Our now-annual weekend in Swanage (intended primarily for training, but also well attended by non-students) was our busiest ever. 5 sites were visited, various elements of the Ocean Diver, Sports Diver and Diver Leader courses were completed, and our competent students and volunteer instructors received complements from Dave the skipper. Chieko revealed her talents at doing a Liverpudlian accent, Georgi became the luckiest diver of the weekend by losing his watch on a drift dive and then finding it on the sea bed the next day, Xin hunted Pokemon on the pier, and the sun shone. The Fleur de Lys wreck – which many of us have been diving for years – had recently been augmented by another wreck nearby (the Bombay), which added interest to the dives. Trip report below by Daniel. Photos by Sally, James P and Victor.
15 divers completed a total of 63 dives over the weekend, with several of our Ocean Diver trainees completing their open water lessons, leaving just their exams to go. Several of our club members made heroic contributions to make the weekend seamless. Victor, the weekend's organiser, was always to be seen with his clipboard arranging buddy pairs, organising and distributing club kit, or in his suit enjoying a dive. Sally was making sure everyone's training needs were met by organising instructors accordingly and arranging different dive sites to attend to particular training requirements. Last but not least, Clive was generally supporting the operation, organising cylinder fills and generally making sure everyone was kitted up and where they needed to be on time, as well as taking some of the divers in for a bimble around the pier.
Victor and I picked up the van on the Friday morning, then went back to his to collect his kit, to pick up Chieko, then back to my house to collect my kit, then to Ross's to collect the club kit. We hit the road for Swanage about 12:15 where we sat mostly in traffic for the day listening to 90s cheese, country and punk music (thanks Victor!). We arrived in Swanage around 7pm and promptly pitched camp. We met up with the others in a nearby pub and then headed for a lovely fish and chips dinner before calling it a night.
The day starts early in Swanage to ensure a good spot on the pier. We were in the queue waiting at 6am along with several other club members. There followed a fairly quiet couple of hours while we waited for the pier to open and the rest of the divers to arrive. Once 8.30 rolled around there was a flurry of activity as we sorted out cylinder fills, club kit distribution and general kitting up for the first dive at 09.30.
James and I went in for a bimble under the pier. Our first discovery was that James wasn't carrying enough lead. That rectified (thanks Victor!) we went for 45 minutes or so. We didn't really get lost on the way back! Saw plenty of small critters and several fish. All in all a pleasant dive. We finished the dive by doing a proper weight check for James before retiring to the pier to cook in the heat!
An hour or so later and we boarded the boat for the first of our two boat dives of the day. Xin and I went on an exploration of the Valentine tanks, Turret and Turretless. Xin was without a torch so I was trying to be helpful and point stuff out as we went around. But Xin was the one who spotted the two ginormous crabs and the enormous lobster. A very pleasant dive with plenty of life to look at, both small and larger fish moving around in the waters around the tanks.
Another hour or so later we were on our final dive of the day. Xin and I on a drift over Old Harry Rocks. Not a lot going on on this dive – but we were moving pretty quickly.
Once all the kit had been returned and we'd all finished for the day we headed back to the camp site, quick shower and out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant (thanks Clive and Sally).
Sunday was another early start. On the boat for 7.20 kitted up and ready to dive the Kyarra. I went in with Steve for a good 45 minutes on the wreck. The Kyarra is a beautiful wreck to dive – lots of wonderful structures of the wreck still clearly identifiable, plenty of life swimming around and critters moving around. I sat out of the remaining dives – the swell had made me a little ill on the first dive and I hadn't slept very well the night before.
The final divers were coming out around 14.30 and we were pretty much done by 15.30. After striking camp Victor and I headed back around 16.30 for the long trip home.