mother of all traffic jams, whilst everyone else sat and quietly poached in their dry/semi-dry/steamy suits for an hour.  We finally got going and the first wave dived on a dredger,  just outside the harbour, next to HMS Hood.  The visibility was great, the wreck was ok as well, broken into at least two sections with a section of muddy sand in between.   The  shallowness of the water and lack of current made for a good first sea dive for the trainees, and the wildlife on the wreck, together with nooks and crannies in the nearby harbour wall, made it alright for the experienced divers as well.  The second wave got out at around 1pm, and went to another wreck, the ‘Spaniard’ after finding lots of other boats positioned over the dredger.

Like coiled springs, Ted and Steve ready themselves to leap into action.

  
  

  
  

For the second Saturday dive we made our way to the Countess of Erne.  The viz was worse than it had been the day before (possibly 1-2m) and the wreck was relatively crowded, but most people came up smiling! Due to the late start we didn’t manage to get the last divers into the water until about 5.30. 


Three gorgeous rubbery lumps steam into Lulworth Cove

Sunday
On Saturday evening I’d sat down with Tom and we’d planned to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s time slippage.  The weather was a little more cloudy than the previous day, but still quite warm.  To my intense relief the boats arrived at Lulworth almost on time, and the slick machine that is Simon whipped off the fuel tanks and was back with full tanks whilst some people were still kitting up.  The Nature Trail was a  fun dive, with lots of kelp waving about, and plenty of spiny spider crabs to harass.   In a first for underwater fashion, Nick Starmer-Smith proved that in the absence of a hood you can dive in a woolly hat! 


As his brain boils in the sun, John takes refuge in the pub

The second dive was a ‘fin assisted’ drift past Durdle door.  We dropped in to very little current but plenty of life, including several lobster pots containing lots of sheepish looking edible crabs.  After half an hour or so of rocky gullies we surfaced and headed back happy with the days diving.

Simon went off and got more fuel, then  Kay, Chris and John motored back out to sea, heading for Portland. 

We then made ourselves presentable and met up at the Royal Breakwater for the end of trip dinner, organized by Claire and Fiona.  There was good food, and plenty of it, followed by Mr Ted’s now notorious sat down stand up routine.  He told awful jokes with great timing, and at one point Terry Greenan had to lie down on the stairs outside because he was laughing too hard to stand up!   We rounded off the night with Mr Ted conducting a version of Good King Wenceslas sung in the style of various animals (The Ballan Wrasse section was  particularly tuneful!)


Lulworth Cove

Throughout the dive the boats performed reliably, engines all worked, and in a break with Weymouth tradition none of the boats were towed back into harbour.   The Valiant was particularly reliable, in that the hull could be relied on to fill with water every couple of hours.  This was more of a feature than a problem as we had an auxillary pump that pumped the water out of it every time we needed it.  The other two boats were great. 

The main reason the trip went  well was that so many people jumped in to help.  The vast majority of people took on one or two tasks often at short notice.  Major thanks are due to the boat handlers, advisors, boat towers and everyone who got bits together before the weekend.  Also, every single diver on the weekend was willing to wait patiently for their dives, even when the timetable started to slide which was much appreciated.  Thanks to Kay for being a great treasurer amongst other things. 

 

Ibiza 2007

A group of 10 divers arrived in Ibiza for a spot of diving in blue water – something I had never done before (except for just one dive in Jamaica at Christmas). The plan was that we would dive twice a day, starting Saturday and Sunday, have a day off Monday, dive again Tuesday and Wednesday then a final day for sightseeing etc on Thursday before heading off home on Friday. We were diving with the Sea Horse Sub Aqua Centre, located at Port des Torrent  and the area we were diving is just off the west coast of Ibiza in the Cala d'Hort Marine Nature Reserve close by the centre location (see the dive centre website at http://www.seahorsedivingibiza.com). The centre is run by Jeff Richardson, ably assisted by Therese and Sam.

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L-R: Colin Council, Jeff (dive shop owner/guide/skipper), Dave Clements, Sheila Clements, Sue Weaver, Derek Greenan, Chris Weaver, Terry Greenan, Therese (dive shop staff), Mr Ted Giles, Sam (dive shop staff), Kay Skinner (note the grin on my face – it was there all week!), Dave Roberts

The start to our diving week didn’t seem too promising as we had a terrific thunderstorm on the Friday evening that we arrived and when we took all our kit to the dive centre, the sea was choppy and it was quite windy! However, not to have worried as the Saturday morning dawned much brighter and the sea had calmed down a lot. As our hotel was around a 45 minute walk from the dive centre, Jeff had kindly agreed to pick us up from a jetty that was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel, and ferry us to the dive centre.

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Saturday 13 October

Dive 1 - Dick's Point We arrived at the centre and were greeted by the extremely friendly and helpful staff there, Therese and Sam. We all located our kit and transferred to the boat ready for our first dive. Dave R had a few problems initially as he was borrowing a wetsuit from the centre and needed to find one that would fit! So, after kitting up and putting all our gear on the boat we headed out. The sea was still a bit choppy after the storm of the night before, but Jeff found us a nice sheltered spot known as Dick’s point and gave a very thorough briefing about the site. There were apologies for the lack of clarity of the water but all I could think was wow!! I can see the bottom! I was buddied up with Mr Ted and we were the first pair in the water. (Note: Jeff timed us from first pair in the water to last, and it only took us 17 minutes total!).Dick's Point
What a great time to try out my camera and housing, only I managed to mess up the settings somehow so I decided to just leave it in my pocket and enjoy the dive. This dive site is fairly shallow and this was deliberate as one or two of the group hadn’t dived for a
while so it was decided to take it easy for the first dive.  My max depth was only around 9.5m, although Derek and Terry managed to get a bit deeper as they went further around the headland trying to site the dusky grouper that was reported to be around, but with no success. Mr Ted and I just bimbled along (Jeff had suggested that we might want to go for a diddle, but we corrected him and pointed out that we enjoyed bimbling) looking at the abundant sea life and enjoying the sight of the various weed, fish, sponges etc and all the myriad colours. There were giant clam type shells that stood around ½ metre proud of the seabed and I also saw my first octopus and a cuttle fish. I looked up as we approached Dick’s point, a tall rock named for obvious reasons, and I could see the clouds in the water as it broke over the rocks above. Throughout the dive my mask was constantly flooding and it was only as we got back onto the boat and it was commented on that I looked like a Cheshire Cat, that I realised the reason for the flooding was because of the huge grin of enjoyment I had on my face! This was the state I remained in for the rest of the week – a constantly flooded mask and a huge smile. This diving was so fantastic – I could see further than the hand in front of my face, the water was warm (23◦C), more fish than I’d ever seen before in beautiful colours as well as the other marine life, a great dive buddy and the enjoyable company of the other divers: what more could I ask? I even got a 52 minute dive time on a 12L cylinder!

Dive 2 - Petralis Wreck After an enjoyable lunch and resting in the sun, we headed out for our afternoon dive at the Petralis wreck – a very broken up concrete boat at a depth of around 27m. The sun had come out, the sea was calmer and it was a very pleasant 28 degrees. Still very enthusiastic, I noticed that the anchor line was visible just about all the way to the bottom and pointed this out with an excited “wow! StarfishLook at that” – the other divers rushed over to my side of the boat, causing it to lurch a little, only to be a bit disappointed that my enthusiasm was once again just aimed at the fantastic viz! Chris was buddying with Mr Ted and me this afternoon as Sue had chosen to only do the morning dive. All three of us dropped into the water, first again (as was the pattern for the rest of the week) and leisurely dropped down the side of the rock face towards the wreck. The wreck itself wasn’t much to see, just some concrete slabs and reinforcing bars poking through. But there was so much else to see, the colours of everything looked so good. I never realised starfish came in such a variety of bright colours – orange, red, purple, blue, crimson! And so glad I managed to sort out my camera so I have some nice pictures too. I wish I had a fish identification guide, as there were so many about and I don’t know the names of any of them! The whole area was very scenic, with urchins, various pipe worms, hydroids, sponges, corals etc. We had a nice leisurely mid-water safety stop just watching the fish and other divers, and spotted a small jellyfish as we were getting back into the boat.
Total 31 minute dive time to a max of just over 27 metres.

Sunday 14 October

Dive 1 - The Haystack ("es Payaret") "This is a tiny little cone shaped rock about 500 metres north of Torre Rovira and one of the most famous around Ibiza. An easy dive that you can't get lost on, it's a real 'fish fiesta' with myriads of Damsel fish, Sergeant Majors, Moray eels, three different species of grouper but most spectacular, huge shoals of barracuda all watching you suspiciously” – quote from Jeff’s Sea Horse SAC website, and a very accurate description.
We dropped in on the southeast corner of the island to a rock at around 6m that the anchor was secured to. We then had a very leisurely swim clockwise around the ‘island’, as we approached the Gobysouthwest corner I saw my first lone barracuda, as we progressed further around there were whole shoals of them, what a sight! Mr Ted and me settled ourselves on a rock and just enjoyed the sight of them and the other fish. As well as the fish there were anemones, octopus and various reef life. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the grouper but saw so much else this really didn’t matter.
Mr Ted and me returned to the rock with the anchor and spent our safety stop watching the other divers below us, as well as small goby type fish that obviously used this rock as their home. They appeared most indignant that we were there, but soon returned to their place on the rock waiting for whatever it is that goby’s wait for!
Total dive time 55 minutes with a max depth of around 18 metres.

Dive 2 - The Abyss, Esparta Island "The best of four great dives at Esparta, it sounds daunting but in fact it is just an exhilarating drop off from 5m down to 23m before carrying on in shelves down to 45m+. The 'good stuff' is to be found between 25m to 30m; a family of grouper that range from medium size "kids" up to four enormous adult monsters, "Big Daddy" being the largest most impressive of them.  For some time now we have had brief sightings of a very big grouper along the wall and this has been confirmed in September with two close encounters with a huge single dusky grouper estimated at about 45-50 kilos with his den safely at 37 m. He was officially named "ELVIS" in October 2004.”
A very gentle start to this dive – Jeff was in the water with us for this one as he was guide along the top of the wall (I think .he just fancied the dive). Again Mr Ted and I were first in the water, and we waited around for the rest to drop in. While waiting I saw a stone fish (I think?). I’m still thoroughly enjoying being in clear water and able to see so much. Once everyone was in we all moved off together, except for Chris and Sue who had decided to stay around in the shallower water for a bimble around. I had been told that as we came towards the drop off we would be able to look out into the blue – and that is exactly what it was, absolutely amazing, I’ve never seen anythin.g like this in real life before. I feel as if I’ve been dropped into a film set. So many fish and such blue water, it was incredible hanging in the water to the side of the wall and above the drop off, watching the fish and the other divers around, above and below me. Watching silver streams of bubbles fountaining to the surface from the divers below .against the blue backdrop was spectacular.
While finning gently over the top of the wall, with all it’s gullies I saw my first moray eel, greyish with yellow spots along the side of the head and body; it was feeding and extended around ½ metre out of it’s hole. I also saw a beautiful, large crimson starfish plus so many shoals of fish and beautiful growth over the rock.
Total dive time 50 minutes to a max depth of around 19 metres (for me, other divers went deeper looking for “Elvis”, but with no luck, although they did report seeing smaller grouper).

Monday 15 October

Dive 1- Islas de Margaritas An extra dive day added in for those of us who fancied some extra diving – that was me then! What a day for me to forget to charge my camera battery!! I had just enough charge left in it to take a couple of photos of the surface of the dive site, but no more – on the other hand it meant I could just drop in and enjoy the dive. Mr Ted and Sheila had decided to have a day off from diving, but Dave Roberts was with us again, having missed the Sunday diving. Dave had started the day with not being able to find the dive computer he was absolutely convinced he had left in the back of the dive shop. After much searching he had borrowed a computer from Jeff, all the while muttering that it must have been moved/picked up by someone!
.This was an absolutely stunning trip to the dive site, we headed out of the dive centre and turned east to travel along the coast. On the way Jeff explained some of the geological background to the formation of the island and pointed out many features along the coastline, including a fresh water spring. The dive site itself was incredibly impressive with a large low arch with a backdrop of imposing high cliffs. When we moored at the site the water was again incredibly clear and I could see the anchor line all the way to the bottom. This was another dive where Jeff was in the water to guide us, so we all kitted up and waited until we were all ready to start the dive. Derek and me were in the water first and waited a while for the rest to get in – this turned out to be because Dave had discovered where he had safely left his dive computer, in his fin, and had to suffer a red face and ribbing by those left on the boat!!
.The topology under water, Jeff had explained to us, was like swiss cheese with lots of interlinking holes with openings on the outside, like windows. There were two start points to the dive, one at around 27m with a swim through to exit at a point at around 23m which is where the second start point was. I had intended to drop deeper with Dave C and Derek to do this, but unfortunately had problems with my ears so had to start at the second point with the rest of the group and watch as Dave and Derek swam towards us through the tunnel.
Once we were all together as a group we set off, following Jeff. This was an absolutely brilliant dive – we swam through under a shelf of rock then turned and swam back over the top of it, passing through a curtain of bubbles which was the air filtering through the porous rock from where we had swum through previously. We then passed across a ‘garden’, under the arch (seen in the photo) and back to the boat.
This was so good!! I saw a stone fish, moray and conger eels hiding in their holes, numerous sponges and corals in amazing colours, anemones, sea cucumbers and fish that I still don’t know the names of. The garden was a riot of colours and textures and absolutely beautiful. This was a totally different dive to anything I’ve ever done before, but I hope to be able to repeat the experience at some point, it was so amazing.
Total dive time 38 minutes to a max depth of almost 24 metres.

Dive 2 - Organ Pipes This dive site was chosen as it was fairly sheltered and was able to protect us from the wind and the sea, which had both picked up a bit. A young lad, Jake, from the dive centre was to be our guide and Jeff was taking Sam in for a lesson before joining the rest of us. There were only four of us for the afternoon dive, myself, Dave C, Dave R and Derek and I was buddied with Dave R.  This dive site is relatively shallow and named organ pipes due to the vertically cracked rocks which stand proud from the seabed in large tubes and are full of holes that look like, well, organ pipes! I dropped into the water to find Dave C attempting to encourage an octopus to come out to play, but with little success.
Another great dive, with great visibility; I saw a moray eel hanging around a metre out of his hole, stone fish, myriad other fish, yellow anemones, orange starfish and a large black starfish, sponges, cucumbers etc. The really odd thing to watch was as the fish would emerge from the vertical rock features and then swim parallel to them – straight down the side of the wall.
Total dive time 37 minutes to a max depth of just over 22 metres.

The original plan was to go in for a night dive tonight, but unfortunately this was called off due to deteriorating weather conditions. Jeff told me later that he was also concerned that if he turned round during a night dive and caught me in his torch beam a large set of smiling teeth would give him the “willies”!!

Tuesday 16 October

Dive 1 - Hannibals Cauldron The weather was not too good today, a bit windy and cloudy with rain showers so Jeff took us round to the back of Conejera Island to a site known as Hannibal’s Cauldron .for a drift dive. Although as it turned out there wasn’t a great deal of current. I buddied up again today with my good dive buddy Mr Ted, together with Chris and Sue Weaver and we all dropped in for a gentle fin/drift. On the surface all was a bit grey, but once under the water this changed completely.
There were so many fish, in so many colours again on this dive. The sea bed and rocks were covered with weed and life in an array of colours – I’m still so amazed at the variety of life and colour under the water, it’s all so beautiful.
At one point I had been filming some short video clips of a shoal of fish, but then they appeared to .have all gone and I was following Mr Ted, Chris and Sue admiring the scenery. But when I looked behind me it was like a scene from the film Finding Nemo, with a huge shoal of fish following behind us – my mask filled with water yet again as it made me laugh!
Again, so much life to see – more barracuda hanging gracefully in the water, starfish in red, purple and orange, a small conger and a spiny. type crab scuttling under the rocks and of course shoals of fish of all types everywhere.
Chris and Sue ascended to the surface a bit before me and Mr Ted as Sue was starting to get a bit cold. It looks so good being able to watch divers ascend to the surface and the water is so blue! This was despite surfacing to a lot of rain, wind and grey sky.
Another beautiful dive for 44 minutes to a max depth of 15 metres.

Dive 2 - Snakes & Ladders The weather this afternoon was not too good, the wind had picked up a lot and the sea was choppy so we went out to a dive site in a sheltered cove just round from Torre Rovira. Jeff told us this is a spectacular trip through canyons and gullies full of colourful sponges and corals and he wasn’t wrong! This was another dive that Jeff was leading us so, as had been the norm for the week, Mr Ted and me were first in the water with Chris waiting for the others to get in. We waited for around 20 minutes for the rest of them to get in the water due to some tomfoolery on .the boat in our absence! Although this time wasn’t wasted as we found an octopus and I managed to get a video clip of it as it left it’s home and shot off – my amazed exclamations can be faintly heard in the background and my mask filled with water again.
Eventually we were all together and Jeff led off through the maze of canyons and gullies. They were full of sponges, soft corals etc all in amazing colours. Buoyancy and control were definitely in order to avoid bouncing off the walls of the canyons and damaging any of this delicate life. As we worked through the gullies we came across a cave with a small grouper sheltering in it. The whole area was truly. beautiful, although a bit dark. As we were working our way through the final parts of the maze of rocks we could only travel in single file, and I remember thinking to myself who could possibly be using the flash on their camera so much? As we returned to the boat and looked up I could see a milky haze outlining the boat and the rain on the water and, as we surfaced, the noise of the thunder and the flash of lightning! So it wasn’t camera flashes after all!
The sea had turned really choppy for the ride back to base and Jeff suggested that we all leave our hoods and masks on – it was just as well that we did as the boat was awash on the way back; it felt just like a Hollywood B movie with buckets of water being thrown over us. Jeff even commented that I was still smiling and that it wasn’t supposed to be fun, although I thought it was and looking at the faces around me I wasn’t the only one!
Total dive time 56 minutes to a max depth of 20 metres.

Wednesday 17 October (final day diving)

Dick's Point The plan had been to dive the Haystack again, but the weather was against us so we returned to Dick’s Point. This time the plan was to drop in and swim off in the opposite direction to our first dive towards a reported roman wreck on a flat sandy site at around 18 metres.
.Mr Ted was again my excellent dive buddy for what turned out to be the final dive of the week. This was a really gentle dive, just bimbling along to see what could be seen. I found an old piece of flat pot, but nothing to speak of. Colin found a fishing rod and was seen using it under the water! My mask filled up yet again!.
There were a number of cuttle fish and octopus on the sandy bed and Dave C found one and had it on his arm, much like a falconer with a bird of prey.
As we made our way back there were large clams on the sea bed standing around ½ metre tall. There were also the obligatory fish and I’m told these included bream, weaver fish (and divers!), blennies, gobies and wrasse and probably lots of others that I still don’t know the names of.
Total dive time 46 minutes to a max depth of 18 metres.

As mentioned earlier this turned out to be the last dive of the week as the weather and sea conditions had deteriorated to the stage that Jeff was unhappy to take us out in the afternoon.

This was my first real taste of diving in blue water and was absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait to go again. My apologies to the rest for my childish over-enthusiasm for everything during this week, but I couldn’t believe the clarity of the water, the visibility, the colours and the sheer amount of life in the water. I spent the entire week with a huge grin all over my face (and I wasn’t the only one) and my mask permanently half full of water, much to Chris’s amusement. Not only was the diving brilliant but the company was as well – the meals out each evening were almost as much fun as the diving. My thanks to everyone for making my first dive trip abroad such a pleasure:
To :Mr Ted my excellent dive buddy and stone fish impersonator.
Sheila for organising the trip and talking so much she lost her voice by the end of the week!
Dave C for looking out for me all week.
Chris and Sue, cross dressers extraordinaire, I still don’t understand how Chris managed to fit into Sue’s suit – and Chris’s grin matched mine all week!
Derek with his complement of cameras and Jeff’s comment that he hadn’t seen his face all week
Terry, finder par excellence
Dave R, “I’m sure I left my computer in the shop” – what was that action you did to the side of your head? Whatever!
Colin “would you like to pick an egg?”
Jeff and his team for looking after us all week and for his excellent briefings on all the sites we dived.

Cheshire CatKay Skinner
The Cheshire Cat

 

 

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2007 Club Trip to Weymouth - Photos

Friday - The Pomeranian and Spaniard

The Club's annual start of season trip to Weymouth started off with 8 of us going down a day early to get a couple of extra dives in, and on Friday we went out on Breakwater Diving’s Hardboat Top Gun to dive the Pomeranian.

Top Gun

The SS Pomeranian was a 4,241 Ton liner of the Allen line that was built in 1882, she was torpedoed on April 15th 1918 9 miles SW of Portland Bill, all but one of the 56 onboard going down with the ship, the one survivor managed to climb into the rigging that protruded above the sea.

SS Pomeranian

We arrived on site in some mild but overcast conditions and once shotted I was kitted up despite the skipper keeping faffing about and moving the boat, but eventually he stopped this to sort his fishing rod out so I completed kitting up and in I went with a little bit of tide running.

The water was a bit cloudy but quite light and I got onto the wreck at about 32m to find 1-2m of viz, I soon swam off the wreck and was starting to think I would not see too much when I noticed a torch beam a few metres above me and was back onto her. I soon realised the shot was by the boilers and then about 20 min into the dive the viz cleared up a lot and I had a nice 4-5m and the sun had come out improving the light levels, as I explored several penetration points and eventually ended up around some cabins at about 29m.

After a rather nice 40 min at a max of 33m I sent up my DSMB and drifted off for the Deco hang with a total runtime of 69 min using 33% Nitrox as backgas and 70% for some accelerated Deco.

Meanwhile we had a few minor problems with a suit inflator not connected and a new pony bottle configuration not working as well as hoped, but most of the others had good dives as well. The skipper even managed to annoy Chunderfish when he was too busy talking on his mobile to operate the lift as she was getting washed off of it.

Hopefully Derek will have some pictures to add.

After a late lunch it was out on the Valliant to dive the Spaniard, however I chose the wrong buoy and we dropped onto a rather mundane middle part of the wreck and only Simon found the more impressive Bow section, the rest of us going the wrong way. So 30min in a max of 14m.

Saturday - Lullworth Cove

7.30 Sat morning saw 6 of us at the Castletown slipway to prepare the 3 Rhibs and take them along the coast to Lullworth Cove, we planned to leave at 8.15 and for the probably the first time ever in the Clubs History we had no boat problems to sort out and were away from the beach 5 min Early

Arriving after a 30 min ride at Lullworth Cove where we eventually got the first wave of divers sorted out and out we went to dive the nature trail off of Warrbarrow Bay, most of the new club members were doing Sea and Rhib diving familiarisation along with a bit of depth progression, and they also got to experience some poor viz as we had a general 2m or so, the worst I have ever had off of here.

So after a familiarisation dive it was then OD assessment dive time for most with Becky also getting a SD lesson completed and Rich Cooke, Jon Bushel and Phil Buckley all completing their Ocean Diver assessment and qualification.

The theme of the day though was weightbelts, either lost, too light or forgotten.

Rob dived on wave 4 with Becky and came out with the quality quote that there was only a 1 in 1 Million chance of them getting separated; they then spent the whole dive about 10-15m apart looking for each other.

After a rather bumpy ride back me and Kay finally swam back to shore having tied the boats up at 19.30, so a rather long a tiring 12 hour day.

Sunday - Portland Harbour

A bright but windy day as we carried on diving, this time in Portland Harbour, loading up the boats as people decided to turn up, we had changed the dive locations around for the weekend as we were due some very bad weather in on Sun afternoon, so the 9 O’Clock meet should have got at least 1 dive in for everyone before the weather turned, however the normal slow start saw one wave out, with several delays and the 2nd wave only got out at lunchtime.

However we had a very nice 4m or so of light Viz on the Countess of Erne,

Countess of Erne

With several Ocean Diver lessons and Rachel, Mike and Max completing OD assessments and SD lessons being completed with Phil, Jon Bushel and Rachel, and Becky completed Sport Diver assessment.

Side scan sonar image of the Countess of Erne

We had very some very strong winds later that made the pick up’s and drop off ‘s VERY testing for the boat handlers as the wind tried to blow the boats into the harbour wall.

The last dive was done on the landing craft and bombardon unit, with mixed results in finding them, with some rather difficult pick ups.

That night we had the regular dinner night in a rather packed dinning hall at the Royal Breakwater Hotel with about 40 there in total.

Monday - Bad Weather stopped play

We woke up to the wind howling and decided enough was enough so recovered the boats and headed home, to get caught in some real bank holiday traffic, so a very slow return trip.

All in all though a very good result with 6 New Ocean Divers, 1 New Sport Diver and a good head start into the other Sport Diver lessons.

Paul Oliver

 

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2006 Club Trip to Ibiza

In October, 18 club members (14 divers, 3 wives and one Mum) flew to Ibiza for the club’s annual dive holiday.

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We were based at the extreme end of San Antonio Bay, on the west coast of the Island, and dived with Sea Horses Diving, (seahorsedivingibiza.com) based at Port des Torrent, a small idyllic cove, about 15 minutes walk from our apartments.

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All of the Diving took place in the Cala d’ Hort Marine Reserve, and everyone in the group felt it was one of the club’s best dive holidays.

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We had wall to wall sunshine daily, and excellent diving, with more marine life around than any of us had ever seen in the Med.

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The owner of the dive centre Jeff Richardson, couldn’t have been more accommodating.

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We dived twice a day for 5 days, and also had a night dive, from Jeff’s fabulous, purpose built, fast, dive boat, each dive bringing us something new and spectacular to talk about.

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It was agreed by all, that this holiday should be repeated some time.

Neil
Dave

 

 

 

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