Diving - The adventure continues!
Plymouth Dive Weekend - June
And so, June rolled around and 11 of us headed off for the annual trip to Plymouth.
Itís always a good weekend, but traffic was pretty heavy for everyone, but we convened in the Waterside pub and drank Cornish beer and ate dinner with a slightly overcast sky.
However, the forecast was good and, after the usual good nightís sleep and hearty breakfast at The Moorings, we parked riverside at Queen Anneís Battery in sunshine and with a nice calm sea to look out onto.
Pete in Venture appeared on the pontoon and we, as quickly as possible given the fact that most of us were diving on twinsets this weekend, loaded everything aboard.
Once done we set off out through the breakwater, around the headland to the area where HMS Scylla and The James Eagan Layne lay close together (Pete told us that he once swam from one to the other, although that would need better compass skills than I have!).
Ria's photo, showing how many cylinders we had!
We kitted up and dropped in one after the other.
We were hopeful of good vis after having near-Med conditions a few weeks previously around Chesil Beach and it was pretty good, 10M (maybe 15 at a stretch here and there) although there was quite a lot of plankton Ďsnotí in the water.
I was diving with John Taylor and we dropped over the starboard side of the bow and then decided to swim through the wreck where two holes aligned and the light and vis made it easy to do so. Even without a torch inside, you could make out the structure and obstacles, but thereís no doubt that the wreck is crumbling away much faster than those of WW1 and WW2 vintage.
Our dive on HMS Scylla
We explored over the wreck, popping in and out of holes where we could clearly see an exit point in easy reach, coming up behind the bridge at one point and on a final one ascending a few decks up the funnel hole (The actual funnel was removed before sinking).
We worked our way around the whole wreck, touching the top and bottom of the bow and stern, passing over the driveshafts for the absent propellors.
Personally, Iíve never dived the Scylla in such good vis and it was an excellent dive.
Pete provided warm Pasties and Teas and Coffee once everyone was back on board and after an hour or so we started to kit up for the JEL dive.
The top of the bow was only at around 6M or so (John and I did our safety stop on it at the end of the dive) and the shot was laid more across the sea than down, which was quite confusing at first.
Once on the wreck we found, unsurprisingly, the vis was very similar to that on the Scylla and another enjoyable dive followed. John and I worked our way back to the end of the main part of the wreck (thereís another, separated, stern section if you continue on) and then back, passing scores, probably hundreds, of fish, crabs and the odd Lobster. We poked our heads in overhangs and swam through a few partially enclosed sections and swim throughs, but these days itís nearly all open above and itís gradually ceasing to be a ship shaped wreck, but none the worse for that.
The dive on the James Eagan Layne
As I mentioned, we safety stopped on the bow before swimming along (Barely up) the shot to the surface.
Both dives were good, but maybe Iíve dived these two enough for a few years now?
We ate dinner at a restaurant on the Barbican after a pre-dinner beer in the sunshine at the Waterfront again, although sadly Paul had to leave after some building dramas at home.
Most of the party (except me and Paul H, who'd had to leave) at Plymouth. Ria, Cameron, Paul T, Julian, Emma, John, Dawn, Geoff and Dave P - Dawn's photo
The next morning we enjoyed another great breakfast and met at the Battery, thankfully short of stuff to load, although our first stop was up-river as Sound Divers have relocated their compressor to a different location, so weíd left our tanks there for a fill the evening before.
We then headed out toward the Persier under a grey sky, but a very smooth sea.
We had high hopes for this after excellent vis on a previous trip and mostly being equipped with Twinsets full of Nitrox we hoped this would be a great dive, but it was soon clear that the great vis of the previous dive didnít translate to the Persier.
Vis was 5m or so at best, with lots of bits in the water to spoil it, and, whilst itís a nice wreck to explore, it wasnít the visual treat I think those of whoíd dived it on a previous club trip had hoped for. We did, however land right on the boilers, spot a large Lobster and a few crabs as well as plenty of Bib, Pollocks and Wrasse.
Sunday's dives on the Persier and Glen Strathallen
I think on most occasions we would have felt it was a pretty decent dive, but I couldnít help feeling a bit disappointed, personally.
Final dive of the day was the frequent visit to the Glen Strathallen.
As on a previous visit we tried to dive the Poulmic, but whilst a ship was moored on it engines running last time, a RHIB of divers was on it this time. Personally, I didnít think that a big problem as they would probably be almost done by the time we got in, but the decision was made to dive the Glen Strathallen again.
Vis is nearly always good here and it was excellent on this dive. However, itís another of those sites I feel Iíve probably done enough for a while. There was a, smallish, Conger in the boiler (weíve seen a couple of large ones before) and another in a piece of wreckage nearby, plus a fair number of fish around and about, but venturing into the kelp around the wreck, we didnít see more than a couple of fish, in stark contrast to the previous year.
Neither John or I were terribly unhappy to reach the time limit and surface.
Overall, weíd had another good weekend in Plymouth. The Moorings was great, as ever, weíd had good food, drink and company and Saturdayís dives (for me) had been amongst the best Iíve done in Plymouth.
Sundayís dives were perhaps not so rewarding, but, really any opportunity to dive UK waters in smooth conditions with decent light and vis are to be welcomed and they certainly didnít rank in the lower half of enjoyable UK dives Iíve done.
If we go to Plymouth again next year, I suspect Iíll be back, but hopefully we can find some new sites to dive.
Someone rudely suggested we look like a reunited boy band! Weather was nice, though! - Dawn's photo
The journey home (coinciding with the end of the School Half Term) was a bit arduous, taking John and I 5 hours after rerouting off the stationary M5 after a couple. Ironically the A303 was smooth running and others took an hour less... Oh well, you win some, you lose some
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