Saturday, 3 September 2016

Plymouth - 27th-29th August 2016

by Daniel

With fine weather two of the three days all six planned dives were successfully completed by various combinations of those present. We dived from the Explorer on all occasions and by all accounts it was very easy diving.

Victor and I headed down early Friday to avoid the traffic, stopping only once for breakfast at Gordano services. A relaxing afternoon spent around Mount Batten and back at the B&B waiting for the others to arrive. We met people in various pubs and then headed out to the Mount Batten bar for dinner.

 Saturday saw us dive two wrecks (the Scylla and the James Eagan Layne) in fabulous weather – blue skies and calm water. Visibility was good both dives (6 – 8 m, if not slightly more). Plenty of life on both and I found the wrecks interesting to swim around in their own right. I saw my first box jellyfish. When I pointed it out to my buddy Clare, a friend of the club from Ipswich, she seemed very unmoved by it. It later transpired that she'd seen many of those and didn't realise it was my first. On the second dive, she pointed several out to me – that made me smile.

Rolling backwards off the side of Explorer was the entry mechanic which, while awkward at times, seemed to work OK for most people. A couple of times my head hit the water first which caused a jolt but otherwise fairly painless. Others weren't so fortunate with a back injury exacerbated by the manoeuvre.

Saturday evening we went to the Glassblowing House for dinner. A fabulous meal that seemed to be enjoyed by all present. The food was of good quality and there was a range of options available on the menu.

Sunday brought a combination of sickness from our fearless leader, Victor, and some bad weather. The wind meant we couldn't dive outside the harbour so a couple of spots were chosen inside for those of us willing to partake.

While the visibility was lower inside the harbour (3-4 m most of the time) the dives were still fun. Ken and I saw a few notable highlights across the two dives, including cuttlefish and what looked like a pipefish. Visibility around the Breakwater Fort (the second dive site of the day) got challenging in a few places where, it looked like, several trainees from other boats were getting anxious near the bed. I can empathise entirely with their predicament having struggled with buoyancy for most of my diving career! By coming a little shallow and keeping the fort wall at arms length we were able to come out the other side unscathed.

Bank Holiday Monday brought the return of fabulous warm, sunny skies and calm waters; though not calm enough for some (*cough* Xin *cough*). I jumped in with Teresa and Emma for the first dive around a wreck (Le Poulmic) that was teeming with marine life. I saw some crabs, a couple of lobsters and a few other critters in the crevices of the wreck itself. While shoals of fish patrolled the outer edges making swimming in the surge look effortless. I felt sorry for Emma – the surge of the water meant that I kept bumping into her fins (when I wasn't bumping into the wreck of the surrounding reef).

The second dive on the Monday was another wreck apparently (the Glen Strath Allan). Emma and I went down the shotline to find a lobster pot tied to the end of it, instead of a large boiler. Still, S-drill complete, we had a lovely dive around a reef. Saw a few box jellyfish, the odd crab and few small fish among the kelp forests.

All in all a very successful trip. On returning home I noticed that we had travelled down on a third of a fuel tank, back on a third of a tank leaving a third reserved. Perfect!

Lee's footage of some hardcore dive preparation is online:

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