Weymouth – 23rd July 2022

Putney SAC gets deep and technical… almost!
Friday night we had the trio of BSAC clubs meet up in Castletown, Portland ahead of the day’s diving. My Dad – Mike, Jamie & Mark (all from Warrington SAC), and Charles & myself (Putney SAC) risked it all heading to Balti Island for a nice curry before meeting up with Mark & Andrew (also Putney SAC) and Cat & Andy (from Richmond SAC) in the Little Ship for a few pints and a recap of the plan for Saturday.
Saturday was beautifully sunny and we met Richard and Sue aboard Weychieftain IV at an unusually pleasant time of 09:30, a rarity for our normal Weymouth trips. Richard was flabbergasted! “I’ve not seen a boat full of twinsets in years” – in reference to the usual split of clubs either chartering the boat to dive the Weymouth/Portland classics on single cylinders or the proper techies out doing the mid-channel stuff on their rebreathers. We even made it onto Weychieftains’ Facebook account for the pioneering techies to reminisce about their twin-20s and presumably now their back problems!
Anyway, enough about the gear – we headed out down the east side of Portland bill, just off the shambles bank to dive the Ethel, a British Steamship (88m long, fitted with a triple expansion engine) that was torpedoed by UB-104 on the 16th September, 1918, en route from Rouen to Barry. She sits in around 36m and is a great dive in her own right, but is particularly good as a check-dive/build up to the Salsette (which is what we had planned).
I was diving with Mark and Andrew, and the other buddy pairs were: Mike & Charles; Cat & Andy; Jamie & Mark. Mike and Charles were first in with their 80% deco stages with a solid bottom time planned, soon followed by Jamie and Mark with their stages, then after a couple of minutes, the rest of us jumped in. Lots of life (apparently) and a nice set of boilers later we ascended for a few minutes of decompression before boarding Weychieftain and heading back north for shelter in Balaclava Bay with a hot drink and some jam donuts.
Sadly the wind had picked up over the morning and was getting quite blowey. We quickly got kitted up after our surface interval and jumped in for a drift across Bally Bay. A varied experience between buddy pairs – Mike and Charles came up with more Scallops than air left in their cylinders (well Mike did… poor example from my father there!) and they also saw a lone octopus tentacle swimming along. On the other hand Mark, Andrew and I went for possibly the slowest drift I’ve done in my life and to make things worse Andrew lost his GoPro (ouch!).
After a good amount of time looking for Andrews GoPro on the surface, we had the windy ride back to Weymouth with the realisation we weren’t going to get out at all on the Sunday, let alone to the Salsette – our primary target and a jewel of south coast wreck diving. Sadly my curse from Swanage was back and we were blown out from diving this beauty.
The sad news from being blown out again and Andrews GoPro in conjunction with the blisteringly hot day we had had, meant we were certainly due some dirty food and a few beers at Billy Winters bar and grill. This quickly turned into a night out sampling a few too many beers in the Little Ship until the early hours of Sunday… almost going back to the old days of the club, where the drinking:diving ratio was certainly in favour of the booze!
After a slightly groggy start to Sunday, Warrington SAC headed off on the long drives back north and the others back to London. Charles and I headed for a quick fry-up on Chesil Beach, looking out at the white caps pondering what could have been… we’ll get you next time Salsette!
All-in-all a great weekend away, great company and great to be out diving with 3 cracking BSAC clubs! Sadly we can’t plug the Richmond club for obvious reasons (obviously we’re the best club in SW London!) but if anyone finds themselves in the North West, check out the Warrington SAC.
Credit George Davidson (Training Officer & Trip Organiser)

Swanage (Take2) – 9th July 2022

Dives planned, tanks filled with the perfect  mixes, and a sunny forecast, we were back down to Swanage to complete the plans from a few weeks earlier.

After a nice first dive around the Carentan, with plenty of bottom time and good gas switching practice, George and I were well set for a dive we had been wanting to do for a long time. Chips for lunch followed by some optimsed decanting and we were ready to go.

The Kyarra did not disapoint, a huge wreck with lots of life and plenty to explore. With 40mins bottom time we managed to cover from the boilers to the bow and back again, but still so much more to see.

Credit – Charles (Trip organiser)

Swanage – 25th June 2022

Kindly organised by our TO, George, a crew of PSAC divers headed down to Swanage for the weekend of the 25/26th June with a plan to dive the Carentan and the Aeolian Sky on the Saturday, and the Kyarra on the Sunday. The trip was also part of the “work up” for the diving later this year with divers practicing both deeper dives and accelerated deco with EON 80% stages.

Sadly, the weather had other plans and the skipper of the Mary Jo had to cancel Saturday’s dives due to increasing wind and sea conditions. However, local conditions in the bay were not bad and the club enjoyed some under-pier diving, albeit somewhat over-equipped with twinsets, Nitrox 32 etc in what was at times a chest-deep environment.
The weekend was certainly not wasted with a couple of under-pier dives, evening drinks on the roof terrace of Gee Whites and a pretty decent dinner at the Anchor Inn. As a Dive Leader trainee I was also able to gain valuable experience as top cover, and as deputy trip organiser, as well as participate in the Practical Rescue Management session on Sunday. The latter was ably run by Charles Denby and George and assisted by new member and instructor Jack.
Thank you to George for organising, and all the instructors for the as ever generous time and patience.
Last but not least, shoutout to George and Liam who managed to discover Swanage’s only nightclub and were “largeing it” until the early hours of the morning.
Credit – Mark (Equipment Officer)

Ireland – 16th June 2022

We spent our time mostly diving on the South Coast so diving in the Atlantic was certainly an  interesting prospect. We had proposed doing this trip with Aquaholics on the Northern Ireland  North Coast a year earlier but Covid scuppered those plans. Helen had recently moved to Ireland  so we decided to split the plans between Belfast Lough and the Causeway Coast, named after the  nearby Giants Causeway. The group of 10 divers split initially into two groups, one accommodated  in Bangor and could explore Belfast before the dives and the other based on Carlingford Lough, a  good base for those who fancied visiting Dublin and doing some outdoors pursuits such as hiking &  kayaking etc. 

The first dive in Belfast Lough was a bit of a shock to the system as while people in London were  experiencing 36°C temperatures, we had rain and hail on Belfast Lough and about a metre of vis  on the first dive on the SS Troutpool. It did improve though markedly on the second dive.

At the end of day one we drove to Ballycastle on the Northern Ireland Coast. The landscape is very  dramatic up there, home for many location shoots for ‘Game of Thrones’ etc with impressive cliffs,  and big rollers coming off the Atlantic. Our accommodation was in the suitably named ‘Aqualodge’  which had a large garden and a very modern fit out mainly aimed at the diving fraternity. Equally  impressive was the proximity of the hard-boat just across the road in the marina which was the one  of two bases for the Aquaholics dive boats.

We had 2 reef or wall dives around Rathlin Island which because of it’s shape usually offers some  shelter from the winds but by far the most impressive dives on the North Coast was on the Lough  Garry, a wreck standing upright and very much intact at 32m with about 20m vis. 

I for one wasn’t looking forward to diving back in Belfast Lough after the diving up North but was  more than pleasantly surprised when we had decided on diving on the SS Chirippo and diving with  DV Diving. The wreck lying on it’s side with the hull exposed was covered in dead man’s fingers  and coral and the vis was superb, allowing for a great end to our diving in Ireland.

The Crew: Paul, Helen, John, Aidan, Brian, Emma, Jack, Andrew, Michal, Byron Organisers: Paul & Helen.

Credit Paul (Trip Organiser)

Littlehampton – 29th May 2022

After being asked if there was any diving for Ocean divers in April in the coming months. I rapidly setup up a dive for Ocean divers and above out of Newhaven for the 29th May. With a couple of weeks to go before the dive the Newhaven skipper called to say he had sold the boat, so we were left high and dry. A quick look around and a Facebook post and we were back in business on Aquanaut just a little further west along the coast in Littlehampton.

So early on Sunday the 29th May, 8 of us met up at Littlehampton the sun was shining as we left the harbour and headed out on the hour steam to the Concha wreck once there and all kitted up it was in to the water. As we made our way down it was clear (or not) that the visibility was not bad, but a plankton bloom was upon us reducing the overall visibility. The Concha is well broken up wreck with the main area being the boiler another structure that none of us could identify and a small prop at the stern. The wreck was full of life with Bib/pouting, crabs, tompot blennies, lobsters (one large one), squat lobsters, congers, a nudibranch and for one lucky dive pair a fair size cuttlefish.

The 2nd dive was on the Waldrons reef just outside Littlehampton harbour is a nice little drift with plenty of life. Highlights included Dogfish (Catshark), thornback rays, ballan wrasse and tompot blennies.

The Crew

Anna, Brian, Byron, Emma, Helen (Guest), Mark, Michal and Nick Harrison.

Credit – Brian (Chairman and Trip Organiser)

Selsey East Beach – 30th April 2022

After a week’s delay due to high winds, eight Putney BSAC members drove to Selsey East beach for a day by the sea and two shore dives. We based ourselves just east of the existing lifeboat centre and walked the kit from the road to set up ready for the first dive.

After a dive briefing, the first wave started ~ 9am, this was aiming to be roughly 4 hour before high water scheduled at 12:15. It was a good first dive for all, with plenty of life including many spider crabs and also a juvenile ray and a cat shark. As high tide was approaching, exiting after the dive was manageable and the group enjoyed the surface interval lazing in the sun. 

We waited patiently for the current to stop running, with the recommended dive time of 3 hours high tide, the second wave started at 2:30. Another good dive, with slightly better vis (almost 5m), with more crabs and cat sharks and even a pipefish found showing the variety of life you can see at just 5m depth. The downside of shore diving was more obvious on the exit of the second dive, with low tide on its way, it made for a long and tiring walk back up the beach to dekit.

It was a successful day and a good way to get ready for the UK diving season. Note to self – you can burn in April in the UK even if it’s only 12degrees.

Credit – Nic (Comms Officer and Trip Organiser) 

Swanage – 9th April 2022

Second week of April seen our club on first sea diving trip to Swanage. Weather forecast was not great, and temperatures were low, weather changed and we had a lovely sunny weekend, temperature not so much and we had to scrub the ice on car windscreens in the morning… 4 dives conducted – Valentines tanks and Fluer de Lys on first day is classic Swanage diving day in the bay with lots of life and surprising okish vis.

On Sunday we went out to SS Clan MacVey wreck, which was a wreck that none of us dived before followed by a drift over Peveril ledges + done some scalloping (where in total we collected £100+ worth of scallops, under watchful eyes of skipper Bryan to make sure all were well above the landing sizes – so big success as well).

Nice weekend with lot of fun (although most on my costs as usual)… Elodie finished her Ocean Diver qualifying dives and Andrew the same for Dive leader – well done to both. I must say that diver of the month goes to Elodie who braved the dives in the wet suit and did really well, more over Elodie also mastered perfectly (i.e. confidently and assertively) her first time as assistant dive manager! Well done Elodie (although next time Elodie pls pls go to pilot house between the dives – I was freezing just by looking at you) !!

Many thanks also to Bryan from Swanage boat charter who skippered the Viper and also crew in Cumulus Outdoor center where we felt well looked after (I will not quote all pubs we visited during the weekend – it would be long list…). Lastly but not less importantly – some people though need to think about their behaviour … – no Nick – its not ok to steal the DSMB from your DO during the dive and trying to nick his scalloping bag as well !!!

Credit – Michal (DO and Trip Organiser)

02 Admin Course – 26th March 2022

As we are nearing the diving season and with plenty of DL trainees working through their theory PSAC ran the annual O2 Admin course.
It had been a bit of time since the last course (due to COVID) so it was a great day refreshing skills and getting up to speed with Basic life Support, Administering Oxygen and considerations for AEDs.
Credit – George (Training Officer and Training Organiser)
In addition, huge thank you to all the instructors that helped out on the day – we can’t do this without you! 

Stoney Cove – 19th March 2022

Long time no see Stoney! PSACs last quarry dive before getting salty saw a few more divers come out of hibernation to make sure all gear was functional before Swanage next month.
This trip saw an extension to a full weekend with a stay booked at Casa del Mary-rose courtesy of Helen back over from Northern Ireland.
The first day started with an ill advised trip to the 6m shelf, with almost none existent vis for a bit of skills practice and various tours of Stoney, taking in all of the highlights
Saturday saw the group take in a well deserved trip to TGI Friday, for a vast amount of food and laughs in equal measure.
On Sunday, more brave PSACers turned up for dives involving a mix of training and fun dives, with divers practising twinset and adp skills ahead of the summer.
A fun weekend had by all and lots learnt ahead of the summer: always remember to put your weightbelt in the car, If you put your iphone in your outer drysuit pocket then take it out before you go for a dive, If it looks slippery it probably is!
Divers: George, Charles, Brian, Michal, Helen, Andrew, Cam, Tim, Liam
Credit: George (Trip Organiser and Training Officer) & Charles

Stoney Cove – 19th February 2022

Freezing February is where proper divers are made and three brave souls risked frostbite for a dip in Stoney cove.
Originally planned for NDAC, but with the sad news of its closure to the public the venue was changed to Stoney Cove… a first for me since watching my parents dive there many moons ago.
Andrew, Mark and myself completed some twinset drills and backup DSMB deployments to keep ourselves fresh ahead of the season. Mark managed to get through a bit more of his Dive Leader training too!
Although a bit cold a cracking day washed down with a nice pint of Guinness in the pub!
Credit – George (Trip Organiser and Training Officer)