Thursday 3 October 2013

Dieppe...a trip too far? 9-13th September 2013

by Brett 

‘Let’s go to Dieppe.’  Oh how we all thought that would be a great idea and to be fair it had all the makings of an entertaining trip.

5 days on Our W with Dave and Sylvie to entertain us, diving some great wrecks from the War Eras and possibly sampling the local produce.

Unfortunately a couple of people had to drop out so we were a bit light on the boat but as we loaded in Eastbourne the mood was bright, although the weather didn’t seem to agree.  There were some scheduling problems with the traffic which meant that half the group turned up late but we eventually got into the lock and waved to the seal on our way across the channel.

The weather could have been better and after a couple of hours of dipping, yawing and banging into the next waves everyone was feeling a trifle bruised.  Lars and I grabbed a bunk each and everyone else wedged themselves into whatever position was best for them and offered a chance to get some shut eye.

We finally arrived at the site of the Braga mid-channel and although we were rolling a bit it wasn’t going to stop us taking the plunge.  Once we were down on the wreck viz was actually pretty good, about 6-8 metres and absolutely swarming with fish although there were also a lot of large trawling nets which got in the way a bit.  The wreck was a good size though but at 36 metres we weren’t sticking around for too long and headed up.  There we had a nice surprise as the weather had eased, sea had flattened and from there to Dieppe we had a fairly decent ride in.

The view though, coming into the port gave you some idea of what the Canadian troops must have been facing when they attacked on 19th August 1942.  Sheer cliffs as far as you could see and they must have felt like they were on a firing range, scary.

We moored and found our accommodation which was two really nice apartments and then decided to grab something quick to eat and then get some kip so we’d be up for the morning.

Up at 0630 and breakfast on the go so we could be at the boat for 0730 and off.  However, at about 0700 Lee got a call from the boat that the weather was kicking up and we’d have to hold off for the morning and see how it went, in the end that meant we lost the day but considering the conditions it was a good choice.

So once we were all up again we decided on a stroll around Dieppe, visiting the seafront, Canada Square and the castle before heading down to the harbour for lunch and a conflab with the boat to see what the plan was for the next day.

We eventually ate, although we had to split up and decided that a nice home cooked evening meal might be a good plan that evening.

After some shopping and a bit of telly we settled in for a meat feast with some great plum tomatoes, decent wine and beer and an evening of sea stories.

Unfortunately this ended up going the same way as Tuesday as the weather did not want to play and so we were left to our own devices again.  These ranged from the tourist train around the town with comedy transaltion by Ross and Lee to sitting in various cafes, bars and restaurant and generally taking it easy while still wishing we were diving.

Lars did make a very nice stew though and we followed that by watching Bullitt which rounded the day off nicely.

We had decided after looking at the weather for Friday that it actually made more sense to travel cross-channel on Thursday than leave it to Friday and possibly have a worse trip.

So after loading all our bags back on the boat we headed out to the Chateaux Margaux, a French ocean liner that went down in 1889.  We’d been told a lot about this by the owner of one of the harbour restaurants as he claimed to be the one to have discovered it and we had big expectations. 

It was a bit deeper at 42 metres but we hoped that the wreck and the viz would make the short er bottom time worthwhile and it did.  The wreck sits on heavy coarse sand which meant that the water was quite clear and the wreck itself was impressive.  There were at least half a dozen complete portholes, with glass cracked but still visible and it was actually a really nice thing to see. 

Again lots of life on it but the nets were also in residence so a little caution was needed. After all racking up some deco we surfaced and headed across the shipping lane with the Alaunia as the next wreck.  Although some of us had done that a month or so ago it was still a nice wreck to dive and the visibility, whilst not as good as the Margaux was still fairly good.

With some people staying in Eastbourne  overnight and some travelling back home and coming down in the morning we loaded back up for the final day for a wreck called the Nyon which no one had dived before.  We got told that you could get 40 metres on it but you had to look for it and we weren’t that bothered so decided to potter around and see what was about. 

The viz was reasonable again, around 6 metres and although very dark, once the torch was on all was good.  Masses of life again and some great bits of structure made the whole thing very atmospheric. 

Then we spotted a very large lobster and after quite a bit of wiggling to get closer to it also spotted that we’d got to 42 metres! and actually needed to think about heading up.  A bit of deco to do but everyone was soon back on the boat and we started heading back towards Eastbourne for a drift and home.
All told, it could have been better but  by the same token it could have been worse and we did some great dives, ate well and everyone came home safe so a good trip and definitely something to think about doing again.

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