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.

 

Brighton – May 2013

Our second dive trip and our second weekend of excellent weather. More calm seas and blue skies, 2013 is shaping up to be a good year. Let’s hope I haven’t jinxed it.

Incidents of note on the Brighton trip:

  • A rare sighting of our token Frenchmen Nick on an actual dive trip. It’s been so long since he last dived in the UK his dry suit wrist seal literally disintegrated when he put it on
  • John caught a couple of edible crabs for dinner, one large, one not so large, then learnt the hard way not to cook two different sized crabs in the same pot (one under cooked, one very over cooked)
  • We managed to find what might be the worst accommodation in Brighton but that’s what you get when stay in the cheapest place in town!

Brighton - John with a edible crab Brighton - Nick enjoying a Polish sausage

Plymouth – April 2013

 

Plymouth - calm seas and blue skies

Our first club dive trip of the year for 2013 got the dive year off to a very good start. The sea was calm, the sun was shining and the dives, as always for Plymouth, were excellent. Getting to do all four dives meant we had a damn sight more luck than many of the trips last year. Unsurprisingly for this time of year the sea was freezing, but the plentiful supply of pasties provided by our skipper more than made up for it.

Brighton - Buzz's first divePlymouth - Woody's first dive

 

Tenerife – March 2013

Things we have learnt from this trip:

  • Beer in Tenerife has alcohol in it (Rob, Brian, John and Darren)
  • Don’t go trekking in £1.50 Primark sandals
  • Don’t drink till 04:30 and dive at 09:00 you won’t remember it (I know I dived my computer says so)
  • Best time of year to go last week (Karl told us)
  • Tie room keys to John’s wrist (he will not find them in his pocket at 02:30)
  • Don’t punch long spine urchins
  • If your told a steak is large by Karl expect it to still have the head and tail on it.
  • A vegetation meal is not pork chop chips and veg with the pork chop removed.
  • Do not sit sunbathing with a shadow under your chin (it looks silly)
  • Take a good torch on a night dive. It helps.
  • We have a new motto “take nothing but photos leave nothing but bubbles and if an octopus goes under a rock get a crowbar and we will get the f****r.”
  • Don’t use a wet suit if you have the runs.
  • Don’t sleep in a dive centre if we are coming you won’t like the photos taken.
  • Do not ever EVER EVER go to a karaoke bar with John, Sasha or Brian.
  • Go with people you like and who like you! Counts me out of all trips…..

THANKS All for coming you lot made it a great trip…..

Farne Islands – October 2012

Yet another pilgrimage to Farnes took place this year – it was “sealy” good and as always on the PSAC trip – a great fun. Diving was with Lee Hall’s Farnes Diver boat (the one with a bit smokier engine – but for the records – with toilet and good divers lift). When Lee asked me what we want to do I answered with 3 aims: seals, seals and seals.

The weather (just above 0 at last day, with half day called off on Sunday) and visibility (you could see your own fins but not much more) made the last year’s trip looks like a tropic dream and reminded all of us what the diving in UK is about, however yes there were seals – you could see them latest when they bit your head or your camera – see picture below – but everybody got some playtime with these beautiful creatures.

Pete's made a new friend

A special price goes here to Tor who mastered these challenging conditions with bravery and enjoyed her first dives in the sea with her new dry-suit – see her portrait with Steve on the right.

What you cannot see on the pictures:

  1. New groundbreaking fin-less dive attempted by Pete.
  2. Water cooled dry-suit  system setup by Rob (poor Rob had to survive the next half day in his short trousers and at just above 1 degree).
  3. Michal chased away by the seals
  4. a group of 40 seals chased away by John and lot more. All in all – a typical fun of a PSAC trip. As per planning there will be no trip to Farnes next year (only because we aim even more to the north) but as for me I’m looking forward for 2014!

Selsey – October 2012

Darren, Radek, John and I all went to Selsey (via Bognor) and had a great drift dive in amazing tides. Not totally planned as such as the original site in Bognor had the gates closed and we couldn’t get in on slack water so decide to drift dive instead. Nevertheless, after much deliberation and a fair few miles of extra driving and landing slip hunting we entered the water.

Darren and I saw very little life, apart from each other, but we did have a very fast drift and really got into the groove and had a very relaxed dive despite the very fast current.

John and Radek went in after us and we looked after the RIB. Unfortunately, I told John (sorry – lucky John) that he would see nothing and if he managed to catch a fish I would buy him a beer…. £4.10 later! Not only did I buy him a beer he won a scratch card off the back of it for another free beer.  I hope the place tasted good John and you didn’t chock on the bones (or the scratch card :-)) (see his face book page for picture. How does he do it? John no doubt will be giving lessons in due course on how to catch a fish with a knife in a 4 knot current….!)

It was great to get the Rib in the water and despite the initial issues over dive site we pushed on and had a great dive and a fantastic day. I haven’t laughed so much for months!

Andy

Isle of Wight – September 2012

Wightdiver, Isle of Wight 1 Wightdiver, Isle of Wight 2

The dive trip to the Isle of Wight started off well; we made the short drive down to Southsea near Portsmouth early on Saturday morning where we met our skipper Roy on the boat WightDiver. The weather was fantastic, the sky was clear and the sea was calm. However, Roy informed us that the good weather was not to last and Sunday’s diving was cancelled due to force 6 winds. So we decided we better make the most of Saturday’s diving to compensate for the lost day. However upon descending to a depth of 18m we discovered the sea had the consistency of pea soup and we couldn’t see more than half a metre. It felt like a night dive. We endeavoured to make the most of the dive and there was a lot of life down there, if you could find it. Some had a good dive; some of us didn’t, it really depending upon the quality of your torch!

Another dive trip compromised by the unreliable British weather, but we still had a great weekend away and took full advantage of the opportunity to sample the exotic nightlife of Southsea. I hope we return to dive the Isle of Wight again, the dives should be fantastic with better visibility and you can’t beat the convenience of how close it is to Putney.

Malta – June 2012

Putney BSAC has not had the best luck with UK weather in 2012. Luckily for some of us, Philippa organised a dive trip to Malta where we were treated to four days of brilliant sunshine and mill pond calm seas. A dive trip doesn’t get much better than a daily routine of wake up, do a dive, sun bathe for two hours, do another dive followed by a BBQ with drinks. Our dive guide, Will, took us to several interesting wrecks and wall dives, as well as the famous dives of the Blue Hole and the Inland Sea on Gozo. All great dives full of life, including several octopus and cuttlefish! Big thanks to Philippa for organising such a fantastic trip, we’ll have to do it again next year!

Lundy – April 2012

First of all, a huge thank you to the trip organiser, Flo. Everything under her control went amazingly smoothly; whilst the weather may have played havoc with the plan (and the vis), we can all learn something from her magnificent organisational skills!

Having all safely made it to Ilfracombe on Friday evening, through incessant rain, and having laughed ourselves to sleep at the notices attached to our toilet (ask Andy at the pub!), we headed down to the port in the morning. Lee, captain on the Obsession II dive boat (and a very fine dive boat it is too) welcomed us on board for our trip across to Lundy. With a force 5-6 tail wind, we made excellent time although not everyone retained breakfast for the entire trip.

Marisco tavern

The diving in the lee of the island was not blessed with tropical visibility (3-5m), but was at least calm as we endeavoured to coax the seals into the water under the watchful eyes of hundreds of Razorbills and Guillemots, a few shags and gulls, a peregrine falcon and… two obliging puffins. The wildlife underwater was sparse to say the least. Although Sasha and I both got to see two diving razorbills and a couple of fleeting moments with the seals, the remaining hour and a half of diving was largely spent wandering through kelp accompanied only by a couple of starfish and the odd wrasse.

Getting onto the island proved more than a little challenging as the wind continued to pick up. Fireman Rob proved those hours in the gym were worth it by hauling up 20 cylinders from the boat by rope… without, seemingly, breaking a sweat. We are in awe, almighty Rob!

The lodgings were beautiful and, were it not for the wind, might also have been warm. The wind, blowing up to force 9-10 over the next 36 hours, whistled through the house, round doors, through windows, leaving us all wrapped in blankets as rain, blowing horizontally, whipped up the hill and battered the windows incessantly, day and night, until Monday morning. All the boys had a go at lighting the coal fire in the sitting room… and all failed… even leaving the coal for 20 minutes on the gas flame of the cooker resulted in no more than a brief, eerie green glow.

Milcombe kitchen

As amazing a skipper as Lee proved to be, the boat couldn’t make it back round the island on Sunday for our planned pick-up due to the wind, waves and rain, so Sunday was spend getting variously wet (those going for a walk returned, soaked to the skin, to empty their shoes), cold, informed about unexpected topics (from books such as one on paddle steamers off Lundy!) or cooking supper. This last endeavour, enjoyed by all, was the product of Flo’s shopping, Andy’s skills as head chef, and the able assistance of Darren and Sue. We’ll have to invite them again!

The wind had dropped slightly this morning; enough to get luggage onto the boat from the jetty, but not passengers. We duly trooped across the island and down the cliffs to the calmer East side and took a tiny inflatable, 2 at a time, to the boat. The trip back, this time into the wind, took a greater toll, lasting as it did a full 2 hours 40 minutes. It was the first hour and a half that resulted in five people making the, mostly successful, trip to the side of the boat.

For all that, the general consensus is that we must return to Lundy, in better weather, to enjoy what is clearly a beautiful part of our British Isles. There are all sorts of birds (Andy enjoyed an unexpected flyby from a peregrine falcon this morning) both on land and at sea, deer, ponies and spectacular views, and if the wind hasn’t been blowing , the promise of great vis and playful seals.

LIDS – March 2012

The London International Dive Show was held on on 31st March 2012, as always, Putney BSAC had a great showing there and our training officer Steve Gibbons won a BSAC 2011 Branch Volunteer of the Year award for the phenomenal amount of time and effort he puts into training and running of the club in general. Congratulations to Steve, the club wouldn’t be the same without you.