Pembrokeshire – August 2014

In August a few keen members of Putney BSAC set off to Pembrokeshire for a week of diving off Skomer Island and in Milton Haven. Skomer Island is a marine reserve just of the coast of Pembrokeshire famous for its abundance of life and large range of dive sites, from shallow reef dives to deep wrecks such as the Lucy. Our streak of luck in 2014 continued with another dive trip with excellent weather and calm seas. Unfortunately our other streak of dives with poor visibility also looked set to continue.

On Monday, our first day of diving, the visibility was less than two metres. Luckily there is a lot of life on the sea floor off Skomer, we still had plenty to see, but this wasn’t the best start to the week. Fortunately this was more than made up for by our surface interval when a pod of dolphins swam past our boat. The pod was about 25 strong including 5 very young calves. We followed them for about 10 minutes, they raced the boat swimming under its bow, frequently jumping out of the water as if they were showing off to us. Seeing a pod this large on a dive trip is a rare occurrence in the UK, we all felt incredibly lucky.

Tuesday was much the same as Monday, but sadly without any dolphin sightings. On Wednesday the visibility got even worse. Our first dive was on a wreck called Thor, I’d love to tell you what it was like but unfortunately I could never see more than a vague outline through the gloom even when I was right next to it. The visibility was frequently less than a foot, and after 15 minutes of prodding around in the muck we decided to end the dive.

That evening we were all getting a little despondent that despite a whole week of diving none of the dives would be truly memorable. Luckily for us, by some miracle on Thursday the visibility improved substantially. I don’t know what caused the change but we ended the week with four great dives. The best probably being our very last dive on the Friday when we saw a pile of hundred spider crabs crawling all over each other. It was like a scene from some underwater horror movie, the seabed was a writhing mass of crabs with crab carcasses lying everywhere. I later read that they do this to protect each other whilst moulting but that didn’t stop it from being creepy at the time.

Highs and lows:

  • Feeding the seagull is every lunchtime whilst anchored of  Skomer island
  • Darren the trip organiser, who had been planning the trip for almost a year, unfortunately had to leave us after the first day of diving due to work commitments. Darren you were missed (you’re bad jokes however were not, we had enough of those from Brian;-))
  • The ‘gents’ toilet

the loo

  • Did I mention we saw dolphins!

 

Thanks to John, Darren and Steve for the photos. Thanks to Darren for organising the trip, sorry you had to leave us early, and thanks to Steve for helping out with last minute organisation. Lastly, thanks to Nick Watson from Holburn BSAC for once again joining us for some diving off Skomer, always great to have you along.

St Abbs – June 2014

First off, a big thank you to everyone who came to St Abbs for what turned out to be a very successful trip. It’s a long way to drive to St Abbs (7 hours) but it was definitely worth it. Diving in St Abbs is all about the scenic diving, St Abbs head a short ten minute boat ride from the harbour is covered in beautiful reefs. This weekend we were in luck, both the weather and visibility were good which meant we had two days of relaxed diving exploring the abundance of life that lives on the reef.

The dive site being so close to the harbour meant we could return to shore between dives, which added to the whole laid back atmosphere of the trip. The weather was so good we could sunbathe whilst eating our lunch at the village café between dives, not something I expected we would be doing in Scotland.

Darren and Dale travelled up a couple of days early to get two days diving in at the Farne Islands before joining us at St Abbs. They arrived in St Abbs with the usual tales of underwater encounters with seals that seems to come with every trip to the Farnes. Dale allegedly had one encounter with a seal that Darren described as ‘so intimate Dale’s no longer a virgin’. Make of that what you will.

We had our share of comic mishaps that seem to be part of every Putney BSAC dive trip, the lessons we learnt this time:

  • Put your fins on before getting onto the lift in preparation to step off the boat
  • Don’t take a shortcut back to the village after several hours of torrential rain if you want to stay dry
  • Puncture repair kits are surprisingly good at fixing dry suits
  • And finally, don’t let Darren order ‘duck breast’ in a restaurant if you don’t want to offend the female waiting staff

Bognor Regis – May 2014

Our first dive trip on UK open water in 2014 was a day trip to Bognor Regis with the club boat. The conditions couldn’t have been better, the sun was out and the sea could not have been flatter (I believe ‘glassy’ is the official term). A perfect day for taking the club rib out for a spin.

We planned to do two dives, one on the Mulberry wreck and a second on Bognor rocks. Unfortunately as is sometimes the case in UK diving despite the visibility being fantastic out of the water it was awful in the water. The first wave of divers on the wreck could see a little over two feet, not the best diving conditions. The second wave of divers decided to skip the Mulberry and try diving at Bognor rocks. The visibility hear was a little better but still not great. So after that we decided to call it a day and head to the pub.

Despite the diving being less than excellent it was still a great day out. We got to take the club boat out on the English channel in perfect conditions. Iris, Dale and Waleed had their first taste of diving in the English channel, and we all got a little sun burned, which doesn’t happen too often on a UK diving trip.

Thanks to Sarah and Steve for organising, and to Darren for towing the rhib. Bring on St. Abbs.

Sipadan, Malaysia – March 2014

Michal, Steve and Nick travelled all the way to Sipadan Island in Malaysia for some tropical water diving. Below are just a few of the stunning photos they took. The rest of the club were of course incredibly jealous and wished we could have gone too.

Rib Trip on the Thames – March 2014

The diving season is beginning and it’s about time we took the club rib out  to ensure it’s ready for the diving season ahead and what better way to do that than a trip down the Thames in the early spring sunshine. Darren, Sue, Nic and Brian took the boat out for a jolly on the river stopping at a few pubs along the way and scaring the customers of a Nandos when they all walked in wearing their drysuits!

Vobster Inland Diving Centre – March 2014

Another trip to Vobster diving centre for Putney BSAC, this time for some for dive leader training. Once again the water was very cold, none of us could feel hands by the end of the second dive. Some valuable lessons were learnt however:

  • Vobster does indeed contain some fish, we know, because we saw one on our first dive
  • Never forget to bring gaffer tape, it can solve a whole range of problems
  • If enjoy faffing then diving is the sport for you. 2 hours of kit set up for a half hour dive, brilliant!

Vobster Inland Diving Centre – January 2014

Our clubs first dive outing of the season. Although the weather was a tad chilly, there was no rain or snow, which made for a very pleasant trip to the Vobster Dive Centre in Somerset…. a nice days out was had by the four of us…vis was good, water temperature, a barmy 8 degrees.

AGM 2013

The club held its AGM on 19th November at the HYC. The AGM is the only formal club meeting of the year when all the members get together to review the past year, nominate who will be looking after the club for the following year, plan for 2014 and also reward achievements and contributions to the club by individual members.

This year the annual Putney BSAC awards went to:

Club Person of the Year – Darren Jones

Darren won for organising two hugely successful trips aboard last year, to Tenerife and Kenya. For fitting an A-frame to the club rib, a task which has eluded many previous boat officers and for all the extra time and hard work he put into the club throughout last year. The club would be a much poorer place without him.

Diver of the Year – Tim Watson

As the person who won this award and writer of this article I’d like to think I won this award because of my dolphin like grace underwater, charming personality and devilish good looks, however, it may have been that other members of the club were just taking pity on me.

Photographer of the Year – John Heagney

John won for the stunning photos he took in Kenya, which you can look at here

Skomer Claw – John Heagney

The Skomer Claw is given to the club member responsible for the funniest incident of the year. John won this for a mishap he had in Kenya, the details of which are not fit to be put on our website. However if you meet him I’m sure he’d be more than willing to tell the story.

 

One of the key functions of the AGM is to elect a committee for the upcoming year. This year we can welcome back a couple of old faces that are returning to the committee after taking a few years off and some members who are joining the committee for the first time .

Our committee members for 2014 are:

Chair Philippa Davis
Diving Officer Nick Levesque
Training Officer Steve Gibbons
Membership Secretary Philippa Davis
Communications Tim Watson
Treasurer Michal Benko
Secretary Iris Wang
Boat Officer Darren Jones
Social Secretary Tor Parkinson

On behalf of the 2014 committee I’d like to extend a big thank you to our outgoing committee members Brian, Flo, Justine, Andy, Peter and John. They all made a huge effort in helping out with the committee last year and it’s thanks to people like them giving up some of there time that the club keeps running.

Porthkerris, Cornwall – August 2013

Porthkerris Dive CentreTim, Michal, Philippa, Brian John and I had 2 very nice days of diving down the Lizard peninsular from the Porthkerris dive centre boat, Celtic Cat, a very nice boat. Fast, stable, surprisingly spacious and equipped with a unique 2-divers-at-a-time lift. And the lunch was way above average. We all got 5 dives in, Tim and Michal got 6 by starting on Friday afternoon while the rest were stuck on the M5 or detouring around the M5. On Sunday in particular the sea was flat calm and glassy. It gets no better. We dived 3 wrecks and 2 reefs, one a shore dive from the pebble beach. The visibility was from good to very good, the water comfortable and sea-life mostly wrasse. Wrasse are pretty colourful so no complaints there.

Many thanks to Tim for putting the trip together. The Porthkerris set-up was good and is improving with the new accommodation and is definitely worth a return visit. We managed to get to one local pub and Michal and Lenka turned out a stunning stew for another evening so we were incredibly well fed.

Eastbourne – August 2013

Eastbourne - Sovereign Harbour

With a crew of eight people due to dive out of Eastbourne for the one day of Sunday 11th August, only six of us actually were able to make the trip, as Michal came down with a virus, and Phillipa’s feet haven’t grown any bigger since the Swanage trip last month, so her drysuit still doesn’t fit too well. A forward party of three (Sasha, Brian and Steve) had already driven down the night before and stayed in a luxurious hotel.  They of course (as is tradition) went out for a Thai meal and finished off the night with a couple of beers……. this of course was undertaken for medicinal reasons, just to get themselves off to sleep.

Rumour has it , that it was an old people’s home, and that Steve was asked if he was a visitor, or a permanent resident…………..only kidding Steve!

Anyway, an intrepid crew of six finally turned up at Sovereign harbour Eastbourne, and had to load the boat during a down pour of of biblical proportions….slight exaggeration here, but a bit of poetic writers licence makes the article a little more interesting….

Anyway, once on board, we were “entertained” by the wonderful and welcoming skipper/partner Silvia, who made us feel more than welcome and relaxed…..

The sea was a little lumpy going out to the wreck, which made more than one of us feel a little sea sick, but we all managed to keep our food down, and no one threw up…..for the moment anyway! On the way out, we encountered a little alternator problem with the boat , which then threatened to curtail any diving for the day, but it was quickly fixed by the other skipper/partner Dave, who managed to save the day and changed some drive belts in the engine room.  We finally got over the wreck of the “Alaunia” in about 29 metres and all dropped in to find some brilliant visibility and wonderful light on the wreck.  The water was a nice blue/green colour and free from any algae, something that we haven’t had for a very long time, at least for the past two seasons.  The pairs were…….Steve & Brian…..Tim and Sasha……….and Rylan and myself.

The dive turned out to be a cracker, with masses of fish life, pouting, pollock, crab, conger, lobster (one reported)…just a very nice dive.   Our second dive on the “Dagon”………. an armed trawler-man,  four hours later,  also turned out to be cracking dive, even though the vis wasn’t quite as good… All in all a very nice days diving…… “Roll on Porthkerris on the 30th”

Eastbourne - Lock