Friday, 26 July 2013

I see the sea and the sea sees our big smiles - Shoreham, 2nd June 2013

by Frank

You probably wondered what a ‘perfect day out’ would look like. Very likely that our recent trip to Shoreham in early June (a non-club dive organised by Ken) falls into this category.

After weeks of rather unsteady weather the 2nd of June looked favorable and it indeed was. Although considering the most unpleasant part is the drive from London down to the coast and back, we were greeted with relatively empty streets, which I can’t say was the case on the way back.

With Shoreham within reach, we saw the sea – and the sea saw us and our big smiles – it was a sunny day, flat sea and within twenty minutes after our arrival at the boat yard we were on Chris West’s boat the ‘Buccaneer’.

Two dives were planned with Victor, Ken and I as a ‘three-some’ and Brett and Jill paired up. Skipper Chris timed the ride over to the Ariel, a twin masted steamer that sank in a collision in 1892, perfectly. Although we experienced strong currents and with initially low visibility within the 1m range, it started to clear up once down at the wreck at 28-30m, especially on the lee-side of the ship’s remains, where there we had plenty of nooks to explore. We even came across a massive lobster hiding away amid broken bit of the cargo hold – unfortunately it hid more than an arm’s length away inside its home and in retrospect the claws were so large, it could have easily caused some damage, so we let the current gently drift us off towards the bow, which looked impressive against the gentle glow coming from the sunlight from above.

Torches were helpful that day to make sense of the broken-up structure of the hull, and shine into even more nooks and crannies in the hope to find something edible. As we found ourselves back at the shotline, I decided to launch my DSMB... well, I should have briefed Ken on my persistence to launch the DSMB regardless to keep those skills up to date  - although the shotline would have been sufficient. With my marker buoy up, we were ‘hanging out’ for a while decompressing and gradually moving up the shotline flying like flags in the current.

We happened to be the first team back on board after just over 30 mins. What did Jill and Brett do? Well, they had an equally good time and considering Jill had only really submerged a couple of times into the treacherous depths that surround Blighty, one could make out a clear sparkle of joy in her eyes after surfacing.

The sunny day continued and it got even sunnier when Skipper Chris dished out coffees and teas, rounded off with loads of Jaffa cakes I bought the day before. None of it was left at the end of the day as you can imagine.

Off to the second dive – drift diving along the so-called Worthing Wall, a collection of rocks with gullies and covered in beautiful anemones. Being a drift dive you've got to be very much awake or you miss most of the critters as you whizz along at speeds of over one knot. At 13m there was sufficient light to appreciate whatever came in to view. Several juvenile and adult catsharks were probably the highlight and if you managed to fin against the current, you were actually able to appreciate these wonderful creatures in a bit more detail, until either the shark had enough of you or the current decided to sweep you along further.

Back on board and after stocking up with more coffee, tea and the remaining Jaffa cakes we were back in Shoreham; slightly sunburned, a bit hungry and dreading the upcoming journey back but hey, it was one of those ‘perfect day dives’, right?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Underwater Theme Park Dive! - 6th July 2013

by Jörn and Ishka
We arrived at Diver’s Cove about 10am Saturday morning, slightly delayed due to heavy traffic on the M25. The setting of the recently opened facility, a former sand quarry, was very beautiful and the weather played along nicely. The wooden building on site encompassed a dive shop/equipment rental, a small café and changing rooms. Two porter loos, always appreciated, were also on site. 

After assembling our kit and the pre-dive briefing by Lee we descended to the lake itself via a small gravel path, which had formerly served as the access road to the quarry. The provided trolleys turned out to be extremely useful for transporting our kit down the slope. At the edge of the lake, and under the watchful eyes of a plastic flamingo as well as what appeared to be a logger-head sea turtle, we finished kitting up with the help of Sally who also kindly managed the clip board for the day.

Excited about finally hitting the water (it was rather warm in the wet suits at that point) we followed Clive into the lake, slowly wading into the water backwards and then made our way on the surface to the nearest buoy, which also marked the location of a wooden underwater platform at the depth of about 5m. We descended, in a controlled fashion, down the shot line and finally arrived at the platform where we then commenced with various exercises including; buoyancy, mask clearing and what can only be described as an underwater handstand (the significance of this particular exercise remains enigmatic to these Ocean Diver trainees).   

Following our instructor Clive through the murky water we continued towards the middle of the lake, encountering a number of submersed trees and creepy looking theme park figures. While we were extremely lucky with the water temperature which was said to be 21C at the surface and 17C at the bottom, visibility was at times problematic due to large amounts of silt our fins had disturbed at the bottom. However, we eventually arrived back at our “precise” starting point at the beach thanks to Clive’s superior underwater pilotage skills.

After a surface interval of about 45minutes, during which we enjoyed the warm sun, we started our second dive entering the lake with a giant stride from a wooden platform.

Again, we descended to a platform for further skill practising, which among other things included detaching and re-attaching the direct feed to the BC. Thanks to Clive’s nifty underwater Olympus camera we also had some pictures taken. We then set out towards the other side of the lake descending through the thermo-cline to an impressive 7m (it was freezing!!!). Noticeable underwater features this time included a discarded motor cycle, underwater vegetation of sorts, tad poles of varying sizes and a large number of golf balls (one of which now resides in our living room). Our final exercise of the day was a demonstration of the usefulness of the weight belt, carried out in shallow waters, which entailed taking off the weight belt followed by complete loss of buoyancy control. An Ocean Diver trainee, who shall remain unnamed, accidentally dropped her weight belt into the silt but luckily Clive came to the rescue retrieving the belt.

We ended this fun dive by returning to the beach and de-kitting followed by a de-brief over a well deserved coffee.
We would like to thank Lee for organising the trip, Clive for providing our training and Sally for giving us a ride and her help and support throughout the dives. 

Club Barbecue - 20th July 2013

On a Saturday evening in July, much of the club gathered at Teresa's gaff for a rather enjoyable social. 4 members were celebrating passing their Sports Diver and Dive Leader exams earlier that day. Former club member Alex put on an excellent spread and saw to the barbecue, and the weather - although cooler than it had been recently - was good enough for the 26 of us to spend the entire evening outside.

Thanks to Teresa for having us!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Barry Maisey - 25th July 2013

From Maggie

With thanks for all the cards, flowers and support from the club


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Six Go Mad At Divers Cove - 26th May 2013

by Ken

Fine golden sand, clear blue skies, 14C water, Mayflies and the warmest day of the year. Bermondsey 42 decided to try the latest hot venue south of London.

Divers Cove has the nicest setting of any of the inland sites. It is in leafy Surrey and surrounded by mature trees. Outside the shop, café and changing rooms there are a few tables and chairs to enjoy the dappled sunlight. All very lovely, especially on a sunny spring day.

We entered the water in waves, although of course it was flat. Victor and Brett first, just in case the fish "as big as dustbins" were unfriendly. Next Lee and Jill, with Jill trying out a dry suit in preparation for Ireland. Lastly, myself and Frank, looking for enough depth for Frank to do a midwater DSMB deployment and me hoping to get some back finning practice.

What did we see? Some strange fairground style cars which might have been golf carts, a couple of boats, at least one platform, lots of drowned trees and thousands of tadpoles. Oh and one carp pining for the fjords.

How deep?  I got 8m, Frank 8.5m but with a very silty arm. They claim 9.

Viz? We had a bit. Obviously if you kick it up you can't see your buddy, and apparently the fish will kick it up when startled. Being shallow and sunny helps, as does the mostly light coloured bottom.

Lee, Jill and Frank went in for a second go. I had a coffee and loaded the car, Victor and Brett sped off into the distance.

No complaints of cold, hot drinks available, civilised changing. Did we really go diving?

by Frank

Facilities sit within leafy surroundings and are new and well looked after. According to the site owner, compressor, decent kitting-up benches and an improved dive platform will be added in May/June. Well accessible from London. As for diving - easy and ideal for training, navigation, shake downs.

Aquatic life seems to flourish (owner will introduce additional carp and trout in the coming months). Underwater 'attractions' are somewhat limited and overall depth does not exceed 8m (without sticking computer deep in the mud). Overall, a pleasant site but I wonder if the drive to Buckland or Wraysbury may be better value for money.

Club Committee Meeting – 24th May 2013 – Notes


  • None


  • Barry sadly passed away on Wednesday. A eulogy has already been posted on the club’s Facebook page. Clive to write a longer eulogy/obituary (based on Dave’s text and picture) to distribute to members by email. Flowers (Teresa to get) and card from the committee to go to Maggie. A collection will also be made at the pool.


  • Bjørn has good ideas for the noticeboard. Clive to enquire re: progress.
  • No responses were received to emails sent to potentially-interested people following LIDS.
  • Litterpicks are good for attracting new members. Brett suggested visiting Greenland Dock this year.
  • Leafletting and a stand outside Decathlon also suggested.
  • James (Amphibian) asked to join the club’s Facebook group. The committee had no objections to this.

Medical forms

  • These are being collected, scanned and stored in a Dropbox folder only accessible to Brett and Victor. A few forms are still outstanding (albeit from members who haven’t dived yet this year). Victor to chase.


  • Brett has set up 3 email addresses/lists: 1) for committee members to communicate with all other committee members; 2) an address for the committee to use to communicate with all club members (messages will be “blind” and will not reveal individual email addresses); and 3) an address for any club member to use to communicate with all club members who have agreed to receive emails from that address (again, messages will not reveal individual email addresses). Brett to email all club members to ask them to agree to be included in this third email address/list.

Club analyser

  • The committee agreed it would be useful for the club to have a gas analyser, and should obtain one. Analyser to be kept with the club mobile phone and charger, in a rigid box. Lee to research cost (possibly second hand), and authorised to spend up to £150. Brett to obtain rigid box.

Kit storage

  • Grant has offered space in his shed, located opposite the pool. It has brick walls, a solid roof and a wooden door, is approximately 7’ by 3’ in size, and is overlooked by the rear windows of flats. Padlock would need replacing. All club bottles and weights would fit. Another option would be the storage room at the far end of the pool (previously used when dive clubs met 3 nights a week at the pool) in which a cage could be installed. The committee discussed access, security and practicalities of both options. Not all cylinders need filling every week, and not all need filling at the same time. Weekend kit loans further complicate the need for access to the storage space. Masks, fins and snorkels could go into storage space every week as they are never borrowed. Storage of at least some kit would help during weeks when Ross is away. Concern regarding leaving large amounts of kit in storage for long periods. Clive to find out more about the room at the pool.


  • There are enough dives scheduled to complete the current Ocean Diver cohort’s training. Agreed to take trainees on a lake dive in June, and sea dives later in the year.
  • Trainees have signed up to Lee’s Malta trip – this should not be their first sea dive.
  • Next lake trip (26/05/2013) will be to Divers Cove. Lake trip on 06/07/2013 will be to Wraysbury.
  • Sports Diver and Dive Leader trainees are progressing well.
  • Rate of attrition amongst Ocean Diver trainees is a concern.

Dive list

  • Agreed that more sea/day dives need to be organised. Swanage could become a 2-day trip (1 day of which could be for trainees – perhaps 3 dives including the pier). Brett to book dive in July. Vobster to be deleted from dive list due to lack of interest (thus freeing up that weekend).


  • Clive to look into Lea Valley white water rafting (doesn’t require minimum numbers). Victor to look into Thorpe Park (open late evenings). Teresa to organise a barbeque at her house, on a non-diving weekend in July or September.
  • Noted that socials directly after dives might not be popular, as people often want to go home.


  • Privacy policy discussed, and amendments agreed. Victor to redraft by end of next week.
  • A column will be added to the medical forms spreadsheet, noting which members have signed the privacy policy form.
  • Online dive list and training schedule to refer to members by first name only (with a capital letter for surname, if needed). Surnames to be removed from blog entries. Committee members’ surnames will, however, be online, and members (and would-be potential future committee members) will be reminded of this at the next AGM.
  • Brett confirmed the club website does not use cookies.
  • Clive to email past committee members to ask them to delete/destroy any personal information of members, if they haven’t already. Victor to draft this email with reference to data protection guidance.


  • Some memberships have lapsed. Lars to chase.