After 2 dives in Swanage the day before, and a slow drive eastwards to Lymington, us divers were ready for the pub, and the Thomas Tripp PH proved perfect. Good grub, quiet room for diners, good beer etc.
The following morning 11 divers met at 10.30am in the Royal Lymington Yacht Club car park (£8 all-day parking, or free on the nearby streets to the west). Once the throng of sailing tykes had hauled their optimists into the water, we loaded Wight Spirit (skipper: Dave) and set off for the SS Mendi. Dave warned us about the visibility at that site, but we’d organised this trip around a visit to this particular wreck, and so wanted to stick to the plan. Some of us had read up on the tragic story of this wreck beforehand (see: http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/projects/marine/eh/ssmendi/index.php ). As this was a deeper dive (40m to the sea floor) than the club normally organises, we’d all logged detailed dive plans with today’s Dive Manager (Brett).
And yes, the viz was pretty awful at less than 1 metre. Going down the shot line, at 21 metres it was already stygian enough for Victor to can the dive. Others at least made it to the wreck for a respectful look around this war grave. Elaine and Brett saw congers, lobster and crab during a decent 29 minute dive. Frank and Alan unintentionally entered the wreck (easy to do in such bad viz) and after a sobering few minutes found their way out by following their bubbles. Ken and Ian went techy and did 57 minutes. Elaine brought up an edible crab which proved to be a little soft and had to be put back.
The second dive – the SS War Knight – was closer to the Isle of Wight shore. Visibility was very bad here, too, such that although all 10 of us reached the wreck, most returned to the surface with unloggable dive times of 6, 9, 12 and 14 minutes. Alan and Frank managed 38 minutes down there, and Brett – diving solo for most of his dive – did 46 minutes.
Opinions on this trip varied. The bad viz generated disappointment, with Ed saying it was the worst day dive he’d ever done (Ed’s been diving 28 years). There were, however, positives. The weather was OK. The trip gave newer divers a chance to do some proper gas planning and depth progression. Others said they would return to dive this wreck again in better viz. And thanks to thorough dive planning, nobody got bendy on the Mendi.
To make a weekend of the 1-day Lymington trip, the club organised an optional Swanage add-on. 4 of us (Andy, Chris, Brett and Victor) signed up, doing the Valentine Tanks dive at midday and the Old Harry drift at 3pm. Both dives were from the boat Skua.
Arriving just before 10am meant there was no space for our vehicles on the pier, so we parked in the middle car park up the hill (paying £8 for the day), and carried our kit down.
Visibility was poor on both dives, but we saw a very large berried lobster on the Valentine Tanks, and 2 thornback rays on the incredibly fast drift dive.
For the late May bank holiday weekend the club went to Plymouth for 3 days of diving with Mountbatten Dive Charter. Our skippers were Steve and Tony, with whom the club had dived back in 2011, and the boat was Explorer. As part of the all-in package, we stayed at the Mountbatten B&B (clean, good showers, good breakfasts), overflowing into the Lakeview B&B down the road. Fills were done at In Deep (very close to the Mountbatten Watersports Centre pontoon), where Brett had set up an account on Friday afternoon. Victor was Dive Manager.
The 8.30am start suddenly became a tad rushed when we were informed that the ebbing tide meant the boat had to move off the pontoon pronto. All aboard (except Lee who was coming down that day, and Teresa who had got to Plymouth very late the night before), we set off, only to find Clive’s blue box was still ashore. Once this was retrieved, we were off to dive the Scylla, a frigate deliberately sunk for divers and scientists in 2004. 10 years on, it has a good coverage of plumose anemone and other life, and made a good first dive of this trip. Visibility wasn’t too bad at 6 metres. Depths of around 24 metres were reached, and the water was 13 degrees C. The second dive of the day was the wreck of the SS James Eagan Layne, a massive liberty ship where we found and photographed critters including a beautiful purple nudibranch (flabellina somethingsomething) and had similarly decent visibility. Some of the group had dived both these sites before, some hadn’t.
That evening we ate at the Glassblowing House, having pre-booked. Good grub. Most of us got there and back via the Mountbatten-Barbican ferry.
A brisk wind limited the sites we could visit today, so – with Clive’s blue box definitely on board – we set off, and went with the skipper’s suggestion of doing Pier Cellars on the lee side of the Rame peninsula, close to the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. This was a scenic dive with a fair amount of wildlife (very large jellyfish at the start, dogfish etc) and an interesting underwater landscape to depths of around 13 metres. No second dive today, due to a battery problem with the boat’s lift, which was fixed that evening. That afternoon most of us went to the National Marine Aquarium (some catching the dive show at 2pm, which was quite entertaining), eating on the way at Cap’n Jaspers. Later on, 10 of us went for a rather decent feed at the Boringdon Arms, where Clidive also happened to be meeting.
So we could finish reasonably early and avoid the worst of the bank holiday traffic, we chose to dive 2 sites not far out of Plymouth on the last day of this trip. Mewstone Ledges, another scenic dive, was our first destination, where a large cuckoo wrasse had an experimental nibble (or a brief suck, more like) on a diver’s wiggly finger. The second dive was the Glen Strathallen, a trawler whose engine is now on display at the Science Museum. We were informed that winter storms had exposed a lot more metal, and some of the group confirmed it was now a very different dive to the one they’d done a few years ago.
The journey home to London, although somewhat wet, was easy enough. Suggested car game for divers travelling back from the southwest: go through the A to Z of types of boats (we got stuck on Q, X and Z).
Another early start, with 6 of us taking a day off work to get to Stoney Cove for its 8.30am opening. The club hadn’t been to this dive site for a while, largely due to nearer lakes (Holborough, Buckland and Divers Cove) offering adequate conditions for Ocean Diver and Sports Diver training. For Dive Leader lessons DO1, DO2, DO3, DO4, DO6 and DO7, however, we needed depth, hence the trip up to Leicestershire. Instructors were Brett, Kim and Steve, students were Grant, Victor and Chris. Entry to Stoney Cove now costs £18 per non-member diver for the day. The place was thankfully fairly quiet, it being a Monday morning.
The sun beat down on us as we kitted up in the car park, so it was a relief to get in the water (8 to 12 degrees C) at 9.41am. Controlled buoyant lifts, mask clearance, DV retrieval etc were completed before divers went into buddy pairs for a bimble, visiting the Stanegarth, the Nautilus and the pumphouse. The first dive lasted 45 minutes, and reached depths of over 20 metres. The second, 59 minute dive at 12.41pm reached similar depths, covered dive leading, CBL (again), air share ascents, mid-water DSMB deployment, and a shot lift. Much hilarity ensued as students later attempted solo lifts of casualties out of the water, up the concrete ramp. Brett assured us that this exercise was indeed part of the Dive Leader syllabus, and had not been added in for his own amusement.
Exercises done, bimbling around Stoney Cove was quite enjoyable. Brett got some good pictures of the resident pike and perch, helped by the good visibility and direct sunlight pouring into the water. We left the site at around 3.30pm after lunch and signing of qualification records in Nemos.
An early start for 2 of us, and despite arriving at 7.20am (20 mins after the gates opened), Frank and Victor were able to secure a good space on Swanage pier, which cost us £13.50 (1 vehicle plus 2 divers). Sally and Clive had come down to Swanage the night before. After a second breakfast, 3 of us boarded Spike, along with a solo diver and Clive who wasn’t diving and who helped out and completed log sheets. Other divers booked onto that boat didn’t show, so we had plenty of space.
First dive of the day was the wreck of the Fleur de Lys, not far out of Swanage. Victor deployed his DSMB, which turned out to be not properly secured to his reel. Oops. Luckily the skipper retrieved the runaway sausage on the surface. Frank then deployed successfully, and we continued with a short drift dive, seeing a thornback ray and clocking up 44 minutes underwater. Visibility wasn’t great, but it was an easy dive at a maximum depth of 13 metres. Water temperature was 13 degrees C.
After fish and chips (or – for one of us – moulded-mushy-peas-deep-fried-on-a-stick and chips), and double checking to see if Kaffee und Kuchen was open (it wasn’t, dammit), Frank and Victor did a quick 21 minute dive under the pier. This was the most interesting dive of the day in terms of actually seeing stuff – we came across a pipefish, a cuckoo wrasse and other fish, and the sun illuminated the shallow waters (we reached heady depths of 3.4 metres).
For the Old Harry drift dive in the afternoon we had the boat (Spike, again) to ourselves. Not much to see on this dive – Victor saw 1 fish, nothing else. 35 minute dive, 13.8 metres depth.
Despite the poor visibility, this was a good day trip with fine weather (sunny and warm, with relatively flat seas). Swanage offers easy diving and a minimum-hassle means of getting some early-season sea dives done.
In attendance: Pat, Brett, Ken, Teresa, Ross, Victor
2014 and 2015 dive list
Falmouth trip over recent Easter bank holiday was a success and the club didn’t have to cover the 2 unfilled spaces.
Noted that 2 early trips this year (Brighton and Shoreham) proved difficult to fill, but in the end did not go ahead due to the weather.
Agreed to book fewer day dives in early (pre-Easter) 2015. Club (or its members) can nominate weekends for trips to a specified location, but not make a club booking – instead, individuals would make their own bookings for that trip near to the trip date.
This process needn’t have too much structure – it would begin with an individual suggesting a date, checking if a boat is taking individual/buddy pair bookings, and then proposing the day dive to the rest of the club.
Club can facilitate this process by updating the dive list more quickly and circulating it more often. Club website can be updated with links and contact details for the dive boats we often use. Emails from members wishing to propose a day dive can be circulated by the Secretary.
Club trips will be booked in the Easter to September period.
The next few club dives in 2014 are well subscribed, but dives later in summer are not yet. Agreed to tout these to the club, with a reminder that unfilled spaces cost the club money.
2 trips (Eastbourne and Weymouth) clash with the Mexico trip. There may be people who intend to join these 2 trips but haven’t got round to putting their names down yet, so both trips will be touted again.
The Brighton trip in August will be touted until the end of June.
Noted that minimum diver qualifications and depth limits will prevent some members from signing up, while deeper dives may be attractive to others. Other clubs (e.g., Hellfins) have many Ocean Divers wanting to dive, and our trips for more experienced divers could be filled by divers from other clubs. Brett will speak with contacts in other clubs, but won’t tout dives until our own members have been given more opportunity to sign up.
Wittering, Selsey, Portsmouth and Dover were suggested as day dives next year. Dive Leader trainees could organise trips to these destinations.
Brighton, Shoreham and Eastbourne boats will be used again in 2015.
Scubafest was not so good this year, but might be better next year should BSAC have more control. Agreed to reserve May 2nd-4th for a potential Scubafest trip in 2015.
Agreed to organise club trips for Easter and late spring bank holiday weekend.
A trip abroad was suggested for Easter – possibly the Red Sea or Gozo. Agreed to establish numbers by August, obtain quotes from Blue O2 etc, then tout to the club.
Other ideas discussed: Pembrokeshire, week-long liveaboard to Dieppe, Scilly Isles, Weymouth, Falmouth, Ireland, Truk, Coron, Sardinia, Poole, Swanage (unrestricted numbers, so suitable for August when many may be away), Lewis, Oban and Mull. Ken to look into possibility of borrowing another club’s RIB for a Lewis trip.
Previously-suggested trips to Shetland Isles, Crimea and Mozambique will not be happening in 2015.
Falmouth already booked for 2015 August bank holiday weekend.
Various provisional dates were added to the 2015 calendar. Victor and others to start making enquiries and bookings.
The club’s abated rate (£25 for 2 people at the same address) was discussed. BSAC offer a similar abated rate, as only 1 magazine needs to be sent to that address, however the club has no such reason for providing a discounted membership. To be discussed at the AGM, possibly with a motion to scrap or reduce the discount.
Cost per day per diver to remain at £45 this year (even if cost is slightly less or more). To be reviewed at AGM.
Next year’s committee
Club members who are interested in being on committee next year could be invited to shadow current committee members. A new publicity officer might be recruited this way.
Child and vulnerable adult protection
BSAC’s new policy hasn’t been published yet.
All instructors will need Disclosure and Barring Service checks once the new policy comes into force.
Club already has instructors with DBS clearances, 2 more are in process.
Recruitment of new members
Pat – in Chair’s bulletin – to encourage members to bring family and friends to the club.
Tall Ships Regatta – Pat to look into possibility of having a stall. NB – clashes with Mexico trip.
Dive list could be moved to a more prominent part of the club’s website.
Google searches for “diving Surrey Quays” don’t bring the club up at the top of the list, however it was noted that companies pay search engines for higher billing.
Recruitment sub-committee suggested, possibly to meet at 8pm one Wednesday. Pat to mention in Chair’s bulletin.
Seven Islands still have the club’s noticeboard. Manager is still trying to find out what happened to it.
Another call-out to be made for website content.
Seven Islands have asked for a risk assessment. Brett has prepared one for the New Cross branch, and will do another for us.
Club summer social
Call-out to be included in Chair’s bulletin.
Chair’s bulletin to encourage use for swimming, practice, testing kit etc.
Lifesaving course later on this year will involve pool use over several weeks.
Brett to look into another pool Olympics.
Students never got back to Ken. Assume this is not happening.
Club cylinders are in test. Kit doesn’t need servicing this season.
Kevin has donated an aluminium cylinder to the club.
2 sets of regs have been missing since Christmas.
Club’s 60th birthday
Suggested we start thinking of ideas.
Past members should be involved and invited. Dave remains in contact with some.