A number of keen divers made the trek down to West Bay on 5th September for what was some of the most amazing diving weather of the year!
On both days the water was glassy and the sun shining, and it was a great day for some of our more recent trainees to complete their first ever hard boat dive. Although Steve thought the great weather might lead some divers to have unrealistic expectations about future weather on dive trips.
The semi drysuit divers seemed to cope with the warm sunny weather where as all us dry suit divers were huddled in the one bit of shade on deck, a very unusual occurrence on a UK diving trip, but welcomed all the same.
Unfortunately we had the usual kit malfunctions and with the help of the wonderful skipper Slim, from West Bay Diving, we were able to beg borrow and steal enough kit to cover the bits that some left behind! I won’t point fingers at anyone
We managed to do two great dives on the Baygitano and the vis was very kind to us. Michal managed to pick up a number of nice scallops on the dive. We also did two drift dives that were interesting and also practiced DSMB deployment in the open water.
We stayed at the Parkhaven caravan park, which was a new experience for some, but actually the location could not have been better as it was a short walk away from the harbour and plenty of room to dry and store gear.
We did learn however that in West Bay, you need to book tables at all the restaurants, otherwise you end up having to queue for ages at one of the fish and chip huts that ultimately run out of food before you get to the front of the line. Fortunately, some of us did find a shop that was fully stocked otherwise, there would have been a number of very hungry divers roaming the streets of West Bay!
All in all a very successful and lovely trip and one that I know that we hope to repeat next year!
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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.