Never let it be said that a weekend's diving in Abbs (with a half-squadron of YD'ers) is gonna be uneventful!! Here's the gravy...
I'd organised to pick up the Lesser-spotted Willo at his gaff on the night of the Friday, 24th, and then stow his kit in the Landie and then head off up to St Abbs - intending on arriving late at a about midnight at Billy's. We'd booked the cottage - more of that later.
Due to work commitments, I ended up not leaving my house in Manchester until about 20.10 hrs to set off for Middlesborough (Ingleby Barwick, to be precise). Made good time on the A1(M) and got to Davey's about 21.15 hrs.
En route, I'd phoned Davey to get directions and he mooted the idea of us staying over at this gaff that night instead of heading up to Billy's. We um'd and ah'd over the pro's and con's and agreed to finalise our plans when I arrived at his house.
On arriving, I was welcomed in the driveway by the chap himself and we gave each other our now customary bear hug and I was ushered dans Chez Willo. After being greeted by Diane and wee Brad (wife and son respectively), Davey floored me with the following piece of infallible logic: "if we stay here tonight and then head on up early-doors tomorrow, it will mean that we can have a relaxed night of it and a few sherries, instead of getting there at 'sparrow-fart' tonight and having to get our heads down for an early start diving tomorrow..."
Can't argue with a confident man...and the prospect of a sherry or five in much convivial company won the day.
We agreed that we'd need to phone Billy and stand down the accommodation, as we'd booked the cottage for the Friday night also. Call made, Billy cool with the rearrangement (no sweat), we settled down for a couple of polite medium-sweet sherries.
Now, as is my wont on occasions like this, I'm happy to spend all night chewing the fat over a drink - and we did. Or rather I did. Davey and I spent a wee while in his upstairs office having a laugh after Diane and Brad had gone to bed. Then Davey, wisely, said that he was off to bed, as we had to be up at O-dark-30 in the AM. I bad him farewell and cracked on checking my emails and posting on YD on his rather extensive home system (with broadband) - some of you may have twigged that I am something of a night-owl and I think the last post I made was at 03.48 hrs. And so to bed...Davey had put me in the East Wing of Chez Willo in a humongously comfy bed
Next thing I know - after what felt like (and was not too far from the truth) about 20 minutes sleep, Davey's waking me to get up to make a move. So, me still somewhat the worse for wear (after the previous night's Bacchanalian feast) and with sod all sleep, we stowed the kit in the Landie and made a bid for the border. Abbs here we come!!! Remembering at all times that this was my 1st time diving in St Abbs – I’ve become used to the light-hearted abuse from all the other Mods as being an ‘Abbs Virgin’. So, finally, we were on our way.
Having successfully dodged the battalions of speed cameras that litter the upper-stretches of the A1 (or what passes for it – being as it is supposed to be a ‘national thoroughfare’ and that which connects the respective capitols of England and Scotland, it’s a national disgrace; it is, after all, a single-lane goat-track this far up) we take the final right turn into Eyemouth and the road down to Abbs itself. As we do, Drifty calls us and ascertains our whereabouts and ETA. We are nary 10 minutes away and the weather is, for January, on the ‘charitable to divers’ side. Result.
So we pitch up at Billy’s to be greeted by an equally motivated trio of Stevie Walker, Gavster and Drifty. Hands shaken with the troop, Davey and I transfer our kit into the cottage and begin to assemble the kit for the 1st dive of the weekend. I’m about to have my Abbs cherry popped and you know, I’m rather looking forward to it.
Let me say here that I’ve travelled extensively around the world, both to dive and with my job, and very, very rarely have I met as decent a chap as our Skipper, Billy. Straight as the day is long and twice as jovial and accommodating. He puts us at ease immediately and gives us all a heads-up on the intended day’s diving given the prevailing conditions; and as dive briefings go, you can file this one in the ‘not too shabby at all’ section.
Billy was a fisherman out of Eyemouth for 26 years, and then jacked it 6 years ago to do what he does now – skipper bands of itinerant divers around his own piece of coastal Scotland. And 26 years of experience of these coasts shows in his reading of the conditions and his handling of the boat – as was to prove the case when we finally got out onto the Oggin: he can land his boat on a sixpence to both drop and pick up divers.
Now when you look at Billy’s boat on his website, you don’t get a proper sense of just how big it actually is – it is plenty big and decked out very much with divers in mind. Loads of room to kit up and stow kit post dive and spacious even when full. No ‘arse-holes-n-elbows’ routine this.
So, after donning our dry-bags (sans hand-cuffs this time for Willo) and twins, and me trying in vain to surgically remove the Cheshire cat grin from Willo’s mug (“Bren, Bren, we’re in Abbs mate!! And we’re gonna dive!!”), we gambolled down the harbour side to Billy’s waiting boat. The tide was well out so this meant a 12-foot scramble down the harbour ladder (in full rig) to the boat; we were offered the use of Billy’s hook-line to lower the kit down, but being ‘real divers’ (groan), we made do with brute force and sheer ruddy ignorance.
Thus assembled, we (Gav, Steve, Drify, Dave and myself) agreed the YD Order of Battle in terms of buddy pairs. This was to be Willo and myself, with the other three diving as a ‘loose trio’ – which is neither a comment on their sexual proclivities, nor an inference of any attempt at manage-a-trios on their part!
Setting off from Abbs’ harbour entrance can be an invigorating experience – as it was my 1st time out, I’d certainly no idea where we going (an adventure, if you will) and the swirling gulls and guillemots which inhabit the coastal rocks surrounding it very much make their presence felt the moment any boat leave for the sea. Luckily, realising that we weren’t a fishing trawler or a ready source of food, they did us the favour of not posting their usual business card by way of retribution. Suitably unspeckled, we headed for the open sea.
To this day I cannot remember what the name of the 1st dive site is. Doh! No doubt one of the chaps will jog my memory later in this thread.
Any way, we arrived at the site and Billy gave us a very thorough briefing on which way the current was running, how the wind would affect any pick-up, compass bearings, which side of the boat (port) he’d be approaching us for the pick-up etc. And so Steve, Gav and Drifty duly alighted the boat and went in.
I think it a suitable point here to own up to my 1st mistake of the trip. The night before, as you will have read, I had one over the eight and very little kip – both of which were my own fault – as Davey sure as #### did not force it down my neck. This stupidity was about to come back and bite young Tierney, gross stylee, in the Ronson (arse).
I went in first and turned to signal the skipper that I was good-to-go. Davey came in immediately behind me, as the current was a good one (we had already lost sight of the other three as they’d already assembled on the surface and then descended) and we didn’t want to get separated or drawn further out to sea than where we’d been dropped. We‘d agreed to do a bubble-check at 6 metres and so gave each other the OK and began to go down.
I immediately began to feel uncomfortable and uncertain (that ‘I’d rather still be in bed asleep rather than battling with this norz’ type feeling) and began making excuses to both Davey and myself (once I’d given him the signal to resurface); garbage along the lines of ‘I didn’t think my brand new Poseidon regulator was giving, as it should’. Honest and to the point (for that read ‘brutally frank’), Willo had a few lungs full from said regulator and declared (rightly) that there was absolutely nothing (or, in his own unmistakable parlance, “there’s fuck-all the matter with that mate”) wrong with it.
Any way, with all this ascent and descent going on (we tried a second time with me feeling no better about proceedings), we’d actually missed our window to hit the dive site and had drifted out to sea. Billy, with out so much as being signalled for assistance, promptly appeared and offered to get us back on the boat and drop us back where we needed to be. The offer was gratefully accepted and we clambered back aboard the boat.
Once back aboard, Davey asked me if I wanted to call the dive and head back to port, as he could see that I’d had better days. Two reasons why I didn’t call it: I honestly wanted to do the dive and I didn’t want Willo to be one dive down with the prospect of canning the second dive too – St Abbs being his spiritual home. I said no and that we should crack-on. He might not have noticed (and whilst he was perfectly willing to bin the dive if required to), but I’m sure I sure a glimmer of ‘thank-f*ck for that’ spread across his face. Duly repositioned, we dropped in a second time.
Looking directly at each other not more than a arms-length away, we gave each other the OK and went for our descent – but not before I’d taken three huge lungs full of air to ‘airiate’ my lungs so the initial demand on the first section of the descent would be reduced. At about 7 metres I began to feel uncomfortable again and slowed my descent to a stop. Alas, I’d only just given Davey the OK to continue and he carried on down (my fault again, how else was he to interpret an OK to continue?) The viz was 3 to 4 metres at best and he had no way of knowing that I’d ground to a halt in the shallows until he took a quick look back to see where I was – which he did pretty much immediately.
There then followed a sub-aquatic ‘son-et-lumier’ show, with both of us signalling OK with our torches to the other – Dave took it mean that I was OK and would now make my way down to him; I took it to mean that he was OK and would make his way up to meet me. I made a point of staying directly above Dave’s bubble-column and so as to have two methods of keeping eyes on; the other being his torch beam (even though I couldn’t see him directly).
As this was happening, I began to think more clearly and become a lot more comfortable in general. I was now keenly looking for anything that might give me a reference point to allow me to judge distance (the seabed, a wall, rocks – anything) and duly found it in the shape of a drop-off that appeared right next to me. Checking my depth and equalising, I descended to meet Davey on the bottom at 16 metres. Now I could see the bottom, now I could see him, now I was good to go.
What I should have done (indeed we did on the rest of the dives in Abbs) was asked Billy before going in what depth the dive was, done our bubble check and then done a free-fall racing descent to the seabed. Then, once orientated, we could have cracked on with the dive. Lesson learnt.
Now I could make all kinds of bullshit excuses here about why this little episode happened: it was only the second time I’d dived twins; getting used to my new rig etc. The bottom line is that I’d got wankered the night before, had too little sleep (about 3 hours) and was now paying for it. And let's face it, the ciggies don't exactly help either. By way of explanation, Dave and I had had a good long session in Capernwray the week previous to try the rig out and it all went very well indeed – buoyancy, trim, safety/simulated deco stops the works.
Luckily, this now proved to be the case – we both squared our buoyancy and began what was for me an excellent dive – although Dave was none too complimentary about the lack of viz and there being no Lobbies the size of Sherman tanks at which to have a gander! The seabed at points was carpeted in Brittle Stars and other starfish and we managed to see a couple of (not massive, but sizable) crabs. The majority of the dive was a drift and there was some enjoyable surge too. My 1st pootle around the crevices and gullies at Abbs was most enjoyable and Dave and I remained in very close buddy contact for the whole dive – a pattern that was to establish itself further for the course of the weekend.
A dive time of some 50 minutes, max depth of 20 metres and a perfectly bagged-off safety stop saw us being picked up by Billy who was – as usual – right there and waiting for us.
Back on board and brew in hand, we made our way back to harbour for a well-earned bacon roll from Allison, Billy’s lovely wife; but not before the waves had done there level best to dump half of the North Sea into my cup of tea – much to the hilarity of my fellow shipmates who, to a man, had taken shelter in the wheelhouse.
OK – Part Two later today, and if you think this part was eventful, you aint seen nothing yet – I assure you!! Until then, dear readers…
This from a 'diver' that is certed to 40 metres on the Inspiration and allegedly does deeper than that depth?! And now wants to do 'an expedition to the Niagara at 120 metres'?!
With respect (and not to turn this into some form of pissing contest) I'd done 74 metres on air 11 years before you started diving hen. The difference being that we had a full support team, stage bottles on various shot-lines and surface cover with the Flying Swiss Ambulance on standby - and not some mad solo 102 metre (allegedly) pootle in a sump in Wales where you phoned someone in Middlesborough (FFS) to act as your surface cover! Although, granted, getting someone to save your sorry arse from that distance could be construed as 'challenging'.
So let's not get in to the apects of proper dive planning shall we - you talk a good game dear but, through your self-proclaimed and highly questionable antics, I can't find anyone that might want to dive with you. End of.
Bren (or anyone who dives St.Abbs) in your above post you mention that Billy has a website, can you let me have it. please.
A few of us will be going to Scapa in Aug and are going to stop at Seahouses to break up the return journey (London- Scrabster approx 700miles) and we were thinking of going to St.Abbs for a day as well.
Will Billy to go with less than a full boat?
Matt you say Peter will dive on anybody, in that case I`d better check that the dive center in lochaline has lockable doors.
Mind you being that near Glasgow they've probally been nicked.
Not banned for stating the obvious but banned because you wouldn't play by the rules of the board and continued to post in a provocative and confrontational matter despite repeated calls not to do so. Membership to YD is not a god-given right - you are a guest here and are expected to act as such. Everyone is aware of the rules we expect regarding conduct and you chose to ignore those so, after an extended period of grace, you were excluded. End of story.
tut tut. you write long boring posts about diving when pissed and you wonder why you get comments back that you dont like. maybe we should all say 'ooh well done how clever of you'. is that playing by the y.d. rules?
Ammers & Stef - An Explanation to YD Members as to their Banning.
Yawn - Here we go again. Can you two not grow up - or is it the same person with two personalities? hmmm?!
Just so everyone is clear, as a Moderator, I have not got the system access or authority to ban ANYONE from this forum - YD.
Alas, both Stef and Ammers have contributed very little to YD since joining - unless you include back-biting, cheap sniping, Grandstanding, 'look-at-me' one-up-manship, castigating other divers for not thinking/deploying as they do (we're all just 'fish-prodders' don't ya know?) and a general bad attitude to any diver that doesn't conform to either Stef's Armchair-driven antics, or Ammers' singular approach to water-assisted suicide. C'est la vie.
The decision to ban them had to be taken in concert with ALL of the Moderators (a 5-nil decision in favour of binning them BTW), and could not be carried by any one, two or three of us alone - a safety mechanism built in to the way we operate to stop any of us 'taking our ball in' when any member posts something that we as individuals might not like or to which we might take umbrage.
What I would say (to all our credit) is that we've managed, both as a Mods team and membership, to keep the quality of this forum extremely high and one by divers for divers; one where anyone can ask any question, regardless of how stupid or embarrassing they might think it may be and get it answered in a non-judgemental and informative way; one where we accept all divers: regardless of school, agency (Tec/Rec/twins/single/mix/rebreather etc.) or club and where everyone can contribute and (importantly) banter - a key YD assest this! - without fear of smart-arsed comments or flaming from those who (since their time in the playground) have had difficulty making friends. Indeed their only attribute is the diving equivalent of deliberately stirring up the silt behind them so that other divers can't see ahead or wish they hadn't dived with that person - in Ammers' case, currently finding a techie instructor or buddy to go into the water with her is a real problem; so she consoles herself by taking her frustration out on us and others by simply calling names and throwing fcuks into the discussion.
Sad but true. So it looks like chapters three to seven of Dale Carneigie's book "How to Win Friends & Influence People" obvioulsy made an impact on her. Not.
It will come as no shock to most of you that read this and other diving forums that at least one of this now banned pair has done her level best to piss-off everyone they come across - believe me I've tried, but I can not for the life of me understand why. I find it best to be straight, honest (even when wrong and then take flak for it - hic! - ) to those I respect and dive with. Alas, not in their case. I don't know whether they were locked in the cellar when they were kids or daddy didn't give them enough attention - but you've seen the results here in the last couple of days.
So what might we expect to see from them in the next few days?
Unfortunately, the last time Ammers was banned from here (yes, she's been binned before for similar antics - and we, to our eternal error, let her back in under the proviso that she behave) she spent the next week hacking the website and posting all kinds of inanities and generally making a nuisance of herself. Some the 'handles' and nommes de guerre/plume she used were:
* Tom Gunn
* Banned but Still Here
* John Smith
and you've obviously seen her and Stef's pathetic attempts tonight:
* Fcukd at 20m on a Sherry
* Banned from the Truth
etc. ad nauseum.........yawn.
No doubt they will continue to exercise their petty minded egos on here (in one hidden format or another) - but hopefully we have time on our side and they will get bored.
That said, what you have to remember is that their mind's do not work like the majority's and they get motivated by things that we would find childish and asinine in the extreme. So expect to see pitiless attempts to get back in here under various guises and stir up the viz when they can.
Again, I can only apologise to you all for the mince they might try and deliver here - the upside is that most of you are accustomed to and have seen their exploits on other forums (Ammers is a particular topic of fun on the CGD) and know that empty vessels make the most noise.
It will all blow over, but until then, please sit back and enjoy the ride - they have nowhere else to go.......
On behalf of all YD, we wish Ammers, Stef and Frog Princess (armchair in tow at 140 metres on a 3 litre Pony - whilst sharing one reg between the trio of them.....or would that not be considered 'challenging' enough for them??) safe and happy diving!!
Got to support the YD team on this. I dont know the bods and wish them no harm, but their antics, whilst sometimes entertaining, have not been in the spirit of the rules, more importantly, they have not set good examples of values etc for any newcomers or experienced folk alike.
Bren. Does this mean I can call you a wa**er every time I go on line but as long as I suck up to the other moderators I don't get banned. Way-Hey, Bren you're a wan*er. Dalesdiver, Andy2tanx, Dave W , Heads up. I want to have your babies!!!!!