Monday, 30 August 2010

August Bank Holiday in Plymouth


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.


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 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.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A Hoilday in Cornwall

This just a bit of light hearted musings about my holiday in Cornwall with my daughter.

Friday 6th Aug - Set off at Stopped for brekkie at about 7.30, and then again at 8.45 just before Exeter for a half hour powernap! Arrived in Penzance at 11.30. Wandered around Penzance for a hour or so, then off to Marazion so Rachel could wade her feet in the sea. Off to Tesco's for supplies, then at 3.30pm checked in to the apartment. Crashed out.

Saturday 7th Aug - Off to Porthcurno, and wandered around the Telegraph Museum for a few hours in the wartime underground bunker. Then down to Portcurno beach, where Rachel changed into her wetsuit for a few hours splashing about.

Sunday 8th Aug - Off to Prussia Cove, one of the top 10 snorkelling locations in the UK. Needless to say, I'm quickly in the water, while Rachel explores all the rookpools.

Monday 9th Aug - The weather has turned as it is raining, so we are off to Paradise Park (an aviary for exotic birds), where we watch a falconry show that include an Eagle Owl, and a Bald Eagle.

Tuesday 10th - MY BIRTHDAY, but still pissing down with rain. We visit St Just to wander the various art galleries,then off to the Lizard Peninsular, then Coverack, then St Keverne. Off to Roskilly Farm to have a steak BBQ dinner.

Wednesday 11th Aug - The sun has got his hat on again!! Off to a beach in Porthgwarra. Very small and we followed a pantechnicon down this tiny lane to get to it. More snorkelling.

Thursday 12th Aug - The last day. Off to visit Botallack Mine near St Just. A National trust owned area of former tin mining with some spectacular North Cornwall coast line. Then off to Cape Cornwall, where we spend time in the Coast Watch lookout, complete with radar and the biggest binoculars I've ever seen, that could see the Scilly Isles! Lastly we wandered around Mousehole (home of Stargazey Pie! Christmas Eve in Mousehole is a place to and time to visit!!!)

Friday 13th Aug - Set of at 8.30am to head home.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Try Dive 2010 - with Bermondsey BSAC

The annual BSAC Try Dive event kicks off in September and we're aiming to make it the best one ever for the club.  With that in mind if there's anyone you know of who would like to have a go then get them to register here.  Once they have registered then all they need to do is turn up and have a go.

There is more information on our website.

As a way of involving the whole family we're also offering anyone who wants to do it a Try Snorkel so we can get everyone involved.

If nothing else it should be a lot of fun for everyone who comes along and hopefully some people will decide that we're the club to help them join in the sport.

We have a few poster and promotional leaflets available so if you know of anywhere they could go just let someone on the commitee know and we'll get some for you.

Friday, 30 July 2010

To dive or not to dive, that is the question...

It seems it's time for the annual debate on where we should be diving. I was flicking through some old minutes from AGMs and commitee meeting's and this seems to be a regular thing. Quite funny really as the comments are almost identical.

Overall I think we've had a good spread of dives and the issue seems to be more along the lines of members not coming but then part of that problem is that with a smaller membership and less active divers its a bit difficult to please enough people in every dive to fill a boat.
I completely understand some members prefering certain types of dives but over previous years when plenty of different dives have been available they weren't filled and this just ended up costing the club money which kind of defeats the object.
I think the one thing which could make a big difference to both the diving situation and the club as a whole would be to increasee the membership which is what our plan is for the next couple of months and as always any and all suggestions will be gratefully received.
At the end of the day this is suppoesed to be a fun club but currently it seems to be an awful lot of work for very little reward.
Ok, going to do some work now.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

My musing on a few of my dives!

I've been trawling through my old red dive logbooks

My 20th dive on the 4th August 1988 was to 35m on the Eddystone Lighthouse. My bottom time was 11 minutes. Add to that a 3 min stop (simulated) at 10m and a 5 min stop (again simulated) at 5m, my comment in my logbook was "DECOMPRESSION IS BORING".

My 22nd dive was the "James Egan Layne". Top dive back then!! The 23rd dive was "Le Poulmic", another good wreck. I also did a compass bearing exercise.

My 34th dive was Hilsea Point, which to date is one of my most memorable dives! Gin clear water, and a fabulous site of deep gullies.

My 50th and 51st dives over the Spring Bank Holiday in 1990, were under Brighton pier with a very good looking Mandy Caitlin (she was husband hunting!!!)

July of 1990, saw my first trip to Scapa Flow, and my first dry suit dive! Dived the Koln without a weight belt (my logbook just says "buoyancy problems")- another diver in our group ended up in the Aberdeen pot!!

May 91, saw my first visit to the Far Mulberry, on an inflateable launched from the beach at Bognor. This is where i saw my first (and so far only) Sea Mouse. If you think i'm pulling your chain, just google it!

May 91 also saw my first visit to Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island

July 91 saw my 2nd trip to Scapa Flow, diving with my girlfriend at the time. My first dive on the block ship "Inverlayne", where the whole dive is inside the wreck.

93 saw a trip over to Normandy where we got raided by French Customs at about 2am in the morning!

93 also saw some fabulous diving to the Manacles off Cornwall's Lizard Point culminating in dive 152. My last until 2004!!

Friday, 9 July 2010

When drown doesn't look like drowning...

Dave sent out this great link to Mario Vittone's webpage with this article on what the actual signs of drowning are. - have a look and you'll see that it's not quite the Baywatch episode you might have thought....okay I know you don't watch Baywatch but you get the idea.

This is something anyone who goes to the sea (all of us I hope) should at least read and understand.

Cheers Dave

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunny Day in Selsey

Great little dive on Saturday off Selsey Bill on the old Mulberry Harbour.

First time any of us had been on the boat and it was a pretty good one, plenty of room although as it was scheduled for another 2 I'm not sure where they would have sat.

Weather was excellent and on arriving and hitting the water in true Bermondsey style we all did our own thing.  There was a bit of confusion about who was were but in the end we all had a nice little dive, didn't lose and kit and Kim and I managed to get to the landing craft about 200m to the north.  We did manage to upset a couple of photographers though who were on the same line to the craft but found some small creature on the way and while they were photographing we torpedoed past.

Trip back to shore was fast and furious and the tab back to shore from the RHIB was interesting but all in all a good dive.

The only thing I would say about it though was that it was a long way to go for just one dive but it was a very nice day.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Red Sea - Get Wrecked Diving Day Five

Onwards ever onwards

Final dive on the Thistlegorm this morning and what a dive it was. There was a slight current which apparently explained all the larger fish around today but we had Tuna, big Batfish, Jacks and Tevallys. It was just jammed packed and even the Morays were in good form. Barry found a couple of Crocodile fish sleeping under a coal wagon and there was a very large black and red Lionfish as well.
I now feel like I have at least visited the Thistlegorm.

Came up and had breakfast and now we’re off to the Kingston on our way back.

The Kingston was a nice wreck, very battered and covered in coral but with just a bit too much swell which was tiring everyone out. We spent about 15 mins on the wreck then headed out along the reef towards the mothership. This was quite a nice drift with plenty of sealife and some enormous table corals. We stayed at about 10-12 metres for almost the entire time and ended up almost halfway back to the boat.

Only 3 dives today and the third was a choice between the Liveaboard Emperor Fraser and the Dunraven. Joe and I decided to do the Dunraven because after seeing the pictures of the Fraser it was pretty stripped and battered so more of a novelty dive than anything else.

When we first dropped in the current was headed away from the boat rather than back towards it and this meant we got pushed towards a group that we followed for a bit before they explained that the wreck was the other way. We finned for a bit and then found it and had a good swim through the upturned hull and out the far end. We saw some big Napoleon Wrasse and then swam round the stern and the prop to be met with a lot more current so went over the wreck and back inside for a rest. I got a bit of a shock as a Giant Moray decided to free swim right past me and the first I knew was when I saw the tail pass me. I spun round to see what it was and this head just looked at me from about half a metre away but seemed a lot closer. Then we started to deploy the DSMB but as we did a couple of big Napoleon Wrasse turned up and then another Moray. I dropped down to take a picture and then ended up surfacing with only 20 bar. Note for next time.

Dinner this evening was a traditional Sunday Roast although with stuffed Aubergine, Courgettes and Peppers. Fantastic as always.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Red Sea - Get Wrecked Diving Day Four

Off to the Thistlegorm

Wasn’t as sunny this morning when we got up, very hazy across the horizon and even after the dive it was still a bit overcast.

First dive this morning was the Ulysses, Chris went down first to lay in his SMB reel and blob which he tied to the wreck before we all piled in. It was a bit lumpy today and when we went over the side the boat came down and cracked me on the head which was a little painful but did help me go down a bit faster.

There were so many Sergeant Majors swimming around that we had to swim through them and they mobbed us throughout the dive. We headed down to the stern as Chrissie had said this was the best place to see Flambalina Nudibranchs but we didn’t find any and had a look around the prop before being ambushed by a group of divers from the Carlton Queen on a follow-ma-leader dive. Once they had moved off we had a bit of a swim through and came back round to the deck and swam between the decks back towards the bow. We had a look around and then went out to the funnel still searching for Nudibranchs and finally found a black and white striped one with a yellow rim (Pyjama Slug).

We swam over the mast and onto the reef after this just looking at the life and then, just as I had drained my battery and put my camera away, a Napoleon Wrasse turned up and swam leisurely by.

When we surfaced it was still a bit lumpy and the trip back was interesting. After breakfast it’s off to the Thistle but because we’re going broadside to the channel it will be a bumpy crossing so quite a few people are heading to bed.

We arrived at the Thistle to find 6 other boats already moored but only one is a live aboard so the day boats will be clearing off soon. We did our first dive and Chris had set our line right on the bow so we went straight down and had a good look round. The first dive was for a quick recce and then we have 2 more dives today and an early one tomorrow before moving on. I was really surprised by the amount of things to be seen on here. It is a big wreck, the biggest we do on this trip and well worth the extra dives. Joe and I decided to do the holds at the bow, swim through to the debris field then drift back over the deck to the bow for the return trip. With so many day boats we knew it would mean a congested wreck but there were still a vast abundance of people on it and most of them being lead around like school children. We dropped into the hold and immediately found a jeep with a massive moray living between the wheels who was less than impressed with our intrusion and then we carried on through to hold 3 past trucks, bikes, rifles and boots. From 3 we headed out onto the remains of hold 2 and the ammunition pile and got a picture of some of the shells still in their boxes before heading up over the deck plating and swimming through some of the accommodation. We popped into the bathroom and then headed back out to the rail which we then followed all the way to the bow, past the coal and water wagons. Then it up and out for lunch.

Second dive on the Thistle. The plan was to head down and then swim straight to the stern. So that’s what we did, although there was just enough current to make it a little tiring after swimming the length of the wreck. We had a good look round the stern and the prop before coming up over the side and photographing the guns. Then we dropped into the debris field and took some photos of the shells and Joe found a covered part of the hold with large shells still in the boxes. Can’t wait for the night dive now!

Night was brilliant, although limited to 20 metres it made no difference at all. The wreck was absolutely crawling with life, although the turtle was absent. Saw some tiny coral crabs living inside a spotted coral and loads of cleaner shrimps. There were even a school of tuna hanging around over the side and all the clams were out in full force.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Red Sea - Get Wrecked Diving Day Three

Rosalie Möller Day

Today was the day of the Rosalie Möller. We came, we saw, we dived, we dived again and just for a giggle we dived once more.

Sitting in 50 odd metres and sitting upright this wreck is a great deep wreck and that explains why we only did 3 dives today. Each dive was relativity short due to the depth and only having single 12L cylinders, but it was still great fun!

The idea was first to go down the stern line from the MV Hurricane which was tied onto the the set of winches just behind the bridge, have a bimble around the stern and return. The second dive would be the the same but on the bow line from the MV Hurricane and then on the final dive to do all the bits we wanted to revisit.

A stage cylinder was set up at 5 metres for those a bit short on the way back but it hardly got used.

Joe and I decided that we wanted to have a look at the propeller which was supposed to be huge so we dropped over the side and worked our way backwards and down to have a look. I was really surprised that for a ship of this size the propeller did seem enormous. Then up over the stern rail and heading forward we dropped into the bomb crater and worked our way through the rear hold and then up to the bridge before rising up and then heading back to the stern line for the trip back up.

Second dive we swam round to the bow line and dropped down that all the way past the crow’s nest and then down to the fore winch. Our plan this time was to drop over the front, have a look around then come back and head towards the bridge. We found one anchor still in its hausepipe and got a couple of pictures of that before heading back towards the bridge.

This was great to see and we had a swim down a couple of companionways before having to head up with a couple of minutes of deco to do on the way. For some reason Kim, Dave and Stewart managed to end up with 14 minutes of deco for the same dive.

On the third dive we actually planned to do deco as there was no way we would get any real time to see anything without it. So the plan was to drop down the stern line and get into the guts of the wreck. Had a great potter through the kitchen with the pots on the stove and then through to the workshops and even had a look in the bathroom with the bath still in it.

On this dive Bill managed to get off the shot at the bottom with 1 minute of deco before even going anywhere!!

There is just so much to see on this wreck that you could easily spend a few days here doing 3-4 dives a day and still miss something.

After we all came up it was time to return to Gobal Island for the overnight stop in the lagoon and a few of the more adventurous (gullible) of us went for a walk around the sand dune, you can’t really call it an island. Saw a family of Ospreys that live there and the remains of an Egyptian punishment posting but the only other thing of note was the amount of rubbish everywhere, from coke and champagne bottles to light bulbs and plastic. After that it was back to the boat for cocktails and canapés!

Red Sea - Get Wrecked Diving Day Two

Well, second instalment of the Bermondsey Red Sea Trip.

Got a lie in this morning until 7.00 before heading out to Kimon M for an early morning dive. There was a really big puffer fish in situ which was great until I realised that my camera was in the case upside down so I couldn’t use it for the whole dive. Such is life.

After swimming through to the stern and finding the propeller we swam along the outside until we could penetrate into the holds and have a good rout about in there before coming back onto the deck plates and generally enjoying the wreck which was in quite a good state.

Back for breakfast and then to our last dive on Abu Na Has which was the Chrisoula K. This was a really beautiful wreck although when we arrived there were quite a few other boats around the area which made it a bit cramped but once we were on the wreck it was fine. Some great swim throughs and we made our way from above the prop along a companionway surrounded by granite tiles to the hold then up onto the deck and through the kitchen. Once we got to the kitchen we found a couple of hatchways down which we took and the followed the companionway along to the engine room. This was dark and tight for space but really atmospheric and we got some nice shots of the engine and equipment before coming back out and heading forward to the bow hold and found another swim through to the other side of the wreck. We had a look around the masts and I managed to squeeze through the funnel and then it was time to go home.

Once we were all back on board we were off to the next site and lunch was served. I don’t know how they do it but with a tiny kitchen the food is brilliant.

Afternoon dive was The Barge which is little more than a shell on bottom but absolutely thriving with life. More life on this one wreck than we had seen so far put together. We got to meet first Georgina and then George, two Giant Morays who lived up to their name. Georgina had taken up residence in the bow and George was further down the wreck but as we swam up he was so big and still it looked like one of the ribs of the barge. We also saw a couple of other morays and plenty of Scorpion and Crocodile fish. At an average of 10 metres we got to stay on the wreck for about an hour before we headed back but we still managed to miss things.

Our night dive today was also on the Barge and learning from last night we went in about an hour later so it was properly dark when we hit the wreck. Again it was amazing to see so much different life at night however it started to get a bit busy after about 15 minutes so we headed out over the reef for a bit of space. The only trouble we had was finding the strobe for the descent line as one of the groups from another boat all had strobes on and between those and the number of torches flashing everywhere it took a little while to find our boat.

Tomorrow we’re off to the Rosalie Moller for the day.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Red Sea - Get Wrecked Diving Day One

Today was the first diving day of our Red Sea Trip. After spending the night in port at Sharm we trundled out to The Alternatives to do our check dive.

Just a quick word about the boat – Hurricane – it’s brilliant! Really comfortable, all the staff are really helpful and everything is done to make your life and diving as enjoyable as possible.

After sorting out our weight we had a bit of a bimble around some rocks before heading off to skirt a couple of pinnacles and then into a gully to get a bit of depth before returning to the boat and getting everyone to deploy their DSMBs to try them out. Biggest shocker was first that the water was toasty and the visibility was 15+ metres.

After coming back we shipped out to cross the sea towards the Abu Na Has reef for our next 3 dives of the day.

Second dive was Carnatic which was really good and had some great swim throughs as we went down to the bow and then headed to the stern and swam between the decks all the way through to the stern and then went out the big square windows at the end. When we cam e back to the centre to look at the engine and boilers there were quite a few divers being lead around so we headed out along one of the masts and found a nesting Trigger fish which wasn’t too impressed with us being nearby so we left it alone and headed into the bow to swim through the decks again and found a really big Scorpion fish that was really black and Joe got a good photo. We also saw quite a few of the broken port bottles.

After lunch, which was fantastic, we got to do the most photographed wreck in the Red Sea (apparently) the Giannas D. I couldn’t believe that after rolling off the Rhib the wreck was right there as it starts at about 6 metres. We dropped down the sea bed and got some great photos of the wreck with some massive Bat fish around. We had a bit of a potter around then Chrissie lead us into the wreck through a companionway and down into the engine room. The engine room was obviously immense and there was so much to see. There were all the work shops and tools still in place like the lathe and milling machines and ladders and walkways all over the place. We went through this and then up through the skylight and out of the wreck. We went over to the bow and saw some great sea life, Parrotfish, Blue Spotted Stingrays, Batfish, Glassfish; it just doesn’t stop. Then we headed back up and got out. On the way back though we saw some dolphins and a few of us got in to snorkel with them. As soon as we got in they dived so we hung a round for a bit but then they came back up right amongst us and I got some nice close up photos of them. A real experience.

Our final dive of the day was a night dive but we didn’t really leave it late enough so it was still very light and it took about 30 minutes before it got dark enough to see anything different. We managed to see a couple of really big Slipper crabs, Lion Fish and a Crown of Thorns starfish. It was quite good but from tomorrow we’ll do the dives later so it will be darker and hopefully see some more different life.

All in all a fantastic first day and I can’t wait for the rest of the week.