Egypt – 29th September – 6th October 2023

You can’t possibly get blown out in the Red Sea, right?

Yes, a slight exaggeration – we didn’t miss any dives, but the itinerary had to be altered to account for the strong winds.

The trip started in the Marriott hotel in Hurghada (some making use of an extra days’ annual leave to relax before boarding the boat) where we departed on Saturday morning, heading north for a check dive before reaching Abu Nuhas.

Shaa’b Abu Nuhas is a great place for wreckies given the 4 wrecks which crashed into the reef at various points. Over the next day/two days the 4 we dived the Chrisoula K, Carnatic and of course the Ghiannis D (a picture that most divers will have seen before). Some hectic rides out on the tenders but worth it for the dives.

George in front of the Giannis D.

Following Abu Nuhas we headed north to the Thistlegorm, sadly not via the Rosalie Moller as planned, but given the pretty wild crossing the correct decision I feel.

Our first dive on the Thistlegorm was a dusk dive… and what a wreck! The next day was spent in awe of the Thistlegorm with most of us making best use of the time on the wreck to explore the holds full of motorbikes, trucks, guns and ammunition and the exterior of the wreck including the locomotives that lay on the seabed just to the side of the wreck.

George at the Thistlegorm’s propellor.
Motorbikes on the Thistlegorm.

We were sad to see the Thistlegorm go, but we spend the remaining days hiding from the wind in the north of the Red Sea before heading back south towards Hurghada to dive on the newly ‘constructed’ diving attractions (ex-army tanks and armoured personnel carriers) which we flippantly referred to as “Vobster in the tropics” and a minesweeper ‘Al Mina’ close to shore.

Mark, Nick and I ended up with a surprise extra dive in search for Nicks torch which had unclipped itself on entry for the final dive of the trip. “We’ll find it Inshallah” or “if god wills” I said to one of the guides jokingly before we got in, not expecting to find it, but we miraculously did! Clearly god willed it.

Back into port and on the beers for one final night before everyone headed there separate ways. Great trip with great people – can’t wait for the next one!

Sadly we couldn’t get down to the Brothers Islands, the Salem Express on this trip… but if theres a reason to go back that’s as good as any.

Tom – no more to be said.

George – trip organiser

Swanage – 24th June

On a beautiful warm weekend in June, 11 of us went to Swanage for a weekend diving on Femti, our club RHIB.

We dived the Valentine Tanks and Kyarra, did a drift at Old Harry Rocks and of course some Pier diving. One of our Sports Diver trainees also signed off their assistant dive manager lesson.

The water was a balmy 19 degrees and the visibility good, considering the number of charter boats and other RHIBs out there that weekend. Having been to Swanage a fair few times, we are used to a lot of life on the wrecks there, but we couldn’t have imagined the large shoal that met us at the bottom or the number of conger eels poking their heads out to take a look.

On Saturday evening we enjoyed a large barbecue at our accommodation with far too much food and lots of laughter.

On the whole Femti did well, taking groups of divers out in waves and finding the wrecks with ease. Unfortunately she did have a leak in one of her tube sections, which meant a lot of pumping to keep the tube rigid. A new job for our boat enthusiasts in the club to look into with in the next few weeks.

Overall a fantastic weekend was had by all. Big thanks to Steve and Mark for their help with the boat and Nick for the sorting the barbecue.

Emma – trip organiser

Ibiza – May

Five Putney BSAC divers ventured to the “White Island” of Ibiza in May, known for hippy culture in the 60s and raves in the 90s and beyond. Despite some jocular comments at the HYC that “larging it at Pasha” can not be logged as a dive, there is also some excellent underwater activity to be had in the marine reserves and wrecks, including the extremely impressive Don Pedro, a 160m container ship wrecked in 2007.

We dived with Scuba Ibiza, a dive operator in the Marina Botifac. Paulo and the team operate a large commercial RHIB with the berth by the dive shop. The cost of the diving for the three days was €209 (plus €10 fuel surcharge) .

With sea temperatures around the 17-18 degree area, there was some debate as to what to wear, with the party splitting between wet and dry suits. Both parties seemed to be perfectly comfortable with the usual advantages and disadvantages of both types of protection. Should we return later in the year (and we might!), it will be very much a wet suit environment.

The first day’s diving was requested to be relatively easy and a “shake-down” before the deeper adventures on day two and three. It proved a little more challenging than we would have liked with a circumnavigation of the small island of Malvi Gross, just off shore from Platja de’Bossa. Wind and moderate-to-rough sea conditions also caused some additional challenges. Helen had some problems with her BCD inflator and abandoned the dive early, ably assisted by her buddy Paul. The rest of us pushed on round but ended the dive on low gas after a long swim (by UK standards). The second day’s dive, on a shallower profile and smaller island proved easy going.

Day two saw the weather ease and the team head over towards Espardell , near Formentera to dive La Patforma, a huge sunken concrete structure, originally used as a fish farm before sinking in the mid-nineties. The structure lies between 12 and 32 meters, and is teeming with wildlife; eel, lobster (I think slipper lobster) , scorpion fish and a huge shoal of barracuda. The structure is very photogenic and the dive was enjoyed by all.

The third day’s diving was the big wreck dive; the Don Pedro, which sank quite recently, in 2007. Some salvage has been performed but the wreck lies intact propellers and many features visible. The holds can be penetrated and there are swim-throughs of various lengths. We dived on Nitrox 29, using 15l cylinders. The first dive took us down to the upper deck, and then to the propellers at around 35m. We did not have much time to spare (it was a no-deco dive) so a quick trip round the stern and up to a shallow profile on the upper rail before ascending. The second dive saw us penetrate the forward hold via a hatch, exiting at the bow ramp and then swimming back to the shotline at roughly midship.

That brings me to the end of the diving, but several members of the party added on extra days to enjoy the islands, with Byron and myself visiting Formentera.

In summary, great diving, comfortable accommodation with a rooftop bar, a party vibe and fun to be had exploring the beaches and town. Ibiza is very accessible flight-wise and in the off-season, reasonably priced. I would also note that the Don Pedro is of similar size and depth profile to many of the Scapa wrecks, and can be used as useful familiarisation for those dives, but in a warmer and high-visibility environment. We hope to come again.

Diving on the Don Pedro

Credit – Mark (Trip Organiser)

Isle of Wight – 28 April

Over the bank holiday weekend, nine members of Putney BSAC headed over to the Isle of Wight to dive the wrecks in the Sandown Bay conservation area. Following some trial runs, the trip was the first major outing for our club RHIB, Femti.

On Saturday, Femti was loaded up with seven divers and ably crewed by Steve and Brian. Femti had been resting in Bembridge Harbour overnight and after necessary preparations, we headed out to sea. We met some navigational challenges in the harbour channel; however, these were soon fixed with the help of some oars. Once out to open sea, we headed to Sandown Bay for our first dive. The wreck of the Camswan sits about a mile offshore, in 18m of water. The 335ft, 3,426-ton ship was a cargo vessel sunk in 1917 on her maiden voyage. We managed to shot her on the first attempt and descended the line to see what we could find. The visibility was restricted to say the least, with the spring algae in full bloom. We saw some of her cargo of coal and the odd crab. However, the dive was mostly spent in close observation of small details and keeping a hold of our buddies, rather than appreciating the full wreck.

Mark & Michal in Freshwater Bay.
Tim strikes a commanding pose aboard Femti.

The second day saw a reduced party on the RHIB of four divers. We had learned the previous day that seven was a stretch for Femti. With a lower complement of six she handled and cruised much more comfortably. At 18 knots we were headed for the wreck of the Highland Brigade, a 385ft, 5,669-ton merchant vessel. The Highland Brigade was torpedoed by UC-71 in 1918, carrying a cargo of tin ingots and telephones. In deeper waters of 28m, a few attempts were needed to shot this site; however we were successful in the end. The dive proved to be quite challenging; at greater depth the algal bloom obscured all light, creating night dive conditions in the middle of the day! With visibility at less than a metre we hugged the surface of the wreck, hunting out pieces of old telephone and the odd bit of marine life. For those who didn’t join the RHIB on Sunday, a trip to Freshwater Bay was made. The picturesque alcove on the Southwest shore of the island proved a good spot for Mark and Michal to splash around and a prime spot for Paul to grab a coffee whilst providing ‘shore cover’. The day’s diving was rounded off with a good BBQ, held at our caravan accommodation.

The Highland Brigade.

Whilst the visibility limited the diving somewhat, the trip was an enjoyable and valuable experience. We have learned a lot about how to load and handle the RHIB to best effect. As ever there are a few issues to take away and work on; for example, a new chart plotter would be a worthwhile addition. We also now know that about 6 divers is the limit of her capacity. We look forward to getting the RHIB out again soon for more diving, hopefully with more to see!

Sunset at Ventnor.

Credit – Nick H (Trip Organiser)

Malta – 17th November 2022

We flew into Valetta on Thursday 17th Nov to forecasts of thunderstorms, windy conditions and generally a poor diving outlook, but Henry & Grace had arrived the day earlier and reported good weather.

For anyone who hasn’t been to Malta before, being an old British territory, it all seems very familiar but with air temperatures of about 23-25° and not dissimilar water temperatures this was going to be a pleasant end to our diving season. Originally the trip was planned for Gozo but the travel time to get there and the claim that at this time of year there were more places to shelter from the Nov winds, made the main island of Malta the final destination.

We had a big complement of 12 divers and one non diver and were all picked up from the Alexander Hotel on Friday morning and driven to the dive centre. ‘Divewise’ was a short walk away from our accommodation in Paceville, near St. Julians Bay. Viv, the owner of the centre had been a joy to deal with via email in the setting up of this trip and we were formally introduced to her and our guides Mike, JR and Yarick.

Dive 1, was right in front of the centre in what I believe is called Il Merkanti Bay. This was really a checkout and weighting dive but it was great to again get into a Mediterranean azure sea with fantastic visibility.

Dive 2 was a short drive to Valetta where we dived just under the huge fortress walls that surround Valetta. We dived HMS Maori, a 115 metres long British destroyer that sunk in Grand Harbour of Valletta by German air raid attack in February 1942. It’s pretty broken up and lying in 15m of water. Nothing particularly notable about this wreck but still novel in that we were getting into the water from a pretty historic vantage point.

Having being warned about the worsening weather conditions for the next few days, we were offered the opportunity to hire a more traditional boat and travel to the small Island of Comino, the following day.

Dive 3 was easily the highlight of the trip even though I had dived Santa Maria Caves, Comino, a few years ago. The caves are approached by boat and some entrances to differing parts are pretty narrow but they widen quickly on the other side for those who might think that claustrophobia might kick in and it’s reassuring to know that your guide has done this many, many times before. Because of the complexity of caves, arches and overhangs, the team of divers look pretty spectacular framed against the light streaming in from where the cave opens to the sea again whilst swimming with an abundance of sea life.

Once back onboard and rested with some packed lunch we headed back to the main island for Dive 4, a somewhat slimed down version of what we had already done but equally interesting. I believe the site of these caves is called Mellieha Bay. Before leaving for the evening, the dive centre had warned us with the increasingly poor weather, the following days diving might be cancelled.

As you can imagine, diving wasn’t the only pastime in Malta. It also has a bustling nightlife with decent restaurants and bars and it’s not terribly expensive, but then again we are a London club so its all relative, I suppose. We were also in the middle of the Autumn Nations Rugby Tournament so an evening by a large television screen was not unwelcome.

On the last day we were pleasantly surprised to have been offered 2 dives at Marsakala in the South of Malta, despite the weather forecasts. Brian had decided to sit out the Dive 5 as the entrance to the water looked a bit unstable and as the rain came on it looked like he made the right call. The other 11 divers entered the water in what looked like a giant squadron format and we kept at about 12 m depth until directly above the first of the tugboats in order to preserve air. There are three boats in this site, the St. Michael and No 10 tugboats as well as a more modern boat, the P33 patrol boat that has suffered more from wave action and is quite broken up even though it was scuttled as recently as 2021. We had been warned that the vis was not going to be so great but were pleasantly surprised. Everything appeared to be very calm underwater and we had a long swim back from the wrecks, slowly following the rising slope of the sea bed. Calm, that is, until we decided to surface near the shore where a hand rail was conveniently installed to aid divers. I was reminded of those documentaries about wild weather as above water it looked like a hurricane had just descended on our exit plan. Extremely heavy rain and strong winds meant slow going on the last bit of the swim to shore but more importantly the visibly was hampered by the wind and rain on the sea so it was difficult to keep a check on other divers to make sure they had all got out safely. Having done this once or twice before the guides had anchored some rope to the handrail which once spotted made things a bit easier.

I had an easy decision to make for the second dive which was going to be the on the second tugboat. JR, the guide asked me what I wanted to do and I was quite happy to call any further diving off. After changing in the local facilities and rushing to our vehicles, Brian & Mark returned with hot coffees for the windswept team. What fine fellows!

Might be worth posting some of the costs should anyone need to do research for further Malta dives. This was a Nov. 2022 organised dive with Divewise dive centre at a cost of €210 per person. The boat as an extra to reach Comino at €35 p.p. A twin room was around €85 p.p for 4 nights, breakfast included.

Credit – Paul (Trip Organiser)

2022 AGM – Committee and Awards

Every year, we use our AGM to reflect on the last 12months of diving and club activities. We have reports from our committee members, we give out our annual club awards and vote in next years committee.

Committee Update

This year, we said thank you to our outgoing Dive Officer Michal, Equipment Officer Mark and Training Officer George and welcomed to the Committee Henry as our new Social secretary. We also had a few committe members shuffle positions as well as some stay in their positions:

  • Chair – Brian
  • Secretary – Grace
  • Treasurer – Andrew
  • Training Officer – Emma
  • Membership Secretary – Liam
  • Comms Officer – Nic
  • Social Secretary – Henry
  • Boat Officer – Steve
  • Equipment Officer – OP

Diving Officer will be voted in by the committee in our first meeting on the new term.

Club Awards

Every year we give out 2 prestigious awards for Diver and Club Person of the Year that are voted for by our members.

Diver of the Year is an award presented to members than have used the last 12months to continuely advance their diving skills. This years it was awarded to Mark for attending almost all of the club trips, making good progress to completing Dive Leader and upskilling with his new twin set configurations.

Club Person of the Year is awarded to a Putney BSAC member that has gone above and beyond and contributed emensely to the club over the last year. This year, the club voted for Steve, our Boat Officer, for all of his hard work and perservence to get our new rhib Femti up and running. Huge thank you to Steve – we’re all very excited to get out on the boat diving next season.

The final award we present at our AGM  is the Skomer Claw, presented for the biggest diving related mistake or mishap. This year, due to one mishap (that managed to not actually win the award itself) we got a new award, the Stoney Diver, for the runner up to the Skomer Claw. (To read more about where this award came from check out the Stoney Trip Report)

Winner of the Skomer Claw: Mark – Despite it already happening once this year, Mark didn’t learn from other mistakes and managed to take his phone to 35m on the Markgraf in his dry suite pocket.

Runner Up and Winner of the Stoney Diver: George – After diving got blown out, George made the most of it in Swanage’s ‘The Club”.  But he didn’t leave much to the imagination on his return back to the hostel for his fellow room mates following a late night shower.

Congratulations to all of our award winners, a massive thank you to our outgoing committee members and good luck to this year newly elected committee – here’s to an amazing next 12months.

2022 AGM Photo Competition

Our 2022 edition of the AGM photo competition was another chance for our budding underwater photographers was to submit their best photos from the last 12 months. Our club members are allowed to submit one photo to each of our two categories, UK and Abroad, these are then voted for on the night!

We had 7 entries for the UK competitions that really showcase both our members skills but also the incredible life and scenery the UK has to offer. It had been great to get a full 12 months of diving in after a couple of covid disrupted years!

Winner of the UK Photo Competition: Emma with her photo from under Swanage Pier

We had four submissions for the abroad category:

Winner of the Abroad Photo Competition: Tim for his photo of an Angleshark in Lanzerote

Huge congratulations to our winners Tim and Emma


Farnes – 17th October

When Tim Watson organised a trip to St Abbs, I thought it would be perfect to add the Farnes on to the end of trip as we have travelled so far and the Farnes only being about 40 minutes away from St Abbs in Scotland.

So, with accommodation and the boat booked with Sovereign Diving, 6 of us who were on the St Abbs trip finished diving on the Sunday and made our way to Seahouses to find the accommodation. We were surprised by just how nice the accommodation was as not that expensive and the breakfast was great as well. After a few beers in the Old Ship and some food, we were joined by Nick Harrison who flew into Newcastle airport and was picked up by Mark.

Monday 17th October

The weather that hadn’t been great in St Abbs was still with us but we did manage to get out to the Farnes and we are so glad we did as had a brilliant 1st dive with everyone reporting loads of interaction with the seals, the 2nd dive at the same location due to the weather, saw seals right at the start but then they all disappeared we think they sensed the weather that was about to come is as when we got top side the weather had deteriorated and the journey back to Seahouses was not direct as usual but going close to Bamburgh Castle where so we all checked our eyesight. The evening was followed by a fish and chip supper and a few beers.

Tuesday 18th October

With the weather still not great but much better than it was coming back the day before and a change of Skipper we once again headed out to the Farnes but this time to a different location and had another wonderful dive with the seals (Nick Harrison seemed to be the trips Seal magnet), the 2nd dive was at the same location but we were advised to 1st swim along the wall in the opposite direction this allowed us to see a little bit more life before returning to play with the seals which were out in force once again. This was followed by the obligatory last night curry and a couple of drinks in the Old Ship.

The seal crew.

Nick Harrison, John Heagney, Mark Glowrey, Byron Nurse, Helen Lacey, Brian Long and Emma Spring

Credit – Brian (Trip Organiser and Chairman)

St Abbs – 15th October 2022

It’s been five years since Putney BSAC last visited St Abbs, a quiet harbour village in the Scottish Borders. As a club we have been there many times before but this was an opportunity for a new generation of club members to dive at one of the best scenic diving sites in the country. It’s marine reserve with a large number of reefs teaming with life.

One of the most famous animals is the elusive wolf fish, a dark stone fish that hides amongst the rocks. Some divers will visit St Abbs several times before getting their first sighting. Of course John and Brian saw four on their first dive, and practically tripped over them on every subsequent dive.

Of course St Abbs other great diving feature is the 10 min journey time to the dive sites and a 10m walk from the accommodation to the dive boat. Surface intervals in a warm cafe and a late ropes off time will please any diver.

The relaxed diving pace gave us plenty of time in the evening to relax. On the Saturday Mark generously took on the role of group chef and cooked us a fantastic spaghetti bolognese. Michal jokingly made a flippant remake about wanting crepe suzette flambé for dessert not expecting anything to come of it but Mark wasn’t going to step away from a challenge. So we were all treated to delicious French dessert Scottish Borders style.

Since we lasted visited St Abbs has become famous for something else other than diving. It was the filming location for New Asgaard in Avengers Endgame. The village museum boasts a replica Mjolnir and Stormbreaker (Thor’s hammers) which tourists can be seen posing with for photos on the cliff edges. Of course we didn’t miss the opportunity to pose with them as well.

All in all another very successful dive trip, with some great diving and beautiful scenery above and below water. It’s a long drive but it’s well worth it.

Credit – Tim (Trip Organiser)