Wednesday 24 April 2013

Shoreham – 20th April 2013

by Jill

I woke up to a bright sunny day and was thankful as it seemed to be a pretty great day for a dive.

It wasn’t too early of a start and I was picked up by fellow BSAC 42 member Ed. The drive to Shoreham was uneventful and we arrived at the boatyard in plenty of time to haul our kit onto the boat using the trolleys provided. Two by two the other divers arrived and did the same. This dive consisted of 8 divers; Brett, Kim, Ed, Lars, Mariette, Chris and Pat. Soon enough it was time to ‘set sail’ at about 11.30 am.

The air temperature was still pretty chilly for late April and the wind picked up as we proceeded along the channel to open water.

Our Skipper Chris was on his own today with his first mate having suffered an injury. Chris was a great help around the boat and especially at providing cups of hot drinks as this was a life saver later on in the trip.

This was a day of firsts for me. My first UK sea dive and my first wreck. It took roughly an hour on the boat to reach the first dive site. The seas seemed to be relatively calm however that didn’t stop me from feeling a queasy from the trip. Our first dive spot was the wreck of the 'City of Waterford', a passenger steamship that sank off of Beachy Head, Sussex in 1949 after a collision with another ship in fog.

I was told I would be going in last, which gave me plenty of time to get my kit ready. As the other divers prepared to get into the water, I waited. It was a good time to watch the procedure of how to enter the water. Timing was a pretty critical factor so that you would land as close to the buoy leading to the wreck as possible. Everyone did a great job

Then it was my turn to go. Brett went in first and I followed shortly after getting the signal from the skipper. The water was awfully cold it seemed (in my wetsuit). My dive computer said the water was a balmy 7 degrees. Any extra movement let a little more water in so I tried to keep still.

After acclimatizing a little, Brett and I started to descend. I had been warned that the visibility would not be great but I wasn’t ready for how little light actually made it down to the wreck and how dark it really was. A torch was definitely needed!

I stuck pretty close to Brett for the dive as we toured around the wreck. There was various marine life in sight and the first thing I saw were tunicates stuck to the side of the wreck and fish which kept just out of our torch beams. A few of the divers found scallops and crab as well. After 40 minutes, I was definitely feeling the cold and it was time to get out of the water. We started to ascend and did a 3 minute safety stop. I thought getting back onto the boat might be a problem but Lars was able to take off my fins while I was standing on the ladder which was a great help.

We all had hot drinks while waiting to arrive at the next dive site which was the ‘Pentrych’, sunk by U-Boat torpedo in 1918 in 21m of water. I decided to give this dive a miss as I hadn’t quite recovered from the cold of the first dive. Apparently the visibility on this dive was a bit better. Pat and Chris were able to find a good size lobster, lucky them!

After we reached port and put our kit in the car, we were off for a well deserved drink before returning home!

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