Boat Bar Crawl - 05/06/10

The night began at Sladjana's, who had very kindly offered her house and garden for the BBQ. We arrived to find a huge variety of tasty food, the BBQs already raring to go, and two large bowls of punch. We were extremely impressed. Naturally the night kicked off to a flying start, especially with Matt cooking the largest piece of lamb I've seen on a BBQ, which then went on to fill an entire baguette. A short while later, the pre drinking was well underway, more food including a HUGE tiramisu had appeared (again, very generously made by Sladjana) and we were ready to hit the boats. By the riverside we had our two club Zodiacs. It looked like it was going to be a squeeze until Tim W skilfully manoeuvred a narrow boat alongside them - some would be travelling in style. The bar crawl continued as bar crawls do; with lots of beer, wine and challenges. And this one was big; Andy challenged Stefano's boat handling skills - to pass the catamaran from underneath. As we approached it, some of us might have been concerned for a fraction of a second when we saw ropes hanging around and from the catamaran. But Stefano not impressed by it at all proved his skills once more. It was quite amusing watching everyone piling onto the boats each time as the night went on since it got clumsier and clumsier, louder and louder. After the first few stops you started to appreciate the lift jackets. Surely it would be only time until someone went in the river!? 

Fortunately. or unfortunately, depending upon your view, no one did go in. There were a couple of close calls though. Towards the end of the night, our sober boat drivers were coming under intense peer pressure to do fun things, so we ended up driving down the tunnels of the old Bristol castle moat. For anyone who doesn't know, we kayaked down them last summer. They're really very very narrow and pitch black. Needless to say, it was only a couple of hundred meters in the tunnels at which point Stefano's Zodiac got stuck and the engine stopped - "it's okay, we've just hit a bit of gravel". Hmm. Cue two boat reversing by pushing on the walls.

Finally we left the boats in Tim's safe hands as we continued on to more pubs. By this time our numbers were starting to fall as people retired. However, had they stayed, they would have been there to see Matt make an attempt at entering the Watershed after being refused entry. Fair play to him - he made it to the top of the stairs by sprinting past the bouncers, before being floored by the female one. This marked a pretty downward spiral in to the alcohol abyss, the whiskies and jug of beer in the Woods sealing the diving group's fate. As everyone, tired, but happy went home, one person remained not fully satisfied. It was Ali; ever since he heard that tiramisu (his passion!!!) was served at the BBQ, he couldn't stop thinking and talking about it. So to make him happy as well, him, Matt, Andy (who just wanted a nice, warm and soft place to sleep) and Sladjana, went back to her place (accompanied by Ali's and Andy's version of 'stop in the name of love' ;), where they found some remains of tiramisu (Ali was smiling again), comfy sofas for Andy and Matt and a mattress for Ali.

All in all, it was an awesome night. One which has been a long time coming but should definitely be repeated in the future! I would like to thank Sladjana for getting the show on the road, the hospitality and an amazing array of food. Tim W for lending his boat and showing us how to cruise in style. Geoff and Stefano for staying sober(ish) to drive the Zodiacs and finally also Andy, Matt, Paul, Geoff and Stefano for sorting out the club boats.

50th Party Pool Olympics!

I bring you tales of Olympian proportions... well, as Olympian as you can get in the union pool with granny nighties.  The Anniversary festivities were kicked off with the formation of a big 50 in the shallow end, a fair bit of imagination and no small amount of squinting are needed but it is a 50, I promise!  Following this we all got rather childish and formed what can only be described as a giant diver phallus (as in made of divers, not that divers are necessarily giant in the penis department) complete with "end product" made of purging bubbles, I'm personally very proud of the creativity we have in this club.  Multiple photos were taken, I was told off for not being happy that one side was bigger than the other (apparently I shouldn't judge) then the divers dispersed for motivational team talks before the games began...

We kicked off with the underwater egg and spoon, taken incredibly seriously by all, followed by a certain favourite of mine involving putting on potentially the most attractive dresses I've ever seen under scuba kit (I don't care how mature I'm supposed to be, boys in dresses is funny, fact).  Now the next game wasn't massively well thought through and I'm sure Health and Safety would have a field day writing this up, but we thought it would be a marvellous idea to blindfold divers, send them to the deep end with sandwich bags to collect as many sunken marbles as they can in a time limit and ask them to swim back again (naturally still blind folded).  Now those of you with degrees will have worked out the problem with this, which manifested itself as multiple divers with cross eyes surfacing with cartoon birds flying around their heads after colliding with the end of the pool.  I tried selling this to them as a "sporting injury", they were having none of it and revolted slightly.

We finished the games by counting the number of somersaults in one breath each team could do, turns out having a free diver in your team is a slight advantage but by this point I had lost the plot and just wanted to go to the pub so was not up for handicapping anyone.

Much cheating took place (I'm looking at you Geoffrey) mostly brought to my attention by our resident taddle-tale Alex "Nicky.... such and such is cheating again...." McNeill, I feigned deafness for most of this which seemed to work pretty well.  The gold medal was won jointly (receiving grumbles of "this wouldn't happen in the real Olympics", to which I reply "neither would insubordinance to the referee so pipe down") which I thought was quite nice, it is after all the taking part that counts, although apparently testosterone over-rides this theory, so there'll just have to be a tie-breaker at another time!

Me and Elena would like to thank Mike for sorting our lives out when we couldn't control the mob, and the participants for being brilliant sports and helping clean up without so much as a grumble.  Bring on the next games!  (and next time, can I play??)


Babbacombe Boozeup

The weekend started with a fairly standard 7am meeting at stores, after the van had been packed with military precision the night before.  It is in fact no small miracle that we had a van at all but that’s a tale for another day (and one that I fear may induce suicide if I were to relive it).  We merrily pootled off for Devon, defied death manoeuvring ourselves down the cliff face that is the road to Babbacombe Beach, and unpacked whilst I scribbled down the worst thought through and least adhered to rota in UBUC history…

The weather was our friend on Saturday, all bad luck for the weekend having been used up on the van, the sun was (mostly) shining, the water was flat as a pond, there was even a rainbow in the distance, all that was missing was singing birds and young girls with pigtails skipping through meadows.  We were happy happy divers!

We shore dived all day, and people seemed to be coming up from dives grinning, which I’m taking as a good sign!  Highlights being a cuttlefish spot from Andy “David Attenborough” Kiddier, he also promises us he found a lobster but no subsequent buddy pairs could find it, I’m thinking he tied his SMB to a random rock and made the whole story up.  We also didn’t put our chavvy student names to shame after blagging multiple items of treasure from the sea bed (a mobile phone, a dinner plate and apparently a cardigan??).  So efficient were we that a couple of people even got some skills signed off (we love you Tim!), luckily navigation was not one of them after a couple of fairly epic fails, but that’s all part of the fun yes?  Calum, Andy and Tim were little troopers doing about 70 dives each meaning that everyone else got 2 nice and easy fun dives, minimally taxing which is what several of us needed after varying lengths of time since our last efforts in the sea!

After we had finished for the day we packed up the van and started the evening as we meant to go on, by going to the pub.  Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your perspective on the events that followed…) there was one within 100 metres of the beach, handy!  Helen then did an immense impression of The Stig and got the van back up the whopping hill that stood between us and the rest of the evening and we made it safely back to the hostel.  From here things got messy.

Before going and picking up the curry, we (obviously) went to the pub, the curry was then a bit late so we (again) went to the pub, I was slightly over confident in my drinking abilities so I went to the off license for supplementary alcohol (error).

Now following the curry, which was by the way more food than I have seen in a very long while, we got down to the serious business of embarrassing ourselves (some more than others).  Highlights being:

  1. Ring of Fire – a classic, everyone loves it, livers do not.
  2. Tequila Shots – provided by our resident tequila sponsor for the evening, Andy.  There was some form of “higher/lower” card game involved, I don’t think it was difficult but it still confused the hell out of me.
  3. Halloween costumes (well it would have been rude not to!), it was a generally poor effort, but my personal favourite was an age 3-4 pumpkin costume provided by Dan.
  4. Good Pants/Bad Pants – not sure who’s (whose?) idea this was, but we all got to see lots of underwear, of varying quality and price range!
  5. Glow Sticks – that’s right, we raved it up with the Babbacombe Massive.  Word.
  6. Never Have I Ever – I won’t scar you with the details, but I got to know a great deal more about certain members of the club than I cared to.  This is information that I can’t unknow.  I may need therapy.

I can’t technically remember going to bed, but did wake up in pyjamas which I’m counting as a win.  There’s clearly only one answer to such a night – epic breakfast.  I’m talking bacon sandwiches, eggs, beans (yuks), toast, scones (oh yeah, continental), sausages and more tea than china.  Even I felt moderately human after this.

After the drive home (eat my dust Calum) and a particularly efficient clear up (well done team) we were ready to go home for a much needed hangover recovery day.  I had an amazing weekend, and everyone else seemed to enjoy it!  Massive thank you to Andy, Calum and Tim, it would have gone no where near as smoothly without you!  I’m doing my best to get some photos up on the website, but my camera is currently having an argument with my computer, watch this space (and don’t think you’ve escaped Andy!).

Boat Bar Crawl - 19/11/10

Now what events could possibly lead to a drunken DO stumbling down the street with one crutch, the President (of UBUC, not America) flashing his pants outside a chip van and 3 wobbly divers breaking into the Wills Memorial Building?  Well let me tell you…  A group of very helpful and enthusiastic divers congregated at stores on Thursday to get the boats in the water, this was following a few hiccups, mostly if not solely caused by me, very sorry :-S The day was saved, however, by Elena, Devika and their band of merry men.  Once the boats were in the water, everyone pootled off to the pub, Elena pootled a bit too quickly and went flying, resulting in a 8/10 right hindlimb lameness (got to love the vet chat).

The next day the masses congregated in The Berkeley on Park Street.  At this point I was in the service station frantically getting changed, putting my make up on and buying a torch, like some kind of hooker/girl guide (winning combination).  After Alex M, Mike S and their posse headed down to get the boats the rest of the group headed to the grain barge to meet them (and me!), by the time this occurred some were already quite tipsy, but the best was yet to come…

The next pub was the Cottage Inn, where I got slightly worried about a group of “youths” hanging out by the boats.  Turns out I was just being a pansy though and they ended up being fine upstanding members of society. This was followed by something about Shakespeare (Tavern?  Garden?  Bush? That might have been next door… relatively sure we didn’t go to Shakespeare’s Bush).  Alex H asked the barman what he had with tequila in it, to which the bar man replied “erm… a bottle of tequila?”.  Not the answer he was necessarily after but it certainly did the job!  Mike S got a little bit prissy about his boat, declaring there was to be no debris from the river in it (Alex’s boat had a football… I’m slightly jealous) and generally no monkey business was allowed.  We did, however, beat Alex to nearly every mooring meaning more time in the pub.  Cracking the whip = efficiency, thank you Mike!

The Ostrich followed, Helen disgusted the group with pork scratchings and by this point we were getting louder, cruder and less coordinated.  No one ended up drowned or hospitalised though so I’m a happy bunny.  The last place before dropping off the boats was The Apple.  At this point all designated sober people were allowed to drink, but we had some catching up to do considering the state of some, a valiant effort was made but considering I had a nearly horizontal DO with a manic grin on her face to compete with I don’t think I stood much chance!

At this point we decided to head to the club, well we tried at least. Thekla was a no no as it was closed/too expensive (any one remember which of these is right?!), so we headed to the triangle, only to be distracted by the chip van outside Oceana.  Tom proceeded to play his own little game of “good pants, bad pants”, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m slightly concerned they were the exact same pants he was wearing last time we played.  But lets be fair, there’s just not enough bum flashing at diving socials these days is there??  Elena was stumbling down the street with a bottle of something in her hand and her crutch slung under her arm, declaring that her leg really did feel much better.  Now I’m no doctor but think it may have been the alcohol rather than a messiah induced miracle cure?  But she was happy and that’s the main thing.

We did eventually make our way to po na na’s, where the door was promptly shut on our face (think some people got in, favouritism).  Several of us needed a wee so Elena used her “access all areas VIP pass” to get into Wills Memorial while I ran up and down the triangle trying to keep the group together.  This did not end well as Tom and Lizzie skipped off into the distance holding hands like school children while Rich did his best to convince people Bunker was a good idea.  Needless to say people soon dispersed, leaving me and Devika to walk home a wibbly but by this point no longer limping Elena.  She was a very good hostess, offering us Baileys and umbrellas to walk home with (we drank the Baileys there, this wasn’t a take away service), although upon returning downstairs with the umbrellas she did bail down the stairs, presumably ripping her leg even more to shreds.

As far as I’m aware everyone got home ok (if you’re dead please send me an email) and the boats were picked up and packed away the next morning, with the help of Calum (who very kindly agreed to help despite not attending the actual bar crawl) and Tom C (who happened to be in stores when I went to grab the boat trailer – wrong place wrong time!).

There’s way to many people to thank for helping this event go smoothly! Elena and Devika for organising the organiser, Tim for the offer and pilotage of his dad’s boat, Alex M and Mike S for boat handling, Matt A for running around Bristol getting fuel and oil for the boats (again, despite not actually going on the bar crawl!), Calum for knowing how to hotwire a boat and the Bristol Harbour Master for not kicking our asses for the lack of a license!

Bring on the next one! <p style="margin-top:0px;margin-bottom:1.5em;line-height:1.4em;color:rgb(0,0,0);font-family:Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;"> Nicky xx

50th Party Pool Olympics!

Divers: Andy Kiddier and Mike Pilkington

Here's an overly lengthy trip report I put together for last Saturdays trip, enjoy!

Our original plan was to dive the Lord Stewart but the boat was blown off the day before so Andy suggested a different dive, The Elk out of Plymouth. With the result of Andy and I meeting at the daft time of 6:15am! Andy's trusty navigational skills(or satnav) meant that I could sit back and chill and think on the dive ahead.

The Elk was a trawler launched in 1902 and requisitioned for the war effort during the WW1, which she survived to be taken back by her owners to fish out of Milford Haven. WW2 breaks out and she's requisitioned again, this time to be much less lucky. Sunk by a mine one month later with no fatalities, 32m below the surface in Plymouth Sound became her resting place.

Upon arriving in Plymouth before the dive centre had even opened, a bacon butty and tea from the harbour cafe formed a staple breakfast while we waited for the dive centre to open. Soon enough they were open and good enough to offer us tea and a free trolley to take our twinsets to the boat. The boat itself was a great bit of kit, a 6.5m RIB with two massive engines safely delivering ourselves and the one other passenger to the wreck at a brisk 30 knots! We descended on a shot line dropped by the boat directly onto the foredeck of the Elk at about 30m, torches in hand and began to explore. Excellent visibility from the start meant that we could see the shadow of the wreck looming from about 20m. The superstructure of the wreck is all but gone leaving the hull sitting proudly on the sand with its deck mostly corroded through. We began our dive from the anchor winch, the only part of the superstructure left, and began to peak into the bow section. It seemed to be home to a pretty manky looking lobster. I could see the disappointment on Andy's face, no lobster for dinner it seemed. From here we moved further aft peaking in through the deck as we went, even Andy even managing to spot a large conger eel hiding under some curved metal plating in the hold. We carried on moving across the rusting hulk of metal, I even managed to find my own conger hiding inside the twisted metal of the deck.

Andy then lead us over the side to explore the exterior of the hull. Clad in the usual sea life, the odd sea cucumber, the prow is an impressive site from the sea bed. So back up onto the deck we went then dropped into the hold through one of the larger holesto get a good look at that conger we saw earlier, plenty of jagged bits of metal about so care was needed but there were clear exits at all times. We came out further aft and went to explore further, this time finning over the huge boilers and watching the far sized shoals of fish around us. This time we reach the stern and dropped off onto the seabed in search of scallops; perfect sandy gritty soil but no sign of any perhaps betraying the popularity of this particular dive.

At this point I must admit I was getting pretty chilly in the seven degree water but we were bringing the dive to a close anyway. We moved back onto the deck via a mangle of twisted metal on the port side which must have been where the mine hit, and began to head back to the shot.Stopping along the way for Andy to abuse a small lobster hiding in the deck, definitely telling himself it was big enough to eat! Little sod too well entrenched, so we left him alone and made our way to the shot.

So we ascended at a gentle pace up the shot to do our 5 minute deco stop (thank you nitrox 32!) at 6m after spending 40 minutes on the bottom. At this point we met the dive master from the dive centre (diving on air) who was also on the wreck with us, who I have neglected to mention at this point did something odd... He had mentioned beforehand that he would attach a lifting bag to the shot weight with a bit of air so that with a decent tug the air would expand and the line would be easy to haul back up (smart idea? hmmm). He had done this we believed but with about 2 minutes left on our deco he drops, descends and, one can only assume, starts trying to raise the weight with us hanging onto the shot! He didn't succeed and reappeared just as we were about to make our final ascent. We then hauled ourselves (or got hauled rather unceremoniously in my case) onto the boat, the dive master recovered his beloved shotline without incident (or the bends). Back to shore we went, unloaded our gear, said our thanks, got changed and got back into car for the long old drive home with lots to chat about.

It was a great dive with brilliant visibility, especially considering there had been stormy weather in the days before. Lots of fish, lots of living stuff to see and a wreck to look at, what more could you want?


Brixham Breakwater - 13/05/11 

Location: Brixham Breakwater

Date: Sunday 13th February

Divers:     Sam Walder  Anya Keatley  Nicky Taylor  Geoff Daniels  Ramona Rosu  Michael Pollard  Ria Woodfield  Andrew Kiddier  Tom Cassey  Helen Bowden  Hannah Rose  Ed Drewitt  Devika Raman  Andy Vineer  Having been muchos organised the night before, packing up all cars, organising all chauffeurs and chauffees, even putting together a vague rota, we were up bright and early and singing a merry tune on Sunday morning (ha – jokes).  We set off from Bristol about 7am content in the knowledge that all our prior organisation was going to make this day run incredibly smoothly.

Now unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas (diving in February, weather not so fab, who knew!).  I arrived at the harbour, had 5 minutes of staring blankly at the driving rain and crying a little inside, then remembered that we are UBUC divers and hence “well ‘ard”, rejoicing in the conditions that make lesser divers quake.  As the hoards arrived it seemed everyone went through a similar process (salutations, despair, acceptance, excitement), but we were generally upbeat and optimistically attached treasure-collecting bags to our person ready for the mountains of seafood we were about to collect.

After a little site briefing from Andy K, the first couple of buddy pairs were in by 10.30am, including Ramona valiantly taking on a semi-dry (and managing 40 min dives in it!).  Vis was approximately that of a standard school ruler, but we still managed to find food, mostly scallops, a couple of clams etc, unfortunately no ready meal lasagnes (sorry Geoff). Hunter-gatherer of the day was obviously Andy, lugging his bag to shore and hushing all existing congratulations of “gosh you found a scallop! Well done!”, but he promised to share so we didn’t hold it against him too much…

After a leisurely lunch, people continued with the leisurely diving.  Most people got 2 dives, the keen beans got 3, the not so keen beans got one and were happy.  This trip really had the makings of a flop (rain, poor vis, faulty suits, sore ears, semi-drys etc etc) but everyone seemed to take it on the chin and I certainly had a great time!  We even had a seal bobbing about and checking us out on the surface, although even if he’d been tagging along for the duration of a dive sticking his little sealy tongue out at us he probably wouldn’t have been seen…

After staring at shock and disgust at the free divers that were merrily pottering down to the water in their teeny tiny suits, we packed up and set off for home.  We did a slick job of washing/packing away kit and organised money before going our separate ways, some of us following Andy for a scalloping feast (and as yet I haven’t got food poisoning so I think I’m safe).  We had yummy food, Top Gear, S Party hangover banter, and then the Ben and Jerry’s was brought out.  What more could you possibly want from an evening??

For making the trip a success, me and Ed want to thank Hannah for organising money and generally our lives, Andy and Mike P for being their usual patient and helpful selves and Tom C for sorting The Compressor Saga part 56 (The Sequel).  And just think, next time it might even be sunny!

Cromhall Quarry - 26/03/11

Divers – Nicky Taylor, Sally Wood, Ria Woodfield, Lyn Liddiard

Vis – Fine, if we went NOWHERE near the bottom

Temperature – cold

Now as many of you know I simply LOVE early mornings, so the prospect of a 7.45am (yes, they make that time in the morning too) meet at stores filled my heart with joy and I’m sure the others sprang out of bed with the same vigour I did.  After meeting and discussing the pro’s and con’s of sacrificing a morning coffee for 5 minutes extra in bed we got to packing up the cars, but not before me and Lyn had a self congratulatory moment working out how to coax the cylinders away from the compressor without: a) breaking the cylinders b) breaking the compressor c) blowing up Clifton.  Now I’m not going to lie, everyone else was packed up before me as apparently when given options I get prissy as to what kit I want.  Very sorry girls.  After finally picking a reg that did not come off the number 13 hook (just in case), we were off.

We arrived at Cromhall slightly late due to massive navigational fails on the part of ALL drivers.  I was tempted to take TomTom diving as punishment but then remembered that it is an inanimate object, it is not out to get me and I am not a mental person.  The errors did not stop there, as myself, Ria and Lyn proceeded to trot about the site searching for our instructor known only as “Phil”.  Unfortunately for us people don’t generally wear name badges so we took it upon ourselves to grab a random chap stood near a BSAC flag, insist that we were in fact in his group regardless of what his list said and blag ourselves some education.  We had just about convinced him that there had been an admin error when a highly embarrassed Sally had to run over, pry us away from the confused man, apologise and inform us that Instructor Phil was a couple of cars away getting kitted up.

We got our lives organised, got dressed (including the rearranging of Sally’s extensive hair into a hood that wasn’t exactly made for dreadlocks…), had a little chat and banter with Instructor Phil and Co (Instructor Phil had a friend, who turned out to be called Instructor Chris) before eagerly jumping in for our first dive.  Now to say the water was cold would be a slight understatement, if I were male I would currently be mourning the inevitable reduction in future fertility.  After a little bit of high pitched swearing we did man up and got a fair few skills ticked off.  We’d all been fairly nervous about performing our not-so-skilled skills in front of Agents of The BSAC but if I do say so myself we out did ourselves.  And didn’t get a scowl and smack round the head.  Which I’m counting as a win.

We broke for lunch and a defrost, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a joyous response to a Pot Noodle.  Literally it was love affair stuff.  We’ve both agreed to see other people though, which the McCoy’s Salt and Vinegar were greatly pleased about.  Bourbons courtesy of Ria also made an appearance, which were appreciated by all.  After we’d consumed our highly nutritious lunch which I’m pretty sure counts as minus points on the 5-a-day scheme we re-suited and booted for round two.

Round two consisted of rescues, and you can only imagine the horror on the faces of myself and Ria when instead of being paired with each other we got given a fully grown man each.  Despite having the upper body strength of paper cups we did, however, beach our casualties without a problem.  Instructor Phil says this was technique but I maintain it was female pride (and possibly the Pot Noodle).  It turned out to be a greatly productive day with lots of autographs in our qualification books and big grins on all our faces, hooray us!

Massive massive thank you to Instructors Phil and Chris (who I’m sure do have surnames) for their patience and enthusiasm for doing the trip in the first place, and also to Sally for organising us all, not an easy job!  It was a great day, productive and sunny-ish, what more could you want!?

Additional Trips

Vobster Quay - 28/11/10

Red Sea - 4/12/10 to 11/12/10

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