Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wreck Count 2011

Well, we set our sights on knocking off 55 different wrecks this year as its the clubs 55th year and we've not done too bad.  I still have some to add from those dives I wasn't on but so far we're not doing too bad.
  1. SMS Dresden - Scapa Flow
  2. SMS Karlsrhue - Scapa Flow
  3. Cotavia - Orkney Islands
  4. El Gran Griffon - Fair Isle
  5. Gwladmena - Shetland Islands
  6. Jane - Shetland Islands
  7. E49 1st World War Submarine - Shetland Islands
  8. SS Tonis Chandris - Shetland Islands
  9. Wrangels Palais - Shetland Islands
  10. Fujikawa Maru - Chuuk
  11. Betty Bomber - Chuuk
  12. Emily Flying Boat - Chuuk
  13. Futagami Tugboat - Chuuk
  14. Gosei Maru - Chuuk
  15. Heian Maru - Chuuk
  16. Hoki Maru - Chuuk
  17. Hoyo Maru - Chuuk
  18. Kansho Maru - Chuuk
  19. Kiyosumi Maru - Chuuk
  20. Nippo Maru - Chuuk
  21. Rio de Janeiro Maru - Chuuk
  22. San Francisco Maru - Chuuk
  23. Sankisan Maru - Chuuk
  24. Seiko Maru - Chuuk
  25. Shinkoko Maru - Chuuk
  26. Shotan Maru - Chuuk
  27. I-169 Submarine - Chuuk
  28. Sutsuki - Chuuk
  29. Eisen 761 Tug - Chuuk
  30. Unkei Maru - Chuuk
  31. WMJ Pugh USN YFR - Chuuk
  32. Yamagiri Maru - Chuuk
  33. Yubae Maru - Chuuk
  34. Kyarra - Swanage
  35. SS Pomerania - Dover
  36. HMS Brazen - Dover
  37. City of Brisbane - Brighton
  38. Hera - Mevagissey
  39. Kanteong - Mevagissey
  40. SS Persier - Plymouth
  41. Glen Strathallen - Plymouth
  42. James Eagan Layne - Plymouth
  43. HMS Scylla - Plymouth
  44. SMS Brummer - Scapa Flow
  45. F2 - Scapa Flow
  46. YC21 - Scapa Flow
  47. SMS Markgraf - Scapa Flow
  48. SMS Seydlitz - Scapa Flow
  49. SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm - Scapa Flow
  50. SMS Coln II - Scapa Flow
  51. SMS Bayern Turrets - Scapa Flow
  52. Tabarka - Scapa Flow
  53. Pinnace - Scapa Flow
  54. Emperor Fraser - Northern Red Sea
  55. Kimon M - Northern Red Sea
  56. Giannis D - Northern Red Sea
  57. Chrisoula K - Northern Red Sea
  58. Carnatic - Northern Red Sea
  59. The Barge - Northern Red Sea
  60. Rosalie Moller - Northern Red Sea
  61. Ulysses - Northern Red Sea
  62. Kingston - Northern Red Sea
  63. Thistlegorm - Northern Red Sea
  64. Yolanda - Northern Red Sea
  65. Alex Van Opstal - Weymouth
  66. Aeolian Sky - Weymouth
  67. Oceana - Eastbourne
  68. SS Salado - Lundy
  69. Unnamed Barge - Guardalvaca, Cuba
  70. UB 97, UB 106, UB 112, UB 128, UC 92 - Pendennis Point
  71. MV Karwela - Gozo
  72. SS Stavronikita - Barbados
  73. Bajun Queen - Barbados
  74. Pamir - Barbados
  75. Eilon - Barbados
  76. Berwyn - Barbados
  77. Fox - Barbados
  78. Ce-Trek - Barbados
  79. Unnamed Fishing Boat - Kuredu Island, Maldives
  80. Balena - Hurghada

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Riding the Valkyrie! - Scapa 2011

So I returned to Scapa!  It felt like I'd been away for ages but it was actually only a year, almost to the day. However, this trip surpassed last years pretty much from the start.

Firstly the boat was nice, not just to look at but everything was where it made sense to be!  There's a big dive deck, nice size lounge with flatscreen, dvd player and collection of dvds as well as the prerequisite dive magazines and some books.  From the lounge you drop down a ladder to the sleeping deck with 6 two-bunk rooms which weren't any smaller than a Red Sea liveaboard except the beds were above one another.

Back upstairs, the enclosed walkway from bow to stern has a wire to hang your dry suit on between dives as well as cubby holes for your flipflops and bits.  Then you carry on to the service area with the tumble-dryer and access to the other shower room, a hatchway to the engine-room (No Entry), door way to the wheelhouse and the kitchen/dining room at the stern.

We were met by Hazel (Skipper), Dug (the dog), Rob (boat boy) and the rest of the team who had come up earlier.

When we had our briefing Hazel told us that the weather might not be too great towards the middle of the week but we'd look and see what happened on the day, (remembering my last trip I was already planning trips to the Italian Chapel, Distilleries and Stone Circles) but the next couple of days would be fine.  She also explained that Saturday was a fend for yourself day so we should go and find something to eat elsewhere and suggested the Ferry Inn.  Its changed a bit since last year and to be honest, although it looked nice it was blooming expensive, beer and food all London prices which was a little disappointing.

The diving for the week was brilliant, all on twin 12's except for 4 on Inspiration rebreathers which meant we all had some bottom time on even the deeper wrecks.  I know some of the club still talk about doing 50m dives on a 3lt Pony and still doing 20 minutes of deco but I took all the gas I could.

Sunday we did Brummer & F2, Monday Markgraf and Dresden, Tuesday Kronprinz Wilhelm & Tabarka, Wednesday Karlruhe and Seydlitz, Thursday Koln and Dresden, Friday Bayern Turrets and Gutter Sound.

The one day we thought we'd lose actually was really good and although a bit lumpy coming back onto the boat was all good.  By the end of the week Rob was getting sick of asking me how the dive was as I loved every single one.

One of the reasons for this was that Hazel made her dive briefs so detailed and clear that I knew what i was seeing when I went down.  Despite being here and doing some of the same dives as last year I saw things that I just didn't realise this time.  I found the Armoured Control on ever boat that had one, we saw the guns, the swim throughs, did the penetration, got in, on and around all the wrecks in a way that I totally missed last year. I know that some of it was down to having longer bottom times but mainly it was down to know where to go, what to look for and what things would look like when I got there.

The other big plus about the trip was the food!  Helen runs the galley and going hungry is just not going to happen on this boat, Lunch is always enormous, Dinner simply massive!  Everything is freshly prepared and just superb.  There was one diver who didn't eat meat and his food looked as good as ours and sometimes better!  As one person mentioned it was like going on an eating holiday interspersed with a bit of diving!

All in all this has to be one of the best trips I've been on and I cannot wait to see what next year is like. I'm also going to keep my eye open for any slots that become available as I can't wait to come back.

A blog from Plymouth…… (Photo’s by other ?)

by Kim Thomas

The Bermondsey BSAC trip to Plymouth in 2011 saw us try out a different charter from last year. This year we used “Explorer” from the Mountbatten Dive Charters, which operate their boat along with their own B&B.

What a bunch of divers
First impressions count, and with most us all arriving on Friday (at various times during the day), the B&B was probably the best B&B we have ever stayed in regardless of location. The accommodation, its cleanliness, the quality of breakfast (not a cheap and greasy!), the hosts, really were aspiring to match the quality of a boutique hotel! A really good start!!

The marina where the boat was located was a few minutes drive, or perhaps a brisk 10-15 minute walk. The air station was equally conveniently located being a few minutes walk from the boat mooring.
The Saturday saw breakfast at 8am, then a quick mosey along to get the kit on the boat. Car parked in a nearby free carpark, we were ready to depart. The wind was quite breezy, and the wave height, while not challenging in itself, the single hull, single prop boat did get tossed around a bit. Joe excelled himself at feeding the fishes!!

Would you like to touch my claws?
The first days diving saw us at the Persier at 30m followed by the Glen Strathallen at about 20m in the afternoon. The viz was brilliant! Brett found a dive reel with a bottle inflated SMB (worth about £100), in brand new spanking order…. Lars lined off the wreck with great urgency to find anyone with a big good bag. Following him back, we turned a corner to see the biggest lobster you have ever seen! In the end Lars was the only on who had a goodie bag, and it took Lars, Brett and myself to get the blighter into the bag. Mariette looked on in awe at this display of machismo!!!
Photo’s on the boat to prove, then the lobby was put back over the side…(the chances would be high that he would be a tough old beast to eat!!)
Sunday saw the weather improve, with the James Egan Layne and the Scylla on the agenda today. The viz was infinitely better than last year. The J.E L is a divers playground, and while is very different from the first time I dived this wreck in 1985, is still good fun! The Scylla was easy to penetrate, with easy routes to daylight. The skipper also unfortunately busted his GPS, and so lost access to all his marks. All dives would now need to be pre-shot….
Barry's new dive hood!
Monday saw the weather improve further still! The morning’s dive in the 30m deep channel to Devonport was a Scallop harvesting expedition, most coming up with a good haul!!. The second dive was back to the J.E. B, due to the GPS issue.
Another great dive, with a safety stop at 6m still on the wreck!
Packed all the kit and was home by 7.30pm or so!!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Swanage - 20th August 2011

by Victor Grayson

10 club members made an incredibly early start for a day at Swanage. Again, everyone was at various levels of experience and the group included 3 of us currently training for our Sports Diver qualification.

The first dive – the wreck of the Kyarra (sunk in 1918) – was booked for 7.30am, with 9 of us diving from the catamaran Spike. After a very clear briefing from Pete the skipper, we arrived at the dive site, south of Swanage. I was buddied with Brett and was ready for my first dive in British seawater. Despite having a decent amount of experience diving abroad (albeit mostly on easy follow-my-leader holiday dives), the scare stories I’d heard about UK diving always being cold, dark, dull, dangerous and difficult made me apprehensive. I’m glad to report, however, that none of this proved true – entry was easy, one minor problem (a freeflowing octopus at the surface, which lost me 80 bar) was resolved quickly enough, visibility was better than I expected and with the water at 17-20°C it was not cold at all. And the Kyarra wreck is impressive – lots of holes, nooks and crannies to look into, a collapsed deck, and the thing is big – we had a good look around and still only saw about a quarter of it. Lobsters, a conger eel and plenty of fish were seen. Brett and I went down to 26 metres, clocked 35 minutes underwater, and ascended with a DSMB. Exit was easy thanks to a diver lift (truly, humankind’s greatest invention since the wheel) on the back of Spike.

Our second dive – also from Spike – was Peveril Ledges, where we used a DSMB throughout the entire 55 minute drift dive, reaching a maximum depth of 15.6 metres. I enjoyed this dive a lot, although some folks were disappointed at not finding scallops. Still, we saw plenty of crabs, and for me it was all good experience.

At 3pm most of us did a third dive under Swanage Pier, staying very shallow at 4.4 metres (we couldn’t have gone any deeper without a shovel), and seeing shrimp and lots of fish. One day I’ll dust off my guide to British sealife book and learn the names of all these creatures. The sun had come out in the afternoon, and was illuminating the sea floor either side of the pier – very atmospheric. Or hydrospheric, even.

On the surface, between dives, some of the group went down the road to forage and to listen to sea shanties at the Lifeboat Week event nearby. In the distance we could see the Bournemouth Air Show in progress. The set-up at Swanage Pier seems pretty good – the car park is properly marshalled, there are trolleys to use and the dive shop on the pier filled our cylinders between dives. And the place is popular – there were dozens upon dozens of divers visiting, many doing training around the pier, others going out on the several trips that Spike made that day.

The drive back – past the amazing Corfe Castle and adjacent village – is impressive, too. All in all, a successful day out, a great introduction to UK sea diving for 2 of us, great weather in the afternoon, and a chance for us Sports Diver trainees to get 3 dives signed off.