Rib Trip on the Thames – March 2014

The diving season is beginning and it’s about time we took the club rib out  to ensure it’s ready for the diving season ahead and what better way to do that than a trip down the Thames in the early spring sunshine. Darren, Sue, Nic and Brian took the boat out for a jolly on the river stopping at a few pubs along the way and scaring the customers of a Nandos when they all walked in wearing their drysuits!

Vobster Inland Diving Centre – March 2014

Another trip to Vobster diving centre for Putney BSAC, this time for some for dive leader training. Once again the water was very cold, none of us could feel hands by the end of the second dive. Some valuable lessons were learnt however:

  • Vobster does indeed contain some fish, we know, because we saw one on our first dive
  • Never forget to bring gaffer tape, it can solve a whole range of problems
  • If enjoy faffing then diving is the sport for you. 2 hours of kit set up for a half hour dive, brilliant!

AGM 2013

The club held its AGM on 19th 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 2014 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 – Darren Jones

Darren won for organising two hugely successful trips aboard last year, to Tenerife and Kenya. For fitting an A-frame to the club rib, a task which has eluded many previous boat officers and for all the extra time and hard work he put into the club throughout last year. The club would be a much poorer place without him.

Diver of the Year – Tim Watson

As the person who won this award and writer of this article I’d like to think I won this award because of my dolphin like grace underwater, charming personality and devilish good looks, however, it may have been that other members of the club were just taking pity on me.

Photographer of the Year – John Heagney

John won for the stunning photos he took in Kenya, which you can look at here

Skomer Claw – John Heagney

The Skomer Claw is given to the club member responsible for the funniest incident of the year. John won this for a mishap he had in Kenya, the details of which are not fit to be put on our website. However if you meet him I’m sure he’d be more than willing to tell the story.


One of the key functions of the AGM is to elect a committee for the upcoming year. This year we can welcome back a couple of old faces that are returning to the committee after taking a few years off and some members who are joining the committee for the first time .

Our committee members for 2014 are:

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

On behalf of the 2014 committee I’d like to extend a big thank you to our outgoing committee members Brian, Flo, Justine, Andy, Peter and John. They all made a huge effort in helping out with the committee last year and it’s thanks to people like them giving up some of there time that the club keeps running.

Porthkerris, Cornwall – August 2013

Porthkerris Dive CentreTim, Michal, Philippa, Brian John and I had 2 very nice days of diving down the Lizard peninsular from the Porthkerris dive centre boat, Celtic Cat, a very nice boat. Fast, stable, surprisingly spacious and equipped with a unique 2-divers-at-a-time lift. And the lunch was way above average. We all got 5 dives in, Tim and Michal got 6 by starting on Friday afternoon while the rest were stuck on the M5 or detouring around the M5. On Sunday in particular the sea was flat calm and glassy. It gets no better. We dived 3 wrecks and 2 reefs, one a shore dive from the pebble beach. The visibility was from good to very good, the water comfortable and sea-life mostly wrasse. Wrasse are pretty colourful so no complaints there.

Many thanks to Tim for putting the trip together. The Porthkerris set-up was good and is improving with the new accommodation and is definitely worth a return visit. We managed to get to one local pub and Michal and Lenka turned out a stunning stew for another evening so we were incredibly well fed.

Eastbourne – August 2013

Eastbourne - Sovereign Harbour

With a crew of eight people due to dive out of Eastbourne for the one day of Sunday 11th August, only six of us actually were able to make the trip, as Michal came down with a virus, and Phillipa’s feet haven’t grown any bigger since the Swanage trip last month, so her drysuit still doesn’t fit too well. A forward party of three (Sasha, Brian and Steve) had already driven down the night before and stayed in a luxurious hotel.  They of course (as is tradition) went out for a Thai meal and finished off the night with a couple of beers……. this of course was undertaken for medicinal reasons, just to get themselves off to sleep.

Rumour has it , that it was an old people’s home, and that Steve was asked if he was a visitor, or a permanent resident…………..only kidding Steve!

Anyway, an intrepid crew of six finally turned up at Sovereign harbour Eastbourne, and had to load the boat during a down pour of of biblical proportions….slight exaggeration here, but a bit of poetic writers licence makes the article a little more interesting….

Anyway, once on board, we were “entertained” by the wonderful and welcoming skipper/partner Silvia, who made us feel more than welcome and relaxed…..

The sea was a little lumpy going out to the wreck, which made more than one of us feel a little sea sick, but we all managed to keep our food down, and no one threw up…..for the moment anyway! On the way out, we encountered a little alternator problem with the boat , which then threatened to curtail any diving for the day, but it was quickly fixed by the other skipper/partner Dave, who managed to save the day and changed some drive belts in the engine room.  We finally got over the wreck of the “Alaunia” in about 29 metres and all dropped in to find some brilliant visibility and wonderful light on the wreck.  The water was a nice blue/green colour and free from any algae, something that we haven’t had for a very long time, at least for the past two seasons.  The pairs were…….Steve & Brian…..Tim and Sasha……….and Rylan and myself.

The dive turned out to be a cracker, with masses of fish life, pouting, pollock, crab, conger, lobster (one reported)…just a very nice dive.   Our second dive on the “Dagon”………. an armed trawler-man,  four hours later,  also turned out to be cracking dive, even though the vis wasn’t quite as good… All in all a very nice days diving…… “Roll on Porthkerris on the 30th”

Eastbourne - Lock

Swanage – July 2013

Swanage was our first dive trip of the year using the club rib and our first opportunity to take advantage of all the modifications Darren had made to it, including the A-frame, which after 4 years of procrastination the club had finally bought.

On the first day, the rib performed admirably, sadly our navigation skills did not. Our first wave of divers couldn’t find the wreck, consequently our divers got to enjoy a high speed drift dive in Swanage bay. The second wave found the wreck by stalking some of the local dive boats, and following them to the buoy marking the site. They got to enjoy a great dive on the Fleur de Lys, a small wreck with plenty of nooks and crannies hiding lots of life. Having now found the wreck site the first wave of divers got to dive it on their second dive. The second wave of divers having already dived the wreck decided to try a drift dive near Harry’s Rocks. The dive went well with the exception that the sea floor was bereft of all animal life. Not England’s most exciting dive.

On the second day the rib unfortunately didn’t perform so well, as we were about to reach the first dive site the motor started to stutter. After several minutes trying and failing to remedy the problem, we chose to err on the side caution and cancelled the dive. There was to be no more diving from the rib that weekend, but everyone did enjoy a relaxing dive under Swanage pier before heading home.

Not our most successful trip, but it was still a great weekend and it did proof how easy it is to organise and run a dive weekend using the club rib. Plus practice makes perfect, the more rib trips we do, the better they’ll get.

Big thanks to Philippa for organising the weekend and to Darren for not only towing the rib, but all his work upgrading it throughout the year.

The newly opened Putney BSAC Dive Shop located on Swanage Pier (or more accurately, our absurd amount of kit drying between dives)

Barnes Fair – July 2013

On the 13th of July, Putney SAC were invited to put up a stand at the Barnes Festival here in London.  The festival is held annually and takes up the whole of the small “hamlet” of Barnes SW15. If you have never been to Barnes in London, you are missing out on a truly wonderful part of London, it was voted the “Best and Ideal Village in England”. Which is no small feat, when you consider the beautiful villages that we have in and around this wonderful England. The criterion for this accolade, was worked out by a number of “village” factors…does it have a pond, does it have a pub, does it have a church…etc etc. Barnes has it all, and is very pretty too!

As you can imagine, this also draws in people who can afford to live in such eloquence, especially so close to the hub of London. So when we were asked by the committee of the Barnes festival if we would like to set up a stand there, we jumped at the chance to promote our branch and the BSAC.  Our branch is situated in the neighbouring borough of Putney & Wandsworth, only a five minute drive away, and is in an ideal catchment area for new members to the club.

So early on Saturday morning of the 13th, Darren Jones (Boat Officer) and John Heagney (D.O) picked up the club RHIB and made our way to Barnes.  The festival organisers had marked out an area the size of a small table for our pitch to be set up in, needless to say, they didn’t quite expect us to have a RHIB & trailer, a 8m x 5m gazebo, and two 4 x 4 Land Rover’s.

As luck would have it, the area that we were given as our patch, was on the edge of the pond, and was a little out of the way from the rest of the festival….this proved to be a bit of a god send, as we were able to spread out and accommodate our entire display wonderfully!  With the help from BSAC HQ, we were able to embellish our stand with BSAC flags and banners, and give out freebie items to our visitors, which went down very well indeed.  We were inundated with enquiries from a number of source, such as…..lapsed BSAC members, PADI divers who were interested in taking up the sport more seriously..(we gently pointed out the difference between PADI and BSAC ) and gave due respect to both agencies.  We were also approached by a D.O from another BSAC branch that was folding due to lack of numbers, and were looking out for a local BSAC club to regroup and join up with…so all in all a very successful and promising day.

Our branch put in a lot of hard work for this event, and I would just like to thank…Phillippa, Darren, Brian, Waleed, Michal, Sue, and Pete Strong our organiser and liaison man for the day, for all their efforts and teamwork.

Mombassa, Kenya – June 2013

In June 2013 Putney BSAC travelled to Mombassa, Kenya for 2 weeks of sun, diving and safari. Staying at the Bamburri Beach Hotel, located a few kilometres North of Mombassa, we enjoyed the luxury of a sea view from our room, the beach on our doorstep and most importantly a free bar!

Our hotel

We spent most of the first week diving. Each day consisted getting up at the crack of dawn to make the short stroll down the beach to the dive centre. We boarded our two small boats and headed out to the reef located just off the beach. The diving was superb, the reef was in fantastic condition with an abundance of reef fish as well as crustaceans, turtle and sharks. With the reef being so close to shore we could do two dives in the morning and be back in time for lunch. Leaving the whole afternoon free for sun bathing and making the most of the free bar.

This was Justine’s first time diving in the open sea, she said she’d be fine “as long as there aren’t any sharks,” so she wasn’t overly enthused to learn that our first dive would be at ‘Shark Point’. Needless to say Justine took it all in her stride. Our dive guides said, if they hadn’t known otherwise, they would have thought she’d been diving for sometime and wasn’t just a beginner. Which our club instructors naturally assumed was entirely down to their excellent teaching.

The whole gang

The second week was all about the safari. We split into two groups, John and Rob went by land to Tsavo West and Amboseli national parks. By all accounts they had a fantastic time, seeing lots of animals including a very close encounter with a herd of elephants, just don’t ask Rob about his experience of sharing a room with John.

The rest of us got a flight to the Maasai Mara to see the famous savannah where so many wildlife documentaries are filmed. We were treated to scenes straight out of the movie the Lion King. The view from our lodge alone was of expansive plains with antelope, wilder beast, giraffes, zebras and buffalo all together. On our tours out from the lodge we got to see these animals up close and personal as well as some of big predators including a pride of lions. The trip highlight was without a doubt when two cheetahs stood on the roof of our Jeep. The cheetahs used our Jeep as a vantage point to look out across the savannah seemingly unaware of the six terrified tourists hiding in the open top Jeep trying to take photos unsure if they were about to become the cheetahs’ dinner.

Tim with a Cheetah

After our safaris it was back to the hotel in Mombassa for a few more days of relaxing by the pool before the flight home and the return to England and reality.

Lastly a big thanks to Darren for not only organising another superb dive trip but acting as our tour operator throughout the holiday arranging day trips, diving and the safari. Keep up the good work mate.