Vobster - 04/11/07
Eleven divers (Andy K, Piers, Dougal, , Craig, Mette, Michela, Tom, Becky S, Andy S, Jess and Helen) headed down to Vobster quarry on a sunny, early Saturday morning.
Despite a couple of divers getting lost on the way (and they had GPS) everyone found the site and got quickly kitted up and started the dives. Andy did some compass and distance line exercises with Jess and Helen and after unintentionally discovering a deeper part of the quarry managed to sign off lots of assesements.
Meanwhile Dougal went diving with Michaela, Mette and Craig and managed to asses Andy S with his sports diver tow. Piers went diving with Tom and Becky and signed off lots of skills including smb, distance line and compass work.
The site was perfect for assesing these skills as there's plenty of large features like planes and boats to navigate round and attach lines too. In all it was a great training trip with 4 newly qualified happy sports divers and the instructors even managed to fit a cheeky dive in for themselves at the end.
Thanks to everyone who helped and hopefully its the first of more training trips to come.
Babbacombe - 11/11/07
PHOTOS for this trip can be found in the Fun Stuff section
One Sunday morning, 13 divers (Mike S, Stefano, Tom N, Autumn, Ed, Keith, Kate, Seb, Cassie, Dom, Jonny, Oli and Craig) met up for a spot of diving at Babbacombe. A short car drive and a cheeky breakfast later at a McDonalds later, we arrived at the beach to carry out no less than 5 waves of diving.
Not phased by the fact that the tide had reached its low half an hour earlier, our divers enjoyed good visibility and warm seas. Along with the obligatory velvet swimming crabs and other common Babbacombe residents, we heard reports of scallops, quite a few flatfish and the even a scorpion fish. Entertainment was provided above shore too, from the interesting semi-drys on display to a slight navigational blunder, leaving one dive pair somewhere a little nearer to France!
Soon it was dark and the torches came out for what became an exceptional night dive. The seabed was quite literally packed with an abundance of crabs, fish, the odd sleeping dogfish and those-really-cool-bioluminescent-thingeys. Special mention must go to our intrepid drivers, who courageously fought with the slippery slopes up Babbacombe hill on the way home. All in all, it was a very successful day's diving, enjoyed by everyone. Thanks to everyone for their help, entertainment and tasty biscuits.
West Bay/Beer - 25/11/07
Not to be disheartened by the cancellation of the Boat Trip 5 divers, Keith De Blanger, Craig Rockliffe, Mike Shepperd, Chris Owens and Paul Hewson, set off from Bristol in search of some Jurassic (coast) action. Spurning the more common dive sites of Chesil or Babbacombe the choice was made to aim for West Bay.
Arriving at West Bay at the almost sedate 11am allowed for sampling the delights of West Bay which seemed to be full of the Retireosaurs having cups of Tea on the shore and after a pleasant lunch the task of finding ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs came to hand. However with the first divers in the water it became apparent that this was not going to happen as without the visiosaurus nothing was going to be found, including your dive buddy!!
Back on dry land a 'Plan B' was quickly formulated, BEER, no not the pub but a small village called beer which looked like the only possible dive site available that day. So after a quick drive along the coast it was time for some more hunting for the allusive visiosaurus. Well it would have been had Mike not discovered that his Tyrannosaurus Zip was no longer able to shut it's mouth ruling him out of diving for the day.
Having observed the Local Beeriens beach their boats by engaging full throttle and crashing into the beach the 2 hastily rearranged buddy pairs of Keith + Chris and Craig + Paul eventually got to go diving with the visiosaurus in Beer. With tales of the dizzy depths of 430cm achieved and Quotes of 'For once my computer didn't tell me to do a safety stop'. It was later pointed out that you do Safety stops at 6m whoops.
The Conclusion of the day was that whilst it was a pleasant enough day mixing Beer and Divers is probably best left to the Pub after pool training.
Meadfoot/London Bridge Kayak Dive - 24/02/08
Present: Keith, Kate, Craig, Mike, Chris O, Piers, Jess
Saturday the 25th of February saw the gathering of 7 ntrepid young souls to take the new UBUC dive kayaks on their maiden voyage. After one false start at stores we discovered two things. Firstly that when you know the right configuration you can load all 4 kayaks onto the top of a Toyota Hilux in about 20 minutes and secondly that it's a very shrewd move to do it while the car is outside the union car park which apparently is less than 2.5m high in places.It took about 2 hours for the trip down to meadfoot including a brief stop off so two of our number could pick up a Mcfattie (no prizes for guessing who they were) and soon thereafter we had all four kayaks arrayed on the beach. Slightly surprisingly the first person to actually sit in the kayaks on the beach was not a UBUC member but a curious, pink anorak clad toddler who hopped into one while we were kitting up and who was later to jump into at least 1 photo as well
The first four to set off were Keith, Craig, Piers and Mike who were surprised and delighted to discover that the half mile paddle round to London Bridge (a nearby rock arch, not actually London Bridge) was actually quite easy and only took about 15 minutes.
It must be said there was some trial and error to the kitting up process in the water and we soon learnt that it did not pay to have more than 1 leash attached between your kit and the kayak while you were doing it. The first buddy pair were Keith and Craig who had a pleasant dive through the swim through past the abundant dead mens fingers and other colourful sea life only to discover that someone had dropped what looked like Thames Water's entire supply of steel pipes just off the arch. Piers and Mike followed next and once all divers had surfaced and recovered their gear to the kayaks (a process which turned out to be a damn site easier than getting in the water) we paddled back round for the second wave to head out.
On the second wave Jess and Piers opted for a shore dive (which by all accounts, despite a pain of a surface swim, was quite nice in and of itself) while Mike valiantly volunteered to guard the kit and act as shore cover leaving Kate, Keith, Chris O and Craig to paddle back round for another dive. Some found the paddling slightly harder going this time but once informed that the paddle worked better if turned around the correct way they were far happier. Time and tide were not with us so, once there, we opted to only send one group of divers in this time which turned out to be Chris O and Craig. Again some initial learning on the part of the buddy pair was required before they were fully kitted and ready to go but soon they were off enjoying their dive and before you knew it they had surfaced and we prepared to return. This also yielded a valuable lesson. Diving with integrated weights and a pony from a kayak is not a good move. It makes it much, much harder (in fact a 3 man job) to recover your gear.
A leisurely paddle back, dekit, clean and load up saw us merrily on our way to Bristol. While not entirely without hiccups the day was great fun and yielded several lessons for future kayaking trips including:
- Put the kayaks on the car OUTSIDE the union car park - Only a sizable 4x4 with roof bars could take all 4 kayaks otherwise you'll need either 2 roof racked cars or to do something creative (and work intensive) using the boat trailer - Don't clip both your weight belt and stab to the kayak when you jump off to kit up in the water (just the stab will do initially and even that can be removed once you're in the water with a firm grip on it) - Don't use a pony or integrated weights on a kayak dive (though a steel back plate didn't seem to cause any stress)
After this initial shakedown it should be possible for other club members (sports divers and above only) to have a play with the kayaks but if itâ€™s their first time it would be a very good idea to wait for a calm day and pack one of the committee members that was involved in this initial trip to benefit from the experience we gained.
Keep your eyes peeled for the day's photos (and possibly videos if we can figure out how to do it) on the website.
Babbacombe - 12/04/08
6 divers met at stores at a civilised 9am on saturday morning (Dougal, Andy K, Mike S, Chris O, Jonny T and Elena C) and then headed down to Torquay picking up Amy on route. It was a bit of a bleak start to the day, but just as Dougal predicted the rain stopped and it turned into a brilliant calm sunny day. Andy and Mike started the day with some twin set diving and did a very interesting sweep of the bay thanks to Mikes wooden compass. The Cuttle fish are back in the Bay and unfortunately so are the traps! If any one is unfamilar with Cuttlefish they are amazing squid like creatures that can camaflogue them selves with their surroundings and are very intelligent. Then Amy and Jonny went for a dive together and Dougal, Chris and Elena did a speedy dive round the bay and there were more cuttlefish sightings as well as rumours that one might have been liberated. In between tthese dives there was sightings of a seal in the bay. After more diving, the seal returned and swam into the shallows and even went to sit on the steps of the quay. The three very fortunate divers in the water at the time (Dougal, Amy and Chris O) came literally face to face with it which lasted about 10 minutes. To the amusement of Mike and jonny I got kitted up jumped into the water to snorkel with my camera seconds after the seal vanished. Then after biscuits and chocolate it was back to Bristol. check out the photos here: http://www.ubuc.info/fun/photos.html Andy k
Plymouth - 26/04/08
The 11 divers coming from Bristol met at stores at 6pm to pack th eboats and after a fair bit of Faff headed off to Plymouth. I was amazed to be one of the first drivers there despite towing boats and driving at 55mph, but then it turmns out Bovisand is pretty hard to find and lot sof our drivers ended up doing a scenic tour of plymouth on the way! The bunk rooms were basic but comfortable and have moved to a new accommodation block which confused old timers like me who remember the days when it was round the back of the main fort and I was very worried when I arrived to find the old building all closed up.
After an early start at 8pm decent breakfast and as much toast as we could possibly eat, we prepared the boats. After loads of Faff they were eventually in the water at 11am and then headed off to the JEL. The viz was good and there was loads of life on the wreck and I think everyone got to play around with the boats on the surface. It was a beautiful sunny day and relatively calm seas, but a long, long drive to the site and back. I think we recon about an 8 mile round trip? There is also apparently a "code of conduct" for divers in the plymouth area. I recommend others read it for next time and although most of it is common sense we weren't aware of radioing other boat son wrecks sites on VHF channel 9 to tell them of our presence. That might explain the tense banter between Oli and one of the charter boats at the site. The viz was pretty good and the wreck was full of life and Mike very kindly decided to test the O2 kit for us as well. So after arriving back at about 3pm we changed the plan to dive the Glen Strathallen in the afternoon which is a lot closer to Bovisand and near the Mew stone. As we were running short of time, we chucked the shot in on the GPS numbers and dived down to discover a pretty reef, but no wreck (although I think I might have seen an anchor or just a bent piece of rusty metal). After arriving back aftre 6pm we decided to do some night diving. my advice to future trip organisers is to get everyone kitted before dusk rather than wait for night before getting ready. For a variety of reasons and dodgy navigation skills (I swear North and south swapped over on my compass) we ended up finishing at about 12:30pm and had to settle for burger and chips that Helen had kindly gone on a mission earlier to find. The next day enthusiam was stilll high but lagging a little sue to the previous long day and on of our divers had to get up even earlier than everyone else to collect our 12th diver up from the centre of plymouth. We all collectively agreed that there would be no faff today as we were now a well organised dive machine. Then we went and punctured one of the boats... The one metal spike that was present on the walls of the quay and we hit it. Dave who was one of the staff at the centre produced a reapir solution that involved cutting a 2 inch gash in the boat and inserting a rusty metal clamp to hold the hole shut. Chris took one look at the this and was not convinced, despite dave's eagerness to get a knife out to help us cut a hole in the boat. So we bodged it UBUC style using a combination of gaffer tape, super glue and cable ties (there is nothing they can't fix). Quite smug with our repair we headed out to the Scylla and it was quite atmospheric driving through light fog. We all got kitted up and dived down to the wreck which has a lot more life on it these days. There was even reports of a schoal of squid on the bows of the wreck and smiles all round. It was a bit of a chilly ride back and everyone was knackered so we headed off for a quick dive on the South of the Mew stone to div ethe wreck of the Ajax, but our luck with locating splattered wrecks wasn't great and instaed we dived ona pretty reef. The conditions deterioted and people started getting grumpy which wasn't helped by some of our divers jumping off the boat swithout any fins on. Oli managed to set the record for the most conservative gas planning with a twin set for a 10 minute dive to 10m and we arrived back atr shore gone 6pm and the Danny the centre owner gave us the keys to the gates to lock up. Got back to Bristol at 10:30pm and decided to leave cleaning the boats till Monday evening. A ver long weekend and ansolutely knackered on Monday but well worth it. I would recommend Fort Bovisand as a decent place to launch, with good value accommodation and very knowledgeable, friendly staff, but a long way to the JEL/Syclla.
Put some photos on internet here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/AndyKiddier/PlymouthFortBovisandApril08
cheer, Andy K
Hope Cove - 03/05/08
This is probably the most adventurous trip we have done for a while, so its a bit of an essay but should make amusing reading. 6 of us from Bristol met friday night and managed to leave at a reasonable time and after some GPS navigation issues managed to ecventually find the campsite.
After a lot of faff getting the boats in we set off to dive the Persia a big wreck 4 miles away. We found lots of other hardboats on the site, preped our dives and sent the first pair in. Thats when things started to go wrong. The grey engine cut out even though it was on hight revs. Everyone tried to restart it and I managed to fall into the sea with my kit on in the process. After paddling back to ther boat and scrambling back on board we radioed the other boat which after several attempts to start the engine attached a tow line the drifting boat. Towing another boat is very hard work and makes slow progress and because of this another Rib in the area offered to pick up Sam and Hazel who were currently enjoying a dive, so that we could start back to the safety of Hope cove. After a couple of miles Oli managed to start the engine after draining the carborater and changing the spark plugs. After a brief lunch we set out again to dive the wreck of the Oregon. This was meant to be a hard wreck to find as as its a splattered wreck surrounded by reefs. So after getting no definite sign on the echo sounder and with slack fast approaching we shotted the GPS cordinates and sent Mike anmd myself to invesigate. We found the anchor skipping along the sea bed at 35m and knowing that we wouldnt get another opportunity to dive that day we decided to collect some scallops. There we were drftng along as happy as larry when we saw the brown spotted Ray! I tried pursing it, but as I handed mike the shot line we had to give up and start our acent. Neither of us mentioned what we saw until we had stowed our kit not sure if it was real or just narcosis. So we planned to put our divers on Bolt head to get at least one dive out of the day. That plan went out the window when a nearby Dive Rib in distress with engine failure radioed us for help as we were within sight. Having been helped by one dive boat that day we retured the favour and towed South Bristol clubs long Rib with a 130hp engine back to the safety of Hope cove. According to the laws of the sea if one boat throws a line to another vessel in distress and they accept it then we claim salvage rights. Craig anounced that our club engine problems had finanally been solved! However we weren't sure how BSAC would feel about one dive club salavging another dive clubs vessel, but then they were SAC a different organistion. We went back to the campsite and enjoyed a barbeque and a few beers.
With Sam as the days Dive marshall we headed down to the beach leavng Hazel doing the compressing. After some missed phone calls from Hazel, Sam and I headed back to the campsite in case of problems. When we returned the boats were stuck halfway up the beach. We realised our mistake in leaving and the tide had receded so fast that the boats would have to be hauled a hefty distance. Sam shouted at everyone to get the boats in the water, I shouted at mike who happened to be nearby and everyone shouted at each other with Dougal storming off. So with the 9 remaining divers we headed off to find the wreck of the Maine. Lining up one of the transits on a nearby rock was easy, but the distant transit on the far headland was an arse. After going searching for over an hour we finanly got an strong echo on the sounder followed by lots of excited shouting. It took several attempts to shot the wreck and we eventually went for a strategy of using the anchor instaed of the shot due to the increased line and weight and dropped it a few hundred yards up current. As we prepared to drop Oli, Hazel and myself on the shot to investigate another charter boat turned up. Our divers were about to descend when the skipper told us to wait until slack water not knowing that we were deliberately diving early to swap boat handlers on the slack. It was a strong current and hard work hauling down the shot line and after hauling along a lot of line find the anchor had fallen the wrong side of the wreck and was dragging on the seabed. Meanwhile on the surface the charter boat skipper had told our guys not to dive our shot as it was too far from the wreck. "You better hope they're olympic swimmers" is what he said. Dora's reply was "We have at least one diver who wont give up". Underwater we crawled along the seabed and attached a distance line to the anchor and set off in an attempt to find the wreck and create a continous path for the other divers to follow later. After a 10 minute swim we eventually found the hull and in triumph we attached the line to another convient piece of lead and rope next to the wreck. What we didn't know was that this rope was in fact the charters shotline which our divers were now using to effortlessly guide them to the wreck. If you wait on a popular dive site at slack water eventually someone else will shot it for you. However the skipper did come back to our boats after seeing our bubbles on the surface to congratulate us for finding the wreck. I think everyone enjoyed the dive, as it was fairly intact and quite light on the bottom. With such a strong current we were all confined to exploring the interior. It turns out the weird structure at the rudder is an gun platform that collapsed off the stern extension.
After an ice cream and refreshment break at the cove we assesed the option of a second dive. Thats when dense fog descended and our second drift we planned had to be cancelled. Back to the campsite for more amazing gormet Barbeque burgers that Stefano and Oli had created and some beer and Dougal spotted a nuclear submarine in the bay. Moods were lifted and then the compressor broke. Well the exhaust was already hanging off which we managed to bodge it, but the main seal had blown on the filter tower. So we bodged that with big yellow O rings and we were satisfied that although it was leaking it was putting air into the cylinders faster than it was coming out. Hazel was a legend with compressor duty. The night was capped off with Craig amusing us all with his fire poy.
With Hazel as Dive marshall having learnt from the previous days mistakes we got down to the shore in dry suits and launched the boats first thing before people messed around with personal kit. With minimum faff we got under way and made a speedy track for the Persia. The charter boat on site was about to pull up its shot so Dougal and I dived down and attached a reel to the wreck and sent up a smb to guide the rest of our divers to the wreck. It was a bit murky due to the plankton bloom and quite broken up, but extremely pretty with lots of life and a huge lobsters and conger eels. The boat handlers were less than vigilant on the surface, but everyone got a dive and was happy. We headed back to shore in lumpy seas and stopped at the cove for a quick toilet break. This took longer than expected and again we experienced engine problems, we tried all the usual checks and the other boat had to tow us away from the rocks as we changed the spark plugs. Hazel decided to call off diving due to the time and the conditions. For some reason this message didn't reach everyone on the boat and we ended up with Hazel and Dougals boat being held in the battering surf beconing in the other dive boat out to sea. After some confusion the boat that previously had engine troubles headed back to shore and everyone started dismattling the boats. Once the boats were packed Dougal essembled everyone for a debrief session, which quickly deterioted into a public heated argument. So after the air was cleared Dougal set off with the boats, everyone else headed back to the campsite to pack tents and load compressor into the van. At this point everyone was knackered and fairly stressed.
Then on the way back one of the tyres on the trailer burst on the motorway! The van pulled in and offered assistance and after trying to free the wheel we called the RAC who used a precision lump hammer to bash the wheel off and discovered the bearing had stuck. There only advise was to take the weight out of the trailer and tow the trailer back at 30 mph minus one wheel and stop at regular intervals to let the other working tyre cool down. Got back to stores after 9pm. Loaded the broken compressor into stores and everyone went home leaving the cleaning to the following evening.
link for photos is: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/AndyKiddier/HopeCoveMay0802
If this hasnt put you off, then I'm happy to help anyone who wants to organise a club boat trip. If you interested in planning some trips after exams then I'm happy to lend a hand or offer advise.
Meadfoot - 05/05/08
Divers: Keith, Kara, Autumn, Zardia, Nick, Bjarke, Jonny D, Felix, Will and Christopher
The ten of us met up at stores on a bank holiday Monday with the intention of going to Babbacombe. For some it would be their first dive outside of Porthkerris, for others their first ever UK dive. Everyone was clearly excited and arrived at stores before our agreed time – well, almost everyone!
It soon became clear that we weren't all going to fit into three cars and that the trip organiser had only sent the email with directions and a map to one person (and had failed to print a copy for himself). Another car was quickly recruited and, after a last minute change of destination (based mostly on the trip organiser’s doubt that his car would manage the hill at Babbacombe), we were on our way to Meadfoot. In a never-to-be-repeated UBUC first we managed to keep three cars in convoy for almost 100 miles.
At Meadfoot Kara and Autumn soon set the bar for pilotage by successfully navigating their way to Shag Rock and back. Some other valiant attempts at navigation were made, but long surface swims soon became the order of the day! More than one diver returned to the beach with the risible excuse that 'my compass went a bit funny' but the giant submersible electromagnet, like Keith's lost weight belt, remains undiscovered somewhere beneath the waves. What we did discover were dogfish, flatfish and blennies along with all the other usual underwater friends.
After a change in buddy pairs and a quick second dive the incoming Spring tide was soon chasing us off the beach and all that remained was to drive back to Bristol. Back at stores the trip organiser excelled himself once more by employing some questionable mathematics to make at least one diver pay for the trip twice!
Chesil Cove - 11/05/08
The day started with pick-ups in Bristol at 8.30. Sorting out kit on Friday evening helps with the early starts. In spite of a nightmare Saturday, Sandie and I managed to get to O’Three by 10am on Sunday for Sandie to collect her shiny new drysuit (sorry – I had to put that in). Luckily it fitted otherwise it would have been a day of shore marshalling! I thought it politic not to mention this in advance.
We made it to Chesil Cove in time to set up base camp before the others arrived. I was expecting it to be busy and it was, but we still managed to get pole position near the bottom of the ramp. Luckily at that time on a sunny day, people move further along into the shade from the walkway above, forgetting that by 11.30 the sun has moved round and there is no shade anywhere. Brilliant sunshine and a NE force 2-3 meant that Chesil Cove was already a blistering suntrap with barely a ripple on the water. With high tide at 11am, there were already a dozen or so people diving, they reported good viz, 5m plus, with just the beginnings of the plankton bloom.
Ed and Kara were first to arrive at about 11, shortly followed by Andy, Will and Jonny T. About 5 mins later the angry squeal of slipping fan belt announced the arrival of Jonny D and Bjarke. Contrary to initial speculation, Jonny’s car had not developed fault en route, it’s always like that. Kara had dived Chesil beach before but Sandie and I were the only one’s to have dived Chesil Cove. The council seem to have tidied up the beach and the Mediterranean conditions only added to the air of anticipation. The pebble beach lends a certain bleak outlook above the surface, but underwater is a totally different tale. Chesil Cove is one of my favourite shore sites.
For the older hands (I was last at Chesil three years ago) the rather unpleasant Portakabin toilets along the seawall to the south have been replaced by a brand new block incorporating spacious toilets and a café/restaurant run by a couple of scallop diving chefs which specialises in seafood and does breakfast starting from about 9am. The café shuts at 5pm on Sundays and 9pm on other days. Being a restaurant it’s a bit pricey, but overall this makes a massive improvement over what was there before. Cream teas excellent value at £5.25 for two.
With the usual faffing on arrival we got the first wave on the go by about 11.45 and last diver out of the water about an hour later. With 9 diving in total we had 8 in the water on the first wave, then 2 waves of 6 divers (with one buddy pair each wave sent to Castletown to get air fills) and a final wave of 8 divers. Given the fantastic conditions, we elected for a late return to Bristol so that we could do the last wave as a night dive, having worked out that we had enough torches. B needs to complete Sports Diver so that he can go on the maritime archaeology field trip in 2 weeks time. In return for focussing on his assessments, B had to be shore marshal for the night dive. As his field trip comprises 3 weeks diving in the BVI, sympathy was banned outright.
Diving didn’t disappoint, the plankton bloom is just starting but even so viz was a good 6m. Underwater, the pebble beach shelves steeply down to 6-7m and then levels out. The bottom is then a field of large boulders covered in kelp and weed interspersed with patches of sand and gravel. This make it a good training site but is also a great site for just poking around, the boulders have loads of nooks and crannies for all manner of critters, invertebrates and plant life to hide in and under. Key to diving here is taking your time to minutely examine each boulder, while watching the sandy patches for gobies and flatties. Somewhere between 50 and 100 m out from shore, the seabed turns to sand with the opportunity to spot some larger flatfish.
Critter list for the day included crabs, lobsters (on the nightdive), squat lobsters, pollack, loads of wrasse. The Jonnies found a red gurnard walking across the bottom on their specially adapted front fins, as they do, a good spot. Cuttlefish were high priorities and didn’t disappoint, I think most found at least one. Jonny D and I found a cuttlefish on the night dive, a fantastic sight as they become iridescent in torchlight. On wave 3 the mission was to find tompot blennies and Will and I returned to shore triumphant, mission accomplished, only to be totally trumped by B who had managed to find a human skull wedged under a large rock. Sandie (his buddy at the time) was largely confused by the goings on, not only because she was trying to interpret what on earth B’s gestures meant (Does anyone know the internationally recognised signal for “there’s a human skull under that rock!”) but also because she noticed that her torch had just flooded yet was still working so that didn’t compute either. Suffice it to say that when she finally poked her head under the rock and saw the skull it was a reg’ spitting moment. The skull was too far back to be retrieved and in the shock they didn’t mark the site, but before anyone asks we have reported the find and the approximate location to the Dorset constabulary, who I understand to be making plans for a search and recovery exercise. I guess for them it makes a change from diving in the muddy pond next to the leaky septic tanks looking for missing “‘ner do wells”.
Up to that point we had suffered badly with Portland urchins, they thought they could terrify the gullible divers with tales of a large Mako shark on the prowl in the bay and wouldn’t let it lie. Once word of the discovery got round, a crowd of urchins assembled to see if the, now celebrity, divers could recover the skull and satisfy their cravings for anything gruesome.
Overall we managed 24 buddy pair dives in 4 waves, with most managing to sign off one or more assessments and getting a bunch of new experiences along the way. Fish and Chips in Weymouth at 11pm and back to Bristol, finishing at stores at 1am made for a long but very enjoyable day.
Lyme - 23/05/08
On 23rd April 19 of us drove to Lyme and dived the wreck of the Baygitano. A collier built in 1906 and torpedoed in 1917 she lies one and a half miles from Lyme harbour.
We left Bristol about 3pm and the two boats cleared the Cobb at Lyme about 1800. The millpond sea we expected turned out to be badly corrugated. The damn boats rolled and pitched a lot. Some of us wished very much we’d never gone to sea. But we all dived. Should those who had to be helped to enter the sea head first be awarded medals for courage or stupidity?
Baygitano lies with her bows to the NW and stern to SE, is pretty well flattened but the two main boilers, the donkey boiler, the engine and part of the bow stand proud. The two shots went down on the starboard, East, side. The viz was about 4m, but the sun was low. No one has admitted not finding boilers and engine. There were lots of bib and wrasse. A few of us saw lobsters and the conger which lurks by the boilers. After the boilers some went to the stern, others towards the bow, through which you can swim. Most came up on the shot lines, but some used DSMBS, just for practice, of course.
It was cold. Not all of us were able to drink port on the way in, but we landed at high tide which made getting the gear ashore easy. Then we all went to have fish suppers at the Royal Sovereign pub at the top of the beach.
Our contact was John Walker, who owns the fishing boat ‘Miss Pattie’ (mobile 0797 006 7236) whose boat takes 12. ‘Blue Turtle’ a dive boat owned by Dough Lanfear was the second boat (mobile 07970 856 6822, see toowww.blueturtle.uk.com) The boats cost each diver £20.
Lyme is 74 miles from Bristol. You take the motorway to Taunton. If you need a WC when you arrive you will find one by the car park, for there is only a urinal on the quay itself. The Royal Sovereign stops taking food orders at 830 pm
Diving were: Oliver Brown, Elena Couce, Demelza Curnow, Eddy Carr, Ellie Griffiths, Mhairi Kerr, James.Lancaster, Libby Lee, Felix Marx, Vicky Paynter, Lauren Poole, Craig Rockcliffe, Mike Sherperd, Andrew Theunissen, India Warren, Will Zhou.
With us from the University was Julian Ford , a Divemaster used to warmer water, and from the BBC getting ready to dive in icy water were our past president, Liz White, and a colleague Rosie Golyns.
Weston-Super-Mare - 15/06/08
An ill-fated day out on the boats.
Present: Keith, Kate, Piers, Jess, Will, Dominic, Christopher.
Seven members from the departing and incoming committees, most of whom had been to Dom’s party the night before and were somewhat the worse for wear, turned up at stores to take the boats out for a shake down before Skomer. We had been promised a fun day out at sea by our boats officer. We soon had everything packed up and were on our way to Weston. Arriving half an hour later the first of the boat officer’s four glaring oversights of the day became apparent; he had no idea where the slipway was. Whilst this was troublesome, it was the second oversight that most of us focused upon; he hadn’t checked the tides. It is generally considered that water is a prerequisite for a fun day out at sea. No matter how enthusiastic the boats officer tried to remain, the miles and miles of mud flats and complete lack of sea was going to be an issue. Piers and Christopher left the rest of the gang at a tea shop whilst they drove around asking the locals where the sea had gone…
Three hours later, after fish and chips and a stroll along the sea front, there was at least water on the horizon and we decided to get the boats ready. When almost ready to go the local Slipway Nazi turned up and the third glaring omission raised its head; we didn’t have a permit to use the slipway. Whilst our boats officer kept the Slipway Nazi busy with a hitherto unknown flair for deception, Dominic and Piers crept off to buy a permit, armed with some dodgy insurance documents that the increasingly suspect boats officer had provided.
As soon as Dom and Piers returned we were away, albeit briefly. Millie, the troublesome one of our engines, managed about a minute of half hearted chugging before giving up entirely. None of the usual tricks coaxed her back to life and so we gave up, tied the boats together and dropped anchor just off the pier to enjoy our picnic. After juice and cake we decided to head back to shore. Here’s where the final oversight came into play; guess who forgot to pack the tow rope! The boats officer was thrown overboard into the muddy depths to improvise a towing line from the anchor. Piers and Jess expertly towed our stricken craft back to land and we all knew that there was a lot of work to do and less than a week before Skomer…
Important learning points from this trip:
When launching the boats from somewhere new it pays to do your homework first. Looking at a chart is probably a good place to start.
You should always double check that you’ve packed everything you need.
Only the very foolish or very brave sign up to trips organised by Christopher!