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Have just returned from a few days away in Cornwall with the family, and whilst there, booked a diving trip with Looe Divers to dive HMS Scylla.
Arrived at the shop at 7.45 AM and after dumping my gear and parking the car, I got myself kitted up in preparation for the morning's diving.  The shop has just started using a hardboat, and I had been put on there, which suited me  

Loaded the gear onto the land rover and was ferryed down to the harbour wall where we loaded the boat.  It's not had the rear platform fitted yet, but apparently it's built.  Not a bad boat - reasonably spacious, although the cabin is small and there is no cover (I guess this will be dealt with as the season progresses) - luckily for us the weather was calm and sunny, so ideal to just lay back and ride out the journey.  Whilst filling in names, I noted one of the divers on the boat was called 'Charles Hood' - I recognised it as the DIVE magazine photographer, and when he opened his camera case and lifted out this amazing unit with external stobes and flashes everywhere, I knew it had to be him.  Got chatting and it was his third attempt since the sinking to get in the water, so he was hoping it would be successful.  He'd already lined up a 'model' for the dives, but it was interesting chatting to him about photography/diving.  Also recognised another name - Andrew Linstead, who's name I have seen a few times on D-net - think he may be a YDer too.  Anyway, I digress.  Got buddied up with a PADI AOW diver who was relatively 'new' to wrecks so decided to keep to the upper decks and see how we went.  Viz was around 5M, so not the best, but much better than the south coast so no complaining from me!  As the platform was not ready, we had to roll off the side of the boat, and after watching Charles and his buddy fall off and Charles lose his mask (luckily his buddy was quick enough to duck down and catch it), my buddy and I rolled off the boat together and guess what - yes, my mask came straight off and fell into the water below.  My buddy tried to dip down but had forgotten to dump the air in his BCD so didn't get far.  The one time I leave my spare mask at home...doh!  Anyway, used someone elses spare and finally got to the shotline.  The current was running and the seabed was at around 23M, so we descended down the shot and the 'wreck' soon came into view.  It was rather eerie seeing the ship, but still interesting.  Didn't drop to the seabed as my buddy was using his air quicker than I anticipated, so we stayed on the top decks and once we'd done a swim along the length of the ship, it was time to ascend.  Maximum depth 17.5M.  Used the shot at the other end of the boat and met up with several other divers all hanging out the 5/6M stops, so it was a little crowded for a few minutes.  As soon as we surfaced, we let go of the shot (after letting the boat know we were OK) and drifted until we were picked up.  The site was now very busy with boats of all sizes.
As Charles wanted more pictures, the second dive was also on the Scylla, so 1½ hours later (but only 1 cup of tea!!!), we were going in again. Managed to not lose my mask this time.  I was obviously more relaxed on the second dive, but my buddy's air consumption seemed to get worse.  We did the same again, i.e. swam along the decks from one wnd to the other, apart from this time we swam along the outer walkways looking in sleeping quarters and doorways.  At one point I drifted slightly out from the wreck and hovered in the oen water looking at the wreck and as I looked down, I noticed large black writing onthe side - National Marine Aquarium was written along the side of the boat.  Swam back to the side of the ship, looked in a couple of large doorways. After twenty minutes of the dive my buddy was down to 80 BAR, so I decided it was time to head for the surface.  Found the stern shot and took a slow ascent up to our stops.  My buddy got to the surface with only 30BAR left, whereas I was really pleased as had used 160BAR on the first dive (for 30 minutes) but only 40BAR on the second (25 minutes) at the same max depth - I even checked my gauge wasn't broken by turning off my air and back on again to make sure it hadn't stuck at 130!  Must have forgotten to breath for most of the dive!  Am so pleased with drysuit and now that I have a warm undersuit, am definitely so much more relaxed and comfortable than ever.  Guess the weight being spot on as well helps.  Anyway, it was not bad - would have liked to have done a different second dive, or done it with someone else so I could have got to the seabed and maybe seen some wildlife.  There was nothing on there at all - it was strange being in the sea and not seeing fish or anything except divers moving around the wreck, but I'm sure this will change over time and look forward to going back again later in the year to see how it's changed.  If you like wrecks, then it's a must, but for me, it wasn't all that I'm afraid.  I enjoy diving more for the wildlife than the wreckage - it's just most of the scenery in UK waters can be found in and around wrecks, so I have to do the wrecks to see the wildlife!  Andrew took some amazing photos and will be sending me a CD of them sometime soon - will post a few (assuming he gives me the OK) once the CD arrives.
Regards, and dive safe
Martin
 

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The boat they used wasn't his heap of cack was it?  We used it at this time last year and it was positively dangerous.  They (Looe Divers) said it was going to get brought up to standard during the season.......

If it was the same one they it sounds like a) it wasn't, and b) they are still using the same line about just starting to use it.

They never replied to my letter of complaint about it.

Sounds like the Scylla needs a bit more time.  The National Aquarium guys at the show were hoping that the fish would move in within a couple of days of sinking but it sounds like maybe that was a bit hopeful.  I suppose the sheer number of divers on it since the sinking hasn't made it that attractive to them yet!  Who wants to share yer house with a bunch of rubber-clad tourists???  (Ok, some of you might...:) )

Lou
 

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Lou
Yep, that's the boat - the deck area is nice and open with wide benches and cylinder storage along the railings, but it does smoke alot whilst motoring, which made me feel sick on the way out!  We'll have to see if Mr Hood has anything to say about the boat in the June issue of DIVE.
Sad to say, I found it all a bit too much money orientated for my liking this time, and guess I was a bit annoyed at diving the Scylla twice, only because Dive magazine needed photos.  Had they told me before I got on the boat, I would have asked to skip the Scylla and do one of the other wrecks around Looe from the RIB, and finish up with a nice drift around Looe Island where there's always pipefish, wrasse, dogfish and sea cucumbers galore!  I'll remember to check next time!
Regards, and dive safe
Martin
 

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Ok, so they have added something.  When they put us on it (at full price) there was no cylinder storage, and the only seating was a plastic park bench that wasn't tied down - but then neither was the ladder so what could you expect!

Unfortunately I would never, ever use Looe Divers again after our experience, and after the way they ignored completely a very long and detailed letter of complaint.  A bit of customer service and there wouldn't be a problem but as you seem to have picked up once the money is handed over there doesn't seem to be any.


It is a shame as the RIB dive we did with them around Looe Island was lovely and I would do that site again like a shot.  I love the diving down that way.  Given half a chance I would move down there and remove the need for weeks of planning to get a couple of dives in!!

Dive safe yourself!

Lou
 
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