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Thats MISTER Blue Boots to you....
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OK, so here is a tale of high drama, and exploits and general derring-doo. OK, so maybe it isn't, but it *is* an account of our Bank Holiday weekend's diving in Weymouth/Portland. I had never dived this area before, so when I found the online booking system for the shuttle boats from the Breakwater dive centre, I thought "Let's sort something out", so after a few PM's and a thread, there were four of us booked onto the shuttles for various dives over the weekend.
The YD "Gang of four" consisted of Prometheus, Spacehopper, Chas49 and myself, and we were all heading down on the Friday evening and camping for the weekend at the seabarn campsite. I left work a little after 4pm and after getting home, departed in the car for Milton Keynes to meet up with Charles just after 4.30 I got a clear run down and after transferring my
dive gear into his car, we left Milton Keynes at 6.15 The journey down was interesting, but not too bad considering it was the start of a Bank Holiday weekend, but once we got to the bottom of the A34 it began to get nasty. I had a phone call from Gareth to say he was stuck on the M27, and later on found Chris had got stuck in pretty much the same place, such that although they were supposed to be getting to the campsite much earlier than us, we were actually second there, only a few minutes behind Gareth and Mary. We pitched the tents in the dark, at about 10.30 and after a quick much deserved beer, we all retired for the night as we had an early start the next day.

Saturday:

We all got up early, and made our way down to the Breakwater Dive Centre and had some breakfast there. I registered for the key system to get our own fills as required, and did the training to use the rig, and we filled our tanks ready for the first dive. After some leisurely kitting up, it was time to load our gear onto "Goose" for the first dive of the weekend.

Dive 1 - Black Hawk Bows (Lulworth) 17 metres, 41 minutes

We had a pleasant ride out on the boat, and after kitting up, dropped into the water and over to the shotline. We descended the shot, into the blackness, and knew straight away that visibility wasn't going to be good on this dive. There had been at least one boatload on the wreck in the minutes before us, and I think things had been kicked up a little. We found the bottom of the shot, and after checking everything was OK, got the torches on, and had a little look around. The wreck is spread over a very large area on this site, and long story short, I think we dived the wrong area, as other divers on this dive found some much more interesting sounding parts of the wreck. I was diving with Charles and we found a couple of upright sections of metal, but nothing else there, and then we headed out along a flat section of wreck barely visable above the surface, and had a nice quiet mooch around on this section, and other bits sitting nearby. We didn't really see too much, and the visibility was only about a metre and a half, but it was a good dive to get the weekend started, and to get the boat diving cobwebs out of the way. We sent up the blob after a little over half an hour, and made a nice slow ascent up and back onto the boat. Unfortunately the lift had broken when the first divers had surfaced (and not a Paul Oliver in sight!), so we had to drag ourselves onto the platform of the lift, and then climb up into the boat from there. Quite physical, but not a major problem fortunately! After a well deserved hot chocolate, it was back to the shore for lunch and surface interval.


Dive 2 - Dredger 8 metres, 24 minutes

Another nice bimble dive, this one. After a long surface interval we got back onto the other shuttle boat "Top Gun", and were taken just outside the harbour wall area for this dive. The Dredger is quite intact, although pretty sunken in the sand these days. Also on this dive was Mark Powell with some of his students doing some coursework, they were line laying on this dive. Scuttler was also on this dive, although we didn't know it until we were almost back at shore, but it was good to get to say hi.
We jumped in, and went down onto the wreck, and it was clear that the visibility whilst not great was much better than the first dive. After getting ourselves sorted, we went around the dredger a couple of times, stopping to look into the nooks and crannies that were around there. We saw Gareth on his own down there, without Chris (who had had some problems with his ears and had had to abort the dive) and he signalled that he was trailling Mark Powell's group for the dive, so all was OK, so we carried on and had a good look along part of the harbour wall, and then out and over some of the sand, where I have never seen so many crabs. Large ones, small ones, and some absolutely massive meal-for-four sized ones. They were absolutely everywhere so this area of the seabed must be a very good environment for them. We do now have a new dive signal of hands next to the ears in a sleeping style, which means "I'm bored, lets go up" :)
After 20 minutes of mooching about on the bottom on and around the dredger we surfaced and returned to the boat. Certainly nothing special about this dive, but its still far better than sitting on the quayside!
After the dives, we got our gear packed away and made our way back to the campsite, via the supermarket, and had an evening of Barbecue and beer, which was great, albeit a little cold. I never knew you could have central heating in a tent, but Gareth proved it was possible and we found some warmth in his canvas hotel...

Sunday

Another early rise, and down to the Breakwater Dive Centre we went. The wind had picked up over the course of Saturday, and still further overnight, so we were beginning to wonder what the day had in store for us. Before loading the boat, Chris decided to leap into the water by the pontoon and see how his ears were, and we formed a plan based on that he would be attempting the dive, but if he couldn't do it, then Gareth would join up with myself and Charles to make a three.

Dive 1 - White Nothe Landing Craft 22 metres, 27 minutes

I enjoyed this dive, but not the boat trip really. The wind had picked up a lot, and caused the boat to rock violently when we were at the dive site, which is the worst possible motion on a boat for me. Its not so much that I feel rough, although I didn't feel great, more that that particular motion makes me very nervy. So I was quite glad to leap into the water, after a nightmare kitting up session where everything went wrong, but finally I took the jump, and immediately my DSMB decided to detach itself from the bungee holding it in place, and float around getting in the way. After trying to relocate it on the surface, I eventually decided to do it when we hit the bottom, as it wasn't causing any problems as it was still rolled up, so we descended, and ended up as a three on the bottom, as Chris had not managed to make it down. I re-stowed my DSMB, and we set off for a good look around the landing craft, which was remarkably intact I thought considering how long it had been down there. The visibility was pretty good for the conditions, there was a good enough current on it, that anything stirred up had cleared itself away again within a few seconds, but not too much current as to make the dive annoying. We bimbled around the landing craft for a while, and I saw some nice fish inside it, including one very colourful fish, which we think was a wrasse. Very blue at the head, and with a long top fin, and turning into a more green colour as it moved down the body. As the three of us are relative newbies in boat diving, we were using the principle of ascend when someone hits 100 bar, and I got the "T" from both Gareth and Charles at the same time, which was surprising as I had just checked my air and I still had 150 bar. I think I must have stopped breathing on this dive or something :)
We sent the blob up again, and did another nice ascent, and then got back onto "Goose" which by now had a working lift again, thank goodness!
Back on shore, and Chris showed me a neat solution to the bungee problem, which should stop the stupid thing coming adrift on step entries in future. Back to port, and the wind was still picking up, which didn't bode well for the afternoon's dive.


Dive 2 - Drift Dive 18 metres, 34 minutes

Possibly the best dive of the weekend, this one for me anyway. I do like a nice drift dive, but this is only the third that I have done, so they are still new I guess! We were supposed to be diving the Unknown Coaster over by the harbour wall, but the weather conditions were making it hard so we asked Skipper to suggest some alternatives, and he came up with this drift dive, where odd cannonballs have been found in the past. We had the boat to ourselves on this dive, which was great! We kitted up and leapt in. We were diving this one as a three again, and we descended down to the bottom and sent the blob up, as you do on drift dives, got ourselves sorted and set off. The first thing I learnt about drift diving, is that you do not turn round, and fin to hold yourself in position to look at something, when one of the other divers is not looking the right way. I stopped to look at a line in the seabed, one of quite a few we saw on the dive, which we are guessing are some form of faultlines, and the next thing I knew was I was walloped by a passing Gareth :D Fortunately no one hurt, and no masks dislodged so we just reformed as a line and got on with the dive... We spent a nice 25 minutes or so just floating along with the current, making only minimal adjustments to buoyancy etc, which is the reason that I love drift dives, you just float there and go with the water, wherever it takes you. All too soon, it was time to ascend and return to the boat and back to the harbour again. We unloaded the boat and headed back to the campsite, grabbed some food and then headed back down into Portland to have a drink in one of the pubs there.

Monday

Woke up in the morning to hear the wind howling through the trees behind the tent, and after wandering over to look at the sea across the fleet, there were loads of white horses.... bugger. We were meant to be diving the Aeolian Sky today, but it was clear that this wasn't going to happen. To be honest none of us fancied going out on the conditions, so we packed up the tents, and we were just getting ready to go down to the dive centre to see whether any alternative site within the harbour was going to be offered, when we got the call from them to say that all diving was off, as there was no alternative dives available. Not a surprise and to be honest not all that unwelcome! So instead we set off home early, after a quick visit to Portland Bill to have a good look at the sea, which was somewhat choppy, with a lot of swell to say the least.
The journey home was truly dreadful, as we took 3 hours to do the first 80 miles, as every road out of Dorset was just completely clogged up with homeward bound traffic. After getting back to Charles' place, I transferred the gear back to my car and finally got home about 7pm last night, completely exhausted.
It was great to meet up with a whole load of YDers over the course of the weekend, Paul Oliver, Gledders, WarmWaterDiver (modelling the new YD T-Shirts very well), Scuttler, and of course SKipper just to name a few. Using the shuttle boats worked quite well, and we got some decent diving in. The campsite at Sea Barn is pretty good, and appears to be used by an awful lot of divers in the Weymouth and Portland area, judging by the amount of Ribs around the site...

I'm not sure if I will get any more dives in before the Farnes gig, but this was a good weekend. Any time that you get 4 out of a planned 5 dives in the UK seas is probably a good weekend :teeth:
 

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I was lucky to be leaving Dorset going westwards Derek. The queue went all the way back to Poundbury. So you were joining it part way along...

There were quite a few YDers around weren't there.
 

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Good report Ratcliffe. Good to see you and the rest of the group. Hope we have the pleasure again soon.
 

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After a quick visit to the doc, the good news is me lughole ain't perforated :) but there is a slight infection:frown: , so a couple of weeks out of the water for me , so the next dives are probably the Farnes . :teeth:
 

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Sorry to have missed a lot of you on friday night, I did pootle over to Portland to the Breakwater and met Mark Powell, Jules 77 and Kanga.

Believe it or not, the weather has been beautiful for the last 5 weeks with sea like glass. Bummer about the weekend weather but glad to hear you enjoyed it all the same :teeth:

Next time, send us a PM and I'll tell ye all about they baaaack roads.
 

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Thats MISTER Blue Boots to you....
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
After a quick visit to the doc, the good news is me lughole ain't perforated :) but there is a slight infection:frown: , so a couple of weeks out of the water for me , so the next dives are probably the Farnes . :teeth:
Hurrah! Thats really good news, no reason to miss the Farnes then :D
So did the doc say why you got the plop..warm feeling bit then ? ;)
 

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DUE CEO, Booking agent, Coffee maker & Dogsbody...
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Nice meeting you guys :)
 
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