TODAY MINUS ONE
Most of us set of to the long drive to Plymouth on the Friday before the diving. Almost all of us chose the A303 route.
For me, after Anna arrived at 10am, a slight deviation of the southern section of the M25 takes me into Dorking for an air fill. However, they chose that day to close the shop for the morning, so Plan B was quickly hatched to get an air fill in Plymouth.
The M25 was up to its old tricks and decided to present an hour traffic jam to get from Leatherhead to the M3 exit, so a detour via the A3 and over the “hogs back” to pick up the connecting dual carriageway via Farnborough saw me back on track.
Then we got to Stonehenge! All stop again! After getting underway again, a pit stop at a Little Chef was required (Note to self! Avoid little Chef in the future!!).
Eventually we arrived in Plymouth at 4pm, which seems to be the arrival time of most of us. A recce took us of to Queen Anne’s Battery for an air fill and to check out the car park for the next mornings boat loading exercises.
The evening saw everybody doing their own thing for food, so for me there was only one place to go! Cap’n Jaspers where a Jasperizer filled an empty hole in my tummy! (Jasperizer – a quarter pounder cheeseburger, AND a quarter pounder bacon burger in one big bap!)
The evening finished with a session in the Dolphin pub.
Everyone turned up at the QAB for 8.45am for those that hired bottles to collect, plus all the kit to be loaded on the boat. The boat was right at the end of the pontoon, so was a fair old trek.
Once loaded, we were away by 10am, first to dive the "Scylla", with the "James Egan Layne" in the afternoon.
The sun was out, and the sea was reasonably calm, but the viz was shite. You could never make out much definition or appreciate these wrecks when you really couldn’t see much further than the end of your arm.
However, these represented the first real challenge to Anna, who was rather anxious at the beginning of the day.
To get in the water, it was a backward roll of the gunnels, and to return a side mounted lift allowed a rightways side step onto the boat over the gunnel. Sounds awkward, but actually worked very well!
With the low viz, not much could be seen of the "Scylla", although we did enter the wreck by visiting the bridge through a hole in the roof.
The "James Egan Layne" was also a pretty low viz affair, but visibly more interesting with a sense that the wreck was being penetrated (without any of the risks). A very good wreck for a novice!
The end of the day saw us meet for a meal at the The Glassblowing House. A real find!. The good was mostly seafood, and was extraordinarily good! Surprisingly also very well priced. 10 people = £225 for a variety of 1, 2 or 3 courses.
THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY
Sunday wasn't kind with the weather. It was not un-diveable, but with a rather strong wind at 20 knots, it was lumpier that the Saturday.
Today however saw us off to dive the "Persier", a wreck in 20something metres. We declined to let Anna know how deep, but with better viz, her conclusion was "this is the best dive so far!" Introduced Anna to the game of squeeze the sea cucumber!
The second dive of the day saw us in the deep gullies of "Hilsea Point". Again the viz was better than the day before, but the current still managed to wash about a bit. Still lots of cuckoo wrasse, urchins, sea cucumber and starfish!
The evening saw us all at the "Himalayan" for a ruby murray! It seemed however a party of 10 caused their food ordering/delivering to table procedures all went to pot!! While the curry was great, it came out only £15 cheaper than the meal the night before!!
THE LAST DAY
The weather was hot! The wind speed was 3 knots, so the sea was flat calm!! By consensus we agreed to do the "Persier" again. The weather was fab, although the viz wasn't quite as good as the day before. I took my camera this time also.
The second dive of the day was an un-named 50ft fishing trawler (complete with toilet! Although the enclosing cabin was no more!!) on a rocky reef. This provided a few more photo opportunities!
Back ashore, it was the de-mob moment to get the kit off the boat and pack the cars. Lars and Mariette set off back to London, as did Ken. Anne caught the train home with her dive kit in my car.