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Teighnmouth - 06/08/06

Teignmouth - The Bretagne and the Galicia 6th August 2006 Divers: Rachael W, Steve M, Kara, Richard, Ben E, Keara, Em Y.

We set off on Saturday afternoon heading for Wear Farm campsite in Teignmouth, a lovely campsite with great views of the river (only spoilt by the train track that ran right through it!) Wake up time on Sunday at 6:30 to head over the Teign dive Centre. The first divers were in the water before 9am!! The Bretagne is a good wreck with lots to see and loads and loads of fish. After a quick pit stop on land we headed out for the second dive of the day to the Galicia. This wreck is more flattened and spread out, although it is great for a little explore. It's also where we sighted the biggest lobster any of us have every seen and possibly even more fish than the Bretagne!!!

Chesil Cove - 14/10/06

Divers: Chris M, Emma B, Ali C, Steve M, Keith, Dougal, Karen, Britta , Rachel, Heidi, Claire, Elise, Stephanos,

T'was a dark and gloomy morning when a collection of new and old met outside stores and packed as much as possible into cars and headed off to Chesil. Emma B was very proud of herself for being first at a dive site for the first time ever. Once the cars were unloaded and the various moans about it looking cold and being too far to carry kit the first pair of an enthusiastic Diving Officer and new member headed to the water. others were soon in and with each pair coming back with new sightings and a realisation that the water was surprisingly warm the enthusiasm grew. Dogfish, pipefish, large wrasse, crabs, lobsters and even a cuttlefish were found on the life front. on the non living front the wreck of the landing craft was found a few times and Karen returned with a new piece of head gear after her first dive. Steve with his Dry suit "fix" not quite working declined a second dive and went to dry out inside whilst the rest dived and practiced poi until the final pair were out the water packed and on the way home.

Back in Bristol we all went out for an excellent curry which caused some members a lot of trouble, yes I was one of those! All in all an excellent day enjoyed by everyone.

See the photos from Steve's Website: here.

Cawsand - 14/10/06

On Saturday, 14th October 12 of us dived off the Eddystone in the morning, the James Egan Layne in the afternoon, and ate pork belly in the evening. The Eddystone Rock lies about 10 miles off shore south of Plymouth. To get there you need a calm sea. In a rib it takes about 40 minutes. Usually you take one cylinder each and return to Plymouth for lunch and a refill before a second dive. A hard boat takes twice as long so you take two cylinders and eat any lunch at sea. When Plymouth Dive Centre's rib collected us from Cawsand steps, sky and sea were grey, and the forecast worrying. But the wind was lighter than expected, and coxswain and crew were ready to give the Eddystone a go. Soon we were rushing along with the wind on the port quarter, spray jumping from the bow and gannets wheeling on either side of us. At first there was no sign of the Eddystone. It was that kind of day. At this time of year the water is at its warmest. Most of us were in semi dry suits, and with the wind almost behind us we were warm and comfortable.

The Eddystone Rock just peeps out of the sea. On it are the stump of the old Smeeton Tower (the top is on Plymouth Hoe), and the newer, Victorian lighthouse, now topped with a helicopter pad. With the pad the lighthouse lacks what attractive points, if any, a lecturer has wearing a mortar board. It was high tide when we arrived. The swells that hardly affected us coming swirled round the base of the light. The rib rolled. Some of us turned white as sheets. Our Greek Dive Boat Magnate sternly instructed himself and us to look at the horizon! Some of us had not been diving for a while. The first pairs took ages to kit up. A shot line was demanded. Some of us felt sicker than any parrot has ever done.

Well away from the land the Eddystone is not affected by run off which lowers visibility and light. The water was clear, the light good, and kelp needs light and often stops just after 10 meters grew to 20 meters and deeper. We dived on sharp topped ridges of rock running out from the lighthouse, covered with kelp, and huge round sea urchins, spiny sea stars and minute corals. Wrasse swam through the kelp. Pollock hung, silver, still and menacing in the clear water. We followed the ridges down, up or around, as we fancied for between 35 and 45 minutes. By the time we surfaced sea and wind had increased. At 20kts traveling against the wind it was cold, and stinging spray came over the starboard bow. To minimize our discomfort our coxswain steered 15 degrees or more to the west to put the seas more on the beam. In semi dry an anorak that keeps the wind out is a must. A hat or hood is strongly recommended. More than one of us ask him or herself "Why am I here?"

At Queen Anne's Battery we bought lunch, filled cylinders, argued how we were to pay for boat, air, and food, and pleaded with our poor treasurer for money for other things. About 3pm we were off again, back the way we had come in, round Penlee, passed Rame Head and into the shelter of Whitesand Bay where the James Egan Layne lies.

The JEL was a 10,000 Liberty ship, built in 1944. In late March, l945, carrying vehicles and the cart wheels still in the hold, she was struck aft by a torpedo. The attempt to beach her just failed. Now she sits upright, in 20m, on a sandy bottom, her bow about six meters below the surface, her masts and upper works somewhere on the sand beside her. As she sank the stern fell off. It lies a short distance from the hull, but just far enough away that one cannot be seen from the other. Bow and stern are buoyed. We were told there is a swim line from one to the other. Your reporter and the TO dived the stern. 15 m down stern and swim line were clearly visible. Your reporter decided to circle the small stern left shoulder to the wreck, and take the swim line to the hull. We never saw the swim line. Like another pair led by a good cook first debris, then the side of the ship loomed up on our right shoulders. 12 minutes after we left the surface we looked up from the bottom to see the bow stretching 15m above us. To avoid a saw toothed dive, which can be dangerous, we swam on, down the starboard side until we found a gap in the plating. We entered and crossed an almost empty hold number 2, passing a winch that has fallen into it. From there we swam through the bulkhead whose plating has almost completely rusted away leaving only the supporting vertical I beams, to the triple expansion steam engine and its two boilers. No modern, self respecting engineering undergraduate ever identifies such pass machinery. Back through the hold, on towards the bow, where the winches have fallen through the deck and the kelp begins to grow, to the line attached to the bulwark that leads to the buoy. Your reporter and the TO regretted letting go of the buoy because another pair took an awful long time to be picked up while we drifted and drifted west on the ebb. At last the Rib took us back to Cawsand where we were ejected on a cruel sea with all our kit, and washed by breaking waves onto a concrete slab beneath the house in which we were staying. After that there was nothing to do but wash kit, have a shower, get dressed, drink tea and wine, have a group cook in and eat pork belly and brownies prepared under the direction of the two divers who missed the swim line.

Plymouth Dive Centre, Queen Anne's Battery, Coxside, Plymouth, (0175220263900 Mobile 07790385268) know their stuff and are considerate. For one dive the boat cost £200 divided among the 12 of us ie £33.34 each for the day. The dive sites can be found in "Dive South Cornwall" by Richard Larn, and "Dive South Devon" by Kendall McDonald et al, both published by Underwater Publications Ltd Engineers and others can find general ship layout and what steam marine engines look like at www.bevs.org/diving For a tour of the JEL see Divernet . For roast belly of pork, stuffed shoulder of lamb etc see Fearnley Whittinstall "River Cottage Meat Book" or ask the TO.

Babbacombe - 22/10/06

Five divers met up at stores at 8am to prepare for a full days diving. They were: Fearghas Jamieson, Louise Warren, Andrew Kiddier, Rachel Whitfield and Amy Fitz

We arrived to a glourious flat blue sea in babbacombe bay and the smell of bacon sarnies from the beachside cafe. After the first dive we discovered that the viz was approximately one metre and then the rain set in and didn't let up fpor the rest of the day. Our spirits were still high after a sandwich and hot chocolate, but only myself and Amy had the courage to brave a second dive in the bay. We ended up finding lots of dogfish, strange crabs and a small metallic box that was either a mooring point or a treasure chest. As we didn't manage to open it we couldn't verify the latter. It was a great dive and testement to the fact that you can still have a good dive when the viz is less that a metre and despite the weather a good time was had by all.

Portland - 04/11/06

Divers: Piers, Chris M, Steve M, Dougal, Heidi, Andy K, Amy, Sky, Tom E, Chris O

It was a freezing, but clear and calm Saturday morning when 10 divers met at stores for the intrepid mission of loading the club boats into a van to take them down to Portland for a days diving! All was good, and after only a little faff we were on the road by about 8:15am, to arrive in Portland by around 10:30.

With a really good effort from everyone we were out on the water by 12:00, speeding our way towards the countess of Erne on the breakwater wall, and narrowly missing a sailing dinghy on the way! We had the countess all to ourselves for most of the dive which was great...swimming all the way through the wreck and then back along the hull to get back to the stern and have a look at the rudder...the resident school of pollack were around as well which added a nice bit of life to the dive. Vis was a reasonable 3-5 meters, and everybody enjoyed themselves by all accounts.

We sped back in to switch cylinders around and grab a hasty lunch so we could get out to our next site, the landing craft and bombardon unit, in time. We just about managed a faff free turnover and had a nice rummage around the landing craft, which has its engine room exposed-nice and interesting! There is a line from the landing craft to a nearby 'bombardon unit'-these are 'experimental wave breaking units' from the WWII, and are also quite interesting but incredibly confusing! After a good, but slightly curtailed second dive we were on our way back in as the sun was starting to set behind Portland at 4pm. Breaking the boats down was also done double time, and we left Portland at about 5pm.

It had all gone pretty smoothly up until this point...and if you want to know what happens next Ill refer you to Ali's last presidents bulletin...with a chronological record of events by our very own Chris Mitchell.

Suffice to say the van broke down which was a big pain in the arse!

Up until that point it was a really great day...and thanks to the people who came along for making one!

Babbacombe - 02/12/06

Babbacombe Divers: Dougal, Steve M, Amy, Keith, Dom & Chris O 

On a Saturday morning far too bright and mild to be the beginning of December six divers arrived at stores at the very civilised time of 10:30am keen to go night diving at Babbacombe. The faff factor was encouragingly low and we only had to repack Steve’s car once before we were on our way to Devon. We arrived, having stopped for food en route, pleased to find clear skies, a near flat sea and plenty of space in the car park.

Our first dive was to be during the day and the first pair went in just before 3pm. They found that the visibility was barely two metres and it felt a lot colder than when we were last here. Despite the poor vis most divers managed to see some life and there were reports of scorpion fish, velvet crabs, edible crabs and tompot blennies from those in the know, whilst others reported seeing ‘some small crabs and some bigger crabs’. Dougal and Amy showed off by successfully navigating to the end of the jetty from the beach, but alas the lobster normally resident there could not be found. I only managed to spot one lone little crab, but my dive was spent preoccupied with staying alive as my kit conspired against me at every turn and then I had to cut myself free from monofilament ? this wasn’t the chilled out dive I had planned! But at least I wasn’t the only one to fall victim to the fishermen’s traps; one overzealous angler will forever be describing Dougal as ‘the one that got away’.

But a disappointing first dive could only heighten expectations for the main event. After a brief rest, some waving to the webcam and a cookie eating contest (definitively won by our Training Officer) it was time to get ready again whilst there was still some daylight. During the break my kit responded well to some percussive maintenance and was promising to behave itself, although I was wondering whether I would regret putting Asda Smart Price 37p batteries in my torch rather than Duracells.

Despite predictions Steve’s latest drysuit fix was still holding as divers returned to the water half an hour after sunset. The dark had brought countless aquatic creatures out to play, including a very feisty lobster. But the setting sun had attracted not only more sea life but the magnetic pixies as well, who wreaked havoc with our last pair’s navigation for the first half of their dive. By 6pm everybody was safely back on shore, smiling broadly at an absolutely awesome dive and staring at strange lights in the sky?

Apologies are due to all those who expressed an interest in this trip for whom I couldn’t find space and a very special thanks to Chris M and Dougal, without whom this trip wouldn’t have been possible.

Christopher

Plymouth - 17/02/07

Divers: Bex, Emma B, Chris M, Ali C, Dougal, Andy K, Richard S, Amy R, Amy F, Sally G, Lizy, Ian K Sites: Scylla and the James Egan Lane

The dive was planned as a return vist of the ultra successful dive of the same location and time as last year. This year though the temperatures were well up on last years ice scraping freezing. The weather was looking poor for most of the week but the winds swung at the last minute and we were all go!

2 car fulls of people headed down to Plymouth the night before and enjoyed a leisurely morning of cooked breakfast sandwiches. Others of us were less fortunate, but excited by the prospect of getting back in the water 5 am get up didn't feel as bad.

We arrived in Plymouth in the morning bang on schedule, which I was very pleased with for a first of the season dive. I was very smug when I discovered Dougal had directed operations before I got there and all those who'd stayed in Plymouth had unloaded to the wrong Pontoons. Once we were all ready we loaded on to the hardboat, Endeavour, complete with a lift and an endless supply of tea and coffee. a Lucky few with Bacon Sandwiches. The first Site was to be the Scylla, Deck at 13m with pleanty to explore ideal for a first dive in a while.

The pairs all dropped in of the back of the boat looking like a parade of Penguins as they flopped into the sea. The weather had deffinitely taken it's toll, the viz was poor. Not a great start, I saw a fish of some description as I hung on the shot trying to deal with early season ears. Others were more successful and got to see a little more than the shot chain and there were odd reports of Crab, fish, squidge. Once all were safely returned to the boat tea was supplied and hot water poured into semidrys.

After lunch we decided to hit the James, hit being the operative word, the viz was even worse here and the only reason you knew you were at the wreck was when you bashed into it. I explored about 4 square metres and still had to come up a delayed because the shot could not be found, though we were not far from it. Descriptions were given as "Dark", "Mystical", "very Dark", "very very Dark" and "well that will make the rest of the season better than the first dive then".

Even though the viz was poor it was good to get back in the water and a lot was learnt by all. I look forward to getting out again very soon.

PK Main Trip - 23/03/07

Location: Porthkerris beach, Cornwall, UK Dates: 23rd - 31st March 2007

On the last day of term 6 o clock 40 keen, enthusiastic and excited divers met up out side the diving stores to pack a Van, a trailer and a few cars ready for the journey down to the end of the UK to Porthkerris. After all was packed and ready to go the van was heading off down the M5 and soon it's uselessness was realised when the servicing light came on. This combined with the fact that there was no tow bar fitted required the DO to stop for a massive mixed grill. All stops aside the van finally pulled up at the caravan park at around Midnight to stories of woe for the precious grass of Silversands becoming victim to a 4x4 and trailer.

Wake up call the next morning at 7 proved easier than waking for work and by 8 we were all on the road to PK. We arrived to perfect conditions for surfing, nice big breakers and a north easterly wind. Not to be put off the van and trailer unloaded and the rota read out. the occasional quizzical look of "are you serious" from a few was noted and ignored as the first wave of divers battled through the surf and out to PK reef. One driver battled back to the caravans to pick up his passengers who'd been forgotten. Despite the entry and exit methods be less than conventional there were a lot of smiles emerging from the sea. The evening was wonderfully catered for and the occasional karaoke classic heard before everyone slowly decided that it was late and they were tired and it was about 10.30.

Sunday morning followed a similar pattern of arriving at the beach to breakers that were alarming to say the least. Cambridge turned up in their fun bus and soon left after looking at the sea. Not to be deterred the trusty UBUC stamina and the call of "Get involved!" was heard. The day's diving again produced smiles and joy as people got more confident and started getting assessments knocked off. by the end of the day everyone had managed to get under the water for a dive. The vis was getting worse and so diving was called and we all returned to the caravans.

Monday it was decided that Mullion might be a better bet with the winds now full on easterly putting pay to any plan to do PK again. We arrived at Mullion and no one could believe their luck, beautiful flat calm seas, decent visibility sunshine and no wind. The smiles returned. It was then a day of Rescue with James Lancaster seen clip board in hand on the end of Mullion breakwater for a day and instructors rarely seen out the water. All said a very successful day was had and all involved with rescue Passed at least some of it if not all.

Tuesday was the day the boats finally arrived. Again Mullion was the call and again flat calm met us. People's first boat dives were achieved and more of mullion was seen.

When we returned to PK on Wednesday the seas were gently lapping at the shores and the weather was holding out nicely. Unfortunately when it comes to shotting wrecks that are mostly flattened we were less than successful and Andy and Dora had a brief dive onto a sand bank. The same sand bank that was shotted on the second expedition out to try to put a mark down on the wreck. This lack of wreck did give people an opportunity to explore the back of the reef and see bits that were yet undiscovered by UBUC this trip. Iain with a great effort and finding a new gully through the reef and taking us on a beautiful early evening dive which led to him being last out the water. Due to a rota nightmare this feat was to be repeated the next day with Iain again last out the water and left trying to change whilst all around was being packed up as he took it off. This was the day of Tim's infamous early wake up call. You could tell who'd only just arrived! by this point in the week though things were running smoothly and the day ran without a hitch until the final wave when a storm battered the boats out on the Manacles so the dive was aborted and the divers returned to PK bailing water out with their masks all the way.

Finally Friday arrived much to the relief of many and the panic of a few. Again another ambitious dive rota including the manacles and Volnay several times which ran like clock work, nearly. The end of the day we saw the first pairs of Ocean divers heading out and out and out and back to the wrong beach, 1 pair. 1 pair we're showing the navigation skills that even the instructors would have been proud of. The diving over the partying started. Again the next door campsite was to be the venue with another great buffet. Court was held and some navigation honoured, driving condemned and anger management issues brought up.

At the end of the week there were 21 new OD and 6 new SD 10 destroyed instructors and a lot of happy memories.

Who's for next year!!

Chesil - 19/04/07

Location: Chesil Divers Andy K, Emma Y, Oli B, Iain G

Three divers Oli B, Emma Y and Andy K managed to get to stores and leave Bristol at 8:30pm with the minimum of faff. We all headed down to Chesil beach on the South Dorset coast and after a easy drive met the forth diver Iain G who had come from bournmouth waiting in the car park at the beach. After much needed coffee and snacks we scaled the huge stone embackment of chesil beach to survey the coast and found the sea to be like a mirror and the sun shining! Lugging the kit over the embackment was exhausting but worth it. We lined up the transects and Oli and myself finned out and descended to land a few yards away from the remains of the Adelaide. The bow is still recognisable standing 4m above the sea floor with chain hanging out of one side and a large anchor on the other. As we swam round the wreck, the shape became harder to recognise as the rest of it had became a mass of twisted metal and quickly pettered out. The whole wreck was in a large scour on the seabed and was fairly small. The beautifull weather recently had caused the plankton to bloom, so it was like diving in a pool of muddy water with 2m viz! Not much life on the wreck apart from a flatfish and one solitary anemone. Emma Y and Iain were next in and immediately noticed the current was picking up and battled against it to find the wreck. Then we all did some sun bathing and ate ice creams and munched chips sitting on the beach. By the time the divers went in for a second dive the current was ripping along the beach and after 5 minutes had to abort as they were already 200m down the beach and approaching Chesil Cove.

So we packed up and went for a dive in the channel near the Ferry Inn and Emma voluntered to Shore Marshall while drinking a beer from the local pub as Oli, Iain and myself splashed around in 2m of water playing with hundreds of small green crabs. Then we all had drinks and snacks and set off home, stopping off at Oli's house for a tea break and a cream egg on the way back to Bristol.

Andy K

Falmouth - 21/04/07

Date: 21st-22nd April 2007 Divers: Ben K, Dougal, Vicky P, Demelza Trip Report – Falmouth

The grand total of 4 divers made the trip down to Cornwall and met in a campsite just outside Falmouth in a place called Maenporth (Tregedna Farm Holidays 01326 250529). Tent’s were pitched and a night cap of Fosters consumed.

We had a civilised ropes off time and met at the dive shop belonging to Steve who also runs the boat which is a large (8.5m Humber rib) with a 225hp engines so it’s also fast. Our first dive was a slack dive on the Manacles and we dived Raglan Reef. The visibility was great at 10-12m with the reef covered in plume and jewel anenomia’s, several crab’s but the sheer scale of the reef combined with the fantastic viz made this a lovely dive.

Between dives we returned to Falmouth where we ate lunch on the harbour wall and in the afternoon headed out again where we saw what we think was a large basking shark breaching the water, to the wreck of the Hera. This was a large 4 iron mast'ed sailing ship and much life was also seen in the 15m viz including a Pog, congers, tom pot blennies and one lucky person even saw a free swimming squid!

After an evening at a local hostelry which did superb food (scallops, crab thermador, fillet steak, homemade chocolate cheesecake – you get the idea) we did 2 more dives on the Sunday. The sites were Vas Rock followed by the wreck of the Epsilon which again were both fab.

A bonus on Sunday, apart from the un-seasonal April sunshine, was HMS Portland was in Falmouth harbour and we were able to tour around this operational war ship with many mutterings of “this would make a great dive!!!”

If anyone was considering organising a non club boat trip this is the easy way to do it. Cornish Diving link hereis very friendly and good value - £15 per dive, £2 per air fill and the camping was only £5 per person per night.

Go on – you know you want to organise a diving weekend. All the details are here for you!

Ben

Plymouth - 22/04/07

Divers: Chris M, Keith, Kate J

At the hour of 6.45 the three met at stores where the definition of a reasonable hour of the trip organiser was not shared by the other two on the trip. With minimal faff the car was loaded and we were on the road before 7. Battling through Fog and struggling over hills we arrived in a distinctly grey Plymouth to stories of growing Plankton. The day was set for some miserable diving. As we loaded kit onto the RIB Phoenix we were all excited by the prospect of getting back in the water. The boat headed out and was at the dive site in next to no time. We dropped onto the Bow of the James Egan Lane which has definitely taken a beating over the last winter. we swam inside the first hold through a massive hole that has appeared recently. Once inside the Cathedral like innards of this wonderful Wreck the life around was a just astounding. There were anemones of a variety of colours, Fish of numerous different species and a group of squid amongst the wreckage. We rose up out the holds and swam back to the bow over the top of the ship and ascended up the shot.

After a break on shore with tea, hot chocolate and a session in the Dive shop we headed out to the second wreck of the day. The Scylla had lost all her shots and so we waited for the skipper to shot the wreck, which was done to precision on top of the bridge. We descended down the side of the wreck to just below main deck and explored in insides of the ship. The rooms were fascinating and the dive was great, although being third into all the rooms did prove to be vis wise not so great. but there is still a lot to explore on this ever improving wreck.

A good day was had by all and after Viennese cake we headed back up to Bristol.

Chris

These kind of trips are easy to organise and great days out WHY NOT HAVE A GO?


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