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Chesil Cove - 18/9/16 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

7 UBUC'ites headed down to Chesil Cove for some cheeky shore dives. We had a few new people and so paired them up with experienced ones (somehow we had 4 OWIs on one trip! Crazy). Unfortunately, Jess' drysuit leaked on her first dive, so she couldn't continue. The rest of us managed two dives each, where we saw quite a few cuttlefish (at least one per dive) and some wreckage (although I couldn't tell you what part of a ship we were looking at). Andy also found probably the smallest wreck I've ever seen (it wasn't much bigger than me), possibly a fishing boat or suchlike. Vis was great (6-8m) and the temperature was a beautiful 18 degrees. Definitely the right time of the year for diving in the UK!

Kyarra - 8/7/16 - by Sam Walder Edit

Plan your dive and dive your plan. Well this is what both Chris and I thought we were doing. We were just coming up from a very pleasant 40 minute dive on the Kyarra expecting 15 minutes of deco (BSAC 88). This was not at all the case as both of our computers were asking for around 40 minutes! We compromised and did 30 minutes of this (not ideal) before we gave up and headed back to a rather displeased skipper. We were well over our dive time by this stage! It was fortunate that we had gone a bit overboard with the amount of air we took with us allowing us to spend the extra time in deco without running out.

So what had gone wrong? You may think we went for deeper or longer than we had planned with tables, or perhaps we just messed up the plan altogether? Well, this is not quite the case. As it turns out, both of our computers are a lot more conservative than tables for deco diving. This was confirmed by using the “simulate dive” feature on them the next day.

Moral of the story? If you are deco diving with a computer, simulate it on the computer before the dive so that you know what to expect!

Shoalstone / Fairy Cove - 30/7/16 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

Some Dive Leader training with Carla plus an introduction to UK diving with Tom. Scared the life out of him when we found a large spider crab.

Shag Rock / Fairy Cove - 23/7/16 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

Sam and I headed down to the Tor Bay area for some shore diving. We dived Shag Rock in the morning (man, it's a swim - 10 to 15 minutes each way), where Sam found a reasonably large dogfish and we got caught in a bit of a current as the tide was coming off high water slack. Thankfully we managed to hide round the other side of the rock, and there was a bit of confusion when we found ourselves at 2m and (it turns out after) both gesturing that we should go up to have a look around but both completely mis-understanding the other.

After lunch at the cafe overlooking Shag Rock, we headed round the corner to Fairy Cove and the wrecks to the south of the cove. By this time it was nearing low water, so the max depth wasn't more than 5m. However, after diving along some sand we came first to some plate (woohoo, bits of wreck!) and then suddenly more and more life started appearing. Loads of big lobsters, and assortment of crabs, shrimp, jellyfish, big wrasse, big shoals of pout, loads of tom pot blennies.. the list goes on and on. And all this in ~4m, and probably no more than 30m from the shore. If you follow the lobster pot line it'll take you south along the interesting parts. There's loads of cracks and overhangs and small gullies to explore, just take your time. Next time we should head further south as I don't think we found all of the wreckage.

Farnes - 8/7/16 - 10/7/16 - by Carla Greco Edit

After 8 hours of gruelling traffic, 11 UBUCers finally made their way to Seahouses, Northumberland with one sole aim - to go find seals! We started off early on Saturday, met Paul our skipper (from Farne Island Divers) at Beadnell Bay and headed off to the islands. We started seeing seals as soon as we reached the first dive site, and we saw plenty during the dives. All the divers had their fins (and sometimes even fingers) nibbled, and I even got a hole in my glove from an overly excited seal. We headed to the bunkhouse in high spirits and after a quick fish and chips headed to the beach or a game of the cardboard box challenge (won by Lily).

On Sunday it was a similar story, we had two dives with the playful seals then went for a quick pub meal before our drive home.

Divers: Carla, Chris, Alex, Ivan, Lily, Emily, Patrick, Tiktian, Beth, Jocelino, Sam

Cromhall - 2/7/16 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

Training session, SO2-5.

Gozo - 15/6/16 - 21/6/16 Edit

Skomer - 3/6/16 - 11/6/16 Edit

Padstow (Lobster Release) - 08/4/16 - by Jessica Menzies Edit

It was not a bright and energetic start on Saturday, as being the morning following the AGM, quite a large proportion of the group were a little tired and not quite up to scratch. However, after a good two hours plus of faffing, a terrifyingly loud pop noise (which was not in fact the boats puncturing, to our relief), and forgetting several pieces of crucial equipment we were on our way down to Padstow.

Due to the inevitable extra faff which should have been anticipated, we barely made it in time to the Lobster Hatchery - so had a hasty look around to see the work that is done there. We saw the lobsters at each stage in the life cycle, including the larvae which are kept in a cone shaped tank whizzing round so they don't eat each other and the juveniles which were only a few centimetres big and some of which didn't know "how to lobster," just yet. Hutch from Harlyn Dive Centre was extremely helpful in advising us on where and how to release the lobsters so big thanks to him. That night we camped at Tregavone Farm, which I'd recommend for future trips to this area.

The morning brought a bit of sunshine and alarms at 6am, enough time to get the morning's faff underway. Three hours later we were out on the water, heading out of the river mouth then west around the headland. On the first dive each buddy pair carried down a tray containing 200 baby lobsters, which we released (although some were pretty reluctant and took a little "persuasion") and had to defend by scaring off any wrasse. At around 10-15m, we also found cuttlefish, pipefish, dogfish and hundreds of starfish and crabs, as well as an adult lobster. Due to tides, we wouldn't have been able to get back into the harbour until about 3pm, but this was no problem as fun was to be had exploring the coastline on our trusty boats (which amazingly had zero problems). We found some caves and also a couple of seals! For the second dive, we attempted, unsuccessfully, to find a wreck and also a lost fin. The vis wasn't too bad, although if this trip was to run again I'd suggest going a few weeks earlier as there was an algal bloom at this time. Cheers guys for a great weekend!

Hive Beach - 24/4/16 - by Sam Walder Edit

Preface by the author Edit

When writing trip reports I have always struggled with where to begin. To write my latest piece I really had to dig into the ‘why’ of trip reports to answer this. There are many questions in life that will always go unanswered; “why did the chicken cross the road?”, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it have we found the perfect place for a Nickelback concert?”. However, as we shall see, “why do we write trip reports?” is not one of them.

So I asked myself exactly this; are we just puppets on the stage, who write to amuse and entertain? Or do we serve a greater purpose? I believe where my previous works have been the former, my latest work aspires to greater things. The answer to the question then, as to why? This is clear! We write trip reports to accurately document the trials, tribulations, and indeed the exultations, of those who partake in the diving in order to fortify the great society that is UBUC by embedding an intrinsic wisdom into its very core.

Part 1 – A not unexpected journey Edit

After a restless night’s sleep it was to a cool but bright spring morning that I awoke. As I cleared the sleep from my weary mind I had to concede that the gin was an error (though a joyful one at the time). Today was the day on which hundreds of man hours of preparation would come to a head, today we would once again brave the undersea world to go where no member of the club had been before. With all due care and precision I lobbed all my kit into a sack and reinvigorated myself with a caffeinated beverage (it is left to the reader to choose a caffeinated beverage of their preference for this part of the story as this will help the reader to identify with the protagonist).

To stores I then travelled with my accomplice Rory, it was there, under the fresh, bright and speckled light of the union car park where I found myself glad to have done the pre-faff of the previous evening. This meant that instead of the gentle sound of the rise and fall of the pistons of Taylor, we were instead bathed on the majestic background ambiance of the unions other plant equipment. This set the scene for the arrival of the rest of our gallant team as we requisitioned from the horde what it was that was needed to undertake our voyage.

The team was then divided into two distinct parties; the scouting team and the reconnaissance team. While the scouting team made their way through the wilderness of the A37 to the site of the fabled bacon butty, the reconnaissance team sought out a delicatessen from which to acquire all of the apparatus for our highly proclaimed chef to work his wonders on the beach.

Onwards we went, in convoy along the road lesser trodden. We kept in close radio contact to ensure that all the members of our party remained accounted for on this perilous traverse of the south of the continent. Eventually we were split asunder by our divergent goals - as the distance between us grew we fell out of radio contact, leaving each of the teams on their own in the great expanse. When we would once again be reunited again we did not know, and so we soldiered on.

It was at long last that Chris and I in the scouting vehicle laid our eyes on the coast. It had not been easy, with some disagreements about whose satellite navigation system was the most reliable our journey had been fraught with dangers of a major fall out between the team (which would have of course resulted in death, as in the style of any true epic).

Having the awe of our destination in sight, it was with mild trepidation that we navigated our way the final few miles to the area which we knew to contain the final resting place of the Abbotsbury bomber. Having paid the master of the car park the prerequisite fee to use the facilities we were quick to equip ourselves with a kingly snack; from the beachside kitchenette that had clearly been prepared for our glorious arrival we were able to obtain a bacon butty of adequate quality. This gave us the necessary strength of mind to put behind us the misery of the drive such that we could then overlook the path that lay before us (which, as it turns out, led just over the rise and onto the beach).

As we made our way onto the beach, we made sure to keep a sharp eye out for signs of transits. My accomplice, Chris, is experienced in this and had warned me of the possible dangers with these fickle beasts. (For those who do not know, the wild transit can take on almost any form, and even with prior information as to where to expect them to be, it is often still difficult to identify the creatures.) We were somewhat spooked to find that the large dragon’s teeth that had been foretold to exist in these parts were nowhere to be seen. In light of the theft of these ancient scars on the landscape we retreated to seek the knowledge of the local populace.

It was in the light of new intelligence that we realised that both the dragon’s teeth and the wreck of the bomber had both been covered by the sand and silt, buried too deep to be rediscovered. We rapidly had to reassess our situation and communicate it to the other half of our party… wherever they were…

Part 2 – Plan B Edit

Later, we found ourselves on the way to hive beach – the backup plan. We had communicated this to the reconnaissance party by way of the hi-tech cellular based radio transceivers we had brought with us. Now the entire party was heading for the car park on what turned out to be a site of outstanding natural beauty. Just moments after our scouting team arrived, the reconnaissance team drove in, triumphant in their successful finding of several disposable barbeques and a small mountain of meaty goodness.

Once a little bit of faffing with the parking had been accomplished, all 7 of our party reassembled to overlook the beach. What a site this was! The calm blue-green ocean was framed with clay cliffs to the left and sandstone cliffs to the right. The briefing of our valent crew was then delivered, outlining a plan to follow a fault in the rock along west that would then lead us to a reef. This was to be the target of our best diving.

We then once again turned our attention to the classic UBUC past time of faffing about. This time this took on the form of unloading the kit from the cars onto the beach. After a time of hard labour we began to suit up for the first of what would undoubtedly be some of the world's very finest diving. Most of us then in our exposure suits, we then decided that it would be nicer to locate our kit a bit further down the beach. This warmed us all up nicely such that by the time we had moved everything we were exhausted.

We entered the water at around half past noon with the tide relatively slack. We grouped our divers into a two and a three with those in dry suits in one group and semi-dry suits in the other. We swam out from the shore by just a few meters before making our decent into the deep. Signalling our intent we descended down and down until we reached the dizzying depth of just over 6m. By the time we reached the bottom of the deep it was about all we could do to remain within sight of the rest of our divers. The sea was like a soup from a school dinner, thin, murky and full of disappointment. Visibility was barely in excess of 1m and at times it was significantly less.

Re-establishing our bearings we then left to explore the sub aqua realm, what we would find still an unbounded curiosity. Within minutes I was shocked to see that one of my buddy’s hands had mutated on exposure to the elements into what looked like a spidery crustacean. Of course this was just their little jape, as they had instead picked up a small wonder of the ocean – the wiley spider crab. This legendary creature can often be spotted in the deep ocean around the coasts of middle earth and is commonly known as the servants of the gates keepers to the underworld. On their days off though they enjoy perambulating around the local delicatessens nibbling on the fruits of the ocean. Returning this creature to its musings we ventured onwards.

Through our explorations, navigating this way and that we saw many more of these creatures, but it was by chance that I had the fortune of spotting a dogfish deep in slumber. We spent some time marvelling and performing the traditional dance to appease the breatherand of dogfish. At no point did he wake from his slumber, which means that our dance was to the brethren’s satisfaction. Onwards we journeyed.

After around 40 minutes in the undersea world we found that our capacity for discovery began to dwindle (though we were wrongly accused for running out of interest in the bleak diving, which could of course not have been further from the truth). We began the transition back to the surface leaving this place behind until next time. On our arrival at the surface we found that our navigation had kept us close to the entry point. We did not find the fault at any point and as such the reef remained beyond reach. We would return later to attempt to discover the reef.

As we dragged ourselves up the beach it was with the overwhelming excitement and joy of a small child who had been returned to their loving parents after a long period of isolation that Chris announced that he had the barbeque well under way. Shedding our weight we assessed the culinary delights that were in preparation on the temporary mobile cooking station. To our elation there were the BBQ classics of pork cylinders and beef pancakes with carbohydrate sponges to wrap it all in. After a period of lounging in our sweet excellence, we turned our eyes once again to the ocean to find where our other divers had gotten to. Looking out to sea in the direction of the entry point and turning our sights west, we suddenly saw a distant speck. Clearly this was them, they had travelled an incredible distance and on establishing that they were happy we decided to bravely leave them to their long walk back to base.

After gorging ourselves on the meat and the carbs we spent a few moments, neigh, hours settling into a state of trance on the beach. Gazing into the skies we looked upon the oscillation of the distant planets around galactic central point and realised how utterly dull the distant universe is in comparison with the bustling hive that is the deep of our more local, and yet inaccessible oceans. With this musing we once again began to discuss what we hoped to discover in our next crusade through the oceans so blue.

Once again donning our life support systems we slipped into the cool waters. On this occasion we had decided to follow the current to wherever it may take us, in the hope that the local gods would take us to new and yet undiscovered places (the names of the local gods have long since slipped into history in a bit of a subtle way, but we heard a rumour that once one of the local gods won the crossword competition on mount Olympus back at a rather ‘happening’ party making them a bit of a celebrity). We began our descent into the blue for the second time on this day and were not entirely unsurprised to see that we still couldn’t see anything. However this minor detail could not dampen our spirits as they were all tightly locked up inside our dry suits!

We ventured on, playing a game of ‘who can spot the biggest spider crab’. A game which it turns out both I and Hayley are quite good at, though I sit safe in the knowledge that as the overlord of the crustatiouse collection of crabs I can call into being a crab of any size at a whim. We scoured the seabed for another 40 minutes and once again found more life than I care to mention in this rather brief recollection of those events that unfolded. The most notable of the sightings made in this visit to the realm however was a spider crab of outstandingly typical proportions. This crab was rather aggressive though and we think it was likely because some cheeky dolphin had pinched his staff of enlightenment, robbing him of his telekinetic powers. This meant it took little antagonisation to get him to jump and try to pinch our fingers.

After leaving the crab to continue on his desperate search for his lost power we soon found that we were once again full to capacity with our tolerance for the discovery of the new and decided to return to the land. Ascending to the surface we found that we had moved some way west from our initial entry point and it was now time to paddle back to our base of operations.

On our rather triumphant return to base we set about having a nice rest. One of the major discoveries of the day was then made – in one of the shopping bags there was a pack of chocolate digestive biscuits! Fantastic! In honor of the ancestors we ate as many as we could before fully settling into a resting state. It was at this point that Hayley indicated that she was too warm. Chris and myself were quick to put our advanced rescue skills into practice and adeptly buried her in the sand. This is a somewhat lesser known technique, but she quickly stopped complaining of her temperature and instead the weight of sand. This is a sure fire indication that the problem had been resolved, and thus we rested.

Some ten minutes thereof a final dive was suggested to have a final look at the bottom of the deep for further life. This final expedition was once again going to include all of our diving party (apart from Hayley, she was inappropriately cynical about the chances of us finding and treasure on the last dive - but as the old adage goes; “third times the charm”). Once again we stepped forth into the breach, what wonders would unfold before us still a world of infinite possibilities.

Astoundingly, we made our most crucial discovery on this final dive. After accepting some slightly dubious directions from one of the local inhabitants (I think he said his name was Dave, nice chap) we swam forth, past the rock with the hole in it, left past the impending threat of failure, straight on past the feeling of existential doom, to the big rock of forgotten promises. Here it was that we made our startling discovery – a small carving in the rock face cautioning divers of the poor diving conditions at Hive beach after a week of Northerly winds.

Part 3 – The Awakening Edit

BANG!

A bump in the road awoke me from my dozing. I had found myself in the front seat of Chris’ majestic Volvo once again and a combination of the motion of the car and the exhaustion from packing all the kit into the chariots had sent me into a pleasant slumber.

Editor notes: Actually the Volvo has some of the comfiest suspension around, so I hope it was more of a crater in the road than a bump.

As the landscape rolled by in the distance I reflected on the triumph that was our latest quest. With a party of a mere 6 people we had managed to explore the lesser known world at Hive beach. Our discoveries beyond that which can be articulated through any tong, and our experience a characterful reminder of the insignificance of us in the patchwork that makes up our feeble society. As the world spins on, and the decades roll past, what will the UBUC of the distant future take of how we conduct ourselves now? They may perhaps come to exist in a world that we would see as completely devoid of sense and meaning, where the clubs diving is somehow entirely replaced with faff. Whatever the future holds, we must march forwards, through the passage of time, exploring as we do such that those who will come after us can understand the very existence that surrounds them.

Chesil Beach / Portland Harbour - 17/4/16 - by Sam Walder Edit

Part 1 – The Adelaide

Full of the joys of spring, it was with the sun rising before us that we set out upon yet another gallant quest. Having pulled together the resources needed into Chris’ epic juggernaut, we raced of with the sounds of Sam FM to guide us (well, also some dodgy directions).

Upon arrival at the kingdom of diving two distinct paths lay before us; casual perusal of the site in which we were to perform our heroic diving, or to seek out the fuel for the strongest among us. Some of us having acquainted ourselves with the local delicacy (yeast-aerated baked-dough, with thin slices of grilled, cured ham, with a tomato relish (colloquially: bacon butty)) it was time to engage with one of the UBUC core aims; to faff.

Sometime later the faff was complete to the approval of our Dastardly Overlord (DO) and we set out on foot to traverse the great heap of shingles that someone has dumped in a ruddy 15m high pile. For several days and several nights we marched tirelessly, loaded with all of the paraphernalia suited to such a voyage. It was at long last, almost 10 minutes later, that we rested our weary frames on the edge of the water.

It was at this moment that it seemed appropriate to introduce some more of the faffing, and using rather inventive skill, one of our party had come up with quite an ingenious plan. By taking from the car a cylinder that had not been filled sufficiently he was able to invoke a return journey for himself to seek a replacement. This gave us an opportunity to debate different interpretations of the transits, a task which I helpfully ignored entirely.

The seasons came and went, the land changed, time past, and then suddenly, without warning, the final member of our party returned with his precious cargo. This meant that at long last, we could reunite the dive team to once again roam the ocean (much like a whale I suppose). We finned out, as a 3 and a 2, and chose a random spot to make our decent. Final checks and down we went!

Down down down we descended, falling as a feather dropped from a steeple. The world was different in this place. The colours were somehow less vivid, the atmosphere felt heavy, and the landscape was bleak. A thick fog seemed to have rolled in sealing in the feeling of doom. We had been split up in the turmoil as now I could only see Mark. We realised time was against us and quickly stepped into action. Checking our bearing we began our search for the Adelaide and away we went.

For 41 minutes we searched, but, tragically, we never found the wreck. Her crew and cargo will remain a mystery to us as it was with the greatest of regret we abandoned the search and ascended from the desolate wasteland. Returning to the shore we then immersed ourselves in the de-kit faff under the watchful eye of the Deadly Overseer (DO). This was rounded off nicely with a healthy slice of walking back over the heap of shingles.

On returning to the squadron of awaiting vehicles we made our plans for the second part of our quest. Onwards we journeyed, to a local café we found in a harbour. Here more local delicacies were served to enrich all of our now wearisome assembly. This rejuvenating sustenance invigorated our spirits and the plan for the second dive of the day unfolded….

Part 2 – The Phoenix

Having swallowed the disappointment of our morning dive we now went once again into the water with our hearts held high. Our mission? To dive and report back on the suitability of the Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Units as a dive location. These majestic lumps of concreate have been quoted as weighing in at over 700 thousand tonnes each! (-Someone who does not understand weights, probably). 

Once again we finned out to the entry point and prepared our bodies and our minds once again to delve into the underwater world. Down we went! We proceeded cautiously, we had planned not to go deeper than 20 meters but what we saw when we got down was beyond what we were expecting. 

Sod all! At 5m we arrived at the muddy bottom and were greeted by snotty water and about 1m visibility. Regardless we continued on our plan and managed to get all the way to the end of the units. On our way we saw a few things, of note was a rather nice crab.

After this 40 minute expedition we were able to report back that this is not the most interesting dive site that we have ever encountered. And thus, our quest was concluded. Safe in the knowledge that our group is likely the first from the civilised world to conquer these parts, we departed.

In this life of mystical quests, I am always excited to discover where it will take us next.

PK - 19/03/16 - 25/03/16 Edit

19/03/16 - by Ivan Horoshenkov Edit

The first day of the renowned PK trip began with a couple of people going down to PK to scout out the conditions. Receiving news that it was too rough to launch the boats and conduct training, we set our sights on Mullion Cove, despite significant protest from Damian. Bourla and I were the first to arrive at the harbour, seeing that although the vis was far from perfect, it was relatively calm and the harbour provided an ideal location for the OD trainees.

Eventually, when most people had arrived (some went to PK to rent drysuits), we split into a group of OD trainees, who were matched up to instructors, and qualified divers, who were going to go out on the boats. Having done this, we quickly realised there was a shortage of oil for the boats. Just as Andy was preparing to embark on a drive to the PK petrol station to source more oil, the harbour master emerged and offered to source the oil for us at a reasonable price. Despite sorting this issue relatively quickly, the faffing continued, and we were only ready to go out on the boats at around 12:30.

The first boat dive of the day consisted of both boats going out around the back of Mullion Island, where it was somewhat more choppy. With no real dive objectives except for 'seeing what we can see', the dive was more about checking the boats are in order and getting our weights right. For Josh and I the dive was rather unsuccessful, as I was considerably under-weighted and we had to be picked up. The others reported that the bottom wasn't much more exciting bar a couple of starfish and the odd crab. We returned to shore to find that training was going fairly well, and the sun came out to accompany lunch.

Following this, a few people went for some shore dives around the harbour, but boat diving was put off for a lack of cylinders which had to be filled at the end of a lengthy drive to PK. The cylinders were prioritised for trainees, which allowed the training to continue during this time. By the time enough cylinders had arrived for the boat divers, there was just enough time for a dive on the South side of the bay. Again, there was not much to be seen in the way of sea life, but the kelp forest and large boulders proved for a somewhat interesting dive nonetheless. This dive lasted about 35 minutes and we returned to the harbour for 17:30. We then loaded up the cars and headed back to the caravan park for a relaxing end to a good day of diving.

20/03/16 - by Sam Walder Edit

On the second day of the great Porthkerris Expedition of early 2016 we found that unfavourable conditions forced us to once again dive at the site of Mullion Harbour. Having already rehearsed the process of getting the kit out of the cars and the boats onto the water we were expertly slick. We once again saw a fellow dive club on the site (the University of Warwick if I recall correctly).

The order of the day was frantic training for all of the trainees with a little bit of boat diving for some of the qualified divers. While some explored what fantastical marine life there was to be found around the bay (one claimed to have seen a starfish) some of us went on a hunt for a lessor know wreck around the corner. After 20 minutes of hunting we divided to cut our losses with the transits and dodgy GPS coordinates we had and jumped in at a promising looking rock.

One of the two buddy pairs on the dive unfortunately had a compass that did not point north, so they did not find the wreck. For myself and my buddy, we were rewarded for our navigational prowess with a sighting of a fish. We however did not find the wreck.

On return of the boats to the bay a second wave of divers was quick to get out on the boats to try their luck with some more accurate coordinates from a more experienced member of the club. They reported back that there are indeed a few bits of wreck to see, though they are not filled with life.

Once the excitement of the morning had subsided with the onset of the afternoon we saw some of the fabled Cornwall sun. This was a relief to all of the divers waiting for the cylinders to be filled. I was able to make the most of the time with the luxury of doing the practical for the sports diver rescue. 

To give further excitement to the day before putting the boats away a little sightseeing voyage around the island was hastily put together. This was somewhat short lived as one of the boats broke down just outside the bay, resulting in a towing one of the boats back to the shore.

After this there was some further training with the freshly filled cylinders, but little else in terms of diving. And so, another day on this marvellous expedition was concluded with a few drinks back at base. With some sadness in my heart, this was the point where I had to leave the rest of the group to head back to Bristol.

21/03/16 - by Chris Coltman Edit

By Monday the weather had cleared up and we could finally dive from PK! The sea was flat and It was a nice sunny day too. We got to the beach and the ocean divers continued to work through their lessons in and around the reef with Chris, Mike and Damian instructing.

The rest of us assembled the zodiacs and shortly after headed off in search of the Volnay, a WW1 wreck just a few minutes drive up the coast around Porthallow cove. We had coordinates and used the depth sounder to scan the area. It wasn’t long before we came across what we thought was the Volnay. Alex and Andy kitted up and went down with the shot, surfacing only a few minutes later. They had descended right between the two boilers. Acceptable precision I would say.

With the Volnay marked, the rest of us went down to have a look around. Vis was around 4-5m, so not too bad and the water temperature was a chilly 8°C so 34mins was enough for myself and Carla. An enjoyable dive it was. I heard rumours of there being lobsters around the boilers but never actually saw them myself. After everyone was back on board we headed back to the beach. Andy managed to keep his breakfast down despite the 0.1m swell - Good job :D

After a bit of lunch, we headed back around to the Volnay so that the others could dive there. We finished up around 1700 and headed back to the caravan park, celebrating the successful days diving with a banquet of pizza and bevs.

22/03/16 - by Lily Pearson Edit

Tuesday was our second day of diving on PK, and although it wasn’t nearly as sunny as the day before, the weather was still good and the sea not too rough. Most ocean divers had almost completed their training by now, and all that was left was doing a boat dive. The boats were driven back and forth, from the beach to the reef. Myself and Sophie were one of the last to go, and had Mark instructing us how to dive off the boat. Once in the water, we had a good look around the reef and it felt amazing to finally be qualified!

At this point, some of us went back on the boats for a last dive of the day at the Volnay! It was incredibly exciting for me to be doing such an amazing dive after being qualified for less than a day! I was buddy paid with Andy, there were two boats filled with other divers and we entered the water about 2.50PM. Once underwater, there was a noticeable difference in temperature due to the deeper waters (about 10 degrees), while the surface temperature was 11 degrees. We descended right onto the boilers, and had a little swim around the entire wreck, even finding a few of the old shots used. The vis was fairly good, and saw a few spider crabs and some fairly big fish. After a total dive time of 26 minutes, all of us surfaced and head back to the beach. Diving at the Volnay was a fantastic end to my trip at PK.

23/03/16 - by Emily Grout Edit

On Wednesday I began my sports diver training; I was buddied with John, and Damien was our instructor. It was my first boat dive at PK which was really exciting! The journey to the site itself was very relaxing and we saw a lonely seal having a sunbath on the rocks. I have to admit the sun coming through the clouds made it much harder to face the icy water. But inevitably the boat stopped, the anchor was dropped and we 'faffingly' pulled all our gear on (doing this gracefully is a new level of diving). We descended down a shot line onto Raglan Reef in the Manacles, this was my first experience of pulling myself further into the unknown and as we reach 20 metres I started to become aware of the cold and sense of isolation in the water.

Damien guided us along the wall which was covered in beautiful anemones in all colours and sizes, it was like a hidden Eden. Damien then picked up a spider crab for us to hold -a slightly scary experience but nonetheless it was fun to play with. He also pointed out some nudibranch eggs and some big stripy fish - but sadly my identification skills aren't the best, so 'big stripy fish' has to do for the log book. My computer was telling me the water was 7 degrees and I became more and more aware of my air consumption, after 20 minutes I was beginning to worry as my air was below 100 bar, so we began to slowly ascend. John wanted some practise deploying an SMB so we had a little bob about at 5m before surfacing, which is a great time for some buoyancy practise!

24/03/16 - by John Gilbert

On our penultimate day, we headed to the Volnay wreck, a sunken WW1 supply ship.

"She was on her way from Montreal to Plymouth via Barry. She carried a mixed cargo of butter, jam, tinned meat, coffee, cigarettes, potato crisps and peanuts and timber. In addition, she also carried anti-personnel shells.

On 14th December she was hit by a mine (laid by UC-64 commanded by Erich Hecht) 2 miles from Manacles Rock. The crew were lucky that the shells on board did not explode. The was taking on waters relatively fast and the crew tried to beach her on Porthallow Bay. However, she floundered and sank at her current location. According to a local fisherman, the cargo piled "6-foot high on the beach", giving everyone an un-rationed Christmas." -taken from http://www.scuba-diving-adviser.co.uk/DiveSites/UKCoastalSites/ScillyIslesCornwallDevonDiveSites/Volnay.aspx

The wreck offered 6m visibility, but was a pretty chilly experience for those of us not lucky enough to have dry suits. Chris once again carried out some training for Jos and myself, and we practiced the use of a distance line, tying it off at various points along the wreck. The Volnay wreck has an abundance of lead shot from the 18lb shrapnel bombs, and most of us surfaced with at least one round lead-pellet from the dive. The boiler is home to a conger eel, which Chris kindly coaxed out with his finger. There might have been other aquatic life to see, but I was too cold to notice it.

Later that afternoon, we dived off the beach on PK reef, Chris ever-so-kindly taking Jos and I for some training on SMB use and navigation. We saw a spider crab which was fantastic, and then got back to training, getting hopelessly lost and missing the reef several times due to strong currents.

25/03/16 - by Tom Sinclair Edit

The final day of our PK adventure was on us and only an intrepid few remained. The boats were launched from Porthoustock into the crystal blue water under a pristine blue sky but with a decidedly chilly breeze. 

The first dives of the day took place on the Helford river, a shallow 6 meter dive with all manor of crabs. At this shallow depth it was a long and enjoyable dive, but the rays the river is so well known for eluded Emily, Chris and I. To make matters worse we surfaced to Kai and Kerry's tales of petting friendly rays on their dive!  

Those of us who had dived the Helford now faced the chilly ocean breeze in our wet semi drys while Damian, Jos, John, Carla, Alex and Ollie dived the Volnay for the final time. The sun did its best to dry us out and not even a disappointing thermos of cold hot chocolate could dampen our spirits while we waited for the shot to be retrieved. After a lot of hauling the shot was back on board, the final dive was complete and it was time to head back to shore for the last time.  

Ahead of us lay the task that no good dive trip is complete without - sorting, repacking and cleaning kit! But we took it in our stride, it was a small price to pay for a good week of diving and the knowledge of the gratitude we would receive from those who had left us earlier in the week meant we made light work of it. Finally we headed off back to Bristol, and our beds, with the sunsetting behind us.  

Brixham - 12/03/16 - by Peter Lytle Edit

On friday the 12th April, seven of us headed down to Brixham for some shore diving and to get a few lessons ticked off. The weather was lovely and sunny and it was a perfect spring day for diving. The instructors where Andy R, Andy M, Chris and Simon and they were teaching Roisin, Ryan and myself. For the first dive visibility was pretty poor and we didn't see much just a few aneomes and crabs. As the afternoon went on visibility cleared. The tide went out making entry a bit more difficult but we saw a lot more life and got a few more things ticked off the lessons in the second dive. The final dive was about an hour before sunset. Visibility had cleared more still and we saw loads of crabs (including a massive edible crab) a few hermit crabs and velvet swimming crabs, some lobsters and loads of dahlia anemones, snake locks anemones and sponges. Towards the end of the last dive the current began to pick up, dragging us out to sea and making nav difficult. When we surfaced the sun was setting and reflecting off the sea which made for a lovely view as we swam back to shore and was the perfect end to a great day.

Durdle Door - 5/03/16 - by Jessica Menzies Edit

Chris, Damian and I headed to Durdle Door for the day, to find sunshine, calm waters (although cold, at about 7 degrees at max depth) and a pretty long walk down from the carpark to the beach... We headed Eeast behind the door in the first dive to find a cave to explore, and then ended up on the beach the other side of the door. For the second dive we headed West across the bay where there was a bit more sealife. We found a lobster, wrasse, lots of tunicates and worms, and a crab (not sure what kind) and had a relaxing dive before the bloody long trek back up the cliff! Be wary of this walk... it hurts.

Chepstow - 28/03/16 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

Sam and I went for some SD training at Chepstow; I also tried out my new drysuit and it was fantastic!

Eastern Kings - 22/11/15 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

Call Long Room for permission - 01752 663225

A shore dive with Damian, firstly to see what Eastern Kings was like and secondly to finish off Dive Leader. The first dive was pretty shallow (7m max depth) and went on for 80 minutes. Next time head out further into the bay to find the dropoff. Exit was a bit of a faff as we had checked the steps from the surface but didn't realise there was a fence blocking it off at the top due to land erosion.

Second dive was a shot recovery lesson.

Babbacombe Beach - 8/11/15 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

Just a nice easy shore dive down at Babbacombe with Hayley and Caitlin. Found 3 eels, unfortunately Caitlin's drysuit leaked so she couldn't come in for a second dive. Hired a car from the airport - very cheap rates if you can get down there!

Louis Shied - 17/10/15 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

A nice late start of 9am saw 17 sleepy UBUC'ers congregating at stores (well, 16.. Meg was late so we had to pick her up). An uneventful drive down to Thurlestone, with the exception that all the cars bar ours went to the other beach (West side). Unfortunately we didn't know the transits from there so everyone had to drive back round to the East side.

It's a really good idea to drive the cars down to the bottom of the lane and unload / load them, saves a slog down and up (especially if you've got twin 12s...). After moving everything onto the beach, Alex and Neil swam out to find the wreck and put tie a DSMB to it, whilst I gave a brief of the site. Once the blob had surfaced, each buddy pair started the long swim out.

We took the opportunity of the first dive to do weight checks with the new divers (and some of our old ones!). Peter and I stayed on shore as shore cover, until Alex and Neil returned. By this time it was low tide (the Louis Shied sticks out of the water on low springs... so we weren't expecting much depth!).

Thankfully, the dive went really well. Firstly, a nice slow swim out and then descending down the line to around 5 metres, right next to the boilers. There were a few buoyancy issues to sort out but we took our time and soon we were swimming along very nicely, looking through all the gaps and under all the plate. There's lots of little critters living in the boilers so take your time to look for those. During the daytime, the Louis Shied is full of large wrasse and a few other species of fish. Not many crustaceans to report, though. Visibility was about 4-5 metres, temperature 14-15 degrees C. We swam all of the way down the east side of the prop shaft (sticking to the bottom of the wreck), and then all the way back along the west side, this time on top of the wreck so we could look into it. We finished off by completing OO4 - a CBL followed by a two, then a weightbelt drop in the shallows.

Nearly everyone decided they wanted to hang around to do a night dive, which was great! We headed back in at about 6:30pm, and immediately came across the small issue that the DSMB had no glowstick on it, and it was mostly deflated. We took my glowstick off my cylinder and tied it on (with difficulty). It turns out there's definitely a hole in the DSMB, however, as even though we fully inflated it before we went under, by the time we came to collect it I managed to reel it all the way back in, even though I was 7m down.

The dive itself was a completely different beast to the first one. This time, there seemed to be so much more life - loads of edible crabs, hundred of shrimp, a few lobsters (including some really big ones), more goatfish-esque (not really sure what they're called) fish, plus the opportunity to see all of the wrasse sleeping (remember not to shine your torch in their eyes and wake them!).

By the time we'd exited the water, dekitted, redressed and packed the cars it was around 9:00pm. We were going to go to a pub but in the end decided just to head back and grab food on the go. We made it back to stores by 11:30pm (although we did have to put the light on inside the car and turn the music up to keep Alex awake) and set about washing the kit and pumping cylinders for the IFCs.

All in all, a really great wreck, a good days diving and hopefully a nice introduction to UBUC and UK diving for our new members!

Farne Islands 10/10/15 - 11/11/15 Edit

Neil Love, Chris Bainbridge, Carla Greco, Anna Greco, Katie Rapson, Andy Bird, Ben Jacobs, Mark Saville, Meg Hills, Hayley McLennan, Sam Harrison & Natalie Lord

Montage

After a long drive to Northumberland (leaving mid-afternoon and arriving between 11pm and midnight) with questionable road trip entertainment, we stayed in the bunkhouse at Bluebell Farm in Belford.

We were diving in the afternoon on Saturday and so managed a more relaxed than usual morning before meeting the skipper, Paul, of Farne Island Divers. There was a slight delay due to choppy waters and fog but after some initial worry we managed to get out on the water, an impressive only-an-hour late.

We motored out to our first site and were given rough dive-plan directions by Paul which can be summed up by - descend and wait for seals. Everyone was super-keen to play with some seals, and Meg even went in without gloves (cause she's hard)! We did two dives in the first day, the second was very shallow (3.5m) but no one really cares when there are seals nibbling on your hands. Andy found a seal girlfriend (or he's assuming it was a girl) but he may have had some competition for her affections in the form of Neil.

After the diving we took our cylinders to Sovereign Diving in the Seahouses industrial estate to be filled overnight and headed back to Bluebell Farm where we got dinner from the conveniently placed chippy just outside.

The next day was more or less the same. We were diving in the afternoon again (this was supposed to be a morning, but Paul had squeezed us in at late notice due to the cancellation of the original trip, so we took what we could get!). We had another amazing two dives with if possible even more seals, and a reappearance from Andy's girlfriend (so he claims).

We set off back to Bristol as soon as we had packed up and were all in high spirits for the drive home.

Chesil Beach and Swanage Pier 04/07/15 - by Natalie Lord Edit

Chris Bainbridge, Sam Harrison & Natalie Lord

Our excursion along the South coast, organised by Chris, was a great day of fun diving, involving two very different dive sites. The first, was an attempt to find the wreck of the Royal Adelaide, a cargo ship that sank in 1865. After following instructions (http://www.weymouthangling.f9.co.uk/chesil.html) to find the wreck, which involved a small trek across the beach, we entered the water, descended, and swam perpendicular to the shoreline to a depth of 18m. Unfortunately, we didn't find the wreck, however we did encounter lots of active hermit crabs, and two massive barrel jellyfish, which Chris wasn't too pleased about! On the way back, we did see a small part of the wreckage at 15m, but didn't have time to search around it. After a calm 33 minute dive, approx 3hrs after HW, our exit up the steep pebbly shore, was made memorable by the massive waves crashing over us!

We then made the decision to drive for an hour down to Swanage to dive under the pier. After an easy entry, and getting a tad lost, we enjoyed an hour long dive along the pier, we saw lots of wrasse, small and big blennies, mackeral, velvet swimming crabs, tires, soft corals and other pier wreckage! Our average depth was 3.6m.

Kyarra 21/06/15 Edit

Neil Love, Alex Harker & Damian Wozniak

Skomer - 5/6/15 - 13/6/15 - by various Edit

At last, UBUC have resurrected our annual Skomer trip! 20 or so people spend a whole (or part of) a week down in Pembrokeshire, Wales, diving around Skomer Island.

Skomer Montage #1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nzYxNw68oI

Day 1 - by Chris Bainbridge Edit

After arriving on the Friday night and setting up camp (with only a few cars getting lost on the way), Saturday morning (6am wake up!) involved a lot of heavy lifting to get the boats and kit into the water. Thankfully we managed to get it done with minimal faff, and so by around 10:30am we were ready to go.

The first dive of the day had a few people diving the Lucy, a deep (30-40m) wreck, with the others diving close by at Rye Rocks, a relatively relaxed dive site starting off at 6m and dropping to 40m. I dived the Lucy with Tim in the morning, and to be honest I spent more time worrying that everything was alright, that I didn't really manage to enjoy the dive! Perhaps it was the narcosis. It was deep, dark (definitely need a torch), and the current was quite strong. Tim also decided he'd go in it, at which point I stubbornly refused to and stayed outside until he re-appeared.

Afterwards, Tim decided it would be a good idea for us to swim through a tunnel that goes through part of the headland. So (nearly all of us) bailed off the boat, and went for a swim (with just snorkels on). Turns out this probably wasn't one of Tim's best ideas (as he admitted later). It was very choppy, with big waves crashing down on us. A mask was lost, a snorkel was lost, and many feared for their life.

Anyway, after the excitement in the morning, we came back, sat around having lunch for quite a long time, and then took the boats out again to dive North Cliffs (Northcastle Point, to be exact). It was pretty choppy getting out, with some big troughs. It's best to drop divers off here by driving parallel to the island, not to drive straight in and then reverse out. It was a nice relaxing dive, my buddy had a few issues with his kit, but we still saw lots of life (crabs, lobsters, wrasse etc) and hardly any current.

Back at the campsite, we spent all of the evening pumping cylinders (Neil and Tom did a grand job). I found my £12 stove from Go Outdoors was pretty pathetic until I realised that if I pushed the gas canister in (by hand) it made it much better. It was a very windy night, which was annoying when trying to cook and even more annoying listening to the tent flap about whilst trying to sleep. Hey ho, at least it had been a lovely day!

Day 2 - by Edit

Dive 1 - Wooltack Point

Dive 2 - Rye Rocks / Lucy

Dive 3 - Rye Rocks

Day 3 - by Edit

Dive 1 - North Cliffs

Dive 2 - Called due to bad sea conditions

Day 4 - by Dan Chaney Edit

Dive 1 - Wooltack Point

Dive 2 - South Tusker

Day 5 - by Edit

Dive 1 - North Cliffs

Dive 2 - Dead Eye Wreck

Day 6 - by Edit

Dive 1 - Black Stones

Dive 2 - Garland Stone called, dived Dead Eye Wreck instead

Day 7 - by Edit

Dive 1 - Payne's Rock

23/05/15 - 24/05/15 Edit

Neil Love, Tom Parker, Alex Bourla, Dom Hayward and Hayley McLennan

Martins Haven & Blue Lagoon (Abereiddy)

Trip Index Edit

  • 23/05/15 - 24/05/15 - Bank holiday Pembrokeshire shore dive trip
  • 05/06/15 - 13/06/15 - Skomer
  • 20/06/15 - Cromhall DL training
  • 21/06/15 - Kyarra
  • 28-29/11/15 - Babbacombe Booze-Up

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