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)