Chairman’s Letter August 2021

Hello everybody…………………..It only seems like yesterday that I was talking about the beginning of the diving season and here we are drawing towards the end.  August, in particular, was an extremely busy months with diving expeditions to Scapa Flow, Pembroke, Anglesey and Plymouth.  For whatever reason the underwater viz has been a bit below what you would reasonably expect at this time of the year, but has certainly not stopped nor really detracted from the level of enjoyment.

We have now taken possession of the new boat which has been professionally fitted out and now start to run in the engine which takes 10 hours.  However, this should have been achieved by the end of September and additionally, the repair to the Tornado will be completed well before then.

Thanks to the good offices of Martin Campbell in proving a skip, the club has been able to clear and dispose of most of the junk that had accumulated over the previous year.  My thanks also go out to all the people who assisted in clearing not only the club and boatshed, but also the surround area.  Very well done!. Moreover, most of the bottles which had been stored there have been reclaimed by their owners, albeit about six remain.  These will now be tested by the club and taken into use.  Should an owner appear then we would expect then to pay for the test and make a donation to the club for the inconvenience.  

There are a number of diving/training and SDC opportunities on the horizon.  These include:-

25/26th. September – Dave Edwards is running a diving weekend on Anglesey, so if you are interested you need to contact him.

2/3rd October – Assistant Dive Manager Training, Anglesey – This event is being run by Geoff Oldfield and is part of the revised Dive Leader sylabus, though I don’t have any further information to hand.

9/10th. October – Boat Handling SDC – This event is now full with the following people having signed up to take part, Sean Madigan, Belinda Condron, Dave Edwards, Kate Condron, Paul Berry, Andy Parsons, Graeme Cooper, Shaun Williams, Hannah Williams and Mark Williams.

The cost of the training package has gone up to £49.50 and you will now need to forward the cash to me soonest (cheques or bank transfer also fine) so that I may order the materials.  No money means you cannot attend on a promise of future payment.

Finally, can I remind that the club dinner has been arranged for Saturday, 30th. October at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club at a cost of £40 per person.  The numbers are limited to just over 100 and when I last checked the list was starting to look rather full.  Those interested need to contact Dave Edwards direct to avoid disappointment.  

Alan Jones


Plymouth August 2021 Trip Report

So August Bank Holiday came around again and that meant that a group of twelve divers from the branch were going to make their way down to Plymouth for three days diving with In Deep in the capable hands of our skipper James Balouza and decky Sam.

The weather forecast was looking good for the weekend which was a bonus.

We all assembled at our accommodation which was the Boringdon Arms as usual. We received our usual warm welcome from the owners Greg and Sue and their ‘go to’ assistant Jordan. It’s a great base and nothing is too much trouble for the Borry team.

We were dining at the Boringdon on the Friday night so there was no real need to go rushing about and a nice convivial atmosphere ensued.

Some of us did go for a walk though as I needed to speak with Claire, the manageress of the Royal Oak. So not to be rude, we did partake of a beer or two while we were there.

We then ambled back to the Boringdon for showers and a change before our meal.

After all the travelling, just about everyone retired fairly early so as to be nice and fresh for Saturday morning.

After a great breakfast, we all made our way to the Mountbatten Centre for an 8am meet up with our skipper. I had already chatted with James about what dives we would be doing as there was a very important football match kicking off at 5.30pm and quite a few of us wanted to be back in time to catch it. That sounds easier than it was as I wasn’t aware of any of the local pubs on our side of bay that were showing live football. But weeks earlier, Claire from the Royal Oak helped us out and booked tables for us in the Three Crowns over on the Barbican. But more of that later as there was a days diving ahead of us before that.

So ‘ropes off’ was at 9am and we headed off in the direction of Whitsand bay and our first dive which was to be the Rosehill. The Rosehill was a 2700 ton armed merchant ship that was torpedoed by U40 in September 1917. She lies about two miles out from Portwrinkle.

As usual, James shotted the wreck on the boilers as he usually does. Our group made their way down the shot line into what can only be described as poor viz for Plymouth. Three to four metres at best I reckoned. Garry and I had already decided to take our strobes and clipped them to the line so as to aid everyone’s return. We made our way to the stern as the last time we dived the wreck, some of us missed the stern gun. Well we made sure that we didn’t miss it this time despite the bad viz! The ambient light levels were good though so that made the dive more enjoyable. We also took in the propellor and rudder that now lies flat on the sand. From here, we made our way back towards the boilers. If you look closely, you can still see lots of engine parts amongst all the wreckage. Swimming past the boilers, we started to make our way towards what used to be the bow. This entails a lot of swimming over lots of sections of plate. There are plenty of Pink Sea Fans growing here and myriads of fish. Mainly Bib. But the most awesome sighting was three or four large Bass actively hunting their prey. It’s not something divers see that often. The Bass appeared to be actually using the light from our torches to hunt by. They were swimming within a metre of us and when we directed our torches at them, they were just like glistening bars of silver.

We weren’t far short of the bows and the two large anchors but decided to turn back as our deco had kicked in by now and the requirements were starting to build up. The Bass followed us all the way back.

We reached the shot line and started our ascent. Garry and I collected our strobes on the way up. We all (Garry, Steve, Kat & I) left the bottom with about ten minutes deco to do. We all completed our schedule before finishing our ascent.

Despite the conditions, we all agreed that it was a very enjoyable dive.

James pointed Seeker in the general direction of our second dive once we were all aboard which was to be the James Eagan Layne but only chugged along slowly so that we could get sufficient surface interval completed. This went well as Sam served up tea, coffee and hot sausage rolls which were very welcome indeed.

Surface interval over, we all kitted up and prepared to dive the James Eagan Layne, a liberty ship of 7000 tons that was torpedoed in March 1945 by U1195. She stayed afloat for about eight hours before finally sinking in Whitsand Bay.

This wreck has the reputation of being the most dived wreck in the UK. Well it’s showing it’s age a bit but despite that, you can understand why it has the reputation it has. It’s a truly stunning wreck! We dropped down the shot line to the bows and then through the superstructure into the forward hold. From here, you can swim the entire length of what is left of the wreck. Her stern broke off a few years ago in a storm.

The visibility was not much better than on the Rosehill but the fact that we were inside it made the dive so much better as there was plenty of ambient light flooding through all the openings in the sides.

We covered the entire length of the wreck from stem to stern. Unlike our last dive on it, we didn’t spend too much time at the stern and therefore had enough gas and time to go all the way back to the bow. We exited the bow and made our way back up the permanent shot line.

Personally, it was one of the best dives I’ve had on it!

So the first days diving was done and dusted and we made our way back to the Mountbatten landing stage in plenty of time to get back to the Borry, have a shower and a quick pint before heading over to the Barbican and the Three Crowns for the Liverpool v Chelsea game. Well thanks to Claire at the Royal Oak, we had a great location to watch the game and get dinner. I’ve got to mention the Surf & Turf that most people had. It came out on what looked like sharing platters. Needless to say, there were no complaints! The beer wasn’t bad either!

After drinking up, we made our way back to pick the water taxi up. Garry and I couldn’t catch the first one as it was full so we let Steve and Kat head back first. We only had twenty or thirty minutes to wait but that time flew by as we were treated to a comical show by some clown in a small boat with an oversized engine on it. He was messing about making the boat point up at about 45 degrees when he gunned the engine a bit. What he failed to remember was to keep the engine reviving when making a sharp turn. Well he paid the price! He rolled it over and the crowds watching were treated to the sight of a boat slowly sinking into the dock. Another boat came to his rescue and even though his had sunk, they managed to grab a trailing rope and tow it back to a little beach not far away.

Eventually everyone met up at the Boringdon and we all recounted tales of what we had seen during our first days diving and discussed the next days dives. All over a couple of shandy’s of course!

Sundays dives were to be the wrecks of the Persier and the Maine. So two potentially good dives to look forward to.

We woke to yet more settled weather with the sun shining and a reasonably blue sky. What more could we ask for?

Ropes off was a little later but we were all aboard quite handy so James pointed Seeker in the direction of Bigbury Bay and the first of the days dives, the Persier. This wreck is a WW2 casualty after taking a torpedo on her port side in February 1945. Everyone was hoping for better viz than we had on Saturday. James shotted the wreck in his usual efficient manner and as we were all kitting up fifteen minutes beforehand, most of us were ready to go. Marc and Adey were the first two down the line and then the remaining pairs followed. Again, Garry and I attached our strobes to the shot line to try and make the return easier for us. The viz was no better than the previous day but still sufficient at about four to five metres to not spoil the dive.

We covered the entire wreck. The highlight being the stern with the rudder post standing proud and the steering gear still in place. We eventually made our way back to the shot line and saw the benefits of using our strobes as the line would have been a lot harder to find without them! Everyone was more than happy with the first dive of the day but everyone’s favourite was still to come!

Once the shot was retrieved, we made our way towards Salcombe and the wreck of the Maine. On the way, we had tea and hot sausage rolls served up by Sam for our lunch. They were really very tasty!

The Maine is a WW1 casualty after having taken a torpedo on her port side  just like the Persier in March 1917. It’s such an iconic wreck! Once inside it, the ambient light coming through all the open space makes it a brilliant dive. Especially in good viz!

James put the shot in at the stern. We made our way down the line, clipping our strobes on as we went. We dropped below the upper deck level and swam into the wreck. We slowly made our way though it, passing though holds, skirting round the boilers. It’s an awesome dive! And on the return, we stopped at the now famous ladder that which has been the subject of many a photograph. Once back at the stern, we dropped towards the sea bed where sections of the steering mechanism can still be seen. Looking up from here, our strobes could be seen flashing away indicating where the shot line was. We all made our ascent and had about ten minutes deco to complete before surfacing. Once all the divers were back on board, we made our way for the Mountbatten centre. You could tell from the buzz on board that everyone had had an excellent couple of days and were really happy. And we had a Bar-B-Q to look forward to that evening at the Royal Oak.

Once we were all showered and changed, we strolled down to the Oak in glorious sunshine. We couldn’t have wished for better weather!

Our tables were booked for 7pm but we deliberately arrived a little earlier so we could enjoy the atmosphere and one or two lemonades of course.

Well I can honestly say that the food did not disappoint. The chef did himself proud with some lovely dishes ranging from steak, sword fish through to burgers. We all had a lovely meal. The only downside was that the pub had been drunk dry! I’m not suggesting in any way that members of Branch 5 were responsible for this lol.

Well with no beer left in the barrels, we made our way back to the Boringdon for a last drink or two. Everyone was in good spirits after a great days diving followed by a lovely barby.

As is usual, we discussed the days dives and the dives still to come.

We had agreed to a scenic dive at Hilsea Point to start and follow it up with a dive on the Oregon.

Ropes off on the Monday was at 10am but as everyone was aboard early yet again, we cast off and headed for Hilsea Point. It was a bit choppy on the way out but not really too uncomfortable. It was mainly just spray so everyone edged that little bit closer to the wheelhouse. Once we had reached our destination though, conditions had eased and it was a comfortable process of kitting up. James dropped the shot bang in the gully which was to be the start of our dive. His instructions were to head North once we were in the gully and then turn right after exiting it and swim around the pinnacle. Adey & Marc were the first, followed by my group, Andy & Kerry then Ray & James.

We dropped down the line which ran over the edge of the gully and there below us on a clear bed of sand was the shot. We all checked our direction and headed North as instructed. The gully was a brilliant start to the dive. It was about 25mtrs deep at the start of the dive and three or four metres wide but eventually narrowed down to about one metre wide as it shallowed up to about 12mtrs. The sidemount divers actually reported having to swim side on in order to get through! We turned right as instructed and keeping the wall on our right hand side, followed the amazing rocky contours. This was turning out to be an excellent dive, made so much more enjoyable as we had the best viz of the weekend. There was plenty of life to be seen. Definitely some of the biggest Urchins we have ever seen! Lots of different species of fish especially Sand Eels in their thousands. Crayfish were abundant on parts of the dive although my group actually only saw one. We did see some Dogfish (Cat Shark?) as well. One in particular being about 1.25mtrs long we reckon.

I spotted this one just as the current was starting to pick up so now we went on a nice little drift dive. What a great way to end a very enjoyable dive. We sent our DSMB’s up and made a nice slow ascent up to 5mtrs where we completed any decompression requirements as well as a safety stop.

Back on the boat, everyone was enthusing about the dive. One regular actually asked me ‘why the hell haven’t we dived that before?’ I couldn’t give them an answer except to say that we would have to do it again at some point. It was an excellent dive!

Thankfully the sea had flattened a fair bit so it was tea and pasties all round during our surface interval. And did they go down well? Especially for the ones who went back for a second sitting lol. Mentioning no names of course Garry.

We now made our way to the site of our final dive of the weekend. It was to be on the wreck of the Oregon. This is an old wreck. She went down in a storm in 1890. James dropped the shot in on the stern as he explained that there was a large net at the bow which divers might not like to venture too close to. We followed the same format as for all the other dives with four of us going in together. Dropping down the line, Garry and I clipped our strobes into place once again. The wreck was teeming with life. Large shoals of juvenile fish plus a healthy population of Congers and Lobsters. The wreck is well broken up as you would expect for a ship that had been underwater for over one hundred and thirty years! But this just added to the dive in our opinions. We slowly followed the contours of the wreck, eventually arriving at the bow and the large net that had been caught up at the bow and looked more like a mast from distance as it stood vertical due to the many floats that were still attached to it. After having a good look around here, we agreed to make our way back to the shot line. Everywhere we looked, there were Congers and Lobsters to be seen. The wreck was alive! The viz on this wreck was certainly the best that we had had experienced on any of the wrecks this weekend and after a while, we could see our two strobes flashing away in the distance. We made our way over to the line, agreed to ascend and recovered our strobes on the way back up. We had all gone into deco on this dive as it was our second of the day and also the deepest (just) of the weekend. We completed all of our required stops before surfacing.

With everyone back on board, Seeker headed back to the Mountbatten Centre. We all stripped our kit down on the way so that we could unload the boat quickly as some of our group were heading for home immediately after we docked.

The remaining eight though were staying over for the extra night and going out for a meal and a few beers after getting scrubbed up.

We said our good byes to Andy, Kerry, Steve & James and headed back for our digs. The sun was shining so we all sat out front at the Boringdon and had a couple of drinks before heading off for our meal. And why not!

Our restaurant for our last night was Lackys Balti House. I’ve got to extend a big thanks to the owners as usually they are closed on a Monday night but agreed to open up especially for us when I called to book a few weeks earlier. It’s not a licensed restaurant which we knew so all took our own beer and wine with us. Lackys did us proud. The food was delicious and we all had a fantastic evening discussing the weekend, the diving, the football, the weather and just about everything else. We all agreed that it had been a brilliant trip. Possibly the best we’ve had in my opinion.

After leaving the restaurant, we all strolled back to the Boringdon for a few more drinks before heading for bed. We had lots of laughs and maybe a few drinks too many but everyone was sensible as we knew that we had a long drive ahead of us the following morning.

We all ate a good breakfast the next morning before saying our good byes to Greg and Sue and of course to each other.

All that was left was to make our way home after a brilliant weekend. Roll on next year.

A big thanks must go to all the following people for making the trip go so well.

The gang at In Deep and particularly James and Sam.

Also the staff of The Boringdon Arms. Greg, Sue and Jordan.

Claire from The Royal Oak.

Our team for the weekend. Garry Bolland, Michele Woodward, Adey McGuigan, Marc Holroyd, Ray Cramer, Steve McElroy, Nigel Thomas, Alan Jones, James Brandon, Andy Rath, Kerry Place.

Thanks everyone.

Terry Maloney (trip organiser).

Scapa Flow August 2021 Trip Report

After having our original trip to Scapa Flow cancelled the day before we left in 2020 and deciding not to go on the re-organised trip we weren’t expecting to be on this one. But when Alan got in touch to say a few had dropped out we decided to take the places…. and by the end of it were very glad we did.

We set off 8 o’clock Friday morning and with a couple of stops along the way arrived at Thurso Premier Inn eleven long, long hours later….. so just time for dinner and bed. Then up for breakfast at seven followed by a short drive to Scrabster to meet the others on the early Ferry.

After a pleasant hour and a half on the Northlink Ferry, passing the impressive Old Man of Hoy along the way, we arrived at Stromness for 10am. Bob Anderson and his crew, Teresa, Zoe and Godfrey were ready for us, so just the small matter of loading all the kit into bags to be lowered down to the deck by the boats crane then handballing all the non-diving gear down into the passenger berths.

Bob’s boat, Clasina, is big compared to other boats running dive trips in the area and very well equipped. The six cabins in the passenger area each had two large bunks and just enough room to move around. We were lucky enough to have space under the lower bunk to store bags etc which was a big help. On deck, there is a large undercover area for kitting up / hanging suits, a large open area with benches and storage bins for each person’s gear and two toilet shower rooms. To one side of the desk is and opening gateway with a short drop to get into the water with a lift alongside to get out. The main bridge area has a further toilet shower room, two tables with enough room for everyone to sit down together and a full size range for cooking and keeping warm after diving in the lovely Scottish Summer.

As this was our first trip to Orkney, after a quick walk around Stromness to get our bearings and a coffee we went off for a look round the Ring of Brodgar, a large Neolithic stone circle a few miles outside Stromness. By the time we got back the rest of the group had arrived on the later ferry and got their gear stowed away.  After Covid not everywhere in Orkney had opened again and there was a local festival on that day but fortunately Martin had pre booked tables at the Ferry Hotel for the first two evening meals. The food was great but it had been a long couple of days so we headed off to bed after a few drinks, only to be woken a few hours later by the industrial firework display being set off a few hundred yards away closely followed by the local pipers getting stuck in.

Next day was supposed to be a seven o’clock start but the first Northlink ferry of the day gets warmed up at five thirty and only being about a hundred yards away was pretty difficult to sleep through. Anyway, after breakfast onboard we got underway and had our first briefing from Bob. This and all the other briefings he gave were excellent. He laid out all the history of the sites, what to look out for, the best routes for us first timers and lots of other detail for the more experienced. All this mixed in with his unique sense of humour made for a great start to each dive. Bob had laid out a plan of dives for the first few days with the end of the week left open for us to decide where we wanted to go.

The first dive was the SMS Dresden, a fairly intact light cruiser lying in 25m at the prow dropping to 38m at the stern. We got kitted up and in we went. Down the shot to a davit midship. Bob had suggested following a route forward from this past the bridge and armoured control tower, mast and on to the forward capstans. We headed off in this direction but with this being our first time mixed with the sheer scale of the ship and the fact my leg was filling with water, would be lying if I really identified much. We did reach the bow and came back up this and followed the hull hoping to find our way back to the shot again but no luck. So sent up an smb and came back up. The boat was waiting, and the lift was amazing. Back onboard there were plenty of moans about the vis but we thought it was pretty good…. must have been at least 5m.

After bailing out my suit I found a hole in the boot but there was not much I could do about that. Hung everything up to dry and Zoe kindly put my under suit in the dryer over lunch. We tied up at Lyness, the old naval base, for lunch. Unfortunately, the museum there was closed for renovations but there was still a fair bit of history to look at. Whilst we were having lunch the crew took details of what gas was wanted for the next dive and started filling the bottles. Lunch was home made soup and fresh baked bread. Really good. Zoe’s cooking over the week will be responsible for hours of exercise over the next few months to try to loose some of the weight gained!

After lunch we headed out again and had another briefing. The afternoon dive was the SMS Karlsruhe, another light cruiser lying on her starboard side in 25m. The shot this time came down just behind where the bridge used to be. This wreck is more of a jumble and can’t remember seeing the control tower but did find one of the huge 5.9 inch guns and forward from that the capstan with the anchor chains still wrapped around. We really couldn’t make anything else out so headed up the hull again to try and find the shot before my leg filled up again. No sign of the shot so back up with a bag again.

After the dive it was back to Stromness. My undersuit had been in the dryer again and once back in port I took my suit up to the Red Shed for an overnight repair, along with the Major to get a zip looked at and Gail to get a spare suit fixed. Andy had brought his bike so set off for a bike ride.

The evening meal that night was back at the Ferry. Again, really good, with most of us having the lamb after seeing it the night before. For us it was another early night.

After managing to get back to sleep for a bit after the five thirty ferry alarm was up for seven to find all the suits had been returned already. The majors zip hadn’t been done but only because they couldn’t get in touch to check if he wanted it replaced. Absolutely fantastic service, wish we had something like that at home.

After breakfast another brief, this dive was going to be the SMS Coln. Another light cruiser and sister ship to SMS Dresden. She was a bit deeper at 36m. This time Martin and Andy offered to lead the way to make sure we saw the main bits of Bob’s suggested tourist route and thanks to them we did. The bridge and mast followed by the armoured control tower. Very distinctive when you know what your looking at. Skylights and deck hatches and on to the capstans and huge anchor chains still wrapped around and disappearing into the wreck. We left Martin and Andy here and set off up the bow and headed back towards the shot. Another miss followed by a close call with a sticky reel but we eventually got back up top.

Back to Lyness for another amazing Zoe lunch then an hour or two free time. Some of us went up to the Naval cemetery and others up to the abandoned Naval headquarters at the top of the hill.

The afternoon dive was the F2 and YC21 barge, not far from Lyness. The F2 was a WW2 Germain escort boat that sank in a storm in 1946 and YC21 a salvage barge that went down in another storm in 1968 whist working on the F2. Both were in about 16m but there was going to be some run…. We got onto the F2 ok but have to say it just looked like a scrap yard. We swam round the wreckage field for about 20 minutes until we found the rope that is still connected to the YC21. It was a hard swim over following the rope with the current running across and by the time we got the barge and swam round out the current we had both had enough and came up the shot on the barge bow. It’s a shame as everyone else seemed to agree the best bits were the salvaged items still in the barge!

After the diving it was back to Stromness, this time for dinner onboard. Zoe had made us an cracking curry, complete with naan bread, poppadums’ and all the trimmings.  After a few drinks onboard we went for a walk past the end of town to the headland that some of the others had recommended. It was well worth it with superb views out over the channel the ferry uses and across the bay.

Tuesday morning the weather was very overcast but nearly managed to sleep through the ferry starting up. Out of port for eight again and off to the SMS Brummer this time. A mine laying light cruiser lining on her side in about 36m. I took a wrong turn from the shot but we managed to get back on track. It was noticeably darker on this wreck and the vis wasn’t as good as the other wrecks so not as easy to pick things out. But we did see the anchor chain and control tower with one of the big guns underneath as well as the famous brass bridge railings. Also, Andy happened to be passing at one point and showed us the search light iris blades which we would probably have missed. This time we found the shot and made our way back up.

After lunch we headed off to Pan Hope on the east side of Flotta to dive on the U-Boat UB116. Kate decided to take the afternoon off, so I went in with Ray. As the boat was blown up for salvage there was not much recognisable, but the vis was amazing, at least 10m. We did see ballast tanks and off the end of the wreck following a line for twenty odd meters was a large and recognisable part of the conning tower. There was plenty of life around the wreck and was sorry when it was time to go up.    

That evening we tied up in Burray on the top end of Ronaldsay. Andy went off for another bike ride whilst we chilled out for an hour or two then headed up to the only place to eat in town…. The Sands Bar. This was by far the best meal we had off the boat. The fish was fantastic but everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs as well. Best of all, a good nights sleep as there was no ferry in the morning.

Next day was cold and windy, but fortunately not the forecast storm force winds. After getting under way earlier than usual the morning briefing was all about our first battleship. The SMS Kronprinz. We really wanted to see the 12 inch guns but as the ship had turned turtle and was lying upside down this meant getting to the bottom at 38m and going under the overhanging deck. We were the last down the shot and when we got to the bottom had to queue up to follow a second rope the last 10m down to the sea bed. Unfortunately, by the time we got down there it was pitch black and churned up so you couldn’t see a thing……. there was no way we were swimming under the deck into that so came back up and swam round towards the bow. The boat is so big and quite damaged due to the salvage works so we couldn’t be sure what we were seeing apart from a line of portholes. We eventually came up the side and swam along the keel enjoying the wildlife before setting of a smb and heading up.

We had lunch whilst traveling up to Burra Sound as we were diving on the blockship Tabarka in the afternoon and needed to be ready for slack water.  This is a steamship that was sunk to block the sound and lies in 15m of water. After arriving we had our briefing then got kitted up ready to go in. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been listening properly and had to sit around in our kit for fifteen minutes waiting for the tide. After about twenty we were told to stand down. Bob had forgotten to add the hour for BST!            

After our unexpected hours break we got ready and lined up like lemmings on the deck….. under instruction to get in and down as fast as we could as there was still a bit of a run on.  And there certainly was! Once we did get down it was like being in a wind tunnel. Everyone was on the floor dragging themselves towards to lee of the ship using the kelp…. apart from Steve who was sitting on the wreck enjoying the chaos. After making the mistake of trying to get round the prow then over the top we eventually found a way inside through a hole in the side. Inside it was pretty impressive, lots of life and great vis with light coming in from lots of gaps in the sides. We did try to get out to the stern through the wreck but the current just made it too hard work and on the last attempt had to catch Gail flying past the other way…. After a good look round we decided to go up whist the water was still fairly slack as didn’t fancy it in a proper run.

With everyone back onboard we headed back to Stromness arriving by about three to leave us enough time to a bit of sight-seeing. We dropped Steve and Gail off at the ring of Brodger then headed round to the far side of the islands to see the Italian Chapel. Two nissen huts, part of the Italian prisoner of war camp, that were transformed into an amazing chapel by the prisoners, some of whom stayed on after the war to finish it. Relatives still come over from Italy to maintain it even now. After this we went for a walk around the main town, Kirkwall but arrived just before five and pretty much everything closes at five so headed back to the boat for another Zoe dinner and a few more pounds.

Ian had suggested the walk up the hill behind town so gave it a go to walk off some of the food and actually met Ian on the way back down. It’s a steep walk but up top are fantastic views of Stromness and the surrounding area as well as right out into the flow.   

Thursday was a later start as Bob had to wait for a fuel tanker so we didn’t leave Stromness until about nine. We had our briefing and headed off to the SMS Coln again but stopped on our way at the SMS Margraff, the deepest of the battleships at 45m, to drop Martin and Andy in. Martin had planned long dive to take in all the guns. Not sure Andy was as keen but he went along….

On the SMS Coln we were getting the hang of things at last, we stuck to the original route Bob had given us first time and managed to pick out everything along the way. The vis was a bit dark but still good so we enjoyed it. Swam around the bridge area and saw the mast then on to the armoured control tower. We missed the gun mounts but found the skylights and deck hatches and finally the capstans and anchor chains. We swam up the side this time and could clearly see where the deck was peeling away from the hull and through the gaps to the inside of the ship. We eventually came back to the shot and were able to go up this for once.

After collecting everyone and going back for Martin and Andy we headed off to a dump site just off Lyness. Alan, Ray and Gary hadn’t dived that morning and wanted to spend some time hunting for treasure. Nothing can be taken from any of the warships in the area but they were allowed to root around for objet d’art on the ‘Bottle Site’ so off they went. They did come back with a brass flange, a glass dish and what looked like a bit of shell casing but nothing I’d want on the sideboard at home. 

After lunch we set off for Burra Sound again for a dive on another block ship, the SS Gobernador Bories. A whaler and cargo ship purchased by the British Navy and sunk in about 17m as a block ship.

Wasn’t so keen after the fight with the current the day before but was assured it would be better this time…….so, after the briefing we all kitted up and lined up on the deck again. As with the last one it was all in together and straight down. This time it was slack water and good vis as well. The ship is quite broken up but covered in all sorts of marine life.  Really pleasant dive, we missed the prop and rudder but towards the end we came across the engine block. A huge thing open at the sides showing the con rods and pistons. It looked like it was starting to run after this, so we set off a bag and game up.

After collecting everyone we set off for Longhope, a tiny place on the island of South Walls. Aside from a small ferry terminal, a lifeboat station and a few houses the only thing there is a pub. The Royal Hotel. An interesting place….. When we got in there, they had a roaring fire going that we ended up sitting next to and one of the locals was trying to breath fire with his whisky. We were feeling the pace and after another bucket of coal was thrown on the fire we made our escape. Andy wasn’t so lucky… the owner took a shine to him and started giving him free whisky… he stayed late with Martin, Tom, Steve and Ray.

Friday morning was an early start again. Andy looked a bit worse for ware but was still up for a dive. Ray had ear problems so missed out on the last couple of dives. The last day was going to be SMS Dresden first followed by SMS Karlsruhe, a repeat of the first days diving. This was great as we had missed a lot on the first dives.

We came down almost on top of the armoured control tower and saw one of the 5.9 inch guns. Tried shining lights into the tower slits but couldn’t make out anything inside. Forward we found the capstan shafts where the deck had collapsed.  We followed the deck up to the top of the hull and carried on thinking we might get to the stern but we got to the end of our diving air first and came up on a bag. Really gave an impression of how big the ships were.

After lunch, we went down to the SMS Karlsruhe again. It made more sense this time but is still very broken up. The breach of the 5.9 inch gun and its barrel were certainly the highlights as well as the two capstan and anchor chain. We found the shot again and came up.

The it was time to head back to Stromness and pack up. Steve, Gail, Martin and Andy were getting the five o’clock ferry and driving back overnight. We were originally getting the 11am Saturday ferry but as everyone else was getting the early 6.30 ferry we changed our booking as well. We would have been awake anyway……

With Bob and the cranes help we got everything but the overnight essentials onto the quay and packed up the cars. We then all went off around Stromness for a few bits of holiday tat including an obligatory Scapa Flow sweatshirt from the dive shop and a fridge magnet. Other tat was available…….

After saying goodbye to those on the early ferry the rest of us got ready and headed back to the Ferry Hotel for another meal. Lamb for almost everyone….. it was very good.

Following another early night we were up at five to get ready for the early ferry and half six. After breakfast onboard and docking in Scrabster at eight there was just the small matter of the eleven hour drive back…..

Even with the long drives we both thoroughly enjoyed the week. Bob and his crew were great and looked after us well as did everyone else on the trip. Couldn’t has asked for a nicer group of people to spend the week diving with.

Finally, a big thanks for Alan for organising the trip. I know its was hard with all the cancellations, breakdowns and Covid but it was well worth it. Looking forward to the next one…….

Alan, Ray, Ian, Gary (A lot taller in real life), Tom, Andy, Kate, Steve, Chris, Gail and Martin

Thanks to everyone who has shared photos that have been used in this post

Tough Mudder 2021

On the 1st of August this year the Mersey Divers Team took part in the Yorkshire Classic Tough Mudder to raise funds for the club and also to donate to the RNLI.

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 and muddy strangers working together to conquer the course and earn the world-famous orange headband. 

It was hard going at times, there was lots of mud and lots of getting wet, some of the obstacles really pushed us, but I don’t think anyone stopped laughing throughout the whole day. Except maybe on the Artic Enema! A drop down a drainpipe into a skip full of water and ice cubes with a crawl under a barrier in the middle. Not sure anyone really enjoyed that one but we all worked as a team and no one got left behind……

We’re still adding up the donations and sponsorship but it looks like we will just break £800. Which is a great result for the club and once it’s all collected we will be donating 25% of whatever we get to the RNLI. Watch this space for the final update.

The team on the finish line.

Back Row: Dave Barlow, Dave Edwards, Dave Roberts, Jake Mills, Kelly Baird, Lorna Larkin

Front Row: Kate Mills, Chris Mills, Martin Campbell, Hannah Williams

The New Club Boat

This week the club took delivery of its new 6.5m Humber RHIB. Equipped with a with a Suzuki 175 four stoke engine this should allow us to take even more members out on club trips. This is a massive investment for the club and something that we have been fundraising towards for a number of years.

The boat has gone off to Conway Marina now to have all the electronics properly fitted and tested and should be back with us soon, ready to be put in the water for its first sea trials.

The sale of the clubs older Viking RHIB to one of the club members provided the final funds needed to reach the target needed for the new boat. Everyone was sad to see it go but they are all looking forward getting out on the new boat.

Chairman’s Letter July 2021

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.

That’s it folks, take care and safe diving.

Alan Jones

Chairman’s Letter June 2021

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.

That’s it folks… diving.

Plymouth June 2021 Trip Report

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.

Terry Maloney

Anglesey June 2021

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.

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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…….

Chairman’s Letter April 2021

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 

Policies Updated April 2021

Anti Bullying Policy

Equality and Diversity Policy

Social Media Policy

Chairman’s Letter February 2021

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.

Best regards…………AJ.

Anglesey Late September 2020

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 SS Missouri. 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.

All in all, a great weekend and some good dives.

Plymouth 2020 Trip Report

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.

Terry Maloney

Eyemouth 2020 Trip Report

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.

Terry Maloney

Bathymetry Lecture

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.

Rays lecture can be accessed directly here

For those who are interested, here is the link to the source data

Admiralty Marine Data Portal

and these are the links to the software Ray suggested using to access it


TatukGIS viewer


CARIS Easy View

Global Mapper

Really interesting and useful lecture Ray, thanks for all the effort in putting it together.

Club Zoom 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.

Click here for online lectures from DAN

News Letter April 2020

Chairman’s Letter April 2020

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.

Alan Jones

Menai Boat Run 2020

Sunday, 29 March 2020 from 08:00-17:00

Port Dinorwic, Menai Straits, North Wales

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.

Gas Blending SDC March 2020

Nitrox Gas Blender / Mixed Gas Blender SDC

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.

News Letter March 2020

Chairman’s Letter – March 2020



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 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.

Alan Jones