Diving - The adventure continues!
2021 Diving - More RHIB and other club Diving
A couple of weeks after that we were back out on our club RHIB.
I proposed we try and dive the Elena R, a new wreck to most of us (Chris had dived it once before), which is near the Shambles, fairly close to the Binnendijk.
We arrived for 11:15 (about 2.75 hours after HW Portland), but took a long while to find anything on the near the 3 GPS positions we had for the wreck.
In the end, it was 12 before we'd shotted it and were happy the current had ended, but it was so still we probably could have gone in 15 minutes sooner.
Julian and Chris went in first and when we reached the shot, it was clearly on some wreckage with a lift bag partly inflated. Not being sure what the plan was, I filled it and sent the shot back to the surface, but that hadn't been the intention, just to use the partialy inflated bag to make lifting the shot easier - Oh well, better communication next time and it didn't really matter, except that Dave (Cox'ing for the day) didn't know where he's dropped us in.
On the wreck, we quickly found a section of wreck standing 4 metres or so from the seabed, which was at around 32 metres. We seemed to swim around this for a while, spotting Lobsters, some large crabs, a couple of Conger Eels and even a Butterfish (pretty sure that was a first in the UK for me).
Realising we were circling a fairly small area of wreckage, I decided to swim away in a random direction across some flattened wreckage.
As luck would have it, we soon came to some more wreckage, in slightly shallower water, leading (past the remains of a Dolphin) to a much larger section of either hull or bulkhead.
Swimming up over this I spotted a massive boiler and swimming to it, I realised there was a second alongside.
However, by now we had a bit of deco and were getting near to our limit on gas, so Dawn launched her DSMB and we surfaced, seeing even more wreckage to explore beyond the boilers.
Vis had been decent at around 6-8 metres and fairly light at 30M.
Certainly one to return to soon!
A new member to the club, Simon, had said he'd like to refamiliarise himself with his drysuit before going into the sea in it.
He's an experienced diver, but had lived in the Middle East for a few years, so hadn't dived in drysuit much.
So, one Wednesday in August, we visit Wraysbury Dive Centre, Geoff and Nigel tagged along as well.
We did two dives, but our hopes of good vis midweek were to prove unfounded.
He floated a bit from time to time, but mostly OK in, sadly, dire visibility, despite mid week dive.
The weather was nice, there were plenty of Perch to be seen, both large and small, especially a group on the midwater dragon boat which has a nice weed bed in it homing a nursery.
Fair number of Crayfish seen too. We found numerous wrecks/objects but really by luck!
We did get separated twice, but surfaced and regrouped to continue the dive.
Water nice and warm, except down at 8+M, and it was nice to have a dive, but hardly stellar.
For the second dive,I thought we'd try the top end of the lake, towards the cave complex.
We found the bus easily enough, but vis was horrible here again. My first attempt to hog shallows led us in a circle, so I swam more easterly and that meant we dropped down to near 12M (cold down there) and then ended up on the far side of the lake finding the lifeboat and other wrecks.
In the end I gave up trying to navigate and we just swam around, finding a few more things, before surfacing near the shop but in the middle of the lake.
Simon went in with less weight and said he felt happier on the dive and he certainly had less problem with buoyancy than on the first.
Again, far from stellar dive, poor vis probably partly down to heavy rain in recent days and, apparently, a busy lake the previous day.
2021 Diving - Swanage 'Lifeboat Week' Weekend
Sadly, COVID had played havoc with Swanage's social plans for the summer and our annual visit for 'Lifeboat Week' was just 'a weekend' as there were no events on.
Still, we had a charter booked for a weekend and 4 good sites to dive, providing, as in previous years, something a bit more challenging for our experienced divers than we usually dive from the RHIB.
This year, too, I had trouble filling all the available spaces. We had 11 (originally, Darren had to drop out due to a back problem) for Saturday, but only 8 people (initially, more on that later) for Sunday, but Swanage Boat Charters managed to sell all our available places for the morning dive on Sunday, which helped defer some of the cost.
I arrived Friday evening, camping at the White Cliff Farm site on the outskirts of the town, partly because B&B accommodation was a mix of near-unavailable and horribly expensive and partly because I hadn't used my tent for a couple of years and I thought it might be fun.
The campsite turned out to be a large field, with plenty of space between tents (no marked pitches) during my stay. A toilet block and a shower block, along with a couple of drinking water standpipes were the only ammenities, but to be honest they were fine and the location, although a little walk from town was fine. I'd go back, for sure.
As for the diving,things didn't start very well as we tried to dive The Borgny.
First off, I got confused on times and we arrived 20 minutes late to depart.
For various reasons, including, no doubt, being rushed, we had a disaster when we reached the first site, The Borgny, as the shot missed the wreck for some reason.
Chris H and Angie went in to confirm the shot was properly located.
After around 10 minutes, we wondered if they'd forgotten to release the float so all went in, but met them coming up reporting there was no wreck in a 30M+ radius.
Ria & Rohit reached bottom and confirmed they couldn't see the wreck either.
It was a huge disappointment, especially as I'd considered the Borgny in previous years and finally decided to dive it this one - Next year!
To SBC's credit, they refunded a significant proportion of the cost and I guess you have to expect these kinds of problems once in a while.
Despite missing the Borgny, most people were still smiling, L to R : Nicole, Dave P, Ria (obscured), Dave T, Angie, Chris, Rohit, Julian
Dave P explores the Aeolian Sky
Fish on the Sky
Crab on the Sky
We had a long wait until our second dive of the day on the Aeolian Sky, the biggest wreck on the south coast in recreational diving range.
There was no problem shotting the wreck this time, but sadly the vis was disappointing on this dive, but Dave P and I stayed around the superstructure, so it was easy enough to find things to see and orient ourselves.
Luckily the run out was far calmer than the one in the morning and we were quickly onto the wreck.
Mostly we were swimming around the stern, superstructure and the first couple of holds, looking into holes in the plates or around some of the crumbling sections allowing us to swim into them a little for a look before coming back out
At one point we were right down on the seabed and swum around the stern to look up above us and see the whole stern rising up, even in limited vis this was an impressive sight.
Dave and I kept together most of the time, until I stopped to look through a hole in a plate down into a large open area beneath. When I turned back there was no sight of him, so I swam back the way I'd seen him last a moment before, but there was no sign of him.
I then swam back up to the top of the hull, but again there was no sign of him and a current was running, so I dropped back down again for a couple of minutes, but didn't find him, so I launched my DSMB at around 30 minutes and headed for the surface.
I did 2 minutes deco on 50% at 6M, but overall a so-so dive on the Sky.
With people scattered widely (the Saturday only crowd had left, as had Chris and Angie who found the closest accommodation at a sensible price in Portland!) there were only 5 of us for dinner, the two Daves, Dawn, Julian and myself, but the food in the Swan Inn was excellent and the portions huge, defeating us all!
I headed back to my campsite and the others to their B&Bs, but Dave Twyford let us know he wasn't going to dive on the Sunday.
Weather was mixed, but calm and sunny on Sunday morning
I was up and at the pier early again the next morning to get a parking space (It was full early both days) and Dave Price arrived to say he wasn't going to dive either as what had appeared to be sea-sickness the previous day was obviously a bug of some sort and, when Chris and Angie arrived, she said she wasn't diving either, so we were down to 4 divers as we set off for the Betsy Anna.
I've dived this a couple of times before and it's always been a very dark dive with near zero vis, so our expectations weren't high, but after a gap of a few years, I felt it was worth giving another go and those who dived it all agreed it turned out to be the highlight dive of the weekend.
The run out was fairly gentle although a young woman who took one of our available places was in tears as she fought to keep her breakfast down, which was a surprise as even Dawn wasn't affected! We'd lost both the Daves after Saturday, Dave P suffering badly from what seemed like sea-sickness the previous day but still feeling ill on Sunday AM. Dave T was just tired after a busy week.
Angie, although not diving, came out with us and acted as Assistant DM for the day.
The vis was decent, 3-5M and the light by far the best I'd ever seen on the Betsy Anna.
Winch on the Betsy Anna
Highlights were a huge Conger (amongst a few) and the two boilers, main and 'donkey', but there was plenty of life, Crabs, Pollock, Wrasse, Blennies and Lobsters as well as the Congers and plenty of wreckage to move around over the 40 minute+ dive.
One thing was notable on the dive, for me - I decided not to take my 50% deco mix, but hadn't removed it from my available gasses, so near the end of the dive this occured to me and I had to work out how to remove the gas from my computer's available gas list to compute the correct deco - I found a 'lost gas' option and selected the 50% and the deco changed, luckily only adding on one extra minute at this point!
I had 4 minutes deco to do at 6 minutes and we all agreed this had been an enjoyable dive.
Again there was a long wait for the second dive, but at least it was close by, on the Kyarra.
After 2020's stunning vis, we didn't really expect the dive to be the same standard, but the vis wasn't terrible.
However, it turned out to be an an interesting and challenging dive.
We arrived and it was surprisingly choppy as we waited for the current to drop.
When it did we were soon in, but apparently as soon as the last pair dropped in the current switched direction - Something that rarely happens it seems.
Chris and I dropped to the wreck and I found myself stuck as my DSMB unravelled and caught. I freed and stowed it and then we set off.
Bib on the Kyarra
Passing the boiler still within the wreck, visible through holes in the plates, we suddenly found ourselves in a strong current, which we swam out of into shelter.
This went on for a considerable time as we swam around the wreck, including a section with lots of pipework and machinery..
Vis was probably around 3M, a stark contrast to the previous year's incredible vis, but workable.
We found ourselves in a strong current after around 30 minutes, so started to go with it. A large triangular section loomed ahead of us and moved right to avoid what I thought was a plate, but it turned out to be a large box section and Chris had gone left! I grabbed onto it and moved up, hoping to go over the top and drop down to where Chris was, but the current was far to strong to get over, so I started to try and crawl back along the section, when Chris appeared below me having done what I was trying to.
Chris explores the Kyarra
He launched his DSMB and we started to surface - I switched to 50% and deco'd for 4 minutes at 6M and we returned to the boat, all commenting on an 'exciting' final dive to the weekend.
The others went home, but I stayed Sunday night, enjoying a curry and a sorbet from the Fortes Gelartari, before grabbing a shower and a decent night's sleep and heading home about 7:30 on Monday morning, getting home about 9:30.
Compared to the previous year, which had been blessed with excellent visibilty, this year was a bit of a disappointment, especially as there were no events and so many people left early, but we'd done some more interesting and challenging dives and, sadly, you cannot always guarantee good conditions in UK diving. At least we'd had two days unaffected by wind!
Over the August bank holiday weekend, 6 of us took the club RHIB over to the Black Hawk Bow and then dived the Dredger, having tired of high speed drift dives at Grove Point.
The weather was good, although it was surprisingly choppy across to the Black Hawk.
There was a lot of boat traffic around, sail and powered.
The vis was disappointing, 3M max, but we had a mooch around the site, in a bit of current and managed to stay around the various bits of wreckage until we started to surface.
We spotted a small conger when we first arrived and a Lobster hiding deep under a plate.
Plenty of fish, Bib, Wrasse (a couple of big ones, Ballen and Cuckoo), Blennies and others I couldn't identify.
I would have to say it was an average sort of dive really and, for me, the Black Hawk Bow is only a really good dive in excellent visibility.
After a quick lunch and air fill in Castletown, we took the short trip across HMS Hood to the 'dive park'.
I've yet to see any of the 'attractions' in the park, but Simon and I stuck to the wall, looking for the Dredger.
We dropped in on one of the buoys marking the extent of the dive 'park' and then swam to the wall, turning west.
We quickly ran into Dawn and Dave P, so turned around and swam east for a little while, plenty of young fish hiding amongst the rocks protecting the outside of the harbour wall.
Then we turned back and swam West again, finding the bulk of the dredger. Luckily I spotted some wreckage on the rocks as the bulk was just on the sand, about 5M away, but barely visible as a shadow. Dawn and Dave had missed it!
We swam all around the dredger for a little while and then swam on, finding some more wreckage, looking like other parts of the same wreck and then Simon indicated his hastily repaired dry suit sleeve had failed totally and his suit was full of water, so we surfaced on a lobster pot line and rejoined the boat.
A second, rather average sort of dive in poor vis, but the surface weather was OK (clouding over on the return from the Dredger, though), but no current meant air consumption was far better.
Annoyingly, my Seaskin drysuit had sprung a leak in the right foot- I first spotted after second day at Swanage, but I thought it may have been splashed after diving - Conclusively a leak after these dives, though...