First of all, a huge thank you to the trip organiser, Flo. Everything under her control went amazingly smoothly; whilst the weather may have played havoc with the plan (and the vis), we can all learn something from her magnificent organisational skills!
Having all safely made it to Ilfracombe on Friday evening, through incessant rain, and having laughed ourselves to sleep at the notices attached to our toilet (ask Andy at the pub!), we headed down to the port in the morning. Lee, captain on the Obsession II dive boat (and a very fine dive boat it is too) welcomed us on board for our trip across to Lundy. With a force 5-6 tail wind, we made excellent time although not everyone retained breakfast for the entire trip.
The diving in the lee of the island was not blessed with tropical visibility (3-5m), but was at least calm as we endeavoured to coax the seals into the water under the watchful eyes of hundreds of Razorbills and Guillemots, a few shags and gulls, a peregrine falcon and… two obliging puffins. The wildlife underwater was sparse to say the least. Although Sasha and I both got to see two diving razorbills and a couple of fleeting moments with the seals, the remaining hour and a half of diving was largely spent wandering through kelp accompanied only by a couple of starfish and the odd wrasse.
Getting onto the island proved more than a little challenging as the wind continued to pick up. Fireman Rob proved those hours in the gym were worth it by hauling up 20 cylinders from the boat by rope… without, seemingly, breaking a sweat. We are in awe, almighty Rob!
The lodgings were beautiful and, were it not for the wind, might also have been warm. The wind, blowing up to force 9-10 over the next 36 hours, whistled through the house, round doors, through windows, leaving us all wrapped in blankets as rain, blowing horizontally, whipped up the hill and battered the windows incessantly, day and night, until Monday morning. All the boys had a go at lighting the coal fire in the sitting room… and all failed… even leaving the coal for 20 minutes on the gas flame of the cooker resulted in no more than a brief, eerie green glow.
As amazing a skipper as Lee proved to be, the boat couldn’t make it back round the island on Sunday for our planned pick-up due to the wind, waves and rain, so Sunday was spend getting variously wet (those going for a walk returned, soaked to the skin, to empty their shoes), cold, informed about unexpected topics (from books such as one on paddle steamers off Lundy!) or cooking supper. This last endeavour, enjoyed by all, was the product of Flo’s shopping, Andy’s skills as head chef, and the able assistance of Darren and Sue. We’ll have to invite them again!
The wind had dropped slightly this morning; enough to get luggage onto the boat from the jetty, but not passengers. We duly trooped across the island and down the cliffs to the calmer East side and took a tiny inflatable, 2 at a time, to the boat. The trip back, this time into the wind, took a greater toll, lasting as it did a full 2 hours 40 minutes. It was the first hour and a half that resulted in five people making the, mostly successful, trip to the side of the boat.
For all that, the general consensus is that we must return to Lundy, in better weather, to enjoy what is clearly a beautiful part of our British Isles. There are all sorts of birds (Andy enjoyed an unexpected flyby from a peregrine falcon this morning) both on land and at sea, deer, ponies and spectacular views, and if the wind hasn’t been blowing , the promise of great vis and playful seals.