OK so first Pilot Divers trip of 2003 and it's off for some SERIOUS harbour diving at the beloved Portland Harbour. 10 divers in all and one devoted wife (these not a lot to do in Portland whilst hubby's diving) make their way to one of the UK's top dive sites.
Ling (My wife) has got her new dry suit with her and a Chesel Beech weight check is planned but aborted on the Friday as the sea is a bit choppy so we have a crack in the harbour. Now Ling has never dived in the UK except Stony and Laybourn Lake but she spent two hours with me in the pool luring dry suit skills (blind leading blind spring to mind) so she is up for it.
We go to kit up and I discover to my horror that my Thinsulate (Large) is in fact Lings Thinsulate (XXS) and I have no under suit for the Wend. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I pop into the dive shop and 129 quid later pop out with a new weasel extreme under suit. The wife feels so guilty that she left my suit behind I didnt even get nagged (Cool).
And so to the harbour. Ling steps in dips her head in the water and walks straight back out saying things like viz what viz? Its bloody freezing and you lot are mad and she drives off to book a Red Sea trip for some proper diving.
OK fine me thinks at least I can dive with Andrew and not have to look after Ling.
Rest of the gang arrives around 7.30 and its straight across the road to the pub. Some serious Bren Tierney stile dive preparation follows
and at 3.00am the last of the die hard drinkers left the bar for bed.
Bed being the bunk house so the vast alcohol consumption did well to dull down the noise of farting snoring and musical mattress springs. I am told my wife beet me several times with a pillow to stop be snoring but I was oblivious so missed the spectacle.
Next morning we awake shower and hit breakfast and there are some very sorry looking divers around the table nursing two litre bottles of water. 'D' who was planning a 100m penetration of the hood solo the night before was now deciding whether or not he would be in a fit state to have a bath by 11.00. Mork and Mindy and KGB come down stairs looking like new pennies, which is amazing as they drank us all under the table the night before. (Mind you they are from up north)
Much disappointment abounds as the mystery diver booked in by me was not Vic after all. Mind you Andrew in his customary pyjama out fit and totally laid back stile was soon welcomed into the group.
So on to Top Gun and out to the Hood. all divers (except Ling) are present and correct and have at least two ltrs of water inside them.
This was my first dive on the Hood and I buddy'd an equally virginal Andrew up and down the hull looking into deep dark holes and thinking I wonder what's in there. Viz was a desperate 1-2m and it was 8 deg C and my Weasel was proving to be not as toasty as hoped so it was a 30min dive which I am glad to have done but I must say I have never looked in so many holes and found so little before. Mind you did find a torch marked up Lis. Checked it and it is dry inside but it has been down a while so any one know of a Lis who lost a torch let me know.
So back to shore for more healthy lifestyle bacon butties. Unfortunately the two hour surface interval is barley enough for the staff to cope with the queue of at least six divers and when the butties turned up the bacon was still going oink so it was sent back for a re heat. That's the last we ever saw of said butties and I think I herd they will be ready sometime next week.
And so to the landing craft (Or rather off the landing craft)
Mindy was determined to be first in, so leapt from the boat as soon as it stopped. Unfortunately that was about 150 yards from the shot and to a chorus of DID I SAY GO? from the skipper. Mork was still kitting up and by the time Mindy got to the shot most of the groups had already gone down.
Andrew & I took one look at the clouds of silt and said bugger that and went off east to the wall and right to the bombardier unit. This was great loads of bits to explore and lovely colourful anonemies. I had a great time. We found a cob lobster and some very obliging shrimp and I totally enjoyed the dive.
Mind you I did kick up the viz a bit going into a few corners.
My third dive with Andrew had confirmed him to be a great buddy and one of this worlds the glass is half full types. Having got him lost in Stony, failed to take the hint and not penetrated the Hood, I had now kicked up the viz big time and he still said he enjoyed the dive. Bless him.
That night some sensible pills were handed out and we ordered in curry and Chinese and were in bead sober by 10.00. I herd that the northern contingent of Mork & Mindy and KGB had limited them selves to 6 pints and 4 vodka and cokes so they we also on the health drive. 'D' was on straight coke which is testament to the pain he was in that morning I am sure.
Ling decides she will give it a go on the Countess in the AM. So its on the boat at 9.00 and out to the countess. Andrew is diving with 'D'so I am alone with Ling. In we go and do a check at the top of the shot. All is OK. Down the shot to the top the deck at 10m and viz is rubbish so I reel off from the shot. Despite having discussed this with Ling before the dive this apparently made Ling nervous as she felt she might get tangled in the line. Also I couldn’t operate the reel and hold Lings hand so It was generally a bad idea.
Ling follows me along the hand rail on the top of the deck and as soon as we are away from the shot the viz clears to a good 2m. Ho Hum. Ling is nice and neutral on buoyancy so that's good and we proceed along the deck rail. Then I made a mistake.
I dropped over the side and bade ling to come with me to show her where I got the Oysters from on my last trip. We then ascended up the side again to the deck. Unfortunately Ling didn't stop at the deck.
Se carried on up and I couldn't grab her. She however grabbed on to the SMB line so I dived over into the hold and tied off the SMB line on a bit of wreck.
I was praying that ling had managed to halt her ascent as I got my breathing sorted and ascended the SMB line to find her. I was very relieved to find her at 3m with the SMB line wrapped around her fin.
We stopped for 5 mins then I untangled her and surfaced to signal the boat.
Having got Ling safely aboard I popped back to the deck to get my reel and went back to the shot to find just about every one else on their way out.
We got back on the boat and I put Ling on 85%for half and hour just in case but she was fine thank god and all in all she coped with it all very well. She said that she went to go up to the deck and couldn't move so she put a load of air in her suit and just started drifting up. Then bizarrely she tried to dump from her BCD forgetting that this was not in use so not inflated. By the time she had figured that out and gone to manually dump the slow dumping Apex shoulder dump she was half way up. Fortunately the SMB line tangled around her ankle saved the day and stopped her going up too fast and hitting the surface. That's the trouble with 10m its shallow enough to stay out of too much trouble but buoyancy is critical.
So drama averted on to the Spaniards minus Ling but plus Andrew.
I attempted to swim through a hole and got my SMB hooked up on something and then destroyed the viz for about a mile in my thrashing about to untangle my self but apart from that it went OK. We swam around and saw a beautiful Peacock Fern worm thing but unfortunately Andrew on producing his trusty digital camera from his pocket found that he had forgotten to switch it on before putting it in the housing . (Bugger)
We then swam round the corner and straight into a football sized Lump sucker fish. It was so weird. We thought it was a puffer fish at the time and it just sat there staring at us whilst Andrew shook his head looking at his dysfunctional camera in disgust. We sat annoying the puffer fish for a while to confirm our selves as southern fish prodders and then decided it was too cold to carry on so headed for the surface.
Our fears of not being believed were unfounded, as two other divers on the boat had seen the alleged puffer fish. We all sat shivering on the boat for another 15 mins waiting for the DIR solo diver in the wet suit to get fed up. Just as we were certain that DIR had had their first death due to Hypothermia the chap surfaced and got back on the boat. We all looked on with at the non shivering 45min bottom time freak and decided that the warm glow of his DIRness had kept him warm. Either that or he was an alien from the planet Zorg sent down for a sub aquatic clandestine meeting with KGB. This confirmed our suspicion as we had spotted KGB signalling to the sky on the previous evening with his HID light cannon on the pretence of showing us how good it was.
So kit off check that the wife wasn't crunched up in a ball somewhere, wash kit loose wallet, search hotel, have all cleaning staff arrested and then keep quiet after finding wallet in bag in car and it's off home.
Just another W-end at Portland
All the best
Still trying to figure a way to get to Anglesey
PS some of the names in the above story have been changed to avoid me getting a kicking. Except for Andrew who is such a nice bloke that's unlikely.
PPS Flame away Ammers I have been slagged by far better divers than you
PPPS Ling has booked Red Sea for March
(Edited by Mark Chase at 6:56 pm on Feb. 1, 2003)