Malta – 17th November 2022

We flew into Valetta on Thursday 17th Nov to forecasts of thunderstorms, windy conditions and generally a poor diving outlook, but Henry & Grace had arrived the day earlier and reported good weather.

For anyone who hasn’t been to Malta before, being an old British territory, it all seems very familiar but with air temperatures of about 23-25° and not dissimilar water temperatures this was going to be a pleasant end to our diving season. Originally the trip was planned for Gozo but the travel time to get there and the claim that at this time of year there were more places to shelter from the Nov winds, made the main island of Malta the final destination.

We had a big complement of 12 divers and one non diver and were all picked up from the Alexander Hotel on Friday morning and driven to the dive centre. ‘Divewise’ was a short walk away from our accommodation in Paceville, near St. Julians Bay. Viv, the owner of the centre had been a joy to deal with via email in the setting up of this trip and we were formally introduced to her and our guides Mike, JR and Yarick.

Dive 1, was right in front of the centre in what I believe is called Il Merkanti Bay. This was really a checkout and weighting dive but it was great to again get into a Mediterranean azure sea with fantastic visibility.

Dive 2 was a short drive to Valetta where we dived just under the huge fortress walls that surround Valetta. We dived HMS Maori, a 115 metres long British destroyer that sunk in Grand Harbour of Valletta by German air raid attack in February 1942. It’s pretty broken up and lying in 15m of water. Nothing particularly notable about this wreck but still novel in that we were getting into the water from a pretty historic vantage point.

Having being warned about the worsening weather conditions for the next few days, we were offered the opportunity to hire a more traditional boat and travel to the small Island of Comino, the following day.

Dive 3 was easily the highlight of the trip even though I had dived Santa Maria Caves, Comino, a few years ago. The caves are approached by boat and some entrances to differing parts are pretty narrow but they widen quickly on the other side for those who might think that claustrophobia might kick in and it’s reassuring to know that your guide has done this many, many times before. Because of the complexity of caves, arches and overhangs, the team of divers look pretty spectacular framed against the light streaming in from where the cave opens to the sea again whilst swimming with an abundance of sea life.

Once back onboard and rested with some packed lunch we headed back to the main island for Dive 4, a somewhat slimed down version of what we had already done but equally interesting. I believe the site of these caves is called Mellieha Bay. Before leaving for the evening, the dive centre had warned us with the increasingly poor weather, the following days diving might be cancelled.

As you can imagine, diving wasn’t the only pastime in Malta. It also has a bustling nightlife with decent restaurants and bars and it’s not terribly expensive, but then again we are a London club so its all relative, I suppose. We were also in the middle of the Autumn Nations Rugby Tournament so an evening by a large television screen was not unwelcome.

On the last day we were pleasantly surprised to have been offered 2 dives at Marsakala in the South of Malta, despite the weather forecasts. Brian had decided to sit out the Dive 5 as the entrance to the water looked a bit unstable and as the rain came on it looked like he made the right call. The other 11 divers entered the water in what looked like a giant squadron format and we kept at about 12 m depth until directly above the first of the tugboats in order to preserve air. There are three boats in this site, the St. Michael and No 10 tugboats as well as a more modern boat, the P33 patrol boat that has suffered more from wave action and is quite broken up even though it was scuttled as recently as 2021. We had been warned that the vis was not going to be so great but were pleasantly surprised. Everything appeared to be very calm underwater and we had a long swim back from the wrecks, slowly following the rising slope of the sea bed. Calm, that is, until we decided to surface near the shore where a hand rail was conveniently installed to aid divers. I was reminded of those documentaries about wild weather as above water it looked like a hurricane had just descended on our exit plan. Extremely heavy rain and strong winds meant slow going on the last bit of the swim to shore but more importantly the visibly was hampered by the wind and rain on the sea so it was difficult to keep a check on other divers to make sure they had all got out safely. Having done this once or twice before the guides had anchored some rope to the handrail which once spotted made things a bit easier.

I had an easy decision to make for the second dive which was going to be the on the second tugboat. JR, the guide asked me what I wanted to do and I was quite happy to call any further diving off. After changing in the local facilities and rushing to our vehicles, Brian & Mark returned with hot coffees for the windswept team. What fine fellows!

Might be worth posting some of the costs should anyone need to do research for further Malta dives. This was a Nov. 2022 organised dive with Divewise dive centre at a cost of €210 per person. The boat as an extra to reach Comino at €35 p.p. A twin room was around €85 p.p for 4 nights, breakfast included.

Credit – Paul (Trip Organiser)

Boat Trials – Summer 2022

1st Trial (Thames)

In conjunction with Steve Gibbons I have been running a series of boat trials both on the river and the sea. After eventually getting the broken bolt drilled out and a new bolt fitted and after checking we had no leaks it was time to get the boat on the water.  So on Sunday 17th July we had the1st trial down the Thames to Richmond lock after asking to go through the fuel tank emptied on us so after apologising to the lock keeper we decided with the fuel we had left on the boat it was time to turn around and head back to Putney, with a stop at the White Hart in Barnes for a swifty where George joined us (We now know we can fit a bike on the boat).

Crew Steve, Mark, Paul, Brian and for a bit George

2nd Trial (Sea trial)

On Sunday 7th August we had the 2nd trial launching from Bracklesham Bay it was very quickly obvious that although reliable the boat is down on power, so our attempts at project Florida was doomed to fail. We then headed in to Chichester harbour for a bit of practice in boat traffic, then back to Bracklesham Bay for boat recovery.

Crew Steve, Mark, Nick H, Michal and Brian

3rd Trial (Thames)

Thursday 18th August saw us launching on the Thames. As we thought it may be a problem with Fuel we were using a spare tank connected directly to the engine thus eliminating any problems with the fixed fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel filter and primer. Unfortunately, this was not the problem but we are now are step further by eliminating these. It was a nice evening so rather than just give up when we realised this wasn’t the solution, we did a little trip down the Thames, giving more people experience with Femti. Once the boat was safely back at the HYC a post trip pint in the Boathouse was the order of the day.

Crew Steve, Paul, Liam, Emma and Brian

What Next

We will continue to look at the lack of the power we have a few ideas and hopefully be able to get her out diving before the year end. 

Credit – Brian (Chairman)

Swanage – 25th June 2022

Kindly organised by our TO, George, a crew of PSAC divers headed down to Swanage for the weekend of the 25/26th June with a plan to dive the Carentan and the Aeolian Sky on the Saturday, and the Kyarra on the Sunday. The trip was also part of the “work up” for the diving later this year with divers practicing both deeper dives and accelerated deco with EON 80% stages.

Sadly, the weather had other plans and the skipper of the Mary Jo had to cancel Saturday’s dives due to increasing wind and sea conditions. However, local conditions in the bay were not bad and the club enjoyed some under-pier diving, albeit somewhat over-equipped with twinsets, Nitrox 32 etc in what was at times a chest-deep environment.
The weekend was certainly not wasted with a couple of under-pier dives, evening drinks on the roof terrace of Gee Whites and a pretty decent dinner at the Anchor Inn. As a Dive Leader trainee I was also able to gain valuable experience as top cover, and as deputy trip organiser, as well as participate in the Practical Rescue Management session on Sunday. The latter was ably run by Charles Denby and George and assisted by new member and instructor Jack.
Thank you to George for organising, and all the instructors for the as ever generous time and patience.
Last but not least, shoutout to George and Liam who managed to discover Swanage’s only nightclub and were “largeing it” until the early hours of the morning.
Credit – Mark (Equipment Officer)

We are back in the pool!

Following strict Government guidelines and Covid safety measures we are back in the pool. There is a one way system at the leisure centre, we have to wear face masks, adhere to social distancing and keep to our bubble groups. But, with the days getting shorter and winter around the corner, it is really nice to have something to look forward during these difficult times. We have been doing try dives, training, swimming and are looking forward to hosting a twinset try dive in the coming weeks.
Photo: Elodie our youngest member who is being taught to dive by her Father – our boat officer Nick.

O2 Course

On 26th January we held our annual oxygen administration course at the Hurlingham Yacht Club. There was a good turn out of 5 instructors and 10 trainees. Over a mixture of practical and theory sessions we covered basic life support, casualty assessment, oxygen administration and diving incidents. Though we hope never to have to use these skills, the club encourages all members to keep up to date with them. A fun day was had by all, however Resussi Annie was exhausted at the end.

Brighton – 31st March 2019

Despite the windy weather, 12 keen members of Putney SAC headed out for some diving just off the coast of Brighton on the 31st March 2019. A nice late start for a change and a quick stop off at Newhaven Scuba to pick up some rental cylinders got us to Brighton Marina at about 12:30pm ready to board Channel Diver and head out for the afternoon.

Due to the weather not being quite as bad as anticipated we stuck with the original plan and headed out to the SS Pentyrch, a 103m long cargo ship torpedoed by UB-40 (the German submarine, not the band!) on 18th April 1918 on a voyage from Tyne to Genoa with a cargo of coal. The visibility wasn’t great and the conditions were very choppy, with a bit of swell down on the wreck, butnevertheless a very interesting wreck and definitely one that needs another couple of visits to properly explore it.

Continue reading Brighton – 31st March 2019

AGM 2014

The club held its AGM on 18th November at the HYC. The AGM is the only formal club meeting of the year when all the members get together to review the past year, nominate who will be looking after the club for the following year, plan for 2015 and also reward achievements and contributions to the club by individual members.

This year the annual Putney BSAC awards went to:

Club Person of the Year – Philippa Davis

Philippa won for the fantastic job she did as both chair of the club and membership secretary. She always put the effort in to introduce new members to the club ensuring they an enthusiastic welcome, as well as providing a leadership presence for the whole club.

Diver of the Year – Tim Watson

Tim won this award for the enthusiasm he has shown throughout the year for diving and the efforts he makes to attend as many dive trips as possible.

Photographer of the Year – Steve Gibbons

Steve won for the fantastic photo he took of a turtle swimming through a school of fish in Sipadan, which you can look at here

Skomer Claw – Steve Gibbons

The Skomer Claw is given to the club member responsible for the funniest incident of the year. Steve had several incidents for which he was nominated for the award, but it was jumping into the water at Vobster with his drysuit undone that clinched the award for him, which was particularly funny as he was the instructor that day.

 

One of the key functions of the AGM is to elect a committee for the upcoming year. This year we can welcome two members who are joining the committee for the first time, Dale and Sarah.

Our committee members for 2015 are:

Chair Philippa Davis
Diving Officer Nick Levesque
Training Officer Sarah Turpin
Membership Secretary Dale Rogerson
Communications Tim Watson
Treasurer Michal Benko
Secretary Iris Wang
Boat Officer Darren Jones
Social Secretary Tor Parkinson
Equipment Officer Steve Gibbons