Pre-PK Training Trip (Brixham) – 8th/9th March 2014 - by Katie Rapson Edit

The Pre-PK trip was (supposedly) organised by Katie Rapson, but as a new and unqualified diver she basically relied on Emma Brenand to sort everything out (thanks Emma!).The aim was to allow both Ocean Diver and also Sports Diver trainees to complete some of their open water lessons, hopefully meaning that they would be qualified before the annual trip to PK, and hence able to enjoy some proper diving there instead of just lessons.

In total there were 7 trainees who set off (very) early on saturday morning to get to Queen Anne's Battery at Plymouth; Katie, Natalie, Andy, Gus, Jon, Enzo, Tom. Accompanying them were 4 instructors; Emma, Damien, Andy, Ed (and also, Gav). We launched both club boats from the battery, and sailed the short distance to Bovisand, where we made base with our kit. Several boat trips were then made from shore to the breakwater, where we moored to the fort and then dropped our divers from there. Despite the amazing weather and sunshine the water was an average 12 degrees, and vis was horrendous – no more than 50cm! Having said that, we all managed to get atleast some practice and training in, enjoyed the beautiful sunset from the boats, and even had some fun being towed (always bring enough fuel for the boats!). Some trainees went home, but most stayed the night in a (really adorable!) bunkhouse, complete with peacocks. We may have set the fire alarm off whilst cooking bacon sarnies for breakfast too . . . . oops.

So on the second day we didn't take the boats out, and instead did shore diving from Brixton. The vis was a better at around 2m, and there was a fair bit of life to see on the floor – crabs, starfish, teeny fish etc. A perfect calm beach for those who are new to scuba and want to practice skills, (or for SDs to do more advanced stuff) but also a good introduction to what amazing beasties divers get to see! All in all, a pretty good day, and a pretty good weekend. Organising the trip was also really good practice, and made me much more aware of the what's involved in scuba – I would recommend this to anyone who is keen to learn more (or who just loves diving that much!).

Cheers gang!

Boat Handling Course (Plymouth) – 2nd/3rd March 2014 Edit

Trainees: Boo BW, Andy Mortby, Tom Parker, Dmitro Khroma, Mark Saville, Didi Ooi, Jon Harrap, Ben Jacobs, Giles Milner, Alice Morrell, Dan Chaney

"Divers": Anya and Dave

Instructors: Tim, Emma and Becky

Lots of UBUCers gained their Boat Handling qualification down in Plymouth with help from Tim, Emma and Becky. The boats were towed down the Queen Anne's Battery and we launched from there. Ruby and Millie having just come back from service were running well. Weather was rougher on the Sunday but more "realistic". Some good experience had out in "real sea". Two divers were dropped on the JEL, but hands couldn't be seen in front of faces, never mind gauges read so dive was ended. The boats were left at QAB so we could get some Plymouth diving in over the next few months.

Chepstow - 23/02/14 - by Anya KeatleyEdit

"A quest for gnomes..."

Due to recent storms destroying the brilliant vis we had back in November, a group of keen UBUCers decided to go for a quarry dive. We were swayed in the direction of Chepstow due to the gnome garden advertised on their website at a pleasant 15m. Excited about the possibility of seeing a huge gnome display underwater we all met at stores bright and early on Sunday morning. Well most of us did - in recent UBUC tradition one member, who had the stores keys, managed to sleep through an alarm. I don’t really see how this is possible I personally set at least 5 alarms on two separate devices such that I never sleep through them.

Once we had collected kit we drove over the ridiculously priced bridge into Wales, then out of Wales again (turns out Chepstow is still in England but over the bridge) much to Alex’s disappointment; though there were sheep waiting for him on the welsh side of the bridge to welcome him on his first trip to Wales.

On the way Mike explained to Dave about how he made his own BC from a dry bag and old inflator hose and assured Dave that he did know what he was doing.

We arrived at the quarry and were amazed at the odd payment system at Chepstow (pay on your way in and pay for everything as you go) we parked up and went to observe the quarry. Turns out the water is actually around 30 meters lower than the car park. The weather wasn’t particularly inviting and after an average amount of faff including me zipping my car keys into my drysuit before locking the car and having to get someone to retrieve them we were ready for our first dive. Dave and Alex who were especially keen walked off to find the “bus stop” for a lift to the water but returned 5 minutes later discovering it was in the complete opposite direction. The transport from car park to water is quite an experience, 3 battered un-roadworthy minibus/vans take you down the steep slope, the engine fumes seem to funnel into the cab. They are driven by guys who seem to constantly have a hot beverage and/or sandwich in one hand leading to erratic steering along with painful engine breaking down the hill, which I can only assume is due to lack of brakes. After the short ride we all went in for our first dive.

All three buddy pairs managed to miss navigate in some way as we all missed the gnome garden! Though I and Mike did find a plane, diving bell (though I didn’t understand his sign language) and a tank like vehicle with a Zimmer frame on top which without contact lenses which I had forgotten looked like a boat.


We all exited the water and waited for the “bus” to transport us back to the car park. Turns out there isn’t enough turning space at the bottom of the hill for the vans to turn around so they reverse the whole way (with erratic steering!) back to the top of the hill.

We all had a leisurely lunch sharing old UBUC stories and eventually decided it was time for another dive. We decided this time we would go for a group dive to try and find the gnomes, so after kitting up and another death ride down to the water we all hopped in. We found a double-decker bus and had a swim around it. Alex tried to attack me with an iron of which there seemed to be many - I assume left behind from an extreme ironing event. See picture below.


After poking around the bus we found the diving bell again and then headed in the direction of the gnome garden, however despite checking multiple depths for shelves in the quarry wall hiding the gnomes we were unsuccessful. Here we split off onto our buddy pairs, Mike and I followed round the quarry wall looking for other items of interest. We did find another diving bell, much larger this time, and a single gnome next to a Christmas tree - see photo below.

Whilst Mike and I were still bumbling around underwater the others got the bus back up to the car park. Unfortunately, since the turning area at the top was quite busy their driver,  after failing to 3 point turn, shot off for a 5 minute tour of the car park including driving into some of the barrels and narrowly missing a car!


After changing and packing the cars we headed back to the Richmond for a pint and Chinese take away. Still with the bitter taste of disappointment in missing the gnome garden we looked up on the map again where it was positioned to see where we had gone wrong. It was then we noticed that the map of the quarry on the website is different to the map at the waterside


and we had been looking in completely the wrong place for the gnomes all along! Alex has vowed to write a letter of complaint.

I can recommend Chepstow for anyone needing to cross off a few 25m+ dives for dive leader as there are lots of attractions at around 25 meters and in Alex’s words the vis was near tropical apparently 20 meters at times, I’m not quite sure it was that good but definitely much better than last time I was at Vobster. Group photo below.

Babbacombe - 02/02/14 - by Alex BourlaEdit

Babbacombe 2.2.14

After the success of our previous days diving down at Vobster and spurred on by the flat seas we could see on the Babbacombe beach webcam Anya, Andy, Boo and I headed down to Babbacombe for a day’s shore diving.

Surface conditions were ideal with not a cloud in the sky and not a wave in sight however one look at the brown murky water and it was clear the visibility was going to be a bit of an issue; nevertheless in traditional UBUC spirit we headed in any way!

First in were Anya and me whilst Boo and Andy stayed ashore.  Frankly, visibility was even worse than we expected - on descent the first we knew of the bottom was when it practically hit into it! Not giving up Anya and I took out our torches and started searching for any sort of life despite the 20cm vis (see picture!). We eventually stumbled upon a few different kinds of crab, a single tubeworm and a slightly strange small lobster-like creature - every single find felt like quite a victory! After hitting a vaguely respectable bottom time of 20 minutes we decided to call it and head back to the surface.

Back on the surface we reported back to Boo and Andy who were preparing to go in. After suffering a fairly catastrophic drysuit leak the day earlier at Vobster Boo was using a slightly dodgy-looking suit found in stores so we weren’t holding out too much hope. As soon as the pair descended Boo’s borrowed dry suit suffered (a somewhat predictable) leak and combining this with the frankly terrible vis the two remerged and decided to call it a day.

Babbacombe 2 2.2.14

After a very welcome lunch break we decided to make the most of the bright sunshine and do some geocaching (for those of you who don’t know geocaching is a sort of world-wide treasurer hunt – google it!). After finding the first geocache in the car park I suggested we go after a second one that I reckoned was fairly close. It turned out I was wrong on a few counts, firstly the geocache location was quite a trek up a ridiculously steep cliff and secondly it didn’t even exist anymore! Thankfully one look at the fantastic view from the top and we quickly got over the lack of geocache.

By the time we made it back down to the car park it was time to go. Back in Bristol, we washed the kit and headed for the pub. Even with the pretty disappointing diving a good day was had by all :) – we’ll be back when the weather clears up a bit!

Vobster - 1st February 2014 - by Boo BW Edit

Attendees: Alex Bourla, Boo BW, Andy Mortby, Lena Adler, Sarah Kernoghan, Anya Keatley, Alex Harker

Report: 7 of us headed for a pleasant (but cold!!) day's diving at Vobster. It was the first UK dive for Lena and first dive in a while for Sarah. My dry suit repair proved to have been more of a disrepair, and my dry suit filled up to the waist with icy 6 degree Vobster water before we'd even descended... I manned up and spent 40 minutes trying to keep the water in my legs and off my body. Harker had trouble with his ears so didn't end up diving his super techy semi-dry, wing, full face mask and bootie combination after all. Good dives were had by all.

Vobster - 26/01/14 - by David WilbyEdit

Trip: Vobster Quay Inland Diving (& Wind-Avoidance) Centre

Date: 26/01/2014

Divers: Dave Wilby, Andy Mortby, Tom Parker

Non-divers: Jon Hauser

On a torrential day in January, we headed down to the old favourite, Vobster Quay, due to 30+ mph winds ruining our coastal ambitions. But, we had diving to get done, Dave's first dive since a bending and diabetes diagnosis c-c-c-combo, Tom needed some sports diver training and Andy had nothing better to do (and a new reel..wooo..). Jon arrived with a swollen eye (pillock) as on site OWI supervision and Dave and Andy double instructor teamed a nice bit of SD nav and DSMB deployment from Tom and Dave tested out some underwater glucose administration, all with some aplomb I'll add. After some standing around in drysuits to keep dry and drinking cups of tea it was back in for another chilly dive.

There's no place like Vobster.. Dave

Red Sea - 3rd to 10th January 2014 Edit

Attendees: Ed Luff, Tegan Murray, Boo BW, Anya Keatley, Alex Harker, Ben Jacobs, Sahil Patel, Will Savage, Tamsin Ashton, Laura Matthews, Louise Rattew, Emma Leeper, Katie Leeper

13 UBUCers spent a week on Blue O Two's My Blue Fin.

Babbacombe Booze Up - 29/11/13 - by Boo BWEdit

Babbacombeboozeup1 zps6819a0a4

With everything packed the night before, you would have thought that we would have got off to quite a smooth start early on the Saturday morning, but you would have been mistaken! A certain member of the UBUC committee, who shall remain unnamed, managed to have an accidental lie in. There were murmurs about leaving said unnamed person behind in Bristol, but fortunately for John Doe, he had the keys to the Land Rover (kindly loaned to us for the weekend by the Archaeology department) which was already packed full, and locked, with everyone’s kit. They didn’t really mean it though – the grumpiness was at levels usually reserved only for the DO, due to the early meet time and the fact that no one had had their morning coffee yet.

Eventually, the fifteen of us set off on our journey to Babbacombe. We all arrived safely, although some making better time than others… The first to arrive entertained themselves by chucking a rugby ball around until the rest of the group got to the beach. The weather was cold but surprisingly nice for the last day of November.

Babbacombe booze up 2

The first wave of divers included the brave semidry divers and a “first UK dive”. A good dive was had by all, the water a moderate 9 degrees Celsius. A variety of dive plans were executed with entry from both shore and the wall steps. The divers that chose the wall entry were treated to a nice fish carcass at the bottom of the steps that was absolutely crawling (or should it be scuttling?) with crabs. Spider crabs, huge edible crabs and tonnes of starfish were seen and Anya and Beth even saw a super cool dog fish! Dave had a bit of a snorkel and the second wave went out, adding shrimp, sardines (in a tin unfortunately), more fish, starfish and crabs to the “spotted at Babbacombe” list. A few people went in for a second dive –Jon dived again, this time with his GoPro, and managed to find the dog fish again with Anya: check out the cool video he made of the trip here.

A few navigational mishaps aside and me suffering from “fin gate” on my second dive, losing a fin not once, but twice, and the second time after we had ascended; a great day’s diving was had by all. (Alex was an absolute hero, towing me back to shore. I’m pretty sure I still owe him a drink!).

Babbacombe booze up 3

The kit was all packed away in the cars and we all headed back as a group to Le Papillon Backpackers Hostel in Torquay where we were staying for the night. Le Papillon is a “quaint” hostel, with hundreds of paintings covering the walls but comfy beds and a nice layout and location for a group like ours to enjoy dinner and then experience the delights of Torquay on a Saturday night. (Although the “large, well equipped kitchen” was neither large, nor well equipped with only three hobs and a microwave!)

Everybody enjoyed their 50p showers and sat down and enjoyed a brilliant meal. Thanks to Tom and David for cooking the Chilli and Ellie and Pip for the veggie option! Food was very filling and it was truly delicious.

Babbacombe booze up 4

And then the fun began…  Jenga of Fire, a (only slightly) more grown up version of musical chairs,  body traversing, the “pan and belt” game and Corridor Yoga were all amongst the evening’s activities, alongside the consumption of a few drinks. The sole other guest in the hostel made an appearance at one point, enquiring as to who the Land Rover belonged to as “Land Rover’s give me a hard on”, before leaving the room disappointed as the only fellow Landy enthusiast in the room (Tom) was otherwise engaged. Later in the evening it was a covert operation to get out of the hostel, without the Landy Lover becoming aware, and head into Torquay for the cultural part of the trip.

Babbacombe booze up 5

Wandering down towards the centre of Torquay, past pubs with signs like “No caps, hoodies or tracksuits at the bar” on the door, we got a certain “feel” for the town, but it wasn’t until we got into the centre that we were treated to the whole experience… There were “Street Pastors” going around the streets collecting drunken people and putting them into a “Drunk Bus” where they were looked after and helped to sober up. We chatted with the security man on the door of Subway (Yes, really, sandwich shops with security… Well it is Torquay!). But really, the highlight of the excursion was the £1.20 mulled cider in Wetherspoons… You just don’t get that in Bristol! Somehow, we all got home and lots of snacking on Doritos and left over Chilli was done before everyone went to bed. Did I forget to mention that John Doe who slept in at the beginning of the day was also the first to bed and didn’t quite make it out to Torquay itself?

There was a somewhat subdued and lazy start to the next day. An awesome fry up was cooked by all fifteen of us on just three hobs by Tom and David so kudos to them, even if Tom did feel too unwell to eat anything that he’d cooked! He also was feeling slightly sore, now that the effects of alcohol had worn off, after his fierce defence of the Cereal Box Game Champion title, which was “stolen” from him by Alice with her superior bendiness (no pun intended). Everyone devoured their food with much enthusiasm before we tidied up, packed the cars and headed begrudgingly back to Bristol. A bit of fun was had on the way with iTrips and scrolling LED messages between cars. Once back at stores, kit washing was organised to military precision (again) by Anya and everyone headed home for a bit of post UBUC R&R.

There are tonnes more pictures to be found on the facebook group.

Louis Shied 2

Louis Shied Night Dive - 16/11/13 - by Boo BWEdit

Seven UBUC-ers headed, quite bleary eyed, down to Thurlestone Beach to dive the Louis Shied. Very impressively, we managed to squeeze all of our gear and tanks into two cars. It was an uneventful drive down, with Tom’s driving proving to be faster than Dom’s – either that or Dom took a detour that they didn’t tell us about!

We arrived at low tide, expecting to see the wreck break the surface like the last time the club dived there, however this was not the case, and we had to rely on Bourla’s impressive diagram (that he had meticulously drawn onto his slate) and his exemplary navigational skills for the first group of divers to locate the wreck. If the wreck doesn’t break the surface anymore, it is best to navigate underwater which is relatively easy – just keep the triangular reef that starts on the beach to your right hand side and you will find the wreck underwater… If Bourla can find it, anyone can! (I jest)

Kitting up wasn’t all plain sailing: there was a charming ‘present’ left behind by one of the beach’s many visiting dogs that needed to be avoided, but even with all his expert contortion skills Tom was unable to avoid stepping in the dog poo. Bourla, Dom, Brinkmeyer and myself dived first, and had a good look around after locating the wreck. The vis wasn’t amazing, a couple of metres at best by the reef but was better towards the wreck and much better later on the night dive. It was my first UK dive but it definitely wasn’t as cold as I was expecting, I promise! The surface swim proved a bit too warm in my 5mm+5mm semi dry and I had to keep dunking my head underwater to cool down. Brinkmeyer and myself managed to get to 7.3m, and bottom temperature was 12 degrees Celsius. A few wrasse, couple of crabs were seen, the wreck explored and DSMBs left on the wreck for the night dive. Brinkmeyer’s DIY drysuit repair (the trusty duct tape) however had seen one too many dives and he left the water with a wet arm. Also exiting the water a bit damp, and adamant that it was his dry suit leaking and nothing else, was Bourla, who had a particularly wet crotch of his undersuit! I guess when a man’s gotta go….!

Andy, Anya and Tom dived next and managed to locate the “famous” large lobster that hides in the boilers. Before they descended they were tasked with attaching glow sticks to the DSMBs to aid us in finding the wreck later. Anya took some awesome photos!

Back on the beach, the bucket and spade were cracked out by Bourla only for him to find that the sand was not “geologically suitable” for sand castle making and from no ratio of water:sand would a solid structure prevail!

Not to worry though, some bright spark (this was definitely not me) had the bright idea to do a bit of UBUC marketing/PR and write ‘UBUC’ in the sand using decomposing seaweed. Dom and Bourla begrudgingly helped/humoured me, but the end result was pretty cool and lots of people were asking us what UBUC stood for. A passerby’s dog made the mistake of cocking his leg upon one of Bourla’s sand ‘heaps’, forcing his owner to apologise profusely when they caught site of the genuine look of misery on Bourla’s face.

Louis Shied 1

The returning second group of divers were impressed by our efforts, or at least Anya and Tom were. We weren’t sure about Andy; he was too busy moaning about being cold and wet. Chocolate–chip banana cake and a bit of beach cricket passed the time before it started to get dusky, Bourla cracked out the glow sticks and we got kitted up for the night dive.

It was the first ever night dive for many of us and after his damp dive earlier, Brinkmeyer remained on the beach as shore marshal. Anya and DO Andy both wimped out of the surface swim to the wreck and dived the reef and wall along the beach instead, such dedication! I personally had a particularly prickly dive after a bodged toilet trip left me with half of South Devon’s thistles and burrs embedded into the inside of my semi-dry. Not recommended.

We were really 5 minutes too late getting into the water – eventually locating the SMBs on the wreck with a rough compass bearing and sweeping torch light. Each buddy pair descended down an SMB and an awesome dive commenced. The wreck at night was quite eerie but lots of life to be seen, from huge sleeping wrasse to shrimp, crabs and lobsters. We surfaced after a 45 minute dive which we really didn’t want to end and the first thing that was said upon surfacing was “That was so awesome!” before making the swim back to the shore.

We had already packed most of the kit away so it did not take long to get everything packed up and head home. Military precision kit washing and putting away, project managed by Anya, was followed by fish, chips, pub and pint. Much to Bourla’s disappointment, we weren’t all up for going to a UV rave with our remaining glowsticks from the night dive, and instead we all found it particularly challenging to not fall asleep in front of the fire in the pub!

IFC - 12th/13th October 2013 Edit

Attendees: Alex Bourla, Chris Bainbridge, Dom Hayward, Dan Chaney

A very educational weekend, and more members qualified to teach in the pool, very successful!

Additional TripsEdit

  • Plymouth (J.E.L.) – 16th March 2014
  • Plymouth/Louis Shied 29th/30th March 2014
  • Porthkerris – 4th to 9th April 2014
  • OWIC Course – 12th April 2014
  • Plymouth BH trip - 2nd to 5th May 2014
  • Porthkerris BH trip - 23rd to 26th May 2014
  • Vobster – 5th June 2014*
  • Vobster – 9th June 2014
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