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)

Egypt: M/Y Firebird, Wrecks and Reefs Itinerary – 10th February 2022

In July 2021, just as Covid looked like it was starting to go away, Egypt opened up its borders again to divers. With it, a wide array of liveaboards, inaccessible for so many months, looked an enticing way to kick start the 2022 diving season. With a week of leave locked in for me over February half term, I announced at our dive planning meeting in October 2021 that I would be going on this trip, and anyone else was welcome to join me. A few people expressed some tentative interest, but ultimately Byron was the only other person who was willing to take the Covid risk. And as Omicron tried its hardest to ruin Christmas, it felt for a while as if everyone else in the club were the smart ones.

Luckily come February, not only had Omicron been dealt with, but the Government had decided that Covid travel testing was also a thing of the past, so we boarded our flight to Hurghada. After battling our way through the airport scrum, we got our visas, had our passports stamped and were taken to the M/Y Firebird – home for the next week. On board we met our dive guide, Chris, British friends Helen and Peter and solo Polish diver Arec. We were told four more Austrian divers would be arriving during the night before we set sail in the morning.

Our first check dives were at Gota Abu Ramada reef, a short hop from Hurghada. We each demonstrated that we could complete all our drills (some more successfully than others) and saw an Eagle Ray, Spotted Ray, Barracuda and Lion fish. We also got to know our group – Arec was more at home in the water than on the boat as he swam laps around the rest of us, while Helen and Peter dazzled us with their amazing photography skills. We then got back on the boat for a vomit-inducing all-night journey to the Brother Islands. After seeing a school of Banner fish at the Little Brother, we then completed two dives at the Big Brother, with a trip on to the Island and to the top of the Lighthouse in between.

The next day was our first wreck of the week (it was the Wrecks and Reefs Itinerary after all) as we dived the Chrisoula K. After a photo by the prop, we went in to the hold and finally to the engine room. A fantastic wreck. After breakfast we did the Giannis D, again going in as far as the engine room. Thank goodness for Chris, our amazing guide, as with the ship lying at 45 degrees on the sea bed, we all would still be inside now without his excellent navigation. After spying some dolphins on our way back to the Firebird, we ate lunch on our way to the SS Thistlegorm.

Our first dive in the afternoon we circumnavigated the entire ship, seeing the prop, the guns on the stern, tanks and motorbikes. Then that evening I did a night dive with Peter, exploring the main superstructure. It was like diving in an aquarium with fish life all around us, however unlike an aquarium the current was incredibly strong and we both looked like flags in a strong breeze as we hung on to the boat line during our safety stop. The following morning, we penetrated the lower cargo hold while after breakfast we did the upper cargo deck, kitchen and bridge.

And so, the wreck part of the itinerary was sadly completed, as the wind (and therefore current) picked up for the rest of the week. Next, we ventured to Umm Ush reef, where we saw eels, nudibranchs, gobi and urchins during the day, in addition to hermit crabs, cornet fish, feather sea stars and a puffer fish that night. We then visited Siyul Soraya and Siyul Keber the next day before a couple of dives at Shaab El Erg, where we saw a massive Napoleon Ray and a Napolean Rass. We finished up the trip at Umm Gamar before heading back to dry land to off-gas with some beers at an all-inclusive hotel!

Many thanks to Byron for keeping me company all week, to all the boat crew for being amazing, and to new friends Helen, Peter and Arec.

Credit – Adam (Trip Organiser)

Vobster – 15th January 2022

Organising a trip to an inland lake should be easy right.

Announced in October 2021 a trip to Vobster in January, I wasn’t expecting much interest but slowly I was getting more people interested and by Christmas I had 11 nutters sorry divers and 1 spectator. Usually organising a trip to an inland lake is easy tell people where and when to turn up and jump in the lake, but during a pandemic the lakes have changed the entry rules. Vobster being my initial preference now has membership rules, so I looked at NDAC which just before Christmas announced it was closing for January, Stoney Cove was mentioned as alternative as well as a few lesser-known lakes. Then though a contact of John Heagney now encamped in Bath, Jonathon Hudson a member of Bath SAC with John and the South West regional coach arranged for us to use the Bath SAC membership so we could all get in to Vobster without having to pay membership.

The Day

So, with a meet time of 7.50am at Vobster it was a very early start for people travelling from south west London, I had opted to stay with John a mere 25 minutes away so not sorry to miss the early start.  Once everyone had arrived and parked up, we split in in to 2 pre-arranged groups 1 for twin set divers and 1 for single cylinder. With Vobster turning misty the kitting up process was not done with any urgency and after about an hour and half later the mist had cleared, and the 1st divers jumped in to the barmy 8 °C degree water. We were greeted by amazing vis of around 15m and everyone had a pleasant dive if not dry dive. Step forward Adam, Michal and Charles who’s drysuits didn’t seem to be that dry. After a stop for getting cylinders filled, hot food and drink from the snack wagon to warm up. Drysuits were repaired well Adam’s and undersuits hired to replace the wet ones. We had our 2nd dive of the day. Another nice dive with the vis very slightly less than the 1st but still amazing although still damp for Michal and Charles. Once diving was complete, we packed up and headed for home some of us via the Talbot Inn in Mells which I can highly recommend for a post pint after Vobster.  My impression of Vobster had not changed out of all the inland lakes this is my favourite easy entry and exit to the water, great vis and friendly staff.

Thank You

Jonathon Hudson for arranging entry and Nic Denby for doing the dive sheets, assisting divers and the photos.

The Nutters

Adam, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Charlie, Cameron, George, John, Liam, Michal and Mark

PS

We have our 1st nomination for the Skomer Claw for 2022 as Charlie turned up with an out of test cylinder

Credit Brian (Outing organiser) 

Wraysbury – 30th October

On 30th October, 6 members of Putney BSAC went to Wraysbury to do some training and experience dives. Despite low visibility our trainees ticked off their compass skills as well as other lessons and at the end of the day we had two newly qualified sports divers. Congratulations to Henry and Grace on this great achievement.
Credit – Emma (Training Officer and Trip Organiser)

Swanage Training Trip – 18th September 2021

In September, we organised one of the most ambitious training trips Putney BSAC has done.
8 instructors, 8 trainees and our trusty RHIB went to Swanage for the weekend, doing a mix of hardboat, RHIB and shore diving. This included 6 members who have joined since the pandemic and for some, this was their first time in British waters. We did some (pretty fast) drift dives, the Fleur de Lhys, Swanage Pier, Peverill ledges and one of our favourites – the Valentine Tanks. The tanks didn’t disappoint with good visibility and teaming with life, including some massive moray eels. On the whole the weather was pretty good and we were able to enjoy a large barbecue and toast marshmallows one evening at our accommodation. We signed off 4 ocean diver, 7 sports diver and 6 dive leader lessons, as well as gaining experience in the water, a huge testament to both our instructors and trainees.
Credit – Emma (Training Officer and Trip Organiser)
Extra Credit must be given to Emma for organising the most logistically complex trip we’ve had and all with a smile. Everything went pretty smoothly and a great time was had by all! Thank you Emma!

Training Days – September 2021

In early September we did two quarry trips in preperation for our training weekend in Swanage.  Our ocean divers trainees went to Wraysbury for their first experience in open water. Our sports divers signed off the dreaded rescue skills and another lesson in St Andrews lake whilst a couple of our dive leader trainees practiced their skills. We had great weather and a fabulous time was had by all
Credit – Emma (Training Officer and Trip Organiser)

Brighton – 31st July 2021

On the last weekend of July going into August, 12 Putney BSAC divers headed down to Brighton for a weekend of diving with Channel Diver.The first dive on the Saturday was a rather novel dive on one of the Rampion windfarm columns. The column met the seabed at a depth of approx. 28m and was covered in mussels, with dozens of starfish surrounding the column at its base, as well as little congas under the supporting beams. Some PSAC’ers were lucky enough to have a couple of jellyfish for company on their safety stop. This was followed by quite a low visibility drift dive at 11m depth.

The Saturday evening was rife with cake, celebration (and a glass of champagne each) as it was the DO’s birthday!

On the Sunday, the first dive was a 27m dive on the Fortuna wreck. Upon dropping onto the wreck down the shot line, some divers couldn’t even see the wreck due to the immense numbers of fish surrounding them! After we descended through the fish, we had a very enjoyable dive moving along to the bow and investigating the wreck before coming back up the shot. This was followed by a better vis drift dive along a rocky shelf which was teeming with life.

Some of the group took advantage of the good weather and being at the seaside to take an extra day to relax before heading back, with the rest of the group getting an unusually short duration trip back to London following a great weekend of diving!

Credit – Helen (Social Sec and Trip Organiser)

Portland Expedition – 9th July 2021

In July three members joined with divers from the BSAC southern Region to complete part of their Advanced Diver training. Some of the lesser-known targets of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour were dived, making use of various searching, surveying, and dive planning techniques. Lots learnt by everyone involved and a great opportunity to visit some sites that are too small to dive with a charter boat of 12 divers, so lots of life on them too! Thanks to Quality Time Training for provision of boat and cox, and to BSAC southern region for the support and guidance of the instructors.
Credit – Cameron (Chair)

Selsey Rhib – 5th July 2021

In mid July, 5 members of Putney BSAC took the RHIB to Selsey to dive the cuckoo and mulberries. We couldn’t have asked for warmer weather, calmer sea or better visibility. As well as being fun, it was also an educational trip. 2 of the members had never dived off the RHIB and we did a brief chart workshop down at the HYC the week before. We also ticked off a sports diver and dive leader lesson, whilst our chairman got more experience coxing. A fabulous day was had by all.

Credit – Emma (Training Officer and Trip Organiser)

Weymouth – 26th June 2021

We were lucky this year to get two slots on the Wey Chieftain IV, the second being the 26-27 June. This weekend was a spring tide but not a big one, so we planned on diving the Benny, the M2 submarine and a couple of drifts.
On Saturday we headed down to the Benny wreck for just over half an hour at 27m. The vis was a little worse than our May trip, around 4m, but plenty of congas and lots to see. We followed this dive up with a drift between White Nothe and Bats Head where there were plenty of crabs, leverets, as well as a conga eel just sitting out in the open!
Sunday’s weather looked debatable but due to the improving forecast throughout the day and the shelter of the M2 (32m), we were able to get out for the day. There was loads of life on the M2, the submarine war grave, including shoals of bib fish and massive conga eels hiding about the submarine. She was a fantastic dive, virtually intact, with the conning tower rising about 9m high. We then chose to dive the James Fennel wreck (16m) rather than a drift for the second dive. The vis was great (8-10m) and the buddy pairs managed to find the other pairs (by accident rather than design!) during the dive. There was loads to see, from lots of crabs under the massive rocks amidst the wreckage, to the large engine boiler.
Credit – Helen (Social Sec & Trip organiser)