Sunday, 30 October 2016

Almost-Halloween dive, Wraysbury - 30th October 2016

Peculiar goings on today. Victor's alarm clock strangely went off an hour early. An eerie fog enveloped London. Blood-drenched revellers, zombies and witches were seen on the drive to Wraysbury. Spooky muffins mysteriously disappeared when their box was opened. The lake was unexpectedly busy, despite this being the end of the dive season.
Raffa, Jamie and James H completed their open water dives as part of their Ocean Diver training with Sally, Victor and Clive. Clare and Lee also dived. Well done, all. Thanks to Sally for organising, and to Sally and Clive for sorting out club kit.

This visit to Wraysbury passed without anyone experiencing the horrors of Halloween. The beast of the lake didn't bother anyone today, and nobody found a double yoke in their fried egg sandwich.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

60 sites in 2016

To mark the club's 60th anniversary, we aimed to dive 60 different sites in 2016. On 5th October we achieved our target, with 7 club members doing a memorable dive on the wreck of the SMS Markgraf in Scapa Flow. Below is a list of all the sites we have visited (so far - remember we still have a trip to Nemo 33 coming before the end of the year), and doesn't include the non-club dives our members did at NDAC, Gozo, Indonesia, the south coast and various other places in 2016. Well done, everyone, for getting so much diving done, and for diving such a wide variety of sites in less than 12 months.

1) Sha'ab El Erg, Red Sea (14/02/2016)
2) The Barge, Little Gubal Island, Red Sea (14/02/2016)
3) Bluff Point, Little Gubal Island, Red Sea (15/02/2016)
4) Jackfish Alley, Red Sea (15/02/2016)
5) Gordon Reef, Red Sea (15/02/2016)
6) Thomas Reef, Red Sea (16/02/2016)
7) Jackson Reef, Red Sea (16/02/2016)
8) Shark and Yolanda Reefs, Red Sea (16/02/2016)
9) Beacon Rock, Red Sea (16/02/2016)
10) SS Dunraven, Red Sea (17/02/2106)
11) Small Crack, Red Sea (17/02/2016)
12) SS Thistlegorm, Red Sea (17/02/2016)
13) SS Carnatic, Red Sea (18/02/2016)
14) Sha'ab Abu Nuhas, Red Sea (18/02/2016)
15) Tile wreck, Red Sea (19/02/2016)
16) Giannis D, Red Sea (19/02/2016)
17) El Minya, Red Sea (19/02/2016)
18) Walpole Bay tidal pool, Margate (27/02/2016)
19) Holborough Lakes, Kent (20/03/2016)
20) Wraysbury Dive Centre, Middlesex (16/04/2016)
21) Black Head Reef, Mevagissey Bay (30/04/2016)
22) Kantoeng wreck, Fowey (30/04/2016)
23) Gwineas (Gwinges), Cornwall (01/05/2016)
24) Penare Point, Mevagissey Bay (01/05/2016)
25) Curran Vean Reef, Cornwall (02/05/2016)
26) Stack Rocks, Pembrokeshire (28/05/2016)
27) Junkos Rock, Pembrokeshire (28/05/2016)
28) The Smalls, Pembrokeshire (29/05/2016)
29) SS Dakotian, Pembrokeshire (30/05/2016)
30) North Wall, Pembrokeshire (30/05/2016)
31) SS Shirala, Littlehampton (11/06/2016)
32) Outer Mulberry, Bognor Regis (11/06/2016)
33) Waldron's Reef, Bognor Regis (11/06/2016)
34) MV Aeolian Sky, Dorset (25/06/2016)
35) SS Black Hawk Bow, Dorset (25/06/2016)
36) SS Binnendijk, Lulworth Banks (26/06/2016)
37) SS City of Waterford, Beachy Head (09/07/2016)
38) Gildenburgh Water, Cambridgeshire (17/07/2016)
39) Siracusa wreck, Newquay Bay (30/07/2016)
40) Poltexas Reef, Newquay (30/07/2016)
41) SS Orfordness, Newquay (31/07/2016)
42) Old Dane rock, Newquay (31/07/2016)
43) Swanage Pier (06/08/2016)
44) Valentine Tanks, Swanage (06/08/2016)
45) Bombay and Fleur de Lys, Swanage (06/08/2016)
46) Old Harry drift, Swanage (06/08/2016)
47) SS Kyarra, Swanage (06/08/2016)
48) HMS Scylla, Whitsand Bay (27/08/2016)
49) SS James Eagan Layne, Whitsand Bay (27/08/2016)
50) Pier Cellars, Cawsand Bay (28/08/2016)
51) Breakwater Fort, Plymouth Sound (28/08/2016)
52) Le Poulmic wreck, Plymouth Sound (29/08/2016)
53) Glen Strathallan wreck, Plymouth Sound (29/08/2016)
54) SMS Karksruhe, Scapa Flow (02/10/2016)
55) F2, YC21 and MV Mara, Scapa Flow (02/10/2016)
56) SMS Brummer, Scapa Flow (03/10/2016)
57) SMS Dresden II, Scapa Flow (03/10/2016)
58) SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, Scapa Flow (04/10/2016)
59) Anti-Arial Torpedo Close Protection Pontoons, Scapa Flow (04/10/2016)
60) SMS Markgraf, Scapa Flow (05/10/2016)
61) SMS Cöln, Scapa Flow (06/10/2016)
62) SMS König, Scapa Flow (07/10/2016)

Bermondsey BSAC committee meeting - 12th October 2016

Bermondsey BSAC committee meeting, 12/10/2016
Venue: Ross’s
In attendance: Sally, Victor, Pat, Clive, Ken, Daniel, Ben, Ross, Teresa, Lee
Apologies: none                                                                                      

Minutes of 31/08/2016 and matters arising

- Victor has applied to renew his DBS clearance.
- Underspend of Sport England grant is yet to be used.
- New regs have fragile purge button covers – this has been recognised as a fault by the manufacturer, and new durable covers are now on order.
- Victor to post last minutes online with Lee’s additions.

St George’s and Seven Islands

- Use of St George’s Leisure Centre remains less than ideal. Attendance is continuing to fall, although this is partly because some members have recently come to the end of their training.
- Tower Bridge is now closed. Getting kit to St George’s will be very difficult if there are any problems in, or at either end of, the Rotherhithe or Blackwall tunnels.
- Refresher sessions will be difficult to organise while we are still meeting at St George’s. These will be scheduled for January (when we’re back at Seven Islands), which is a better time to do them anyway, shortly before the dive season starts.
- Some potential try-divers have asked to delay their session until we are back at Seven Islands.
- Ken to check on progress of Seven Islands refurbishment [post-meeting note: Better have announced that the reopening will be delayed until Spring 2017].
- LB Southwark are currently reviewing their preferred option for the location of the replacement leisure centre. The matter will not, therefore, be considered by Cabinet for some time.
- Ken reported that plans for a residential development on the Seven Islands site are already in the public domain.

Xmas social

- Clive is organising this for either Tuesday 13th or Thursday 15th December, and has contacted possible venues. Membership to be advised of potential dates.

2016 dives

- 7 people attended the last lake dive.
- This year’s remaining dives are Brighton (day dive) [post-meeting note: this was blown out], Gildenburgh (extra lake dive), and Lee’s Bruges/Nemo 33 trip (10 people attending).
- Spaces (not entire boats) on day trips on south coast could be added. Sally is willing to run an additional lake dive in November if needed.
- Plymouth weekend cost the club £50. Swanage weekend cost the club £68. Newquay weekend cost the club £400.

2017 dives

- Brighton (23rd April – 6 spaces on Channel Diver) is booked.
- Pembrokeshire (27th-29th May) is booked and doesn’t need a deposit.
- Brighton (23rd July) is booked.
- St Abbs / Farnes (26th-29th August) is booked.
- Lee reported that places are available for Shetland on the Valhalla: 18th June (5 spaces), 25th June and 2nd July.
- Sally to speak with skipper re: Anglesey on 17th and 18th June – if these dates are unavailable, we’ll book Shetland spaces.
- Anglesey Scubafest dates haven’t been announced yet.
- Swanage weekend had been suggested for 15th and 16th July, but this clashes with the jazz festival. Sally to look into 8th and 9th July instead.
- Scimitar (Portland) not available 5th and 6th May. Pat to speak to Woody (Weymouth) re: that weekend.
- Shoreham available 1st April – Pat to book 4 spaces.
- Shoreham also available 16th Sept – Pat to book 8 spaces.
- Day dive on south coast to be pencilled in for 14th or 15th October.
- Red Sea trips were discussed. Teresa had looked into Marsa Alam for February half term, however it would cost the same as a liveaboard, despite being land-based. “Simply the Best” trips are available on 1st and 22nd November, costing £1,250. Agreed to include these on the dive list to gauge interest.
- Maldives trip to also be included on dive list, to gauge interest.

Club website

- This is doing the job.
- Lee suggested short posts on front page of the new website can be about anything club- or dive-related.

Annual General Meeting

- To be held Wednesday 8th February at Cherry Garden school.

Any Other Business

- Daniel noted that 2019 will be 100th anniversary of the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow. The boats Valkyrie and Valhalla will be there all year, but we would need to book soon. Daniel to obtain costs.
- Teresa mentioned the Scilly Isles in 2018 or 2019, but wouldn’t be keen on doing this in the same year as a St Kilda trip. Noted that there is only ever a 1 in 3 chance of getting out to St Kilda, due to the weather, and that neither of the 2 boats that visit St Kilda are as good as the Valkyrie.
- The club has reached its target of visiting 60 dive sites in its 60th year.
- 2017 BBQ date to be set once dive dates are confirmed.
- Next meeting: Tuesday 10th January 2017 (this will be this committee’s 6th meeting) [post-meeting note: this has been moved to Wednesday 11th January].

Monday, 17 October 2016

Scapa Flow - 1st-8th October 2016

by Daniel

A successful week's diving from the MV Valkyrie out of Stromness. 12 dives were done over the week, with the vast majority of the 10 of us on board partaking in at least 11 of them. The sites included the “big seven” - the cruisers:  Brummer, Karlsruhe, Dresden and Coln, and the battleships:  Kronprinz Wilhelm, Konig and Markgraf – as well as some other wrecks (the F2 and AATCPPs among others).

Visibility consistently in the 10-15 metre range all week. Weather also a pretty consistent “sunny with little wind”.

Victor and I travelled up by hired van with all the kit. We departed Thursday afternoon (after having spent the morning collecting the van and kit from Amphibian, Victor's, Daniel's and Ken's) and arrived in Stromness around Saturday lunchtime (having met Brett in Inverness the night before for dinner) some 760 miles later. Having arrived we extracted some of the kit from the van and started piecing together Victor's twinset that he was borrowing from the boat. His kit was an amalgamation of his own, the boat's, mine, Colin’s and Ken's – a true group diver! The crew welcomed us onto the boat and got us to make ourselves comfortable. Under no circumstances were we to go into the lounge in drysuits. Understood! We let the tide come in for a few hours (so the boat would be closer to our vehicles) before emptying the van. The three of us (Brett, Victor and I) headed out for dinner at the local Ferry Inn. Later that evening on the boat we were joined by Andy and John from Nottingham and Coventry – our non-club fellow divers for the week.

Sunday morning Brett, Andy, John and I did a shakedown dive on the Karlsruhe. The rest of the group – organiser Ken, Jill, Geraint, Chris and Lee – arrived late at Sunday lunchtime because of flight cancellations. At least they got to see Southend airport!

A quick boat safety briefing from skipper Hazel and some manic running around and kit faffing and we were heading out again to do a dive on the F2 and YC21 barge. John, Andy, Brett and I went in looking for the Mara (which we found) and then proceeded to swim against the current for 35 minutes looking for the F2. Won't be doing that again. Saw a nice dog fish on our travels, though. The YC21 was visited again at the end of the week, and turned out to be Victor’s favourite dive site, largely due to the resident nudibranchs.

We then settled into our routine for the week: wake up, breakfast, morning dive briefing, morning dive, lunch, afternoon dive briefing, afternoon dive, cake (or biscuits), relaxation time, dinner, movie, pub, bed. A very relaxed, but also tiring, week. Some highlights:

• the food!
• the crew
• the suit lube dispenser
• dancing with Brett before one of the dives
• the food!
• diving the Markgraf (even if I was narked off my tits)
• the warm water to dunk gloves and hoods into before each dive
• the food!
• singing along to power ballads while kitting up on the dive deck
• completing Dive Leader!
• Chris completing Accelerated Decompression Procedures
• putting ADP to good use
• seals
• nudibranchs
• swimming through the Konig's boiler room
• the food!

Jill took photos underwater, Chris did the ADP course with rebreathing Ken, some of us went Northern Lights hunting one evening (they didn’t come out to play, but the stars were amazing), Victor’s DSMB was confiscated by another dive boat, the water was 13 degrees all week (1 degree warmer than the club's lake dive the following Sunday!), we hit our target of 60-sites-in-2016, visits were made to Stenness, Brodgar and the Italian Chapel, a certain diver entered the water without fins (no names will be mentioned here!), and we went for a decent Chinese with the crew in Kirkwall on the Friday night. We also had a sneak preview of Hazel and Helen’s new boat, the Valhalla, which is currently being fitted out ready for service next year – serious consideration is now being given to a 2017 Shetland trip.

Scapa flow is an amazing place to dive and the wrecks there are incredible. Being on the MV Valkyrie made it even better and the crew really helped to make the week enjoyable and as easy on everyone as possible. I will definitely be going back.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Buoyancy and Trim Workshop / Accelerated Decompression Procedures course - 3rd and 17th-18th September 2016

Geraint and Daniel recently spent a day at Wraysbury on the Buoyancy and Trim workshop and in North Cornwall on the Accelerated Decompression Procedures Course. Here is their account of these regional courses.
The day started with a briefing and a set of lectures around the importance of buoyancy control and how the general principles can be applied as well as some commentary about the impact of good trim.
Our first of two dives was an experiment dive where we could fiddle with weighting and trim and practice some of the skills before the assessment. We navigated a maze while maintaining good buoyancy, hovering parallel with a feature under the water and then slowly ascending with a stop of at least two minutes at every meter from 6m to 1m and then one final stop at half a meter.
The second dive was an assessed version of the first dive and Geraint and I did a great job of maintaining our buoyancy all the way up and doing various skills at each stop like spinning on the spot, mask clearing and attitude adjustments. This was later confirmed when our instructor awarded us both “Black” for Buoyancy and Trim.
This was held in North Cornwall not far from Rock and started in a nearby boat yard on Saturday morning. Our Instructor, Mark, started by running us through some of the theory associated with the Twinset course and the ADP course. He was very clear about teaching “the BSAC way” and what pragmatic alterations we could make after training.
The first dive was a 6m skills dive where we went through mask clearing, spare mask replacement, valve shut-off procedures, reg-switching for the deco stage, air sharing with long hose etc.
The second dive was in 23 m of water on a wreck. The vis was atrocious so we all lined off. We didn’t do a deco dive as we ascended before the no-stop limit but we still simulated swapping to 80% mixes at 9m and switching gasses on our computers.
Mark had an incident on the dive which resulted in a severe cut to his finger so he was taken to Truro hospital for stitches. While we waited the three of us went through the manual process of planning an accelerated deco dive using the tables and the materials we’d been given the previous night. Mark eventually came back about 10 o’clock, completed the lectures for the course and we finished about midnight!
On the Sunday we buddied up and dived our plan on the Indus – a wreck at about 45 m but as we’d planned for 40 m we were hovering above it – plan the dive and dive the plan! The wreck was fantastic and I wish I’d had more time on it. I had no problems switching gasses on the way up and we did our accelerated deco.
Back at the boat yard we unloaded the boat together, got de-kitted and loaded the cars. I was able to sign off dive management for Dive Leader as well as the ADP and Twinset SDCs. Geraint and I are now both Advanced Twinset divers!
We would recommend both these courses to anyone thinking about doing more decompression diving. I am very pleased that we will be able to practice our Accelerated Decompression on my next dive trip to Scapa Flow.

Training successes - September and October 2016

Please give your congratulations to our newest Open Water Instructor. Well done, Sally. Becoming an Open Water Instructor requires the diver to pass a classroom teaching exam, an open water teaching exam, and a knowledge exam. It also takes years of hard work.

In other news, the club ran successful lake dives on 18th September and 9th October 2016, where various elements of the Ocean Diver and Sports Diver course were completed by students. Well done, all. An extra October lake dive is planned for the 30th, this time to Gildenburgh Water.

Also, well done to Xin for passing her Sports Diver exam the other week, to Daniel for qualifying as a Dive Leader recently in Scapa Flow, and to Chris for doing the Accelerated Decompression Procedures course with Ken (a course recently also completed by Geraint and Daniel).

Meanwhile, back at St George's Leisure Centre (our temporary home), twice-weekly training sessions have continued, with students completing Ocean Diver lectures and pool sessions, and passing exams. 

Bermondsey BSAC committee meeting - 31st August 2016

Bermondsey BSAC committee meeting, 31/08/2016
Venue: Victor’s
In attendance: Clive, Ross, Pat, Lee, Victor, Teresa, Ken
Apologies: Sally, Colin, Daniel

Minutes of 02/06/2016 and matters arising

- These were agreed.
- Ed now has DBS clearance. Sally’s is awaited. Lee has re-applied. Pat is to apply. Victor needs to renew.
- The club is still waiting for some items of new kit (a suit, and hoods and gloves) paid for by the Sport England grant. The club has underspent and may need to offer to return £200 or £300 of the grant to Sport England. Ross has allocated the new regulator sets to committee members for the warrantee.
- The club’s oxygen kit is now in use. Amphibian have been paid £50 for its refurbishment.
- Use of St George’s Leisure Centre is continuing. Things are working out OK, but aren’t ideal – attendance is down, and getting people and kit to and from St George’s has proved difficult on some occasions. Tower Bridge will be closed from 1st October for the rest of the year, which will make kit movement even more difficult. Alternative arrangements were discussed.
- Regarding the replacement of Seven Islands Leisure Centre, Victor is yet to write a follow-up letter to councillors, and has tried to find out if the matter is being discussed at the council’s Cabinet meeting of 20th September [post-meeting note: it isn’t]. Agreed to encourage Southwark-resident members to lobby councillors. Ken has seen Sport England pool specifications, none of which combine a proper deep end with a shallow end – if the council follow these specifications, the new pool will be far less suitable for training and try-dives.
- Hire charges for club kit have been applied for the Swanage and Plymouth trips.
- Daniel has taken over from Colin as Membership Secretary.


- Lee has worked on a draft Wordpress site. Agreed to go live. Victor to look into a non-blog home page.
- Using existing website’s URL for the Wordpress site doesn’t appear to be possible, but a redirect could work [post-meeting note: Daniel has done this].
- Pat suggested more details of the Ocean Diver course (duration, number of lectures etc) be added.
- Victor to notify members of new website, and request feedback.


- Daniel will act as Training Officer for 2 weeks, and has a training plan.
- Recent Sports Diver exam results were discussed. There were no common areas of failure. Instructors will ask more questions during lectures to gauge level of understanding before exams are organised.
- Ocean Diver students passed their exams last night. A mock exam will be organised for Emily.
- Agreed to run refresher evenings for qualified Ocean Divers on Thursday nights.
- Agreed to organise an additional lake dive. Date tbc.

2016 dives

- The next Shoreham dive has 5 people signed up, with more likely. Suitable for Ocean Divers [post-meeting note: dive was blown out].
The next Brighton dive has spaces available.
- Cyprus trip is not happening. Replacement trips (suitable for Ocean Divers) were discussed – Sardinia (not cheap, and dive centres may have shut down by November), Malta, NE Spain, Madeira. Marsa Alam would be suitable for shore dives to reefs.

2017 dives

- Pat suggested a Maldives trip in February half term.
- Agreed not to attend Mevagissey Scubafest next year, however same skipper could be used.
- St Kilda trip has been postponed to 2018.
- Pembrokeshire date is fixed (27th-29th May). Sally is organising.
- Portland possible for 6th and 7th May, possibly using Scimitar shuttle boat. Suitable trip for training. Ken to book.
- Anglesey trip needs a date – possibly 17th and 18th June. Needs to be done on neaps. Sally was to organise.
- Oban trip in August was discussed, possibly with St Abbs and the Farnes added on the way back. Victor has emailed St Abbs skipper.
- Iceland trip date is tbc, and can be fitted in around other dives.
- Swanage trip suggested for 15th and 16th July. Organisation to be delegated to a Dive Leader or Advanced Diver student.
- Shoreham day dive agreed for 1st April.
- Brighton day dive agreed for 16th or 17th September.
- Shoreham day dive agreed for 14th or 15th October.
- Lee also mentioned a possible Brighton dive on 22nd or 23rd April, Dover day dives, and joining Docklands Dive School’s Scilly Isles trip (dates tbc).
- A trip to Nemo 33 in December was suggested.
- A date for the summer BBQ should be chosen once dive dates are fixed.

2018 dives

- New date for St Kilda tbc.
- Teresa interested in organising a Scilly Isles trip.

Other business

- Clive to organise xmas social, for a Thursday evening in December.
- Next meeting 12th October.