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Been a bad year for getting dives in with the UK weather plus huge work commitments for Al so relieved to get time to do two work up dives a couple of weeks ago and then have the weather hold long enough for this trip to actually go ahead.

Weather was indeed beautiful when we arrived at the Mount Batten pontoon to meet South West Diving along with a load of forum members for a dive on the Bell Virtue

The Bell Virtue was a West German Container Ship on route from Waterford to Rozenburg. Collision in dense fog and sank, upright and reasonably intact in 75 meters.

Trip out was ok. Not quick as flat as forecast but used to far worse.



Getting to the site ahead of time with a long slack expected turned out to be a wise move on the part of the skipper, Gary, as whilst he shotted the wreck expertly first time, the boat drifted and the rope wrapped around the prop and rudder.

Mark Davies jumped in and battled this, a particularly heroic move as the sea state meant he was working in a washing machine for 10 minutes. He finally, single handedly got it all free but paid the price when severe sickness from swallowing salt water and being tossed around then made him have to skip the dive :(

Charlie and Gary quickly made up a new shotline and got it in. Mark and Nick had been due to go in first to send up a bag to confirm shot was in. Al and I said we would do it, to give Mark a little more time to see if he would feel a little better) and moments of comedy were had.

Gary "it's a co2 blob"
Me "erm... How do you use one of those?"
Gary "Never mind (girlie) Al can do it"
Al "erm.... How do you use one of those?"

GUE divers ;)

Needless to say we managed :)

The bubble check at 9 showed up a reasonably vigorous leak from my dil cylinder din o ring so we fixed that and then descended.

The dive was stunning. The wreck was intact and upright. A container ship is normally a little dull but with 20 odd meters viz you could really enjoy the scale. Whilst we hit 75 checking the shot was reasonably secure, the deck was at 70 and the superstructure around 65.

We made our way to the stern, then up to the bow. Viz was good enough for the 'hang off the bow titanic shot" which always makes me happy. What made me a little sad was that the leak in my unit was clearly back and slowly filling with water.

Beeping a little later announced that the inspo divers had joined us. We made our way back to the higher bits of the superstructure and then thumbed the dive.

Deco was uneventful until the bag when Al's suit inflate ran out with enough gas in the SMB not to be able to hang on to it but not enough to inflate it fully. My fault as I hadn't managed to scavenge a good amount of gas for the suit bottles the day before. Made me giggle but not great for those on the surface to follow. Gary wanted a second bag up shallow so rather than wait until 6 to do this, we added a second to the line earlier in the ascent.

Al got the nastiest case of cramp at 6 meters I've ever seen. I thought for a whole he was toxing (despite his communication) and watched him like a hawk. One way to pass the time at 6 I guess ;)

Back on the boat, we found Mark driving it as best for settling down his seasickness. Tried not to rave about dive too much to spare his feelings having missed it, but hard not to.

Gary and Charlie provided pasties, cake, fruit (for the girls) chocolate and the obligatory post dive hot chocolate. Al, who normally suffers from sea sickness, professed that he had never been as well fed on a UK dive boat.

A quick trip back in the sun made the day complete. Unfortunately work meant we couldn't stay for the second day but I hope that those who did (especially Mark) had a good day.
 
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