In the early hours following the last dinner dance a group of us hatched a plot to take part in the next Tough Mudder event to ‘Have a bit of a Laugh’ and raise a bit of money for the Club and the RNLI. Covid put paid to these plans last year but the time has now come!
On Sunday 1st August this year the Mersey Divers team will be taking part in this years Yorkshire Classic event.
Tough Mudder Classic is a 10-mile challenge of mud-soaked mayhem. Loaded with 25 of the world’s craziest obstacles. With no competitive element and no timing, it’s just you, your teammates andmuddy strangers working together to conquer the course and earn the world-famous orange headband.
The team is:- Chris Mills, Kate Mills, Martin Campbell, Lorna Larkin, Dave Edwards, Dave Barlow, Kelly Baird, Andreea Gamulea, Dave Robberts, Jake Mills and last but not least Hannah Williams.
We have a Just Giving page set up if you would like to help out on line and will be collecting sponsorship over the bar on Thursday evenings. Please dig deep, this is for the club and the RNLI.
Hello everybody……………Well D Day (19th. July 2021) arrived last Monday which means that the club house can now resume as normal, so it will be good to see you all again and, of course, we do need your support. The big news is that our new boat was collected from Hull last Tuesday and will be on display outside the boat shed this evening (Thursday, 22nd July). It really is something to behold, so our thanks go out to everybody who has supported the purchase of this large capital item. It will now go to Conway Marina to be fitted outer with the electronics, (GPS, radio etc) before returning for sea trials closer to home.
Diving – During the last month successful diving trips have been run to Pembroke and Cornwall, so our thanks goes out to Chris Mills and Geoff Oldfield for organising these events. There was, unfortunately, one nasty incident involving Stuart Mathews who besides obeying all diving protocols sustained a spinal bend and had to spend a period of days in and out of a recompression chamber, albeit it he is likely to make a full recovery and is now progressing well. Just pausing for a moment on trips, you must understand that if you put your name down for a trip and then are unable to attend then it is normal that your deposit is forfeit; moreover, you also remain liable for any additional charges incurred by your non-attendance (such as towing). The truth is that we are ultimately tied in with people’s livelihoods and quite naturally they want the full amount agreed with the expedition leader not half the money. If you want to avoid liability you need to find a replacement.
Club House – Part of the recovery process from lockdown will be to put the club house, boat shed and classroom back in use. What is evident is that the club has been used as a dumping ground for rubbish and this now needs to be sorted out by working parties. To that end Martin Campbell will be supplying a skip and anything resembling ‘junk’ will be disposed of at the tip. Moreover, a plethora of diving bottles appears to be growing almost on a weekly basis. You now have a month to remove your bottles after which out of test cylinders will be disposed of or retested by the club and taken into use as their own.
Training Matters – It is hoped that we will receive further direction from the staff of Guinea Gap Baths with regard to swimmer numbers, reopening the changing room, use of showers etc. This means that Thursday Training Nights will receive fresh impetus and really get going again. We expect quite a few people putting themselves forward for Try Dives, so there will be a need for volunteers to assist, remember Dive Leaders can take Try Dives into the pool. Whilst it is true that we are extremely lucky in having a National Instructor and something like six advanced instructors within our ranks, when you drill down further we have very few Open Water Instructors and a group of Assistant Instructors who have not continued with their training. It follows that we are now looking for people to attend the Instructor Foundation Course and become involved in training. In my view, this is probably the best BSAC course on offer, it weighs in at £157 for the weekend, however, the committee has agreed to reimburse £57 to everybody taking part.
Skill Development Course – These will shortly recommence with Assistant Dive Manager (2/3rd.October), Boat Handling (9/10th. October), Diver/Cox Assessment, Practical Rescue Management. The last two have no dates at present, but with regard to SDC’s like Boat Handling you will need to buy the pack (£47) from HQ before undertaking the course. There can be no exceptions to this. Keep an eye on Facebook or the Notice board in the club for further information.
Hello everybody……………..The Covid virus is still taking its toll on diving opportunities, particularly in respect of foreign travel. However, whilst we remain in uncertain times it is great to report that the diving season is well under way with successful trips to Anglesey, Plymouth and currently Cornwall in the last few weeks. Then there is Liverpool Bay diving, and I can tell you that the viz is returning, with 5/6 meters experienced on the City of Brussels last Saturday Further adventures are planned over the coming weeks to Pembroke, Scapa Flow (postponed from last year) and Plymouth.
The new Humber RIB is now scheduled to arrive at the beginning of July and it will then be taken down to Conway Marina to be professionally kitted out with VHF radio, GPS and Echo sounder. Our old Viking has now been purchased by a member and it is good to see that it will being staying within the club.
Speaking of the club boats, I think it is important that those leading trips should touch base with Chris Mills, the Club Equipment Officer both before and after a trip, initially to establish if any of the equipment needs attention or renewal and post trip to discover if anything has been damaged or lost. If this protocol is followed it should remove all the anxiety and any uncertainty surrounding the kit. After all the Equipment Officer (which is a thankless job) cannot be expected to affect repairs if he is unaware of their existence. Moreover, I would ask you all to ensure that any damage or loss is reported immediately rather than just walk away to avoid possible embarrassment. Let’s be right we are all guilty of careless on occasions.
As you are aware the club and pool have been open since the end of May, however, with the current restrictions still in place we are not able to offer our full range of services with numbers being limited to 20 people in the club and 12 in the pool. Hopefully after the 19th. July we will be able to return to something resembling normality. The training team are aware that several SDC’s need to be commenced/concluded which include boat handling and twin set training. So watch this space and if you have any quires do not hesitate to get in touch with your training team of Dr. Chris Wood, Steve Mills and Terry Maloney. Incidentally, our congratulations go out to Chris who recently qualified as a GP, well done mate.
The Club Annual Dinner has now been booked by Dave Edwards for Saturday, 30th. October 2021 at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club. This really is great news considering that last year’s event was lost to the Covid virus. Dave is really trying to make this a memorable event and tickets will shortly be available from behind the bar at a cost of £40 pp. The format will be similar to previous years and we are currently exploring the prospect of having both a DJ and a singer.
This trip was originally planned by Ray Cramer to be a weekend of technical diving with In Deep based in Plymouth.
Unfortunately due to the effects of COVID keeping many divers out of the water and some of us feeling that we might not be ready for deeper dives, it was felt that it might be better to run the trip as a recreational one instead. Most if not all of the original group thought this to be a good solution.
So on Friday 11th of June, we set off for Plymouth and our accomodation which was to be the Boringdon Arms in Turnchapel. This is where we ate on the Friday night as well.
We unfortunately lost two of the original group at a very late stage but filled one place with a reserve. So we had eight divers in the group and thanks to In Deep, managed to fill the boat to its capacity of ten.
We met up with our skipper James once we were there and changed our plan which was to dive the Maine on Sunday and dive it on Saturday instead. We made the Persier our second dive for the Saturday. We also agreed to Sundays plan which was to be the Rosehill followed by the James Eagan Lane.
Saturday morning arrived and we could not have asked for better surface conditions! The sun was shining and the sea was flat.
We headed out to the site of the Maine which is just off Salcombe. She was a 3600 ton cargo ship that was torpedoed in March 1917.
Once the shot had been placed on the wreck, the pairs of divers entered the water, anticipating a good dive. Unfortunately the viz wasn’t as good as reported 10mtrs plus on the previous day but was still a milky six to seven metres. When compared to our usual Mersey Bay visibility, there were no complaints.
The second planned dive of the day was to be on the wreck of the Persier.
She was another cargo ship, larger than the Maine at just over 5000 tons. She was struck by the last of three torpedoes that a U boat had fired. She eventually sank in Bigbury Bay. She was identified by divers who brought her bell up which was inscribed with her original name of War Buffalo.
Once again, James dropped the shot on it perfectly and the divers entered the water. This time the visibility was what everyone had been hoping for and was considered to be somewhere between 10mtrs and 12mtrs. One of the highlights on this dive was an Angler Fish at least one metre long that most of the divers managed to see. All the divers returned to our boat Seeker and we’re buzzing about their dive.
We returned to Mountbatten happy with the day. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and evening so we sat out and enjoyed a nice relaxing drink and discussed the days proceedings. Once again, we dined in the Boringdon Arms. A tired but happy group of divers.
Sunday morning dawned and the anticipated adverse weather hadn’t really materialised. We were expected it to be blowing in the region of Force 4 which could have made it slightly uncomfortable but the weather Gods chose to smile on us at it was only Force 1 to Force 2 maximum. The temperature was also up a couple of degrees and there was hardly a cloud to be seen in the sky. We couldn’t have wished for better conditions!
So Seeker headed out to the wreck site of the Rosehill which is just a couple of miles out from Portwrinkle. She was a general cargo ship of just over 2700 tons. At the time of her sinking by a torpedo from U40 she was working as a collier for the Admiralty.
The shot was placed on the wreck at the boilers. These being the tallest part of the wreck. We descended the line to find fairly good visibility from about 5mtrs. The best part of this wreck is generally thought to be the stern section as the prop and rudder are still there along with the stern gun. Most of the group headed this way first and if you keep your eyes open, you can see lots of different engine parts littered about as well as the prop shaft that you can use as a guide. After looking around this part of the wreck, we made our way forwards as it’s possible to reach the bow where the anchors can still be found. It’s then possible to make it back to the boilers and of course the shot line and ascend with limited decompression requirements for all divers whether on OC or CCR.
Once every diver was back on board Seeker, we made a leisurely track to our final dive of the weekend which was to be on probably the most famous wreck in the area, the James Eagan Layne which was a US Liberty ship of 7176 tons that was torpedoed by U399 and sank in Whitsand Bay in March 1945.
The shot line is on the bow and that’s where divers can enter the wreck. It’s possible to then swim through the complete wreck from bow to stern. There is still so much to see on this wreck as she was laden with 4500 tone of US Engineers equipment. Most of the divers spent a lot of time in the area of the collapsed stern section so deployed their DSMB’s as they wouldn’t be able to return to the shot within the designated one hour time slot. There were a number of small John Dory here as well as an Angler Fish.
It was now time to stow all our kit as the diving for the weekend had come to an end. We had had perfect topside conditions and good viz below the surface. What more could we have asked for.
Once back at In Deep, bills were settled, kit packed into the cars and good byes made to everyone with promises to be back. Which we will be in August.
Some of the group then headed for home while the remainder returned to the Boringdon Arms where we enjoyed a few beers before freshening up and heading to the local Indian restaurant for our final meal of the weekend. We all agreed that it was a wonderful meal. We then finished our evening with a few drinks in the Royal Oak before heading back to the Borry.
So another weekend was over and done. We had a fantastic group which consisted of Andy Rath, Kerry Place, Alan ‘Major’ Jones, Gary Horstman, Steve McElroy, Michele ‘Kat’ Woodward, Jenny Liversage, Garry Bolland and me, Terry Maloney. You were a brilliant group guys. Thank you all. It was just a shame that Martin Campbell and Ray Cramer were unable to make the trip!
Looking forward to returning to Plymouth and In Deep. A big thanks to James Balouza our skipper and the crew as well as the staff at the Boringdon Arms for looking after us. Thanks one and all.
Photographs courtesy of Jenny Liversage, Garry Bolland and In Deep.
So, Dave Edwards decided we needed a trip to get the new year going, so, he sent out the message we were going to Anglesey, camping, and diving 5th and 6th June. Think the trip was full within 20 minutes, and more than full by that evening. Unfortunately, Dave forgot to check he could book the days off so whilst we spent Saturday in the water, he spent it delivering to Holyhead and the surrounding areas!
Also, unfortunately, most of the camp sites were nearly full. Some of us got into Tyn Rhos and Stu Matthews saved the day with a bit of wild camping behind the site club for the rest. Mr Barlow, now being social class above the rest of us common campers found a site for his caravan as far away from us as possible whist still being on the island. But I suppose he couldn’t hear the snoring from there….
Anyway, back to diving, Saturday morning it was 8 o’clock on the front at Trearddur Bay to launch the two boats. Fortunately, the Hoff was there to organise the groups and get the boats in the water before the warden appeared to charge us for launching. With there being too many for the boats it was split into waves with some staying on the beach and going second.
After a tip from Chester SAC that they had been surveying the Missouri, had set a shot on the boiler, had laid a line across the whole length and that the vis was great…. that was where we headed. There were a nervous few minutes while we got the boats going but we needn’t of worried, the sorry excuse for an equipment officer had finally got the Viking fixed! Started first time.
It wasn’t the greatest of days to be in a rib, there was as fair breeze, and it was choppy but fortunately its only ten minutes round to the site and we all more or less went in together. Wow, the vis was stunning. You could almost see the whole wreck form the surface. We swam round the boilers and followed the guide rope to the bow and round then back. We have dived there a couple of times before but not seen anything more than a few bits of steel, but this was amazing. You could really see it had been a ship! Could have stayed down there all day but we had to get back for the other wave.
Once we got back and swapped the kit round I went back out to help the second wave dive and the others got some lunch. The second wave also came up with big grins…. and comments like, it’s the best vis in fifteen years and I didn’t realise there was so much to the wreck.
So, after a quick lunch wave one set off again but this time to Rhoscolyn Beacons for an afternoon dip. Again, it was very choppy and after ten minutes of spine massage we got into their shelter. We again more or less went in together and spent a great half hour poking round the reefs and gullies. The vis wasn’t quite as good as the morning but still excellent. Plenty for sea life to observe and try to film with my new and very cheap underwater camera. Should have saved the effort and the money as the cheap bit of Chinese junk leaked in 10m despite being rated to 30. You really get what you pay for!
Back on the beach, the second wave had called it a day and gone so while the others got one of the boats out, myself and John took Steve Mc back to the Missouri for a second dive. The sea was really lumpy now and after he went in it was a long half hour bobbing round and trying to keep the boat into the waves, but good practice towards the cox assessment. Anyway, well worth it to see the smile of Steve’s face when he came up!
Returning to shore it was the usual rush to get the other boat out and get the cylinders off to get fills. Big thanks to Dave B and Stu for taking the cylinders and to Anglesey Divers for staying open late to fill them all!
After a long day, everyone went their own ways, Dave and Kelly back to Beaumaris, me and Kate to Enoch’s Chip Shop in Valley for Calamari and chips whilst the others went to the pub. No surprises there! After a beer back at camp with Ian and the Hoff we turned in to wait for stories the next day. After all….‘Big’ Dave had finally arrived for his trip.
Day two, the weather was amazing, the wind had gone and the sun was out. After sausage batches from the camp stove it was back to the front at Trearddur Bay for nearly 8 o’clock. We weren’t disappointed with the stories either! Someone carried on drinking back at someone else’s caravan and couldn’t find their way out of the caravan park….. ended up finding their way back and had to sleep in the spare room! No names but everyone knows who they are………
The waves swapped round for day two, so after the boats were launched, off they went whilst we enjoyed the sun on the beach. When the first boat came back we headed off to the point by Lee Caravan Park to dive on the wreck of the Hermione. We have dived here before and seen nothing but again today the vis was fantastic. Could see most of the wreck and swam in and out of the rocks to see what was left of the prow and lots of sea life. Its not a big wreck so after a couple of circuits we swam offshore a bit in the gullies until we ran into Dave and Kelly coming the other way. Literally. So, we came up together then once we were all aboard, headed back.
After a coffee, a sandwich and a bit of a wait the boats were back but there was only four of us to go back out. Fortunately, Steve very kindly agreed to go straight back out so we headed back to the Missouri. After all, it’s close and the vis was too good to miss.
Another great dive. This time, following Steve’s advice, we swam a circuit around the outside of the wreck. The vis was so good you couldn’t miss the boilers from anywhere and we got to see lots we had missed the day before……. including a monster spider crab that could also see us!
We got back onboard, headed back and landed the boat. By the time we had packed the car everyone was on their way home. We headed back to the campsite, washed what we could then set off to Beaumaris to get some tea with the posh people. No chippie tonight, its was calamari and chips in the Midland Tapas and Wine Bar with Dave and Kelly. Very nice, but a strange place and odd service. After a rush back across the island to make the 11pm gate curfew at camp Tyn Rhos it was the end of another day.
Won’t bore you with the packing the tent up the next day, driving back then washing all the kit at home and drying the tent before putting it away. (Yes Mr Edwards, you dry tents before you put them away…….)
Anyways, what a great weekend and some fantastic diving. Big thanks to Dave for starting it all off, a bigger one to the Hoff for organising the diving and also a huge thanks to Steve Mc who must have coxed every wave he didn’t dive.
Roll on the next adventure.
Thanks to Kelly and Lou for some of the pictures…….
Hello everybody……………The big news of the day is that the club has recently received a second government grant for just over £10,000 to help us restart our activities. Obviously, this is most welcome considering our expenditure of 38K on a new RIB. Speaking of which, our latest understanding from Humber is that it will arrive around the middle of May after which the old Viking disposed of.
Our thanks go out to Dave Edwards and Vince Clegg for putting on the recent BBQ on the lawn outside the club. The great news is that we took around £600 over the bars, but above all it was wonderful to see so many of our members after so long, your support was much appreciated.
Bay diving has now recommenced with a group venturing out to the Alarm a week last Sunday. In truth, the viz was a moderate 4/5 meters and the water somewhat grainy however, it was sunny and it was just great to be back in the water. There is a second trip out to some of the further wrecks this coming weekend, but due to their slightly increased depth is limited to Dive Leaders and above. I would mention that there now seems to be a dearth of available vehicles capable of towing the club boats and this needs to improve if disappointment is not to follow i.e. ‘restricted diving days through lack of towers’.
On the training front, no date has been set for the reopening of swimming/diving groups and classes, though I understand that there is a notice in the staff room at Guinea Gap Baths which states that things will be back to normal by June. It goes without saying that I will continue to make the enquiry on your behalf. As far as the club house is concerned, this will reopen on Thursday 20th.May, social distancing will appy.
Review of Club Policies (Bullying, Social Media and Discrimination) – Following an ‘unofficial complaint’ by a member that the club is institutionally sexist in everything that it does, the club’s Welfare Officer, Monty Smith, formed a sub-committee that has conducted a thorough review of all our policies to ensure that they are still relevant and fit for purpose in 2021. These will now be posted on the club’s Facebook page and also sent to every member vie email in PDF format. We would ask that you take a few minutes to examine these documents so that you may not only gain an understanding of their content, but also the club’s position on these subjects. Most importantly, if you are aware of any sexist or discriminatory behavior that have not been brought to the attention of the committee and dealt with previously, do let Monty or I know. An early response would be much appreciated.
That’s it folks, keep well and safe diving……………..AJ
Hello everybody……………Following last night’s committee meeting I thought I would give you a quick update over the reopening of the club. Following the announcement of Boris last Monday we think the order of events will be as follows, though do bear in mind that these dates may be subject to change:
Monday, 29th. March…………….Groups of 6 will be allowed to meet outdoors which means that the boats could be taken out into Liverpool Bay, bearing in mind that currently the Welsh and Scots governments currently ban tourist travel. To that end arrangements have already been made to have the boats and engines serviced ready for the new season. It is also worth mentioning that Capernwray and Eccleston Delph are both likely to open in time for the Easter break, which does offer the prospect of some limited training tasking place.
Thursday, 15th. April…………….From this date the pool may reopen and therefore training could resume. However, we are in the hands of the local authority from who we are seeking clarification. As soon as the pool reopens then the clubhouse will follow suit, though the bar will remain shut for the time being.
Thursday, 20th. May……………..The clubhouse bar will reopen.
Covid 19 and Diving Medicals …….It also emerged last night from Doctor Chris Wood our Training Officer that anybody who has been infected by Covid 19 will need to be cleared for diving by a medical practitioner. He says this should be possible over the telephone in most cases without a physical examination. Now, I am uncertain whether this has to involve the Diving Medical Referee, Doctor Tim Fitzsimons, so I guess the best bet is to speak to Chris Wood in the first instance.
On Thursday, 4th. March we are planning to have a quiz and virtual club night as a precursor to reopening the club later in the month (commencing at 8.0pm). It is hoped that as many as possible of the committee will also attend to answer your queries, but above all it would be good to see you all again after being ‘hunkered down’ for so long. It is fair to say that we can now definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel and with that comes the prospect of resuming diving and something resembling normality. As soon as we are able Dave Edwards will be setting a date for the annual dinner dance (and the AGM) while I will put in train another ‘Late, Late Easter Bash’ at the Irby Mill.
Stay safe and keep well folks, we are nearly there now and the summer beckons.
After a miserable year for diving trips, with so many being cancelled or postponed, but Tony Fitz finally managed to pull together a last minute weekend to Anglesey at the end of September.
The weather forecast didn’t look great on the run up to the trip and the first evening was less than ideal for setting up the tents at Pencraig Campsite in Valley. The wind was howling and there were plenty of showers, but we eventually managed to get everything setup in time to get down to the local pubs for a couple of beers and a nice hot pub meal.
The following day, after a very cold night, the weather had improved no end so everyone set off down to Trearddur Bay to get the boats launched. Unfortunately there were more problems with the Tornado and we couldn’t get it to start. So, undeterred, we split into groups and took it in turns to take the short run round to Porth Dafarch to dive the SSMissouri. The vis wasn’t brilliant but it was great to be back in the sea.
After a couple of waves it was back to the beach to swap cylinders and get a spot of lunch. In the afternoon we again went out in waves to dive on the SV Hermine just off Ravens Point. Most had good dives but unfortunately we missed the wreck and got caught in the current so had quite a drift dive.
So, after this it was back to get the boats out and head back to camp. There was not chance of getting tables at the local pubs Saturday evening so we just got a few beers in and sat around the team tents with a takeaway.
Next day the weather had improved even more, it was really very nice. We tried to get the Viking going with a jump start from the van but without success. So, we set off again with just the one boat. The bay was full of boats, looked like lots of clubs were taking the opportunity to get in before the lockdown got any worse.
This time the dives were on the reefs around Rhoscolyn Beacons. The vis hadn’t improved very much but was still a pleasant dive. With no rush to be anywhere and a lovely sunny day, everyone that wanted to got two dives in.
All that remained was to get the boat out then head back to camp and pack away. Tony, Ian, Chris and Dave were going to stay another night and do a bit of astronomy given the clear skies and lack of light pollution. The rest of us packed away and said our goodbyes.
So Summer Bank Holiday was looming on the horizon and initially, it looked as though what is fast turning into Merseyside SAC’s annual trip down to Plymouth diving with In Deep was in jeopardy due to the ongoing Corona virus issues. But thankfully, restrictions started to lift and although we had to reduce our numbers from the planned twelve divers, ten of our members traveled down for what was hoped to be a good extended weekends diving. We were all staying at The Boringdon Arms on Turnchapel which is fairly convenient for the dive centre which is based at The Mountbatten Centre.
That evening, to avoid any hassle, we all dined at The Boringdon and afterwards, over a couple of beers, we discussed the forthcoming weekend. Especially the weather forecast! This was because prior to leaving, we checked the forecast and were concerned to see that the projection was that it was going to take a turn for the worse. Thankfully though despite the forecast being for Northerly Force 4 winds we were able to use the shelter of the headland and still head out to sea. We had to juggle the planned dives around to enable this but using the experience of our skipper James Balouza we were going diving so who cared?
So Saturday 29th dawned and the conditions looked brilliant. Bright sunshine and flat seas with hardly a hint of the forecast Northerlies. Seeker had been mostly loaded with our kit the day before so the atmosphere was distinctly leisurely putting the final bits and pieces on board. Ropes off was at 9.30am and we headed out past the breakwater fort for the site of the S.S.Persier, a Belgian steamship of 5800 tons that was a World War 2 casualty torpedoed in 1945. James put the shot in close to the three boilers. Our buddy pair headed for the stern first. We passed the remains of the twisted engine and prop shaft. We followed this until eventually reaching the stern where you can see a gun mount before moving further aft to find the steering quadrant, rudder shaft and rudder. This is a really nice section of the wreck. Heading back past the boilers, there is lots of steel plate everywhere which again is home for the many Congers on this wreck. The shoals of Bib were well in evidence around the boilers etc but the real highlight on this dive, fish wise, was a Monkfish of about one metre long that Nathan and Stuart Matthews found. I know at least three of the Buddy pairs saw it at close quarters! It was an excellent find!
We continued on to the bow, explored around this area before heading back for the shot line. A point to mention here is that my buddy Garry was trying his new strobe out on these dives. We had seen these Nautilus strobes for the first time just a few weeks earlier on a club trip to Eyemouth and were very impressed with them so purchased one each. He clipped the strobe on to the shot line a couple of metres above the wreck and it made finding you way back so much easier. So once back at the shot line, we started our ascent towards our deco stop. A great one hour dive! We surfaced to nice calm conditions and as James set a leisurely pace towards our second intended site, those that need to change cylinders etc did so.
Our intended second dive was the wreck of the S.S.Oregon which sank off Thurlestone Beach in 1890. She was a three masted barque of 810 tons that has now become a really pleasant dive. We descended the shot line in thirty metres of water in decent visibility considering how the storms of the preceding week had battered this section of coast. She is not a huge wreck so can be covered completely in on dive. You can see the remains of her masts, anchor and hawse pipes with winch gear behind at the bow and her steering gear and rudder post and rudder at the stern. All well worth looking for! There’s plenty of flat plates now as she has collapsed to the sea bed but these have become home for lots of Conger Eels and Lobsters. There’s plenty of fish congregating around the wreck also. There are also plenty of Pink Sea fans on the wreck. We covered the entire wreck in the planned time before ascending the shot line to complete our decompression requirements which were built into our planned one hour ‘surface to surface’ time. Two really enjoyable dives to start the weekend off!
With a very successful day and two good dives under our belts, everyone was in good spirits as we headed back for the jetty at the Mountbatten Centre. After we had all freshened up, we assembled in the rear garden of the Boringdon for some liquid refreshment before making out way to Lackys Balti House. We all enjoyed some really nice dishes apart from poor Nathan who apparently finds a Korma a bit too hot to handle lol!
Sunday 30th was every bit as good as the previous day with regards to the weather. In fact it was better! Beautiful blue skies, a warm gentle breeze and a flat calm sea. What more could we ask for? Ropes off was to be at 9.30am once more and our intended dives were to be the S.S.Rosehill and the S.S.James Eagan Layne. The Rosehill was one dive that I particularly wanted to do. It didn’t disappoint! She was a collier of approximately 2780 tons and torpedoed in September 1917 by U40 a couple of miles out from Portwrinkle. The dive has reputation for poor viz which was apparently due to her being in the dumping ground for dredgers. I discussed this with James prior to travelling down and he assured me that this was no longer the case. His information was spot on! He shotted the wreck just stern side of the boilers. We descended the line into really good viz. Garry tied his strobe on to the line again then we set off for the bow where one anchor can be easily found along with plenty of chain and bollards. Returning back to and beyond the boilers you can still see the triple expansion engine and the prop shaft behind it. Loosely following the prop shaft brings us to the stern area where before reaching the propellor and rudder you can find the 12 pounder gun pointing skywards. One blade of the iron prop stands vertical and the rudder lies flat on the sea bed. There’s lots to take in here. The stern is definitely the better part of the dive. We then made our way back to the boilers but swam past them and back to the bow to have one last look around the remaining anchor complete withs its chain in the hawse pipe. Its big and I personally appreciated the workmanship that went into making it! So after this, we made our way back to the shot line with the strobe flashing away on it which made it an easy job to find. We completed our decompression obligations before surfacing into a beautiful sunny day. As the previous day, James the skipper set course for our second dive site but just plodded along at a few knots. It was one of those type of days. It couldn’t get any better we thought. But it did. In the distance, James spotted lots of birds (mainly gulls and Gannets) obviously feeding on what was likely to be a bait ball of silverfish. As we got closer, we could see Dolphins herding the fish into a tighter ball and driving them to the surface before rushing in to feed. It was an absolute feeding frenzy with more and more birds and Dolphins arriving all the time. Things just went crazy! I don’t think that I would be exaggerating if I said that there were at least thirty or more Dolphins in the melee! This went on for ages and James held station at a reasonable distance so we could watch. Quite a few Dolphins came very close to the boat. It was an awesome spectacle!
After watching for quite some time, we motored on to the site of the James Eagan Layne. Quite a few Dolphins had obviously had enough to eat and broke away from the frenzy and swam along with the boat instead. The JEL as she is commonly know is probably one of the most famous UK wrecks! She was a World War 2 US Liberty ship of just over 7000 tons. She was torpedoed in March 1945 but didn’t sink. She was towed into Whitsand Bay but unfortunately sank there and was duly written off. The wreck is permanently shotted at the bow. Once on the bow, you drop inside the wreck and make your way at a leisurely pace through all the hold areas towards the stern. You can see both sides of the wreck once inside her even in relatively poor visibility which was the case on this dive. I prefer to swim down one side of the wreck and return up the other. This is basically what our group of two buddy pairs did. Ten minutes into the dive I spotted an AP Valves Buddy SMBCI and reel lying in the wreckage. I thought to myself that this would be our groups chance to do a good turn for a fellow diver as last year, one of our group lost his on the Maine. A kind diver from Cornwall found it later that day and returned it to its rightful owner. Well imagine my disbelief when after picking it up I saw the initials of that very same person on this reel! I clipped it on to a ‘D’ ring then glanced over to my buddy. Sure enough, no reel and SMBCI on his ‘D’ ring! We continued on our dive with a slight port to starboard current pushing us towards the superstructure all the time but it was anything that we couldn’t handle! We turned back once we had reached the broken stern and made our way to the bow. As there was still a current flowing each pair deployed a DSMB and we floated along in the gentle current before surfacing to find Seeker standing by ready to pick us up. Another excellent days diving in fantastic weather and also the fantastic experience of being able to watch Dolphins in a feeding frenzy during our surface interval. We headed back for the Mountbatten pontoon and on to our digs to get ready for a meal over in Plymouth. We caught the last water taxi over then headed to the bars and eateries for much needed sustenance. All was going well until it was time to eat. We inadvertently went to the wrong restaurant. We should have gone to Harbourside Fish & Chips but went to The Harbour Seafood Restaurant & Takeaway. Suffice to say, it’s a mistake that we won’t make again but hopefully will go back and visit Harbourside Fish & Chips when we next visit.
We woke the next morning to very good weather yet again. Our intended dives for the day were HMS Scylla and Le Poulmic. HMS Scylla is a decommissioned Leander class frigate that was deliberately sunk in Whitsand Bay in March 2004. James shotted the wreck just on the bridge area so we only had to drop a short distance to the wreck. We entered the water with the buoys just bobbing away and showing no sign of any flow. It was a different story on the wreck though with a stiff flow crossing the wreck from port to starboard. We therefore concentrated the bulk of our dive on the port side but did occasionally venture across the wreck from time to time. At on point, I had a juvenile Conger of about 60cm long swimming alongside me as I made my way down a companionway. Our group of three divers (Garry, Stuart & I) covered the entire wreck before deciding to end the dive a little early as we had had enough of fighting the current. We ascended the shot line and within just a few metres, the flow disappeared. We surfaced in flat calm conditions. We now made our way to our final dive site which was to be the wreck of Le Poulmic. She was a French personnel carrier which the Royal Navy seized after the collapse of the French forces. She was put to work around the Plymouth area as a minesweeper. Unfortunately she hit a mine in October 1940 and sank. In truth, there isn’t much left of the wreck at all and James did well to shot it. We dropped down the shot line in possibly the best viz that we had experienced all weekend. Our group took a look around at what wreckage there was before heading off to find another piece of the wreck about 60 mtrs or so away. We duly found this before moving on in a very gentle flow and turned the dive into a reef dive now. There was bits of pottery everywhere. I wonder just where it had all come from? We crossed gullies, gently glided down them as well until they eventually petered out into pure sand. This is where we encountered a stunning Spotted Ray.
It was just gently gliding over the sand. Maybe looking for food. Garry and Stuart filmed it for some time before we turned back towards the rocks. There were lots and lots of Sand Eels around this area. We had now reached our agreed dive time so I deployed my DSMB and we all ascended together. It doesn’t sound an inspiring dive but believe me, it was really very enjoyable and one we would gladly do again!
And so it was back to the Mountbatten pontoon where all kit had to be offloaded as we were travelling home the next day.
With all the kit sorted and stowed, gas bills settled, we said our good byes to James and the rest of the In Deep gang. It was back to The Boringdon Arms now for a relax and a few beers before heading out to our final eatery of the weekend. This was The Clovelly Bay which is only about fifty metres away and therefore not too far to stagger back lol. The food here is absolutely excellent and no matter what you order, you will not be disappointed. Due to the Corona virus issues, the menu is currently smaller but every bit as good. We eventually ambled back to The Boringdon for a few more beers before all calling it a day.
The next morning, we had a our fourth great breakfast of the weekend before setting off on our journey back home. One hilarious moment on the drive back was when Garry opened his packed lunch of Tuna Mayo on Brown sandwiches to find that some prankster who shall remain nameless, had exchanged them for Strawberry Jam on White. 🤣🤣
Thanks to everyone at In Deep for yet again making our trip memorable and making it all run smoothly. Thanks to everyone in the dive team helping to make this the best trip that we have ever had to Plymouth.
The team were as follows. Stuart & Nathan Matthews, Andy Rath & Kerry Place, Alan ‘the Major’ Jones & Nigel Thomas, Ray ‘the Barron’ Cramer & Mark Holroyd, Garry Bolland & Terry Maloney.
Back in October 2019, one of our members, Jeff Jones advertised a couple of weekend trips to Eyemouth for 2020 with Jim and Iain Easingwood of Marine Quest. The list for the ‘mixed gas’ boat was soon full for both trips with a good mix of experienced mixed gas divers and a few relative newbies.
Well we all know what happened in March 2020 due to the Corona virus issues and the knock on effect it had! The first planned weekend was cancelled due to lockdown and closed borders. It was touch and go for the second trip but thankfully we were given the green light. The only problem was that one of the two boats had an engine failure just a few days prior to the trip starting so unfortunately, half of the group couldn’t travel.
So the remaining group all set off for Eyemouth on Friday 7th August for two planned dives.
The original plan was to dive U12 on Saturday and SS Exmouth on Sunday but the weather changed that! So Saturdays dive was to be on the SS Exmouth which was an American cargo ship of approximately five thousand tons. She was sunk by mines on July 31st 1944.
It was an unhurried start to the day due to the tide times and we eventually cast off at 10.30 hours. The conditions couldn’t have been better! Almost flat calm, sunny skies and an air temperature of about 28C or more. What more could our group have asked for? We motored about forty miles out to the wreck location. We had seals checking us out for most of the trip but better was yet to come. We think that we had around five Minke Whales joining us at various stages of our journey out. They were even right on top of the wreck site!
We kitted up slowly but eventually the skipper Iain gave us the nod that we were just about ready. Iain and Alan had already dropped a shot on the wreck and dropped the deco trapeze in as well. This would be a first for Garry, Ray and I.
All eight divers entered the water. Martin, Dave and Steve, followed by Steven and Ben then the three of us were the last group in. We dropped down the shot line, clipping our tags on to the bungee loop on the way. Then just a few metres above the wreck, we all clipped a strobe onto the shot line.
It was dark at 50 metres but clear and once our torches were switched on, it made for a nice comfortable dive. We set off for the stern with a planned thirty minute bottom time. There was plenty to see as we made our way around the wreck such as plates, WC sink etc etc. We were heading for the stern gun area but didn’t quite make it that far as we turned and went past the bridge towards the broken bow section. We were to see everything in one dive lol! It was here that I came face to face with a large seal. It did a super quick about turn when it eyeballed me! All too soon though our planned bottom time approached so we headed back for the shot line, leaving the bottom exactly on thirty minutes. We unclipped our strobes on the way up (note to self, buy a better strobe!) and then our tags as we reached them. The group all eventually came together at the six metre trapeze where will all completed our deco in comfort, as the last man up, Martin, had uncllipped the trapeze and we just went with the tide.
Once back on deck, we started chatting about what we had all seen and I mentioned the seal. Alan said that two Minke Whales had been swimming around us but none of us had seen them. It was only when Dave and Martin came back aboard that they confirmed it as they saw them swimming around at about twenty four metres or so. Some experience!
After a good few hours to get back to harbour, we prepped our kit for Sunday’s dive which was now to be on HMT Fortuna out of St. Abbs Head. She was an armed trawler of approximately two hundred and sixty tons that saw service both in WW1 and WW2. She was sunk by enemy aircraft fire.
We had an early breakfast on Sunday as ‘ropes off’ was 09.30. The trip out was a bit lumpy to say the least! Due to various reasons, there were only six diving today.
Dave & Steve led the way with Steven & Ben following with Garry and I the last pair in. It was the same regime as the previous day, clipping tags and strobes on then on to the wreck. Again the water was dark but once our torches were turned on, it was evident that the water was relatively clear so the viz was more than acceptable. We actually managed two very comfortable circuits of the wreck and saw lots of interesting features. One of which might be the ships clock.
All too soon, our planned thirty minute bottom time was up and we started our ascent. Ours were the last two strobes on the shot line so I realised then that it was down to us to release the trapeze after collecting our tags. My immediate though was ‘I’d better not screw this up lol’! Garry and I collected our tags and I released the lazy shot and trapeze. All very simple really thanks to Jim and Ian’s set up. We made our way up, eventually stopping at six metres to complete our decompression obligations before surfacing to a slightly flatter sea. All safely back on board so headed back for Eyemouth harbour.
It turned out to be an excellent weekend with a great group of divers. Thanks to Jeff Jones for setting the trip up and Martin Campbell, Dave ‘Lucky’ Smith, Steve McElroy, Steven Baxter, Ben Ward, Garry Bolland, and Ray Cramer for being such a brilliant group and last but not least, a big thank you to Iain and Jim Easingwood of Marine Quest for two great days diving.
Last week our very own Ray Cramer added a very interesting lecture on Bathymetry to the ongoing series of lockdown lectures presented by BSAC.
For those of you that don’t know, bathymetry is the measurement of the depth of water in lakes, rivers or seas. Ray’s lecture covered how this information is collected, used and how it can be of use to divers.
Ray went on to show where to access some of the latest survey data and which software to use to get the best out of it. A sample image here showing the wreck of the Mongolian.
The whole lecture, along with many others are available to watch via the special interest section of the BSAC online learning hub. The website lists up and coming sessions along with a library of past lectures and training sessions.
With the club being shutdown at present because of Covid 19 our training team have taken to the internet to provide lectures via Zoom video conferencing for all who are interested. So far they have successfully run through all the Ocean Diver and Sports Diver lectures as well as Practical Rescue Management and Accelerated Decompression SDC’s with the Twin Set SDC in progress. Boat Handling will be next with other SDC’s are being assessed to see if they can be delivered via zoom.
The club has also been holding weekly zoom club nights and plans are underway for some diving talks and a quiz night.
Anyone wanting further information on club training sessions or talks should check out the club Facebook page or contact the Training Officer.
Other online resources to checkout during lockdown.
Click here to access the BSAC Online Training Hub which has a wide variety of online training and special interest webinars. Pay special attention to Thursday 25th June when our very own Ray Cramer will be giving a session on Bathymetry.
Click here for a series of excellent webinars organised by Diver Medic.
Hello everybody as we are about to enter our second week of Corona isolation. I know that many of you, including me, are jut itching to get wet but without trying to sugar coat events it is clear that this is going to be a long haul. Just how long is uncertain at the moment and I think it will be 2 to 4 weeks before we can assess the trajectory of the virus in the UK. Then, of course, it would be a mistake to think that things will return to normal over night, but rather the roll back from lock-down will take several weeks. So what does this mean to the club, well for sure, the club will remain closed throughout April, by which time the picture should be much clearer. There will also be a Committee Meeting via Zoom conferencing on Monday, 20th. April, when with a fair wind we may be able to start to plan for the future. In the short term this means that the Boat Handling SDC, the Anglesey weekend at the begging of May and the Pembroke trip at the end of May are all postponed as well as anything in-between. Actually, truth to told, I recently bought a set of electric hair clippers last week and if you saw the state of my head you would quickly realise how necessary it is for the club to remain shut!
The summer bash at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club is set for the Saturday, 20th. June and at the very least Dave Edwards and I are hoping to use this event to relaunch the life of the club. Should this prove to be the case then I can imagine it turning into one ‘bad arse’ night. So if it’s any consolation you will be getting wet again just as the viz improves.
Turning to other matters, can I thank everybody for their best wishes following Val’s operation for breast cancer. Last Friday she received the all clear from the surgeon and her progress is such that she requires no further treatment. On the down side, one of our brethren, Peter Cheesewright, is now waiting to go into hospital for an operation on his pancreas. He knows that your thoughts and prayers are with him as he waits for a bed and I will let you how he progresses.
As I am writing this letter, I have just heard on the radio that the Government are now speaking of a 12/13 weeks self isolation period depending on how well we keep away from each other. This is indeed a rather grim prospect which for some may prove difficult to handle, although I am aware of a number of video conferencing groups springing up which will provide some relief. We are all in this together folks and the club is here to support you if needs be and that help is only a telephone call away. Do feel free to ring me anytime.
In terms of those currently undergoing training then I can tell you that your Training Officers that is Chris Wood, Steve Mills and Terry Maloney are currently investigating the prospect of delivering theory session on line. Watch this space.
That it folks for the moment and I will keep you updated at this dreadful situation develops.
A gathering of Dive Ribs from around the UK, making a passage from the launch site at Dinas Marina, through to Beaumaris for a chippy dinner, then passing through the Swellies under the two Menai Bridges to Caernarfon for an Ice Cream, then back to Dinas Marina to recover the boats.
Sadly, due to the Covid19 Pandemic, the Menai Boat Run has had to be cancelled for 2020.
Alistair Reynolds ran another excellent, and well attended Gas Blending SDC last weekend, helped by Steve McElroy, Terry Maloney and Alan Jones.
The course started on Saturday morning with a series of lectures given by the team on the principles of blending Nitrox and Mixed Gases as well how to use the club blending equipment and safety precautions.
This was followed in the afternoon by a demonstration of Nitrox blending and a number of practical sessions to ensure everyone knew how to use the blending tables, applications and could safely mix different Nitrox blends.
Some of the students were only interested in blending Nitrox at present so chose to finish the course on the Saturday evening. The rest of us were split into two groups to return for one of two sessions on the Sunday.
On Sunday we were given a masterclass in blending Trimix by Steve then given a series of blends to try to mix ourselves working from the blending Trimix tables. A tricky and time consuming process.
Steve got to demonstrate an example of gas layering when adding helium to an existing mix, with a blend of 6/84 showing on the analyser after mixing! After rolling the cylinder on the floor for a minute this changed to a more expected 18/45.
Anyway, after an interesting couple of hours with hands on the equipment everyone seemed comfortable with the process and now ready to get out there and use it to dive….. when we’ve saved up enough for the Helium.
A big thanks to Steve, Terry, Alan and especially Alistair for giving up another of their weekends to pass on their knowledge. It is really appreciated.
Here we are almost at the beginning of March and the foul weather shows no sign of abating. However, since I last wrote to you we have been busy putting everything to rights in preparation for the diving season, whenever that might arrive. Both boats have now been serviced and made ready for the sea, which included in one case as replacement heavy duty battery and cables. In addition, the compressor was serviced last week while the bank storage bottles were put back in test at the beginning of the year. So with the boat electronics (GPS/radio etc) also having been tested, I think it fair to say that we are just about ready for the off.
There is now quite a wide range of training opportunities coming up shortly, which you will forgive me for reminding you of, as somebody will always claim they knew nothing about an event, here we go:
Skill Development Courses
Rescue Management SDC – Theory session Thursday, 19th. March at the club to be followed by the practical session on Sunday, 5th. April 2020 at Eccleston Delph. NOTE – this was originally planned for Saturday the 21st. March but had to be put back for a variety of reasons, not least of which to accommodate the LFC fixture list. This really is a must for those wishing to become Dive Leaders and Advanced Divers. Incidentally, your help would be very much appreciated in acting as stooges to make the whole thing as realistic as possible, such as passersby and standby divers etc.
Mixed Gas Blending Course – This is recent addition to our SDC schedule thanks to the good offices of Alistair Reynolds and will be run at the club house over the weekend of the 14/15th. March 2020. I am sure there will be a charge, not least for the gas, which you will be find out via Alistair. Update: £60 required by Alistair ASAP.
Boat Handling SDC – Over the weekend of the 25/26th. April 2020, the Saturday being a theory day at the club, followed by the practical session the following morning.
Diver/Cox Assessment – Saturday, 16th. May 2020 for those wishing to prove they really can handle the club boats, but be aware that this is an assessment and not a training session.
Speaking of cost, none of the above are free as the club has to purchase course packs from BSAC HQ, for example the boat handling SDC is £48, but bear in mind that if you do the same course at Safewater down by New Brighton slip you’ll be paying about £250 for the same experience.
Contact your Committee – Recently we have introduced a new e-mail address as a means of getting in touch with either myself or a particular member of the committee, that is firstname.lastname@example.org and comes through to me. I guess the idea is to assist anybody who has not had an opportunity to raise a concern or is now away from home.
There really is so much going, so here are just a few more dates for you to digest which you haven’t had previously:
28/29th. March……………….Geoff Oldfield’s Menai Boat Run in aid of the RNLI.
11/12th. April………………..Alan Jones is looking to run out into Liverpool Bay Diving, but nothing firmed up as we speak, so watch this space.
29th. May – 1st. June……..Chris Mills will be running a trip to Pembroke.
Saturday, 20th. June 2020 will be the Club Summer Gala day at Birkenhead Park RFC. This will be a similar format as last year and will cost £35 perr ticket, albeit that includes a substantial buffet and entertainment.
That’s it folks for the moment and as ever safe diving.
Here we are again at the beginning of yet another diving year, which in my case is gathering pace towards the 50 year mark. This letter is really to signpost some of the events and diving holidays that are now firmly on the horizon. Whilst I may have mentioned some of the forthcoming Skill Development Courses, please be aware that I did not keep a note of the people who responded, thus no places have been reserved.
Skill Development Courses
Rescue Management SDC – Theory session Thursday, 19th March at the club to be followed by the practical session on Saturday, 21st March 2020 at Capernwray. This really is a must for those wishing to become Dive Leaders and Advanced Divers.
Boat Handling SDC – Over the weekend of the 25/26th April 2020, the Saturday being a theory day at the club, followed by the practical session the following morning.
Diver/Cox Assessment – Saturday, 16th May 2020 for those wishing to prove they really can handle the club boats, but be aware that this is an assessment and not a training session.
Diving Trips – Just as a ‘taster’ these are just some of the away trips that I am involved with:-
19th March 2020 – For your information I am going with Blue 02 on a week’s live aboard to dive the far South of the Red Sea down towards The Sudan, which will include such delights as St John’s, Fury Shoals and the Elphenstone, all of which are renowned for the big fish. The cost is £1,000 or there abouts and anybody is welcome to join myself and a mate.
Commencing on Saturday, 28th June 2020 for three consecutive weeks Tony Fitzpatrick is planning to take over Fleet Divers at Rosas on the Costa Brava. At the time of writing there are only a few places remaining on the first and third weeks. I must say, this is a must for anybody who wants a cheap diving holiday in the sun as it comes in at £300 for diving, accommodation and transfers. Bottle fills and boat fuel are extras as are the flights to Gerona.
Scapa Flow – As most of you are aware, the club has charted a live aboard for two consecutive weeks commencing on the 5th and 12th September 2020. This trip is fully booked, however, if you would like to be a ‘reserve’ do let me know. In addition, there will be a meeting of all runners and riders at the club house at 9.0pm on Thursday, 23rd January 2020 to sort out transport and discuss the general logistics of the trip.
Late, Late Diving Bash Malta 2020 – I am planning on running a long weekend diving with Divewise/Techwise departing Wednesday evening 30th September and returning Monday lunchtime the 5th October. While five of the Techie boys have expressed interest, this is not limited to the ‘Darkside’ as there will be plenty of recreational diving available for those of Ocean Diver status and above. The important thing is to have four great days diving and plenty of ‘crack’ at the end of what should be an exciting year.
Returning to more mundane matters, but following a recent incident, can I remind everybody yet again that the club’s Facebook site is provided as a forum for the exchange of information, not as a mechanism for ‘slagging’ people off. You should be aware that the committee will take punitive action and remove such posts and suspend the individual involved from the group.
In passing, following on from the AGM Vince Clegg and Monty Smith are currently working on revising the Club Constitution to make it more fit for purpose to meet our current needs. Moreover, with regard to the refurbishment of the club house Nigel Thomas and I have got a meeting with the Council later this week and as soon as there are any definite developments I will let you know.
Finally, can I take this opportunity to wish all our members a very happy (and safe diving) New Year. Remember folks, dive fitness does not begin in June so do get your slippery backsides up to the quarries and hone those skills.
Towards the end of 2018, Mark Williams suggested that we
could make a trip to Lundy on the North Devon coast. He didn’t need to go
looking for volunteers and in next to no time, the trip was full. The hotel and
boat were all booked and all we had to do then was wait for the weekend to come
around at the end of September 2019. Everything was good to go until the
Weather God decided not to play games. Well by the Wednesday before the trip,
the weather forecast was looking that bad that the skipper cancelled it. Most
of us knew fairly well that this was likely to happen so alternative plans were
quickly made by some of the gang and a few of us decided to go to Devon anyway.
Six divers went up to St. Abbs where unfortunately the Weather God decided not
to play games for the entire weekend although they did manage to get one days
diving in and four of us, Chris & Kate Mills and Terry & Margaret
Maloney stuck to the original plan of going to Devon.
The drive down could have been better! It poured down
with rain for most of the way.
We arrived in Ilfracombe just before 5pm and although it
was a bit blowy, at least it had stopped raining. After booking in to our rooms
at the The Royal Britannia Hotel, it was time to explore some of the town.
First stop was the harbour where the Damian Hirst bronze ‘Verity’ can be seen.
A stunning work of art! She is looked over by the St. Nicholas Chapel that sits
atop Lantern Hill which is a prominent point overlooking the harbour entrance.
After a walk around this part of Ilfracombe it was decided that it was about
time for a sit down and a small pre dinner tipple. We found a nice little wine
bar overlooking the harbour which became our regular port of call each day.
There are quite a few pubs around the harbour area so not
wanting to go too far afield, we elected to go to The Prince of Wales which is
a stones throw from the hotel and dog friendly as Terry & Margaret had
Bailey with them. We had a few drinks and a curry here and spent a pleasant
couple of hours together just chatting and enjoying the evening.
Day two saw us rising early and having a ‘full English’
at the hotel before setting out to explore the surrounding area. Some of us
checked out ‘The Tunnels’ which were hand cut through the hillside in order to
gain access to the sea and what were to become Ilfracombs bathing beaches. We
visited various places around the countryside but I think the jewel in the
crown was Lynton & Lynmouth. It’s a really beautiful town at the bottom of
a gorge where the East and West Lyn Rivers meet. It’s a very picturesque area
and certainly not one to be rushed around! It even has a funicular cliff
railway which is powered by the weight of water and gravity. We all arrived
back in Ilfracombe at approximately the same time so decided that the best plan
would be to take in another part of the town and do a little bit of shopping.
We wandered around Capstone Hill and Wildersmouth beach and the surrounding
area before somehow finding ourselves back at the harbour and outside the ‘Open
Up’ wine bar. Well divers are not ones to miss an opportunity to socialise so
we called in here again for a few pre dinner drinks again. The weather that
evening was as predicted, absolutely awful so it was decided unanimously to
remain in our hotel and have a meal there. The chef specialises in Asian food
and we all enjoyed a very pleasant meal and a couple of drinks while discussing
what we had all done during the day and where we had visited.
Day three started with yet another ‘full English’ before
setting out to explore again. Chris and Kate checked more of the town out and
at one point, actually walked up Capstone Hill in a howling wind. Good effort
guys. Terry and Margaret went further afield to Clovelly and Bideford. They
didn’t get all the way down to Clovelly unfortunately as the road actually
resembled a river!
We met up again at about 4pm and made our way to our
favourite wine bar. We’ve got to keep the local economy buoyant after all!
I telephoned the skipper that afternoon just to introduce
ourselves and see if he had anything planned for the Monday as the weather
forecast wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately he had no plans for the Monday and said
that the swell around Lundy would be too much for diving. Oh well.
That evening we went to another local pub, the Ship &
Pilot which was even closer to the hotel than the Prince of Wales. You can
literally fall out of the hotel and straight into the Ship lol. The atmosphere
in here was excellent! There was skittles practice going on to one side of the
bar and lots of socialising on the other. The hospitality here was amazing and
we were made to feel extremely welcome. We had our dinner here and I think that
we all agreed that it was the best that we had eaten over the weekend. Will
definitely call back here on the next trip! Oh and the beer isn’t bad here
either ha ha.
The final morning dawned and the weather had again took a
turn for the worse so Terry & Margaret decided to head for home while Chris
& Kate headed further South into Cornwall. We said our goodbyes and went
our different ways.
Well despite the fact that there was no diving, we all
agreed that we had a fantastic weekend. It was a typical (mini) BSAC club trip
spent with existing and new likeminded friends, enjoying each other’s company.
Obviously it would have been even better if we had of managed to get into the
water but that’s diving as we say! Hopefully better luck next time.
Here we are folks approaching the end of another diving season and for sure the time has flown, probably because there has been so much going on down the club. It would be remiss not to mention the recent highly successful Scout ‘Jamboree’ Try Dive session, which has received nothing but plaudits and certainly helped to raise the profile of the club. Thanks to everybody who participated in the event, in particular John Rice, Chris Woods and Geoff Oldfield stand out for orchestrating and making the whole thing work.
Morrison’s -The next event on the calendar is Geoff Oldfield’s RNLI fund raising event at Morrison’s, New Brighton over the weekend of the 12/13th October 2019. The tides are bad that weekend so I know you will all chip in and support Geoff for this is a vital maritime rescue service upon which we all rely. Moreover, the spinoff is that we normally generate quite a few punters for Try Dives some of whom go on to form the next generation of the club.
Dinner Dance – The65th. Club’s Annual Dinner Dance is fast approaching and will take place on Saturday, 26th. October 2019 at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club, Park Road North, Birkenhead. Tickets are priced at £40 per head and will take a similar format as the last two years, albeit we always are looking for a fresh twist.As with last year, the ‘Forty Thieves’ will be making a return visit by popular demand to provide the entertainment. Also the brand new Steve Palmer Diver of the Year Memorial Trophy will be presented for the first time. Tickets are available from Dave and Robbie Edwards and I can tell you that they are flying out of the door.
AGM – The Club’s Annual General Meeting will take place at the Club House at 9.0pm prompt on Thursday 14th November 2019. Amongst the positions up for grabs this year are Honorary Treasurer, Equipment Officer and Welfare Officer, but remember no committee post is for life and everybody is encouraged to put themselves forward for any post. One thing that you should be aware of is that the club Diving Officer, Tony Fitzpatrick has completed his three year term of office, however, a motion will be put forward at the AGM to extend Article 3 (b) of the Club Constitution from three to four years for the officers of the club (Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Diving Officer). The other committee posts are not affected by this rule. In the event of the extension of tenure not being approved by the AGM the role of Diving Officer will be taken over by the Assistant Diving Officer, Robbie Edwards, who will appoint an ‘Acting’ assistant at his discretion.
Refurbishment of the Club – I know what you are going to say as this is starting to feel like ‘watching paint dry’, however, I can now tell you that we, the club, have now provided everything that Wirral Council have asked for and are now eagerly awaiting their response. Now it may well be that Nigel and I will have to make a guest appearance at a Council meeting to present our case for obtaining a rent free period from them. After that it will be ‘full ahead’ to make a modern open space club house to replace the rather cramped slightly jaded facilities that we have at present.
Training – I am aware that a fair few members are currently waiting for Rescue Management Training to complete their Advanced Diver tickets. It is hoped that we can sort something out during October, which should mean that you will receive your certificate at the Dinner Dance. In addition, it is hoped that there will be several catch up sessions for those who missed the practical part of recent Skill Development Courses (Accelerated Decompression and Navigation), after which we can start looking forward to planning further SDC’s for next year.
Scapa Flow 2020 – Events for next year are rapidly coming into focus and, of course, we have the long standing Scapa Flow trip to look forward to in Septembers 2020. You will recall that the uptake was such that we have hired the charter boat for the first two weeks in September. Who goes on which week has yet to be sorted out, however, I do now need the second part of your deposit which is £80 per person and will be collected during October.
That’s it folks…….safe diving and I look forward to seeing you all at the Dinner Dance.