Diving - The adventure continues!
2022 Diving - Early season UK diving
The 2022 season started early. I had tried, in vain, to get someone to join me for a quick dive in Wraysbury between Christmas and New Year as the weather became unseasonably mild, but on the 8th January a group of us were there for a couple of dives.
It was a wet day and, with nowhere to shelter, the surface interval wasn't much fun, but the water, though cold at 6C, was pretty clear and Dawn and I did a couple of dives.
On the first one we entered behind the shop and then headed out from there, finding the shipwreck graveyard.
We swam fairly aimlessly around, spotting a group of large Carp over some wrecks at one point, but we didn't see any of the usual Perch.
As we headed back towards the shop, I spotted the circular walls of 'the pit'. Ths is a concrete cylinder that descends through the silt all the way down to (as it turned out) 16M, most of the site being a maximum of 12M, so we dropped into it and caused some surprise when we reported our maximum depth, but at least this time, we had two computers recording it. When I'd dived it with Ria a couple of years before she hadn't descended into it and I'm sure a number of people suspected my dive computer of misreading!
For the second dive, we headed out from the pier away from the shop, planning to visit the plane, but somehow we missed it. We found some wrecks on the far side of the lake and then swam along the edge of the far side's incline, reaching the corrugated iron tubes that I hadn't seen in years, before heading back along the bank, past some other wrecks and exiting at the same point.
The vis was decent, so it was good to kick start the year, but it wasn't a nice day to be outside.
The following week, a group of us booked to dive at Vobster, hoping the vis there would also be good. We weren't disappointed.
Chris picked me up and we arrived about 9AM, it was cold, with steam rising from the water, at least letting us know it was warmer than the air.
Without discussion most of us had decided to give our twinsets a run, so we didn't need to refill the cylinders.
I dived with Chris, he on his rebreather. I felt a bit overweighted, as I used sea weight rather than juggle weights, but it wasn't a huge problem.
For the first dive, we set off and swam over pit to cruiser and large wheelhouse, from there we headed down to the caravan and then to the small yacht and second wheelhouse, past jesters and up to crushing works, ascending through it from hole in the bottom of the wall.
We then swam through the 'washing machine' and plane, before following road back up to shallows for a 3 minute safety stop at 6m.
The water had been quite comfortable throughout the dive, at around 8C, but as soon as we reached the safety stop, I could feel the cold seeping in.
The good vis encouraged me to take my GoPro and I got some good footage - UK inland diving at its best!
A much needed cup of tea and bacon roll, followed and we stood around getting increasingly cold, before going back in for a second dive.
For the second dive, we swam down to the APC, swimming through that, and then down the wall nearby to c.32M before working our way back up and past cruiser and wheelhouse.
From here we swam to the helicopter and then ascended up to the crushing works again, this time travelling up through the tunnel to the shallows for our safety stop.
Again, the safety stop felt colder than the actual dive and I wasn't sorry to get out and change into normal clothes, but the vis had made the journey and the cold worthwhile and the drive back was fairly relaxed.
After that, though, I took a bit of a break and it wasn't until the end of February that I was back in the water.
Four of us made our way to Wraysbury Dive Centre on a cold, but sunny Saturday morning.
Andy (a newish member of the club) and I are were first in the lake and greeted by stunningly good visibility.
I would have to say that this was my best ever dive at Wraysbury to date.
The visibility was an easy 10M, we saw loads of Pike and Carp and, while cold, it was a great dive that we didn't want to end.
We entered behind shop from the pier and headed across lake, found a Portacabin and a boat and then swung back down lake, finding the Die Hard Taxi and then onto the boat graveyard where we found a good size Pike.
A little later we found another (perhaps) Pike and about 6 large Carp resting over a container.
GoPro footage from the first dive.
We carried on around the lake, finding the pit (oddly my ear was painful as I descended, so I didn't quite reach the bottom), the Scimitar car and the Spitfire, finishing with a swim through on the bus.
Overall, it had been an excellent dive and a tasty Bacon Sandwich and a cup of tea rounded it off nicely.
While we'd been diving, though, a lot more people had arrived and the second dive, while certainly not terrible, wasn't as good.
For this dive, Went looking for the plane, entering from the pier in the car park, but we never found it.
A short clip of a Pike and Carp over a container that was missed from the above.
The silt had been stirred up in many places, with quite a lot of trainee divers in the lake. Visibility was still very good in places , but zero in others.
Despite this, we did find a fair number of sites, including the cement mixer, lifeboat and milk float.
Julian and Dawn passed us a couple of times and did find the plane, with a Pike in, but didn't see the Lifeboat.
At Wraysbury, especially, you win some and you lose some, but overall it had been an enjoyable morning's diving and, remarkably, my first February dives since 2010 when I'd taken my PADI Drysuit course at Wraysbury!
A few more weeks passed, but as the weather improved towards the end of March, I tried to drum up interest in another couple of days at Wraysbury before our April 9th trip to Swanage.
Sadly, no-one was available, but rather than accept I couldn't dive, I checked a local dive centre's 'Buddy finder' Facebook group and noticed someone was looking for a buddy to dive with that Sunday.
I dropped him a mail and the next day set off to Wraysbury to dive with Igor, a PADI AOW who had joined his local BSAC club.
We met up in the car park and had a couple of very enjoyable dives in the March sunshine.
Unsurprisingly, the good weather had bought out lots of divers as well as a couple of schools, one with a large group of Harrow schoolboys.
This meant that the vis wasn't the same stellar quality we had seen on our last visit, but by frequent Wraysbury standards it was still good.
For our first dive, we walked in by the pier in the car park and then swam out to first platform, descending there.
We then headed South East, in the hope of the finding plane section, passing the London Taxi on the way.
Shortly, we came to the Lifeboat, so I turned right and did eventually find the plane (A couple of times!), swimming through it, but we didn't spot any fish.
After that we explored a lot of that part of the lake, seeing plenty of boats and other sights before surfacing in the middle of the lake as the vis went to hell, but fairly near the pier we entered in.
At 7C, a 45 minute dive was a little chilly for 5mm wet gloves, but it had been an enjoyable dive with some good vis in places.
Some video footage from the first dive
I still got some video footage.
After an hour surface interval, Igor suggested we go in behind the shop and swim North along the lake.
I was skeptical as most divers go in here and I thought the vis would be at its worst here.
As we dropped down, though, it seemed pretty good and as we headed towards the north end of lake it seemed to get better.
We swam through bus, past the Triumph Spitfire and its new boat partner to the Reliant Scimitar and then to the hose for 'The Pit', where a lot of silt was stirred up.
I'd hoped to drop into the pit as my ears had given me some pain on the last visit and I wanted to check it wasn't a problem, but Igor was having trouble with his ears, so rather than take a chance we swam on towards north.
As we did, though, the vis improved dramatically, but there was nearly nothing to see, but we did finally find a few sights, including a Commer van converted to a camper van.
Higlight of the dive was spotting 3 big Pike very close, two seemed to be 'courting'. They were very impressive fish and I've never seen them in a group before.
Of course, I'd left my GoPro in the car for this dive!
I'd got a little muddled and was swimming away from the shop, when I thought I was swimming towards it, so when we surfaced we were almost in the very top corner of the lake, so we had a LONG swim back!
When we got back to the slip behind the shop, Igor wanted to practice deploying his oral-inflation DSMB. I'd never seen one used before and it looked a bit of a fiddle, but he had no problem with it. I think I'll stick with my 'crack-bottle' DSMB though!
This dive, too, came to 45 minutes (with the short dip at the end for the DSMB practice), so we had a solid 90 minutes underwater.
The weather had been good, the vis decent if not consistently good and I'd certainly enjoyed my dives with Igor.