Newhaven Rhib Trip – 29th May 2021

Summer has finally come at the end of May with some good weather. After a bit of last-minute bar-based planning we headed for Newhaven, launching from Simpson Marine & headed for the City of Brisbane on HW slack.
Thanks to some good work on a previous trip we had some perfect marks for the wreck, and got the shot in on the first attempt. Nice 4-5m vis, loads of fish life, plenty of spider crabs, congers, lobster, and even some big cuttle fish. The second dive was on the landing craft (?) outside the harbour arm. Diving on an ebb tide there was a lot of silt and snot in the water, dark and 0.5m vis at 12m.
Credit – Cameron (Chairman & trip organiser)

Plymouth – 22nd May 2021

After a very long drive down to Plymouth on Friday evening, we all made it to our luxury lodge accommodation with fingers crossed that we might get one day of diving in! Alas the weather gods were not in our favour and with the via looking like pea soup, the boat diving was cancelled for the weekend.
However, this did not deter some of us from exploring the murky depths (5m!) of Bovisand Harbour. The swell was pretty washing machine like and the pieces of kelp didn’t help to improve the already shocking vis so it was a short 20min dive.
As it was our Chairman’s 30th birthday that day, we had planned a BBQ with surprise champagne and cake. Michal did a sterling job at lead BBQ chef having selected the finest meat from the supermarket. We did keep a section of the BBQ meat free and Tim put a lot of time and effort into his jacket potatoes.
On Sunday, once the hangovers had cleared slightly, most people started the hopefully not so long drive back to London while three of us went to Plymouth Aquarium to pretend we had managed a dive. Particular highlights were the Eddystone Reef tank and the Great Barrier Reef tank where we reminisced on time spent in Indonesia.
Credit – Sarah (Treasurer & trip organiser)

Selsey Rhib Trip – 1st May 2021

First outing for the club boat this year on the sea was off the coast of Selsey. Launched by the friendly staff of the Bracklesham Foreshore Office, we headed for the fossil beds in Bracklesham bay. Usually dived on an ebb tide we quickly saw why diving on the flood was a bad idea; 50cm vis meant no fossils were found. For the second dive we headed to the Outer Mulberry. Easy to find because of Selsey Bill SAC’s permanent buoy, and the 6(!) other boats on it. Luckily our timing meant we arrived at the end of slack so everyone else was on the way out and we enjoyed a good 5m vis with the site to ourselves. On return to Bracklsham the sun came out and we were able to enjoy a couple of beers, watching HMS Elizabeth leave Portsmouth for her first tour.
Credit – Cameron (Chairman & trip organiser)

St Andrews Lake – 24th April 2021

8 members of Putney SAC met up (in two groups) at St Andrews for various purposes: kit checking, Sports Diver lessons and generally building up in-water time ahead of the busy diving season ahead.
Cam & George (me) were practicing twinset drills: long hose donation, valve drills and general buoyancy practice with a bit of task loading.
Michal was taking Mark for some more Sports Diver open water sessions. Having been diving pretty much every weekend since the lockdown was lifted he’s just SO5 to go now!
Tim & Adam and Paul & Pradeep were all getting back into the swing of things again with a few fun dives and Tim was testing his new camera and housing out.
There were a few leaky regs/free flows which are heading back to the service centre, so definitely worth testing the gear in a controlled environment before our next trip in the sea.
Credit – George (Membership Secretary & trip organiser)

Not Swanage (Wraysbury) – 10th April 2021

A last minute trip was booked in for the clubs first hardboat dive of the year with Swanage Boat Charters after the 2021 COVID lockdown… but the wind had other plans for us with some strong easterlies preventing any diving.
Rather than bin off the prospect of diving three of us decided it would be a good opportunity to pay Wraysbury a visit for a nice 60min dive getting some Sports Diver lessons signed off for Mark.
Credit – George (Membership Secretary & trip organiser)

Newhaven West Breakwater – 3rd April 2021

With the COVID lockdown easing in England, four members of Putney SAC decided it was time to kickstart their diving season in the sea with a day trip down to Newhaven for a shore dive.
After parking up right next to the beach and a long walk down the shingle we made it into the water for a quick practice of some rescue skills for part of Mark’s Sports Diver Lesson and then down for a bimble along the breakwater. Visibility was around 2 – 3m and there was not too much life, just a few crabs, but great to be back in the salty stuff nonetheless. Other divers heading in after us mentioned that Spider Crabs migrate here in the summer and if you head out onto the sandbank skates and rays can be found.
Although quite a windy day, the Breakwater gave us plenty of protection from the NE winds and it would certainly suit future training trips given the shelter, lack of current, close proximity to Newhaven Scuba and also being under a 2hr drive from Putney.
Note to self that although it’s good to check your gear ahead of other trips, this is not a dive to be done with twin 12s!
All in all, a successful day out and a big thank you must go to John for sitting in the cold, providing surface cover for us from his little fold out chair!
Credit – George (Membership Secretary & trip organiser)

St Andrews Lake – 30th March 2021

With Lockdown restrictions easing, 6 divers ventured to St Andrews Lake, keen to get back underwater as soon as possible. The weather was fantastic for the return to diving, turning out to be the warmest March day in over 50 years!

The divers assembled at the lake for a socially distanced meet and greet, with smiles all round as we realized the joy of being able to speak to people in real life, no longer on the other side of a screen. The plan for the day was a mixture of check dives and sports diver training. 

With the kit being stowed away for an overly long winter, preparation for the first dive took longer than usual, with an array of tools used to tighten various parts of the kit that had somehow managed to work their way loose. But finally, we were back under the water.

Good, if a bit chilly, first dives were had all round. A leaky seal was a good learning for one of the team, and a successful dive with a SMB, allowed Mark to tick off a Sports Diver open water lesson.

Lessons learned, the second dive was much more efficient, with another set of check dives and Navigation/DSMB practice as the Sports Diver lesson.

With beaming faces, we packed up the kit (after a bit of time taken to enjoy the sun) satisfied we had achieved our objectives for the day, and left the lake even more psyched for the summer ahead!

Credit – Charles (trip organiser)

 

Plymouth – 19th to 20th September 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.