Vobster Quarry training trip - Sunday 31st May 2015 - by Peter Richards Edit
We had quite an odd assortment of divers with a wide range of lessons that needed covering for this training trip down in Vobster. For many of us it was the end of our exams and so what better way to de-stress? The weather was a bit below par for the entrance to British Summer but this didn’t affect the visibility or our resilient spirits too much. With Jez Kent and Simon Atack (freshly qualified from the day before) taking the lessons and Ben Jacobs helping out, we churned through a lot of Ocean and Sports Diver necessities. Jessica Parkin had her first non-pool dive, Heena and I slogged through some Ocean Diver lessons and Tiktian and Hayley very nearly finished off their Sports Diver training. I believe they had a little tour of some of the finest sights Vobster had to offer towards the end of the day, with Tiktian sporting his favourite new full-face mask. All the while we also had Josh trying out some new kit (unfortunately Dive Leader training couldn’t happen this time).
Overall a very productive trip! Positives: lots of training progression made by all. Negatives: I discovered a slight leak in my dry suit which may need some attention… I definitely got wet and perhaps a little bit cold…
To wrap it up when we got back to Bristol a few of us went to a delightful seafood restaurant in the heart of Clifton. I think I ordered the lemon sole. It was delicious.
NDAC Chepstow training trip - 9th May 2015 - by Sam Harrison Edit
4 ocean diver and 3 sports diver trainees along with Chris Bainbridge and Damien instructing went to NDAC early saturday morning for a training trip. Weather was poor at the start of the day but there was some sun in the afternoon. Everybody managed to get some lessons done, Tiktian finished his ocean diver qualification and took a dive with his full face mask! There was lots to see in the quarry, I have never been to NDAC before and it was fun to visit the 2 armoured trucks, bus, land rover, small aeroplane and various home appliances. Viz was fair at about 8m and temperature was around 10 degrees (according to my computer anyway).
West Bay - 25th to 26th April 2015 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit
6 divers (well, 5 on Saturday... Alex was forced to go to a rugby match) headed down to West Bay, Dorset for some charter boat diving. Our trip was organised by Mike Pilkington (ex-UBUC DO), who owns a very nice flat just round the corner from the docks (about a minute walk away).
Our trip consisted of two days diving, with two dives each day. We did a wreck each day, and a scallop dive each day.
St Dunstan Edit
This is a bucket dredger, sunk in 1917 (http://www.divernet.com/Wrecks/wreck_tours/159438/wreck_tour_40_the_st_dunstan.html).
The vis was pretty bad (the wreck sits down at around 30m), but we managed to toddle around quite nicely. There were lots of very big fish (some around 1m in length). We saw the prop shaft and part of the lift mechanism, which consisted of loads of very big cogs.
Mike, Neil and Rebecca were diving in a three, and did some really good swim throughs in and out of the wreck.
Unfortunately my computer works on a different one to Tom's, so I ended up having less no-deco time than he had. We weren't near the shot, and by the time we had deployed the DSMB, my computer had decided I was in a deco dive so we ended up having to do a 3 minute stop at 13m. Thankfully we had larger cylinders and plenty of air, but it's a lesson learnt.
Scallop Dive Edit
We finished Saturday with a scallop dive off a reef that Tom and I managed to swim straight over without realising.. I'm not sure I'd class it as a reef! Having last been on a scallop trip 4 years ago, and Tom having not done one before, we weren't very sure that we'd manage to get much. However, we ended up finding quite a lot - just look for the tell-tale hollows in the sand and you'll find a scallop resting in the middle! Just make sure they're at least your palm size.
There were also a few dogfish and edible crabs hanging about on the 'reef'.
Unfortunately Neil and Mike (Rebecca sat this one out) managed to lose each other at practically the beginning of their dive and so didn't manage to collect many. So we had just ours to eat, which meant (after removing the shell and the rest of the not so nice insides), pan frying with some chorizo, smoked garlic and a nice helping of oil. Mmmmmm!
Scallop Dive Edit
We started Sunday off with another scallop dive on another reef. Thankfully Mike, Neil and Rebecca managed to not lose each other this time, and so came up with quite a lot.
An interesting technique is to send up a DSMB and hook your net bag to the reel at the bottom - it'll just float along and you can then pop scallops into the bag when you find them, freeing up your hands. Unfortunately when I did this, my reel jammed so I had to let go of my DSMB (we fished it out later). Tom used the technique quite effectively though, and together we had a reasonable haul.
This is an armed collier sunk in 1918 (http://www.divernet.com/Wrecks/wreck_tours/159490/wreck_tour_93_the_baygitano.html). After diving it, I can definitely say that it's one of my favourite UK dive sites.
Thankfully the vis was a lot better than at the St Dunstan. We descended straight down onto the boilers (yey for side scan sonar!) and immediately were surrounded by what I'd describe as more of a 'cloud' of fish - there were so many! Alex (who had only brought one cylinder so just did the one dive) dive with Tom and myself, while Neil, Mike and Rebecca went as another three.
We tootled round the boilers, and along some of the deck. I found a rather large conger eel hiding between some of the plate, and spent some time watching it. There was a small swim through that Alex and Tom went through, and then immediately bumped into a humongous lobster. Maybe a metre long, it was huge!
We carried on along the wreck, swimming into huge shoals of fish, playing with crabs (Tom needs to work on his crab picking up technique), and spent some time admiring the winch mechanism that still stands tall next to the boilers.
Cromhall DL Training - 11th April 2015 - By Chris Bainbridge Edit
Just a quick dip in Cromhall to do the skills review and rescue lessons for Dive Leader. Simon and myself were diving, with an instructor from Severnside (Stu) teaching.
Porthkerris - 28th March to 6th April 2015 - By Various Edit
45 UBUCers descended down to PK for our annual club trip! Lots of training was done, we had the boats out every day we could, and hopefully everyone had fun!
Day 1 - Porthkerris Reef + Shotting the Volnay - by Chris Bainbridge Edit
The first day was spent, as always, chugging through training and trying to get as many people through as many lessons as possible. I spent the day either shouting at people, or taking in just-qualified or new to PK divers. There's lots of spiders crabs, edible crabs and fish, as well as the world-renowned 'Swim through' followed by the 'Crack of Life' just to the right after the 'Swim through'.
We also spent the morning fixing the boats and then proceeding to shot the Volnay, in preparation for the week to come. Unfortunately that did take most of the day, so we only managed to get one boat dive done that day, but we were set up for the rest of the week so shuttling people out was very easy!
Day 2 - ??? - by ??? Edit
Day 3 - ??? - by ??? Edit
Day 4 - ??? - by ??? Edit
Day 5 - ??? - by ??? Edit
Day 6 - ??? - by ??? Edit
Day 7 - PK Reef - by Chris Bainbridge Edit
Unfortunately the weather prevented us from getting the boats out on Friday, so instead a few people did a few final dives on PK reef. We had John Adams and Pete Batchelour down, who took a SD trainee in for a lesson.
Sam Harrison, and I (Natalie Lord) had the best dive on Porth Kerris reef we ever had on the last day, because we took our time, and used our torches for every nook and cranny we encountered. I would definitely recommend diving reefs this way, because we saw a lot more life, and different life, than we saw the previous couple of times we dived that same reef. We saw a rock fish, squid eggs, a pregnant wrasse, a velvet swimming crab, and more!
Cromhall Training Trip - 22nd March - By Chris Bainbridge Edit
A training trip, with 16 trainees and 5 instructors. We managed to get lots of training done (nearly everyone did 3 lessons!), and it was a nice sunny day so hopefully not everyone was ridiculously cold!
Plymouth SD Training - 21 March - By Chris Bainbridge Edit
This was a training trip for Sports Diver trainees. As the boats were moored in Plymouth, we took the opportunity for some cheap boat diving.
Unfortunately, the day didn't go as planned. We were supposed to dive the Mewstone Ledges for the first dive., and so drove out there.
The first boat's trainees went in the water at 11:30am, but one of the trainees had a drysuit leak and so the dive had to be aborted for her. A lot of time was spent getting the engine on the other boat to start. Then a mix up of drysuit hoses meant that the second boat's trainees didn't get into the water until 1pm.
After stopping off for lunch, we decided we'd go somewhere closer (because of engine problems) and so headed to the Fort, just north of the breakwater. A bit of training was accomplished, and Ben and myself did a dive. The vis was a lot worse than the Ledges (they reported 8 - 10 metres there, we had 2 - 3 on the Fort). There's not a lot there to be honest, I've written 'Some silt, some fish, some broken up things, some crabs' in my logbook.
After the dive, one of the engines (Ruby) stopped working completely so we had to tow the other boat back to shore.
Plymouth - 14th to 15th March - By Chris Bainbridge Edit
This was a weekend down at Plymouth, staying in a (very cheap) holiday park in Brixham.
The first day we did the JEL and Scylla. The second day we aimed to do two dives, but ended up only doing one.
Day 1 - JEL Edit
The JEL is a very accessible wreck, with a max depth of just 20m. With good vis (7m) it was really good to be able to see lots of the wreck. There's plenty of good swim throughs, as the wreck itself is very open. Plenty of wrasse, we found a crab, but we mainly spent most of the dive swimming through the wreck and admiring the beauty of it.
Day 1 - Scylla Edit
This dive we spent swimming around the Scylla - it's not very broken up, having been scuttled quite recently. You can see inside it but I wouldn't advise going in; it can get very very silty very quickly, and divers have been known to die inside.
After we we round the starboard side, we hit a very large shoal of fish and spent some time watching them. However, this was quite a short dive as I did get pretty cold.
Day 2 Edit
We were supposed to be doing the Elk on Sunday, however after much searching we were unable to locate the wreck (annoying, as we'd easily done it the year before). We headed back to land for some lunch, and then decided to the Abelard as we had to get the boats back onto the trailer before we headed back. Alex and Neil went in, and I think had a reasonable dive. Ben and myself were on the boat, but unfortunately had an engine failure around 3 minutes before they surfaced. Unable to restart the engine, we decided we should do a Pan-pan call. Another dive boat came over to help, however during the time we'd sent the call and whilst we were waiting, we managed to dig out the spare fuel line and lo and behold, the engine spluttered back into life. We then picked up our divers, and after saying thanks to the other board, headed back to shore. We didn't want to do another dive with an engine that wasn't working well, so Ben and myself didn't have a dive on Sunday.
Brixham Training Trip - 7th March - By ??? Edit
Vobster Training Trip - 1st March - By Chris Bainbridge Edit
A very cold Sunday down at Vobster, doing OD and SD training.
Egypt - Red Sea - 2nd to 9th January 2015 - By Various Edit
Day 1 - Poseidon Reef (Check Dive) - by Chris Bainbridge Edit
Our boat was moored off the east side of Poseidon Reef, also known as Sha'ab El Erg. The reef itself is located just north of Hurghada, and looks somewhat like a horseshoe. It's a very shallow reef, reaching a max depth of around 15 metres, and currents tend to be mild. When we were there, the temperature was a balmy 21 degrees.
The first dive of the trip is always to check weights, as after the first dive there isn't really time to do re-adjustments. We spent quite a lot of time swimming back and forth between the line and the boat, mainly because I underestimated the amount of weight I required. Unfortunately in the large swells Carla dropped her GoPro, but thankfully after a bit of searching we managed to find it again.
Keeping the reef to our right shoulder, we headed south. The bottom of the reef is quite rocky to begin with, although it gets sandy as you turn the corner and start heading west. Vis was about 15 metres. There were a few other divers on the reef as well as us, but it didn't seem crowded at all. We saw plenty of fish, both large and small. We had a very large masked pufferfish swim right by us, spent some time trying to get our teeth cleaned by the cleaner wrasse and just spent the rest of the dive being mesmerised by the amount of fish swimming around us.
- Parrot Fish
- Masked Pufferfish
- Forsskal Goatfish
- Red Sea Bannerfish
- Cleaner Wrasse
- Trigger Fish
Day 1 - Sha'ab Abu Nuhas Reef - by Chris Bainbridge Edit
Famous for its wrecks, the reef Sha'ab Abu Nuhas is also ideal to dive, as it's again relatively shallow. We only managed a maximum depth of 12.6 metres, but that allowed us to have a 56 minute dive.
We went in at 17:02, just as the sun was setting. It got darker as we swam along the reef, so torches were a must! It was my first night dive, so I'll admit I was a little nervous. Thankfully the gradual dimming allowed us to get our bearings, so we managed to find our way back easily.
We spent a lot of time wandering slowly along the reef, looking in holes at the sleeping fish, and saw our first lion fish of the trip. Probably the best part of the dive was seeing a large moray eel swimming slowly along the sea bed. As morays are only active for about 2 hours a day, we were very lucky!
On the way back to the boat, we were surrounded by lots of shoals of small fish. I was also enthralled by the sight of the torches of our other divers shining through the water, it was a very beautiful sight.
- Moray Eel
- Lion fish
- Trigger Fish
- Scorpion Fish
- Parrot Fish
Egypt Trip Report: Day 2 - David Wise Edit
Our second day of diving began at the slightly jarring hour of 5.30, although the experience was softened by the crew’s generous offer to bring everyone a hot drink along with the wakeup call. Having left bed at varying rates of knots, everyone made their way to the main cabin to do their tank check and to get ready for the dive brief at 6 o’clock.
The boat was still moored on the south side of the reef of Sha’ab Abu Nuhas where we had dived the previous day. Over the years, the reef had proved to be a significant obstacle for ships leaving the Gulf of Suez, with the wrecks of five to be found on its north side. The plan was to dive two of these that morning, with the first being the Chrisoula K, the ‘Wreck of the Tiles’. The Chrisoula K was a Greek cargo vessel, nearly 100m long, which had run aground on the reef in 1981 whilst on route to Jeddah and subsequently sunk beneath the surface. So that the crew could make our breakfast in time for our return from the dive, we would take the Zodiac ribs to and from the wreck.
With the brief complete and new buddy pairings sorted – a practice that would confuse the dive guides for the rest of the week – everyone kitted up and piled into the Zodiacs for the short trip to the other side of the reef. Although short, the high winds made for some rough seas and it was with relief that we reached the site of the wreck and rolled off the boats. Having been deposited over the centre of the fairly intact ship, we descended down its starboard side to look at the eel garden (lots of sand eels poking their heads out of the sand) found on the sea bed there. We could then swim around to the stern to look at the propeller before heading inside the ship to explore its holds and its various cargos of tiles and construction equipment. On reaching the bow, some divers encountered a giant moray swimming in open water, exciting but ever so slightly unnerving. After more exploring and an excellent wreck dive, we returned to the surface and took the Zodiacs back to the boat.
After a quick breakfast Red Sea Adventurer motored around to the other side of the reef to prepare for our second wreck dive of the morning: the SS Carnatic. The ship had run aground on the reef in 1869, very close to where the Chrisoula K would later meet her end, and the wreck now lay on her port side at a depth of between 17 and 28m. After our briefing we headed into the water to explore what is undoubtedly the most beautiful dive site I have encountered. Despite its great age, the wreck is still in fantastic condition, although the ship split upon sinking, the stern and bow lie close together and aligned, so that the wreck appears intact. Though the original deck is gone, the beams that once supported it remain and their rich clothing of coral creates an environment that feels almost ethereal. Near it on the sand, half sunk, lie the ships masts. Stretching away and down to the deepest point of the wreck, exploring to their ends allowed a wonderful return view of the whole wreck.
With the dive on the Carnatic complete we returned to the boat, lunched and prepared for what was predicted to be a ‘rough’ crossing of the Gulf of Suez in order to reach the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm, where we would do an afternoon and night dive that day. The crossing was as predicted and standing still on the top deck of the boat for more than five seconds was a serious achievement, but with our destination reached we prepared to dive what is probably the Red Sea’s most famous site.
The Thistlegorm was a 128m British Merchant Navy vessel, sunk in 1941 by German bombers, the wreck now lies in 30m of water. The plan during our first dive was to descend a shot line to the vessel’s stern and from there to explore the outside of the ship, leaving its holds and their contents for the next morning’s dive. The dive guides also mentioned that we might, if we were lucky, spot a turtle that had made the Thistlegorm its home during the nights. Entering the water and descending to the wreck, it quickly became apparent that this was a very different wreck dive to the two we had done earlier that day: the sheer size of the ship and the considerably murkier water lent a somewhat eerier feel to the experience. Starting at the stern, we got a chance to look at the Thistlegorm’s two huge anti-aircraft guns. The stern is slightly separated from the remainder of the ship by the remains of the Thistlegorm’s fourth and final hold – the area that was struck by bombs – and passing over this void gave us a view into the internals of the vessel and what we would be exploring the following morning. As we headed towards the centre of the ship and the bridge there were huge shoals of fish surrounding the wreck, with some very large batfish interspersed among them. Some divers spotted tuna and barracuda on the outskirts of these groups. Swimming past the bridge and towards the bow took us over the second and first holds and past the wrecks of the railway cars that had been on the deck outside them. Upon reaching the bow and turning, some of us were lucky enough to spot the turtle heading into hold one for the night. After completing the dive we ascended a shot line at the bridge, looking forward to the opportunity of two further dives with which we could explore more of the ship.
We were all called together for the briefing before our night dive at about 6.30, but were told that unfortunately the current was too strong for a night dive to be safe. There was obviously a certain initial disappointment but closer inspection of the sea, and the discovery that it was doing a passable impression of the Zambezi at the Victoria falls, led most to the conclusion that an evening in wouldn’t be so bad after all. The discovery of Frozen in the boat’s movie collection lifted spirits further and all went to bed in sanguine mood, ready for another day’s diving.
Egypt Trip Report: Day 3 - Alex Bourla Edit
It was another early start for our second dive on the Thislegorm. Having explored the stern, deck & superstructure the previous day (and with a mighty current running along the wreck!) the plan for this dive was to thoroughly explore the holds and bridge/accommodation area.
David Wise and I were lucky enough to be one of the first pairs on the wreck and we decided to start our dive at hold 4 – the empty hold, except today it wasn’t so empty after all with a resident turtle chilling out in the hold! We spent some time with the turtle (who it must be said didn’t seem to appreciate our company as much as we appreciated its). After a few minutes (and no doubt aware of the swarms of divers soon to occupy the wreck) the turtle took its cue to gracefully swim off and we carried on with our dive.
Slowly working our way back through holds 3, 2 and 1 we admired all the amazingly preserved cargo including trucks, jeeps, motorbikes, guns, airplane parts, train carts and more. We turned around at the bow and made a (rather currenty!) dash over the deck back to the superstructure. We explored the captain’s cabin (still fully equipped with bath & toilet!) and then up to the bridge before starting our ascent back to the surface. The fairly extreme current made of a rather interesting ascent literally hanging onto the shot line for dear life! At the surface we (well Jack…) spotted a couple more turtles which was a fitting end to a really amazing dive :D.
Our second dive of the day was on the Kingston – a rather old medium-sized steam ship that ran into Shag Rock in 1881. The wreck has now been almost fully taken over by coral growth to the point where it’s hard to really distinguish between the bow of the wreck and the reef. That said, for its age, the wreck is still rather intact. All this made for a really extremely pretty & atmospheric wreck dive. Anya and I did a couple of loops of the wreck admiring the prop, rudder, mast & boilers as well as swimming through the inside of the wreck between the beams that once supported the decks. One interesting feature of the wreck was some tiller mechanism still in-place at the back of the wreck – here Anya and I attempted a leaning-tower-of-pisa-esque photo of me driving the ship (see below), I’m not sure we were too successful but I’ll leave that for you to judge!
Worth pointing out that there were loads of fish on the wreck. In fact there were so many fish that one of them decided to photo bomb Chris…
Our last two dives were based on the barge located at Gubal Island. The barge itself is almost totally broken up with only some bits of the sides of the barge still left. That said, the barge itself and the area around it are home to loads of coral and life. On our third dive Anya and I initially stayed near to the wreck and saw lots including lionfish, stone fish, barracuda, some big wrasse thing (technical term…) and a couple of small grey eels. We then went away from the wreck where we started seeing numerous moray eels of varying sizes, some fairly impressively large clams, inadvertently pissed off some anemone fish and saw more grey eels. Having swam fairly far from the wreck we took a slightly lucky guess on the correct direction back and eventually found our way back to the wreck. We did one more circuit of the barge, seeing yet more eels and then back to the boat.
We finished our days diving with a night dive of the barge. This time I dived with David Wise and again on this dive we saw lots of eels, lionfish, shrimp, sleeping parrotfish and more. This brought a really amazing day’s diving to an end. The dives on the Thislegorm and Kingston in particular were some of my favourite dives of the holiday (and probably some of my favourite dives ever in fact!) and I’ll remember them for quite a long time to come :).
Babbacombe Booze-Up - 22nd November 2014 - By Chris Bainbridge Edit
Divers - Numerous (21 of us)
After sorting out the kit the night before, we met at 7am at stores, lovely and early. As we knew the previous night hadn't been good in terms of weather conditions, Neil, Alex and Andy headed down to check an alternative dive site out (Thurlestone). However, when they got there they decided the vis was pretty terrible, so all cars instead carried on to Babbacombe.
There was great excitement as a seal was spotted off Babbacombe pier by a few people who'd gone to check out vis. Unfortunately, the bad news was that there wasn't much of it. Nevertheless, as always and in true UBUC spirit, we went in anyway!
Lots of people were very excited to get in the water, especially as for a few of them, it was their first UK dive. We paired new divers with experienced ones, and with that went into the water. Where we found vis to be about 1m... I couldn't even see my gauge!
Although the first pairs to come out of the water were all moaning about the lack of vis, nevertheless, the rest of the buddy pairs decided that they were there, so they might as well go diving. In they went, to more cries of 'the vis is terrible!'. Personally, my first dive included losing Lena's fins (and subsequently somehow finding them again), seeing one very, very small shrimp, and Andy finding a "shiny thing!".
However, by sticking close to the pier, a few good dives were had. Highlights included lots (hundreds) of shrimp, some crabs, fish, and the resident Conger Eel in a hole on the bottom right hand corner of the pier. Tap on the roof of his cave and he'll come out to investigate! Rory and myself also found what we termed 'the plug of the ocean', although we didn't try pulling it out. Lastly, I believe a close encounter with the seal of earlier was had, as the divers surfaced to see it bobbing behind them.
Despite the vis being bad, the weather on Saturday was almost perfect, with blue skies and white clouds, and a sea as flat as a pond.
Lastly, many thanks to Jon Hauser for completing Rory's Ocean Diver qualification, and Katie and Nicola's Sports Diver qualifications. Congratulations to all!
After the diving, we headed back to Le Papillon, Torquay. There was a brief respite while showers were had (hot if you paid 50p for them), dives were discussed, log books were signed, naps were taken, alcohol was bought and crisps were shared. A pasta bolognese had been previously prepared, and thus just required heating and eating. Mmmm.
And with that all over, bottles were opened, music was cracked up and the festivities began! We decided (after much debate - all of 5 seconds) that it was probably a bad idea to go out to Torquay, so the night consisted of the following (in what I think was the right order..)
- Never have I ever (how did we start off with this???)
- The 'work out what word the person is talking / miming about' game
- The 'move to the next seat if your card suit is called' game
- The cardboard box game (Neil and Caitlin, I salute you)
- The 'don't let the person in the middle sit down' game (followed by the 'clear the smashed bottle off the floor' game)
- The 'two corners on, two corners off' game (followed by the 'drunkenly step on the card tower' game)
- The 'ask two people who is better at something they'll definitely not agree on' game
- The 'practice Dirty Dancing flips' 'game' (also known as 'throw Carla and Katie about' game)
Followed lastly, of course, by the obligatory 'eat the leftover bolognese' game.
The next morning (not too early!), a delightful fried breakfast was cooked and eaten (somehow even when no oven and only two electric grills were available - good job to all!) followed by a slightly longer (quite a bit of traffic) drive back, cleaning kit and pumping cylinders session, ending with some hearty goodbyes and a lot of knackered divers. Early nights for all, I believe!
Although I'm not sure I can rate the diving, I had a great time on my first Babbacombe trip, and I hope everyone else had fun, especially the Crossovers on their first ever UBUC adventure! Bring on next year (and hopefully, as always, better vis!)
Louis Shied Evening Shore Dive - 19th June 2014 - By Alex Bourla Edit
Divers: Alex Bourla & Neil Love, Freedivers: Anya Keatley & Michael Waterworth
Ordinarily I'm not sure whether a single evening shore dive would justify its own trip report but with this one ending up being hands down the best UK shore dive I've ever done I felt it deserved one!
This trip got off to a bit of a shaky start with our plans changing pretty drastically on the day! Originally there were 3 of us, 2 divers and Neil who was going to come along but not dive. Unfortunately the second diver pulled out and it looked like we were going to have to call off the trip - a bit of a shame given the favourable weather conditions and recent reports of 10m+ vis! Neil decided that rather than call off the trip he'd be up for diving himself instead however Neil was at work in Weston Super-mare but his kit in his room in Bristol. In our wisdom it was decided that the best thing to do would be for me to drive from Bristol to Weston, pick Neil up, drive back to Bristol, get Neil's kit and then drive 2 hours down to Thurlestone - all for a single shore dive!
The fairly mammoth journey went well, I picked Neil up took him back to Bristol to get his kit. It was here that we picked up Anya and Michael. They were originally planning to go caving but tempted by the diving decided to come along - without filled tanks etc they decided they'd just free dive around the wreck instead (it only lies at around 7m or so).
We got to Thurlestone at about 7pm greeted by idyllic surface conditions - not a cloud in the sky or even as much as a ripple on the surface. Keen to get in the water we got kitted up and ready to go.
After the not-so-short surface swim we descended directly onto the wreck (think I'll put that down to skill rather than luck!), vis was about 6m+ and pretty much from the word go life on the wreck was quite prolific! There were more types of fish than I could identify all in big groups all over the wreck - I'm pretty sure I saw almost every kind of fish I'd ever seen in UK waters! We saw a lot of really big lobsters, one particularly massive one was hiding in a pipe near the boilers when Neil managed to coax it all the way out with the power of his rotating torchlight - impressive Dr Dolittle-esque stuff! We also saw the usual mix of other wildlife, different types of crabs etc.
Being quite shallow we had plenty of time on the wreck and managed to do a couple of laps of the whole thing seeing bits we'd both never seen before. Considering it's depth (little over 7 or 8 m) there are some pretty impressively large sections still remaining.
Towards the end of the dive we were heading back to the boilers when I spotted something in one of the holes - it looked like the bottom half of a Conger Eel. I beckoned Neil to investigate and when Neil went to look in an adjacent hole just a bit further up he was greeted by an up-close encounter with the face of the largest Conger Eel either of us had ever seen!
When we eventually headed back to the surface (75 minutes later!) we surfaced to the sight of a pretty impressive sunset over the headland - a fitting end to a spectacular dive!
We were both absolutely buzzing and never could have believed to have seen such a prolific show of life in only 7m of water off the coast of Devon! We didn't make it back to Bristol till near 1am and had ended up driving over 350 miles just for a single UK shore dive but I can't tell you how worth it is was worth it. Having dived it a few times now the Louis Shied has genuinely never disappointed, for those looking for a nice easy shore dive I can't recommend it enough!
Additional Trips Edit
- Gozo - 7th to 12th June 2014
- Louis Shied - 19th June 2014
- Vobster - 28th/29th June 2014
- Farne Islands - 5th/6th July 2014
- Cromhall - 23rd August 2014
- Plymouth (JEL & Elk) - 20th/21st September 2014
- Chepstow - 19th September 2014
- Vobster (night dive) - 30th September 2014
- Vobster Crossover Trip - 9th November 2014
- Chepstow - 30th November 2014
- Red Sea (Northern Wrecks & Reefs aboard M/Y Red Sea Adventurer) - 2nd to 9th January 2015
- Plymouth 14/15th March (JEL, Scylla, Abelard)
- Plymouth 21st March