Diving - The adventure continues!
2021 Diving - Late season UK diving
Cyprus had been a wonderful time on a number of levels, but there was still diving to be done in the UK before the end of 2021.
First there was a trip out to the British Inventor on Shambles Bank in Weymouth Bay.
We dropped the shot just west of the mark, given that when Geoff and I dived it earlier in the year, we'd swum west to find the wreck and, sure enough, the shot was slap-bang in the middle of the wreck.
Sadly, this time the vis was poor, so it was hard to see far and Ria and I stayed close to the shot, circling (As the others had, it turned out) around and moving back onto the wreckage if it started to become reef.
We spotted a large crab, lots of fish, but in the gloom with the poor light and vis and the tail of a large conger who was keen to hide from us.
I dived in my old drysuit as the Seaskin was back with them to repair the leak, but having dropped a Kg, I felt light on the safety stop.
Brief footage from the diveon the British Inventor in October - Vis was poor!
Surface weather was good, but the Aqua's fill station was closed so we abandoned plans to dive the dredger, no-one being too bothered about it in poor vis.
We took the boat into Weymouth harbour and then back to Ferrybridge and enjoyed a beer before heading home.
Into November, I had a couple of inland dives, to Vobster Quay and then NDAC.
Vobster was a mid-week dive, primarily to complete Ashley, an OD trainee's training dives.
For the first dive, I originally planned to go in with Paul and Nigel, but my dry gloves wouldn't seal on my Oceanic drysuit (fitting clips were still on Seaskin one!), so I joined Julian, Dawn and Ashley for Ashley's penultimate training dive.
After some exercises at 6m on platform, we dropped down and swam over pit, then up to top of crushing works and to airplane, swimming through it and then turning back swimming past a wrecked car (Escort?) and then exited via ramp/steps near kitting up area.
The vis was generally excellent and the site very quiet mid-week.
For the second dive, I did join Paul and Nigel.
We dropped in in front of shop, past platforms and then down into pit.
Swam out to the boat wreck, swimming through here and then to wheelhouse and through there as well, but Paul, with Twins, couldn't get through exit, so had to return out way he came.
Headed down rope from here to caravan, now very collapsed. We couldn't see Paul at this point, but as we turned back and started to head up, he rejoined us, having just stayed above us when we were at the caravan.
As we got to 10M or so, Nigel indicated he had only 50 bar, so we safety stopped there and then surfaced on a buoy, just short of the kitting up area.
Ashley completed her dives and we'd all had a very enjoyable day out.
Back in 2020, I had booked and paid for a trip to NDAC, but it was cancelled when they closed due to COVID rules.
Roll on a year and my credit note was about to expire, so I polled around the club and 9 of us turned up at the site, near Chepstow.
There was a mixture of training and pleasure diving going on, I joined Chris Howells, diving on his rebreater, for a couple of leisurely pleasure dives.
There was ice in the puddles in the car park, but the water temperature was 11C or so and the vis up to 15M and generally very good.
For the first dive, Chris and I jumped in off the pontoon and then headed down, arriving at the RN Wessex, the tail of which is broken off now.
We then headed across the lake to the small transport plane and then to a site I'd not seen before a decent sized forward section of an airliner, possibly a 737, like Wraysbury, but longer.
You can swim through the side of the cockpit and then through into the main compartment and then out of the back, which is cutaway, no wings, etc.
After that we swam to the double decker bus, swimming up the stairs and out the window at the back, before moving onto the second Wessex, where we came across a group of divers coming up from the pit.
I'd got a couple of minutes deco at this stage, so we headed up the slope back towards the pontoon, passing a shoal of juvenile Perch and then finding the single decker bus, which we swam through and then surfaced by a ladder on the pontoon.
It was a very enjoyable quarry dive, mostly at depth - Chris, on his rebreather, could have stayed down all day, but I came out with 60 bar, so decent for the time at depth.
I got some very decent GoPro footage on this dive too.
some GoPro footage from the first dive at NDAC dive
After a gas refill and some lunch we headed back down for a second dive, on the shallower sites at NDAC.
Again, we dropped in from pontoon and found the 'wreck style' containers that you can swim in and out of, like a convoluted wreck - Reminded me of some of the dives on the Zenobia.
We passed the diving bell and then swam up and over the ledge that takes you to the Land Rover.
There's a new (to me, at least) small cockpit section right by the Land Rover now.
We swam along, past the Stalwart, Saracen and Abbot SPG.
At this point vis was a bit poor and I swam the wrong way, returning to the Saracen, so we turned around again but were heading down beyond 20M without finding the ship, so I turned around and up again and refound the Abbot.
This time, I quickly spotted the ridge you swim over to get to the wreck and we had a look around and in that, hitting 27M, before heading back up, past the diving bell again and finishing with another lap of the 'wreck style' containers and then completing a safety stop on the line here before exiting via a ladder on the pontoon.
So, two nice dives in nippy, but mostly sunny, weather (it was better on the first and it actually started to rain as we packed up).
It was an easy drive home, sharing with Tim, and we were home in time for dinner.
The diving year ended with another club trip to Vobster on December 18th.
Chris and I travelled down together and we arrived at 9AM, as planned, to find the lower car park packed.
As it was a club booking, we had two parking spaces reserved in the 'school area', so I was able to park there, which was handy. Luckily, I think most of the cars were for open water swimmers, as there weren't too many divers around, meaning the vis, again, was good, although the air and water temperatures had definitely taken a dip, and I did a couple of dives with Julian.
For the first dive, we entered in front of the shop and then dropped down to the 20M mark as Julian wanted to check the location of a platform there ahead of some Advanced Diver exercises planned for early 2022.
From there we swam onto the APC, passing through it, and then dropped down to below the 30M mark. Down here, although the bottom is only supposed to be at 35M our torches didn't illuminate the quarry bed, it was pretty dark!
We swam past/over the cruiser and past the nearby wheelhouse to the Sea King helicopter, which I'd only seen once before.
We swam through it and then to the crushing works, passing through the bottom and exiting at the top.
From there we swam up to the slope above the tunnel, passing the Ford Escort and completed our safety stop with Dawn, Paul and Ashley near the slope by the shop, which was a bit busy, so we exited via some steps nearby.
During the dive I didn't feel cold, but on the safety stop I soon started to cool down and took a while to warm up after the dive.
I had used my repaired Seaskin Drysuit again for the first time, slightly worried as they'd reported a small leak through the zip under pressure, but all seemed fine on the dive and no wet feet anymore!
After some cups of tea, an expensive air fill and a bacon roll, we headed back for a second dive.
We again dropped in in front of the shop, descending past the 6M platform and passing across the Pit.
From there we swam to the Wheelhouse near the cabin cruiser and then down the rope to the Caravan at around 25M.
From here the map showed a rope to a yacht and a second wheelhouse.
We found the rope and followed it along to the yacht and close by we came to the second wheelhouse, in great vis and improved light (whether it was just less sediment in the water, the expanse of sandy silt or the sun had briefly come out, it's hard to say).
Neither of us recall seeing these attractions before, perhaps we had, but if so it was some years ago.
We passed some of the Jesters, which I had seen before, and then found ourselves back at the Sea King.
From there we swam to the base of the Crushing Works and then followed the tunnel to the top.
As we'd only done about 20 minutes at this point, we circled around a bit, passing the top of the crushing works and then returning to the ramp to complete our safety stop and the exiting via the rocky exit by the kitting up area.
Two good dives (one to 30M+), decent vis, not too many divers and my repaired 'new' drysuit didn't leak.
This was my final dive of 2021, bringing the total for the year to 49, not too bad, considering lockdowns and travel restrictions, although the trip to Cyprus had helped.
Roll on 2022!