Lulworth - 04/06/05
Divers: Bex, Emma B., Emma V., Tom E., Iain S., Sebastian F., Si. P.
Snorkeler: Annie T.
Trip organiser: Michael Parkinson
The Saturday morning seemed quite pleasant; sunshine but a little gusty. After an efficient preparation on Friday, everything was packed in the van ready to go just after 8.00. All we needed now was for the two Emmas to arrive: and arriving late (due to tardy Vardy) we managed to set off at 8.30. With wonderful directions from my numerous pages of Multimap we managed to get to the Lulworth carpark at around 10.15 where we proceeded to check out the multitude of cafes and shops, again waiting for tardy Vardy to arrive. Bex and Annie returned laughing after a quick trip to find the cove and a discovery that the tide was well and truly out ? leaving enough water to paddle in. (perhaps the local village names; Puddletown and Affpuddle were signs of what was in store for us). We decided to wait until the afternoon for high tide and so spent the morning walking along the coast to see some spectacular views of the Dorset coastline. After lunch the first set of divers entered the water to discover that not only was the cove shallow but it had rubbish visibility, a reasonable amount of swell and sod all wildlife ? all adding up to give one of our worst dives ever. But all was not lost: we still managed to practice some lifesaving and towing skills and a few comedy moments lightened our spirits. One of my funniest dives ever: sufacing in 80cm of water opposite the beach entrance, to be met by an audience of more than twenty people staring back at you. The audience continued to watch us with our lifesaving practice, at this time sitting down on the beach eating ice creams and gasping at the appropriate moments etc but I don’t think they laughed as much as we did at Si’s amazing novice diver’s skills none of which tricked Emma B - apart from being handed Si’s weight belt at the bottom but her quick responses managed to grab Si by his Stab before he shot to the surface. No one went back in for a second dive (wonder why?) and so we got some chips for dinner and left for Bristol.
It was a fun day out and I think most people got something out it whether it was an assessment or experience with diving in poor vis. Many thanks to the people who came along especially the white van man.
Skomer - 25/06/05
It started on a beautiful Bristolian summer’s day when a large group of divers converged on UBUC stores, dumping all of their luggage on one huge pile and starting work on packing everything in stores, content in the knowledge that they were soon to reacquaint themselves with (or even meet for the first time) the underwater pleasures of Pembrokeshire. And so the gradual migration set off towards Wales and the pristine seas of Skomer. A long journey ended with hoards of people in a field, struggling to put up their tent in the dark. A cold night followed by a cold and miserable morning didn’t dampen our spirits as we headed down the road to take over the beach and spread our equipment, clothes and a few pale bodies across the stony shore. Twenty or so waves later and visits to Wooltack, The Lucy and The Garland stone, every diver had taken a glimpse of the amazing seascapes and wildlife (or got tangled in seaweed on a shore dive using an inflatable shark SMB). Worn-out, we returned to camp and unpacked our cooking contraptions for a well deserved dinner, a good chat with late comers, a few hours compressing and an early night (I think not!). The Sunday saw the same buzz of activity, with even more divers packed on to the beach and waves going on until 6.00, with a steady flow of accounts and stories of what they’d seen. The day couldn’t have gone smoother (considering the number of people) and we even got a brief spell of sunshine. The evening came, bringing the delights of a Barbeque and so we crowded around it like a flock of vultures, picking at whatever we could get our hands on. With entertaining stories from Scotty and much to catch up on with other divers, we stayed up until the embers of the barbeque died away. Finally the weekenders left and a drastically reduced number of lucky divers were left with more kit to choose from, more space, later starts and earlier finishes. Just as the week started the wind picked up, making diving a little tricky and camping even worse. The winds were so bad at one point that it kept most of us up all Tuesday night, with a few people holding up their tents. A little damp, tired and cold we still managed to get in our two dives of the day and the arrival of The Joseph saw a slight variation to the diving timetable. Throughout the week groups of people took trips out on The Joseph to explore the Pembrokeshire coast a little further a-field. Several of those people were lucky enough to go out on calm, sunny days and even get the opportunity to see porpoises and swim with a basking shark whereas a few unfortunate divers had to cope with rough, foggy conditions and visit a huge rock in the middle of the sea covered in Gannets and smelling of bird shit. I don’t know which was worse the seasickness or the smell and lets just say the diving wasn’t much better. Glad to be ashore and in great need to replenish the fluids we had lost – a long visit to the pub was certainly welcomed. The winds had also brought jellyfish and plenty of them. All colours, shapes and sizes, like swimming in an aquarium - adding to the fun of diving. The waters were clearer now and enabled us to see more wildlife and cover further distances – allowing Matty to swim from one end of Wooltack bay to the other in 30 mins (speed finning). There were also more sightings of wildlife such as seals, lobsters, scallops and even diving sea-birds as well as the huge spider crabs. With more time between waves we had the opportunity to play with the boats, racing and scaring the flocks of puffins or just sunbathing which led to a few people getting burnt (don’t know how – it was nearly always cloudy). As we started to get into the swing of things, adapting to awkward sleeping positions, getting a good spot on the beach, changing clothes without exposing yourself in-front of hoards of bird-watchers and building up muscles to carry the heavy equipment, members of our friendly and select group started to leave, to be replaced by other divers and eventually the mass of weekenders as Friday night drew near. The weekend arrived and with it came the crowds of divers and the hustle and bustle of a major diving operation but still, just as much fun. This soon lead into another eventful second week.
By Michael Parkinson
Sound of Mull - 09/07/05
This summer five intrepid divers experienced U.K. diving at it's very best in the Sound of Mull.
On Saturday 9th July myself (Emma Vardy), Emma Brennand, Si Parker, Ben Egglestone rocked up to the Fiunary campsite in the idyllic waters edge of the sound of Mull to meet up with Dave Liddament who had been hanging around waiting for our arrival after a lovely weeks diving in St Kilda (lucky boy!).
We chartered the hard boat The Peregrine for a week. The boat's skipper was named Alan Livingstone and was, in all of our opinions, the most amazing, entertaining and fun loving bloke in the whole wide world. Alan was not only a top notch skipper who knew the Sound of Mull like the back of his hand (due to his 20 years or so experience) but he also looked after us all like his own children making sure we were continually entertained with his jokes and stories, warm and dry after dives, fed and watered. Alan's wife was equally lovely and came on board one day to make us the most scrummy porridge. I felt so comfortable and relaxed on board the Perigrine that I almost asked Alan to adopt me! But best of all Alan ensured that we were dropped absolutely perfectly into the water for every single dive we did. And may I mention nothing was too much trouble for our Alan. Everyday he let us choose exactly where we wanted to dive and he made sure the he gave us the best dives possible not matter what. Alan even continued to remain highly entertaining and fun when the compressor was playing up, which was almost every day and no one on board could muster up enough foot-poundals (some Scottish word they use for strength I think!?) to get the engine started.
Anyway on to the best bit, the diving. We dived on some of the most fantastic wrecks I have ever seen and we loved the Hispania and the Rondo so much we went back for another helping! I even managed to remember that the pointy bit is the bow by the end of all that! Well done me!
The water as calm as a mill pond and vis was amazing too, well over 15m at times. We saw so much wildlife up there including??.and the best bits for the Emma's was: a) getting ring side seats to watch 2 crabs having a fight with a rather funny squat lobster acting as ring-master- very odd and fun almost like a scene from finding nemo!!! b) Seeing a lions mane jelly fish getting savaged by a huge wall of anemones living on the side of the Rondo. The lions mane had clearly stretched out every venomous tentacle it had in an attempt to thwart it's attackers and the anemones were all working collectively in a very successful way to disarm the stinging jelly creature and munch the whole lot up. c) Seeing Fluffy Ben and Si surface looking very swollen, sore and upset shouting for vinegar?! When we asked them what was wrong we discovered that they had been stung by a Lions Mane Jellyfish: Fluffy Ben had been stung across the face leaving a lovely red stripe and Si had been stung on the tongue (not sure how Si managed to make tongue to jelly contact though?.hummmm something Si might want to tell us???)
No seriously though, the Emma duo didn't just get their kicks from observing violence and carnage on the seabed. We also had the privilege of jumping into the water with no other than the most awesome and beautiful Creature possible, a Basking shark. It was a truly amazing experience, swimming alongside a 7m Basking shark and watching it's gill slits flail in and out as it sucked all the plankton up into it's massive mouth. WOW!!! I have never seen one so close up and the mixture of emotions that I felt afterwards left me feeling kind of elated. Respect to the Baskers!!!! Then just a couple of days later we were treated with the company of some gorgeous porpoises swimming alongside the boat. The Sound of Mull also proved a particularly spectacular place for observing Royal naval jets swooping low over our wee boat and at the end of the week our boat was over taken by a huge great big enormous submarine. Now that's not something that happens every day is it!!?!!
Back at the campsite the 5 of us made a great little team and we all had wonderful food fit for Kings and Queens every night, without spending hardly anything at all! There were some lovely rocks where we could sit, eat and chill out while looking out over the beautiful Sound backed by the mountains with the most beautiful mountain mist hanging low on the horizon and I tell you what I must have laughed so much that week I almost gave myself an internal injury. The wildlife at the campsite was also particularly wonderful. We arrived to find a superb Stag standing as brash as you like by the side of the road. Other wildlife included swarms of midges who were very friendly and seemed to like us all so much they just couldn't leave us alone and I think they must have loved Fluffy Ben the most because they left him with hundreds of love bites! He he he. Plus we had our very own campsite cuckoo, which I was overjoyed with. Every morning I would meet with the others and announce how lovely it was that we had a cuckoo living near our campsite and how it's so nice to hear them cuckooing away in the trees in the morning. By the end of the trip the rest of the group couldn't contain their giggling anymore and decided to tell me that the cuckoo was infact Fluffy Ben's alarm which he had set on his phone to wake him each morning with a cuckoo song.
So all in all, great diving, great company, great food and a great place!!! I am definitely going again and will count down the days till the chance to do so arrives!!!!
Porthkerris - 06/08/05
Ok so its better late than never - and a timely advertisement for the Piss Up!!!
There initially seemed something wrong with being in PK outside October or April, and even more in staying in tents. "Wot, no caravans...?"
But the pub provided its normal friendly welcome on Friday night after a somewhat staggered departure from Bristol, with all but one of the people who wanted to come actually turning up. The atmosphere was enjoyed with a surprising amount of restraint and moderation, perhaps because most of us still had to put up our tents.
This was planned to be a chilled weekend, and on the Saturday we were set to do two reef dives each. As it was even this was too much for some people, but everyone enjoyed pottering around and Dave L amazed us, some locals and probably the fish by insisting on twin setting. Despite a few spots of rain there was a unanimous decision to BBQ on the Saturday night, and after a trip to the local Tescos (why is it always a Tescos?) we enjoyed standard UBUC beer, burgers and banter before heading to the pub. Because it was PK we had to do some Karaoke. And despite Dave 'My microphone isn't turned on' L's best/worst efforts the locals were duly put to shame. A guest appearance by Demelza, much to the delight of the publican, rounded the evening off.
Sunday dawned clear and sunny, though no doubt a bit painfully for some, and with a promise of the weather holding we set off to do a boat dive, which I had been promised would be 'anything but the Volnay' by the chartering dive company. We duly set off to dive the Volnay, and despite grumblings from the more experienced divers, and some fairly lightweight dive planning 'lets just go down and swim around a bit' everyone seemed to think the £17.50 worthwhile. Lunch was a relaxed affair in gorgeous sunshine, and the more dedicated dived the reef again in the afternoon. The highlight of this for me was a young cuttle fish which Sam spent a good ten minutes flirting with before eventually scaring off.
All in all the weekend went as planned: good weather and good diving.
Cheers, see you all this weekend!
Swanage - 08/10/05
Last Saturday 8th October, 12 of us managed (eventually!) to book places on the Mary Jo (a hardboat based in Swanage) to dive the Kyarra.
People set of from all over the country (Wales, London, Stevenage & Bristol) and we all managed to make it to Swanage with time to spare (despite Dave’s vain attempt to scare me into thinking the compressor had broken & the Bristol contingent would be late!). We arrived to find a flat sea, a cloudless sky and parking spaces on the pier ? so far, so good!
The Kyarra is a huge wreck (approx 150m long) lying in 30m of water which is famous for the huge range of cargo that can still be found, varying from perfume & Lea & Perrins bottles to purses & pill boxes. It is fairly intact in places with lots of good swim throughs. Visibility was pretty good with loads of bib & poor cod and a few rather feisty conger eels!
By the time we surfaced we found big waves and grey skies, it proceeded to pour with rain for our entire surface interval!
Our second dive was on the Fleur de Lys a small (16m) fishing boat in about 13m of water. There was quite a current running which made it quite fun exploring the wreck, with crabs, tompot blennies & all kinds of fish in every nook and cranny. We then drifted off the wreck over the sea bed, saw a tiny cuttlefish and a few crabs but mostly just enjoyed drifting in the current. Surfaced to find it was dusk & the lights were on in town which was a really pretty sight.
Packed up in the pitch dark, ending a fantastic day.
The Mary Jo will be out of the water for winter from the end of October but you can contact the skipper (Martin) on firstname.lastname@example.org ? comes highly recommended!
Chesil - 16/10/05
Emma B, Bex, Tom Young, Dave L, Andy K, Steve Woodward, Emma Y, Matt Nichol, Ben K, Dimos, Jorge, Stephanie Howden and Ralph Cox
With the most indecisive person leading the pack the plan changed frequently from Babbacombe to Chesil, to Babbacombe then Chesil, the weather swung it and we finally settling on the splendid Chesil Cove. We met at stores under the cover of moon light at 8 or just after for some ;) We were pumped and ready to go by 8.30ish all running kind of to plan. There were 12 in total, lots of new faces and a few old favourites :) and Dave!
After a few pit stops we were all on our way down south. We arrived in Chesil cove to a gaggle of not so smiley divers :( there was a wee swell on. After weighing up the options we decided to do a hard boat dive in Portland harbour with Fathom and Blues. Seven divers jumped onto the rib and we headed out to the Countess of Erne, an 80M paddle ship sunk in about 13M. The wreck itself was fairly intact as it is sheltered by the harbour wall. It was really light and the vis was better than we expected (3m). The wreck hasn't got much squidge on but we saw loads of shoals of fishes. Really nice chilled out dive, for some of the guys it was their first UK dive hope they enjoyed it as much as me :)
PK Autumn Trip - 22/10/05
It was a cold gloomy night as 25 hardened divers congregated outside stores. The weather wasn’t great and everyone had their pinkies crossed for good weather. The cars were packed by 6.45pm and most people hit the road at 7pm. We all arrived at Chyne Carne in high spirits and found the pub still open yey! The comedy late arrival was down to our very glamorous ETO who managed to get lost whilst setting off 45 minutes before us and having GPS. We all trundled back to the caravans for a fairly early night including a slightly moist Dave.
Ali was on wake up call and she was militant, there were no prisoners. We were down the beach by 9 and ready for first wave by 10. The weather was loooovely and the sea was nice and flat. The first wave returned with descriptions of all the usual PK residents and one or two spottings of John Dorys. The Vis was around 5M and I heard the water described as tepid by one semi dry diver, although I do beg to differ. The day passed really quickly with lots of smiley divers new and old. We headed to the trusty burger van for lunch. The Ostrich burgers were as good as ever and you can now request them with no polystyrene which makes them taste just that little bit better.
After a quick bite to eat and a refill we were ready to rock and roll. Waves three and four went in for a quick dip before everyone went back to the caravans to tart themselves up for the evening. Some of us needed less tarting than others lol All of the costumes were amazing and one or two were just scary (Scotty/ Si) check out the pictures on http://www.caffeinate.org.uk/Diving/PKPissUp2005/ if you want to add your pics go tohttp://www.caffeinate.org.uk/Upload/index.html
The food was enjoyed by all as sustenance or projectiles depending on who you were, and a few of us got slightly more than we bargained for sitting opposite Scotty at the dinner table. The night rolled into morning with games of ‘I have never’ and I think Rob and Fluffy Ben might not have any secrets left (not the ones worth knowing anyway!). Unsurprisingly there was no diving on Sunday so we all headed to the beach for a paddle and a picnic. As always it was well worth the journey and a fantastic weekend was had by all.
Thanks to everyone who helped us organise things much appreciated.
See you all on a beach soon
Vobster - 28/10/05
Location: Vobster Divers: Andrew Theunissen, Libby Lee, Jorge Ruiznavarro, Ali Carpenter
Vobster is an inland quarry where there is so much to see. Old cars, boats, fridges, kettles and...planes!
Possibly the geekyest trip yet...? At least half the people listed above have a weird fascination with aeroplanes. We planned to dive as a four and started by descending on the middle section of the fuselage of the plane. This is where the plan was flawed. Two of us wished to gawp over it longer that the sane pair of the group so we split into twos. Jorge and I managed to see nearly everything in one epic long dive. The cockpit and tail section were also very very cool! #cough#GEEKS#cough#
This place not only has the best wrecks ever but, as the whole group agreed, the bestest bacon and egg butties ever...ever! So that was lunch.
Time for one last quick dive for Jorge and me and when we got back to the car, some lovely fairies had left us cake!!! Thanks guys!
So it was a fantastic day out and I have loads of exciting photos of stingers, bolts, rivets etc...
Also, big respect for Andrew and Libby who dived in wetsuits! That's hardcore!!
Love Ali x
Meadfoot - 05/02/06
Location - Meadfoot (Torquay) Organised by - Emma Y Type of Trip - Shore dive Number of Divers - 7 & a Shore Marshall
T'was a cold and miserable morning in Bristol (with the canal frozen over and seagulls walking on the ice!) we met at stores at 8am and left prompt at half past. Fearing we were in for a ice-dive we set off in search of the more sunny climes of the English Rivera to do a spot of shore diving at Meadfoot beach.
There was definitely a sigh of relief from everyone, especially the semi-dry divers faces when we arrived to glorious sunshine and piping hot temperatures, (well 12C!) most people were eager to get into the sea as everyone seemed to have a new (or fixed?!) dive toy to play with.
So off we went...visibility was an arms length at best, some buddy pairs (myself included) managed to temporarily loose each other on the descent! overall there were numerous reports of starfish-spottings! pretty shells! and wait for it.....one unidentified very small fish was spotted by 1 diver out of 7!
Well there didn't seem to be much enthusiam for a second dive so we decided to go for a cheeky drink and a pub lunch in the sun! Still it was nice to get back in the water for our first dive of the year.
5 divers met up at stores in the early hours of the morning to go diving. They were Dougal Matthews, Steve Murray, Andrew Kiddier, Tom Elder and Ellie Birch
We eventually arrived in the late morning to be faced with force 3-4 winds but fairly calm seas, the previous weeks sighting of a solitary starfish was confirmed and we even managed to add velvet crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps and baby lobsters to the list! The water was a barmy 7 Degrees and a least 2 metres of visibility at the beginning.
As the day went on the viz rapidly deteriorated and by the end the last buddy pair, Ellie & Dougal, were diving in what can only be described as soup. So 5 weary, very cold and hungry divers abandoned diving and went to visit Ellie's grandparents who live nearby. We were served as many bacon sandwiches as it's humanly possible to eat and bottomless cups of tea. Ellie's grandmother offered to cater for the diving club next time we're in the area, but when I mentioned we have about 130 members, she quickly changed her mind.
For anyone planning a trip to Babbacombe, here's the link to the webcam on top of the cafe on the beach. It's really useful for checking diving conditions before you set off:
 Babbacombe Webcam
BDMLR Course, Cheddar Reservoir - 26/02/06
Gav Ellis, Emma Brennand, Mora McCullam, Alex Howe, Matthew Domaine, Sarah Baulch and Sharon Scurlock.
Last Sunday (26th March) Cheddar reservoir hosted a marine mammal rescue course for the British divers marine life rescue (BDMLR). Seven of us made our way down to Cheddar, some more direct than others lol. The course kicked of at 10am with the morning full of theory and the afternoon for the hands-on demo's. The lectures covered physiology of various marine mammals, first aid and rescue techniques. After lunch we got stuck into the practical scenarios of mammal strandings and ways of refloating the animals with inflatable pontoons. We used water filled whales, seals and dolphins to practice the different rescue techniques. We each tried to catch and rescue a seal armed with a towel, unstrand a dolphin with a tarpaulin and refloat a whale with pontoons. The water filled animals weighed a tonne so we had to work in groups to try and refloat them. The semi dry crew showed they were truly hardened (or crazy :) ) by venturing into the artic waters (~6oC). After hot chocolates all round we hit the road back to Bristol. Pretty chilly day out but the course was great fun. At the end we received the course pack which included a really cool book on marine mammal ID. Once you've attended one of the BDMLR courses you can volunteer to be on a register so that in the event of a stranding in your area you can be contacted. You can find more info at BDMLR. We took loads of pictures check out the link below and we even got a mention on BBC news :)
Seasearch - 04/03/06 to 05/03/06
Written by Sharon Scurlock Divers: Steve Murray, Gav Ellis, Hana Lango, Tom Elder, Andy K, Sharon Scurlock. Very very nearly dived (and even got wet feet!): Ben E Shore marshall (not diving through illness): Dougal Gave up after a day of lectures: Ben K, Mike Pollard
It was with great sadness that a depleted troupe of divers left Bristol. Emma B, who had cajoled and bullied everyone into going on this trip with her so she could identify some wibbly brown stuff she'd seen on a wreck, had succumbed to the evils of work and was unable to join us.
As such, some trainee was trying to organize it and no one knew what was going on (sorry!!) The drivers had decided on a staggered start, and Gav very kindly brought everyones kit down after training. We all arrived at West Wales Dive Centre within a reasonably civilised time frame -- or at least, no-one got woken up and the early birds had found the nearest bar.
The next morning brought a decent breakfast followed by an intermission for shopping as I'd underestimated everyone's ability to get out of bed. I wasn't on commission from the dive centre, honest! As lectures didn't start until just after 9 we had plenty of time to peruse their wares. I think the biggest casualty in the credit card department was Fluffy Ben's purchase of a new undersuit.
Once Kate arrived, along with a couple of other victims, the days lessons got underway. The original plan had been to dive on both days, to help break up the lectures, but as the weather wasn't great she decided to stick to 'video dives'. The lectures covered basic school biology stuff like classification of living things, then some slides of stuff we were likely to see and how to identify it, and going over how to fill in the SeaSearch 'Observer' forms. It was all quite interesting but as it was a lecture after a late night a few people were struggling to stay awake!
Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. Absolutely freezing, but there was sun. After a slightly later breakfast Dougal sorted out the wheat from the chaff and we made our way to St Brides for the one and only dive of the weekend. There wasn't a huge amount to observe other than 'sandy bottom' and the odd patch of 'mixed seaweed', although Steve & I saw a baby velvet crab and there were a few other reports of crustaceans. Hana, & Gav deserve a special mention for braving it in semi-drys. I was still loving my E-bay drysuit, I couldn't believe how toasty my feet were! Poor Ben was having some issues with his suit and didn't complete the dive.
Overall a good weekend, we are now all qualified 'Seasearchers' which means any time we go diving we can add data to the national register. There is talk of organizing another course to coincide with people being in Skomer on the annual trip, so keep a look out for future e-mails if you are interested in learning the real names of fishy things or brown wiffly stuff.
Also highly recommend West Wales Divers, very friendly and they do great toasties (what more could you want?!)
PK Main Trip - 07/04/06
Over two weeks ago 40 divers gathered excitedly outside stores to pack the vans and trailers for the annual Porthkerris training trip. We finally squashed everyone/thing into the two vans and 11 cars, and were on our merry way by 7.30pm. By 8.30pm the excitement had dimmed slightly as we all sat in the M5 tail backs but the trusty in-car karaoke carried us through and by 9pm we were all whizzing down the motorway to Cornwall. Most people had made the Kennack sands Inn by 1.30am for a swift half before hitting the sack.
Wake up call was a very reasonable 8am, although I'm not sure anyone told Costas who was all ready, bags packed ready to leave the campsite at 7.30 (hehe! sorry again ;) ) We all headed to PK beach where we were welcomed with fantastic blue skies dotted with the odd fluffy cloud and Westerly winds, perfect for diving on PK reef. The day progressed with more and more smiley faces emerging from the water as people went into the sea for the first time. We bimbled back to the campsite to pamper ourselves, before heading to the pub for the buffet and the legendary Blind Buddy. The contestants were picked not just for their stunning good looks but also their scandalous wit. The audience was not disappointed with the usual diving innuendos (long hose, hard smb, large pink pinnacle etc) and most of us were blushing after hearing Angus's responses. Choosing from an extensive selection of date destinations the lucky couples (Kate & Angus, Mel & Andy) picked PK reef for a date later in the week.
Sunday morning saw more new arrivals and the good weather continue. The vis was great and the reef was beautiful with lots of Spider crabs, pipe fish, congers etc being spotted. We had our first blind buddy date of the week (Kate & Angus) and going by the pictures they look like they had a fantastic time. Over the next few days everyone was eagerly ticking of their assessments and the nice weather meant a few pink faces by Tuesday.
The first Volnay wave went out on Tuesday morning and as the wind started to pick up the smiles disappeared and were replaced by faces of various shades of green. We managed to squeeze in another boat wave before deciding to beach the boats, well technically I think the boats actually decided to beach themselves. Thanks to Anthony W & Ali for saving the slightly dazed Anthony S. In the afternoon we hit the reef for more assessments and the second blind buddy date (Andy & Mel). After getting 'tied up' in their SMB exercise they drifted along together and hitched a ride back to the beach on Imperials new rib. Mel was quoted to have said 'one man just wasn't enough' :)
By Wednesday the winds had dropped and we were out to the Volnay again. The vis was great (8m) and there were loads of excited stories of the congers that had been found hiding in the holes of the boilers. More trainees completed their assessments and the rumours started to circulate of the planned night dive the following night. I don't think I've seen anyone as excited at the prospect of a night dive as Chris M although Dora was a close second.
On Thursday everyone bounced out of bed and hit the beach. The first OD/OD dive of the week took place and after 40 minutes, Tom R & Dom surfaced having managed to navigate all the way around the reef. What I don't think they realised was that whilst they were bimbling around having a fantastic dive I was manically running up and down behind the MOD building trying to see where they were as their SMB disappeared out of sight :) By the end of Thursday most people had completed their OD assessments and were heading out for the first time with another OD. The beach was amassed with stories of congers, flying scallops and scorpion fish. At 5pm we left the beach and returned to the caravan site for a quick refuel before the night dive. We were back on the beach by 7.30 just before it started to get dark and the torch wars had already begun when we arrived with Dougal and Andy K going head to head with their new ghostbuster torches. Everyone was armed with a glow stick colour co-ordinated with their buddy (how organised were we :) lol). The night dives were fantastic with so much life coming out to play, we spotted lobsters and crabs out hunting, scorpion fish and funny red fish that I don't know the name of. I don't think any of us wanted to head back to the beach at the end and some of us didn't have a clue where it was anyway (mentioning no names :) ). When we got back to the caravans there were more new arrivals and we headed to the pub for a few cheeky halves
The excitement of the night dive meant no one wanted to move on Friday morning but there we slacks to catch and eventually we got everyone down on the beach. The first boat wave headed out to the Volnay after a quick lunch we loaded them again to catch the slack on the manacles to dive the Mohegan. Andy K kindly volunteered to be our slack monitor which involved dropping him over board and seeing which direction he went in (not always a good idea but it worked this time :) ). The Mohegan was beautiful with so much life on the rocks before you hit the wreck I was more than happy pootling around there. Yey! A fantastic dive to finish a fantastic week. At the end of the day we packed everything away for the final time and headed back to the campsite to get ready for the buffet.
The Kennack sands were ever welcoming and the beer was a plenty. The usual end of week awards were awarded by Nix, Ellen and myself. Here are a few that we could remember:
Sophie S - BSAC keyring for being a BSAC mystery shopper Geoff - suntan lotion for being a fair weather diver John M - Baby lotion for services to women kind Laurence - Jammy dodgers for his jammy dry suit buy from ebay Tom R - Hair Gel for best diving fringe Dom - Chris Mitchell award for enthusiasm Andy - Demelza award for driving - for parking the boats on top of Anthony Fluffy Ben got a mention for completing the most dives he's ever done in a week which I think was 10 :)
A scandal filled night of beer and dancing was had by all, and once the dancing had stopped the exodus to the beach for fire breathing began. The next morning from behind singed eyebrows everyone started nursing their hangovers whilst being updated on the previous nights shenanigans. With rumours of broken beds, lost trousers, phone numbers under doors and smooching on the dance floor we were happily entertained until it was time to leave back to Bristol.
Everyone did a fantastic job finishing off their assessments and we have 15 New Ocean divers 7 New Sports divers 1 New Dive leader
Thank you to everyone who helped out through out the week especially the instructors. Thanks also to the committee for organising the whole week. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as me :)
If anyone has lost any items, or if you have acquired items, that aren't yours there is a lost property crate in stores. I also have a Citizen watch with a green strap that was left in Si's car if it's yours let me know.
Any cool pictures from the week can be uploaded here: http://www.caffeinate.org.uk/Upload/ and they'll make their way onto the new website within a few days. There are already some uploaded here, have a peek :)http://www.caffeinate.org.uk/Diving/
Hugs Em xxx
Chesil - 07/05/06
Organiser: Alex M
Divers: Emma B, Piers, Alex M, Dougal, Andy K, Kathryn Calder, ellen bale, polly bale & gav ellis
On Sunday 7th May, at the rather uncivilised time of 6:45 AM, 7 bleary eyed UBUC members arrived at stores. A few minutes later, a very bleary eyed trip organiser arrived, by which time Gav's van was nearly packed and the anticipation of a day's shore diving at Chesil was out stripping the hype surrounding the last day of Premiership football. Would the weather hold up to last week? Would the traffic be clear? How many mermaids would people spot? Just how many Tottenham players would go down with food poisoning?
Following a most efficient van packing a small convoy of cars set of for Portland followed by the van. The traffic was largely clear, and despite some rather surreal mist drifting aross fields on the way down, apparantly coming out of nowhere, the weather promised to be bright and sunny. Once the cars had all arrived at Chesil Cove, after some drivers decided on a more scenic route around the Bill, a quick survey of the dive site took place. The results were not promising. A milky scum, caused by the churning and crashing surf, was floating on the surface up to about 60m from the shore. The entry and exit from the water looked distinctly dodgey. Would we get any diving at all? Why was RVN not in the Man Utd squad? After consulation with the more experienced divers on the trip, we headed to a DIR dive shop to ask their advice. They warned the vis in the cove was rubbish and pointed us to Fathom and Blues round the corner who, pound signs floating in their eyes, kindly offered to lay on a boat for us to dive the Countess of Erne later in the day. A plan was formed - try the cove for one dive and then take the unexpected opportunity of a wreck dive later in the day.
10 of the 12 dives duly kitted up, faffed and then headed into the surf for their first dive. The weather was clouding over, and Thai Chicken Curry soup and Haribo kept the waiting dive pair on shore marshall duty refueled and warmed as the wind picked up and backed to the north. As the divers came out it seemed that most people felt the decision to dive was justified - pipe fish, edible crabs, lobsters, spider crabs, dog fish and a game of ping pong with a sack of fish eggs provided the divers with ample material to write in their log books. As the last pair went in, the smell of bacon from a small BBQ drifted across the beach as the first wave dekitted and compared 'fish' sizes.
By 1:30 PM the last pair were back on the beach and the kit being loaded into Gav's van for the short drive round the corner to Fathom and Blues in anticipation of many people's first wreck dive of the season. But there was one more hurdle to cross: paperwork. As a PADI dive school F & B needed membership cards and proof of qualification of each and every diver. After much searching and a bit of begging we were all lounging in the cafe, some of us eating bacon and chees toasties or flicking through out of date Sports Diver magazines, as the zero hour approached. Being asked to travel fully kitted up was a bit of a surprise, but we obliged, and arrived at the dive site to see another boat tied to the stern shot. Apparantly a PADI shoal, rumoured to be made up of over one hundred trainees and one instructor, had descended on the wreck and deliberately 'silted' some of it for their training purposes.
But having come this far we were not to be deterred. Indeed, over the stern of the wreck (the shoal having 'finned' to the bow') the viz was a more than decent 13 m. Looking from the surface it was possible to see all the way down the shot to the stern and catch a glimpse of the marine life below. One by one the pairs rolled in and began nosing round the wreck. Some braved the wall of silt that had developed a midships and reached the bow. Others popped back and forth from the sea wall, where large schools of pollock were hanging around. Many wrasse and non-wrasse were swimming around the stern and the holds and ladders made for pretty swim throughs and some picturesque views - if only batteries had a longer working life. Most pairs passed a very pleasant 30 or so minutes bumbling around before returning to the stern shot, the one that the skipper had requested we all return to, and making their ascents. Competitive games of scissors, paper, stone ensued. Back on the boat it was clear one pair were missing. Had they gone up the wrong shot? Would Newcastle nick the intertoto spot?
The first question was soon answered: our esteemed DO, Emma B, had got lost. Despite her claims that 'the surface swim was very pretty, you could see all the way down to the wreck', she had ascended on the bow shot rather than the stern by accident. This made for a pretty dive by all accounts, as funnily enough, there were no other divers in the vicinity.
Back on shore the kit was washed in F & B's shower and dunk tanks - surely a necessity at the stores in the new union building - and then the trip was wrapped up with a pint and some pork scratchings in a pub over looking chesil beach. A fairly clear drive home, broken up by the odd raid on a chip shop, meant that stores were locked by 8:30 PM and the satisfied divers were heading home to Sunday roasts or revision.
A special thanks must go to Andy K without whom neither this trip or the May Day trip would have been possible.
Babbacombe - 13/06/06
Divers: Em B, Trev, Lucy B, Piers, Ben E, Chris O, Geoff, Ben K & Claire
Last Sunday we headed to Babbacombe for a days shore diving. The sea was flat calm and the odd ray of sunshine pushed its way thorough to ensure everyone was rosy by the end of the day. After faffing around for an hour or so the first wave went in for a potter. The usual Babbacombe residents were spotted and a few curious divers went looking for the new arrivals, two lumpfish. Unfortunately the lumpfish were being elusive all day but cuttlefish and pipefish were a plenty. By the time we dipped our toes for the second wave we had a whole 4.5m of water to play with :) Most of us were trying out new kit so no one really minded playing in the shallows. If you haven't dived Babbacombe beach before check out the Babbacombe beach website here
Lyme - 14/06/06
Trip organizer; Andrew Theunissen Divers; Andrew Theunissen, Libby Lee, Dora Lengyel, Gav Ellis, Piers Bonifant Date; 14/6/06 Trip report written by Piers
The divers met in stores at a very civilized 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon to load up, and with remarkably little faff were on the road about 15 minutes later, heading down the M5 and then into deepest darkest Devon. Arriving at Lyme around 5:30, we all kitted up and got everything aboard ‘Miss Pattie’, the hardboat we were diving from. Miss Pattie has a nice spacious deck to accommodate divers and a friendly skipper making for a relaxed, if rather short (about 10 mins!) trip out to the dive site-the Baygitano. The Baygitano is a steamship sunk in 1918 by a German U-boat, and lies fairly broken up in about 20 meters. For a full site description, seehttp://www.bevs.org/diving/wkbaygit.htm . The first team was one of three; Gav, Dora and Piers. After a backwards roll over the side, the divers made their way to the shot and started their descent. Unfortunately, Gav’s sinuses were not as keen on diving as he was and refused to get below four meters. So, after seeing him to the surface Dora and Piers continued the dive as a two person team. Libby and Andrew saw Gav at the surface, and after one more attempt, Gav decided to save diving for another day. Below, the vis decreased from five meters to about three as we descended to the wreck at 20 meters, not helped by the overcast conditions. True to his word the skipper had placed the shot by the boilers, an impressive sight looming out of the seabed. Fish life on the wreck was abundant, with plenty of bib and the odd wrasse and bass lurking around. A lobster was spotted by Andrew and Libby, but was firmly embedded ‘at home’-we were later told that a lobster cant resist inspecting a shiny knife when flashed in front of it, luring it out of its crevice and into the waiting hands of a hungry diver-bring on the lobsters! The wreck itself was interesting, with the boilers and collapsed wreckage providing lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Given the slightly murky conditions people tended to stay around the boilers, or laid line to inspect parts of the wreck that lay slightly further off, with bottom times of about 35 minutes. After the dive a couple of swigs of port from a bottle provided by Andrew warmed cold divers up nicely, and by the time we had arrived back at the Cobb people were ready for a post dive meal at the pub. It was here that Gav finally spotted some fish life- a whole pint of prawns, which he managed to devour with not too much effort!
All in all a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon!