Plymouth – 2020

It was a last minute dash for Michal to join us for the weekend as a space became available at the last moment (Friday afternoon) and he had only 1 hour to finish work and pack up all his gear ready to get a lift down with Neil who kindly took a small detour. I suspect he had the dive gear packed all ready to go!

Once we had all made it down to the luxury caravans at Bovisand Lodge and after a night listening to the wind howl, we motored out of Bovisand harbour at a very leisurely 10am with fairly calm seas.

First up was the HMS Scylla, now absolutely covered in ife – Tim and Michal stumbled across a John Dory at the bow, and the rest of us enjoyed the pretty good vis along with lots of fish. A hot drink and a pasty later, we were back in on the James Eagan Layne – one of the best dives in the UK – with lots of friendly Tompot Blennies, the occasional Congel Eel and crabs.

On our return, suspected tuna were spotted in the distance which turned out to actually be a school of common dolphins. We followed them and watched them jumping and swimming around the boat to everyone’s total delight – definitely the highlight of the trip!

A small mention has to be made of the cylinder incident that happened as the boat was being unloaded on Saturday evening when the slope of the harbour wall meant that a carefully laid down cylinder managed to roll around 90 degrees off the harbour wall and into 2m of water!! The salvage price was 4 cans of Guinness (bargin!) and the not amused owner was reunited with it fairly well undamaged the next morning.

That evening, we continued the fish theme at Rockfish enjoying hake, mussels and the veggie burger along with the (allegedly but hard to get hold of) unlimited chips. We all turned in at a boringly sensible hour for a Saturday night as we had ropes off at 07:30 the next morning.

The trip out to the Persier was a bit bumpy and some divers got completely wet before we had even arrived at the site – thank goodness for drysuits! There was a bit of a current running, and not everyone managed to find the wreck but appetites were whetted for this fantastic wreck – it’s top of the list for the next trip accompanied by Nitrox to make more of the dive.

Final dive was on the Mewstone for a chilled out pootle around the ledges (formed by an ancient riverbed) looking out for the many crayfish hiding in the cracks. There were also a lot of spider crabs around, having not been eaten by the French this year due to lockdown.

As soon as we got back, the next trip was booked in for May 2021 – fingers crossed we can have a full boat and a lot more time underwater.

Porthkerris – 10 -14 September 2020

Diving & Dive planning in Porthkerris, Cornwall is as easy as it can possibly be. The dive centre is  on the beach for hiring equipment and air fills; the shore dive has a reputation as one of the best in  the UK; the two dive hard boats are moored just off shore where a beach cafe resides and the  accommodation for divers is just up the hill. The only issue is probably the distance to Cornwall  (arriving in darkness and travelling down ridiculously narrow country lanes was interesting) and the  Covid regulations which limited the numbers on dive boats and in the accommodation. 

The whole weekend proved to be quite relaxed, mirroring the general atmosphere down there and  the nice weather we had. Even Dave our skipper had the air of a chilled out beach surfer about  him. 

Most of us hadn’t done too much diving this season so I think we had all forgotten just how heavy  all the kit was, especially when having to add the usual few kilos to compensate for the salt water.  We didn’t need to take our equipment far to the waiting boat but over the rocky beach it felt a bit  like walking on a travolator in the opposite direction. 

The sea off Porthkerris is a mixture of reefs and wrecks, the former responsible for the latter. Even  a kilometre off the coast the ‘Manacles’ (a number of sharp reefs both just above and below the  water) have snagged many ships heading to Falmouth or Southampton.  

We dived the Mohegan (29m) and the Volnay (20m) both of which were marked by giant boilers.  The visibility wasn’t great (maybe 3-4 metres) but there was plenty of wreckage left. We dived a  reef called Carn Du. Think it should be Carn Dubh’ but maybe that’s my Irish language bias. Saw a  lot of marine life including one huge crayfish (photo below).

On our last day we had a change of scene and dived the Helford River. We were dropped in the mouth of the river and due to the tides we had a gentle drift out into the sea passing lots of spider  & hermit crabs, cuttlefish and even a resting thornback ray. We had heard great things about this  dive and the dive centre noted that it was their most popular dives, but I think another reef such as  the ‘Pinnacle’ might have been more interesting (next time).

There is a walkable pub in nearby Porthallow but over this weekend I think we all enjoyed the self  catering more, mainly complements to Pradeep and Toni in the kitchen and John’s prowess finding  scallops on the river dive.

Weymouth – 15/16 August 2020

COVID restrictions have made club trip organizing slightly more complicated than usual. Determined to get a weekend of diving in, 8 divers set off down to Weymouth, arriving at the comfortable hotel Aqua on Friday evening.

Restrictions on the number of divers allowed on hard boats meant changes to the original plan, resulting in the group splitting into two groups of four with alternating plans.

The Saturday boat diving group had an early 4.30 start, needing to arrive at the Weychieftain for 5am ropes off. The first dive of the day was the Aeolian Sky, a bucket list dive on the colossal freighter. Sailing past the numerous ghost cruise ships that are now docked in the bay, just outside of Weymouth harbor needs to be seen to be believed! Decent viz made for a very enjoyable dive, starting at the superstructure and heading towards the bow. No Deco time was against us, but it is a dive where hours could be spent exploring the wreck.

After a relaxing surface interval, a shallower dive on the black hawk bow provided the perfect accompaniment to the first dive, with great viz and plenty of life. A successful morning diving and back in time for lunch.

Meanwhile the other group had headed over to Chesil beach for a days shore diving. The weather was on our side, with flat calm seas and fantastic viz.

Two great dives were had, with lots of marine life, including lobsters, crabs, pipe fish and many cuttlefish, with a bit of time to relax on the beach in between.

Saturday evening was spent having well earnt food and drinks at the Cove Inn, looking out to sea.

Sunday brought an exact reverse of the previous days plan, with the shore diving group hopping on the Weychiefain for dives on the Aeolian Sky and Black Hawk bow (we didn’t want anyone to miss out!) and the other group shore diving Chesil beach.

A great time was had by all, fantastic to have great diving and some social time with the club.  

Thanks to all the divers on the trip for their flexibility with the plans and to Richard & Sue of the Weychieftain for being accommodating as always.

Newhaven – 9th August 2020

Nick our Boat Officer has been desperate to get the RIB out after the lockdown, so with beautiful weather forecast (and after a few pints in the pub) we hatched a plan to take the Putney SAC RIB down to Newhaven to dive the SS City of Brisbane.
The City of Brisbane was torpedoed by UB-57 in August 1918 and is now lying in around 25m at high water slack.
She is now a home for plenty of sea life and there are enough recognisable features and swim throughs to keep the rust enthusiasts happy.
Massive thanks to Steve G for being our cox’n for the day.

Swanage – 1st/2nd August 2020

The trip that wasn’t to be…

Originally planned for the 18th/19th April, Putney’s trip with Divers Down in Swanage was pushed back to the 1st/2nd August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However it was definitely worth the wait!

The weather was glorious with water temperatures of 18°C and surface conditions calm and sunny. The visibility was a modest 4m all weekend. The numbers on the boat were limited to 6, which gave us plenty of space both above and below the water.

The dives for the first day were planned to Valentine Tanks (15m) and the Fleur de Lys (13m) and both were teeming with life! Plenty of huge Conger Eels, large schoals of Bib and even a few John Dory. Due to the very early start there was

even time for a 3rd dive under Swanage pier for a weight check.

Day number two brought us to the slightly deeper wreck of the Betsy Anna (my personal highlight of the trip). She lies in around 25m with the standout features being the boilers and winches. As to be expected there were plenty of Congers, Crabs, Lobsters and Tompot Blennies. Perhaps best suited to Nitrox as most of the dive is spent close to 25m. Dive two was a relatively fast drift from Old Harry’s Rock towards Swanage Bay. Camerons highlight of this dive was definitely finding a GoPro.

All in all a brilliant weekend and great to get people back in the water after the Lockdown. We’ll be back soon Swanage!

Selsey – 19th July 2020

Desperate to get back in the sea Putney BSAC finally made it out as a club. Keeping covid secure and making sure we stayed aware, we opted for a shore dive as our first outing. Shallow but pleasant, the bimble along East Beach near the lifeboat station reminded everyone what it felt like to damp, wrapped in neoprene, and loving life! Thanks to all those that came and John for his sterling work as shore cover.

 

Nemo Trip, Belgium – November 2019

 

 

Late November saw five club members head off for a weekend trip to a lesser-known diving location; namely Belgium.

Our destination was the custom-built Nemo 33 diving facility, an indoor pool, as the name suggests, some 33 meters deep.

Our first choice of transport was the Eurostar to Brussels, but tracks were up for maintenance that weekend. British Airways provided a smooth flight from Heathrow and the local train from the airport saw us in town before lunchtime. We had time for a quick spin around the tourist sights in the center before Ubering out to Nemo33.

The dive center is situated a just outside the center in an industrial and business park. In addition to the pool, there is a bar, a Thai restaurant and a dive shop.

We had reserved our dive in advance, and shortly before were shown through to the changing rooms. The pool is very warm (some thirty degrees or so) so all is needed are swimming costumes, masks, fins and a dive computer (compulsory). Tip – bring plenty of 50c pieces for the lockers.

Kit was efficiently issued (included in the 25 Euro fee) and we had a short dive briefing before heading in. There was one other party of roughly seven divers and we swiftly headed down. The upper pool is larger with a variety of environments (overheads, air pockets etc) , we headed for the tube-shaped lower section and achieved maximum depth ahead of the pack. The pool was comfortably warm but surprisingly dark at the bottom .

Gradually ascending, we were able to enjoy the rest of the pool , exiting some 50 minutes after we first got in. A quick change saw us enjoying the first of many Belgium beers in Nemo33s bar.

We returned to town where the evening’s entertainment consisted of some excellent Belgian food, including the well known mussels and chips. Club members were determined to make the most of the warm Belgian hospitality and we discovered a charming Bohemian-style bar below our Air B&B (thank you Helen for booking), where we joined the locals untill the early hours.

We will look forward to our next visit, although we have now heard of an ever deeper pool in Italy!

 

Malta – October 2019

At the end of October, 11 of us headed off to Malta and Gozo

for a long weekend of diving, driving and drinking. It was the perfect way to finish what has been a great year of scuba diving in the club.

This was the first time diving abroad for some of the group and it didn’t disappoint- warm water, vis up to 30m and amazing dive sites.

Our first day consisted of a checkout dive followed by the incredible inland sea and a night dive where we saw octopus and played with the bioluminescence. Our second day was on Comino where we dived the Santa Maria caves and P31 wreck- being relatively shallow there was plenty of time for photo opportunities and to enjoy the many swim throughs. Our last day consisted of the MV Cominoland and MV Karwela where we got our photos on the famous staircase and explored the reefs in the shallows.

This was a very sociable trip and staying in self catering flats gave us the opportunity to cook together and enjoy drinking and games evenings well into the night. We managed a trip to the citadel in Victoria one evening and those staying a little longer got to explore the blue grotto and Valetta. Aside from the diving, the other highlight of the holiday had to be our wonderful jeeps. Despite their age and questionable brake power, they got us and dive gear around the Island and we were very sorry to say goodbye at the end of the holiday.
Overall a fantastic trip and I’m sure Gozo will be on the list of places Putney BSAC returns to. Big thanks to our dive centre – Scuba Kings for helping to organise things.