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We stayed with the skipper of our boat for the weekend - Eddystone Charters aboard 'Furious'. The digs were great, as was the skipper - thanks Pete and Pam.
Seven of the final 10 arrived Thursday and dived the Rosehil and James Eagan Lane on Friday - all said it was a nice day, if a little blowy when ut of the shelter of Whitsand Bay. Myself and the final 2 arrived Friday evening, and we planned to do the SS Persier. Boarded the Furious at the Mountbatten Centre's jetty, and headed out to the wreck - less than 40 minutes later we were there and ready to go in. We entered the water to 10M viz and after leaving the sufrace, we soon saw the wreck below us. At 4,000 tones, it wasn't a small ship, and if you've read the write up in Dive South Devon, you'll know it's a sad story that befell the wreck and it's passengers. We passed the boilers, whilst swimming over and inside what is left of the enormous structure. We were joined by various wrasse, large shoals of bib/pollack (several must have been 4-5lbs in weight!) and the occaisonal spider crab. After usually diving in the Channel off the South coast, the viz made the dive seem almost surreal - I've never been able to see so much of a wreck without bumping into it first! At nearly 30 meters, this was perfect as the first dive of the day, without being deep enough to incur too much deco. Did our stops and the boat very quickly picked us up. Had a long surface interval in one of the many bays along the coast where we had lunch, did some sun-bathing and generally chilled ready for the aftrenoon dive. We wanted a dive which would result in maybe some crab/lobster so did a drift over a site called 'Fairyland'. Lots of seaweed, yellow coral, and again, plenty of wrasse and spider crabs, as well as the usual black sea cucumbers and urchins. The only edible crab we saw was very quick to disappear into his hole so he survived to fight another day. Averaged about 12-15M, and no deco (apart from the obligatory 1 minute at 3 meters) and even without gloves, did not feel the cold at all for the 45 minutes we were down for.
On the Sunday the wind had picked up and it was threatening to blow up a 4-5, but we decided to get out and see what it was like - if worst came to worst we could always shelter in Whitsand Bay again and do the James Eagan and Rosehill, but once we reached HMS Elk, we decided to give it a shot. With 30M to the sea bed, we headed down the shot line and with 8M viz, the wreck very quickly came into view. At 140 feet, this armed trawler was sitting upright on the bottom, with large holes in the deck making it easy to dive inside and out. With a large shoal of bib or pollack sat over the wreck, and the hull more than large enough to swim inside comfortably, it was an amazing dive. We did 45 minutes until we decided to call it a day - had a small hiccup with my DSMD in that I deployed it, and as I started to reel it in, realised that I wasn't leaving the bottom - looked up to see my DSMD coming closer - I was reeling it in as it didn't have enough air in to make it bouyant. Re-filled it and re-deployed it and then did a slow ascent to my stops at 3M. By the time I'd reached my stop, my buddy had drifted off, and it was rather eerie hanging in the blue green water with no visual references except for the surface. Did my seven minutes, and then surfaced to wait for the boat. The wind was quite strong, so getting back on the boat ladder was fun (not!) but once I had got myself back on board, I realised my buddy was still doing deco-time - his Aladin had given hime 20 minutes at 3M instead of the 7 minutes my Cochran Commander had given me. Once we were all on board, we motored toward the harbour, stopped by HMS Invincible (aircraft carrier) and had lunch, then decided not to do the second dive because of the wind and headed home. Once the cars were packed, we all met up at the bar and had a drink to toast the organiser of the trip (cheers Keith - you did a great job) and the skipper.
All in all, a cracking weekend - shame we didn't get the weather to do 2 dives on the Sunday, but with the dives we did do, I'm not complaining. Am sure we will be going back there again this year, and definately next year - highly recommended.
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