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Imported post

I actually wrote this one for my club, but thanks to the wonders of Copy&Paste:

It was a bright, sunny dawn on the day of the Horsea trip. And I know this, because that's how early I had to get up in order to get there on time. I might have had a bit more time if we hadn't stopped for breakfast in the Little Chef on the way up, of course...
I arrived a few minutes late, so the others were just finishing the signing-in process when I was just starting. So by the time I got to the Zone 3 car park, it was so full I gave up on finding a space and just invented one instead. Dudley's van was easy to spot, but none of the other members of the club were - couldn't see them anywhere.
Eventually, I tracked them down. I should have known they'd be at the food counter, I suppose.. but we were all gathered together at last, and the day could be planned.
The group consisted of myself, Dudley, Tony, Andy Sarsons, Bob and Allan. We also had two non-divers who'd come to watch our bubbles. My main reason for going was to get used to some new bits of kit - mainly, the autodump on my new drysuit. Tony seemed to spend most of the day alternating between his main reg and his new pony's. Others were there to practice for upcoming assessment dives, and the rest seemed to have turned up just because it was the only dive trip going that weekend.
We were split into our pairs - Dudley & Andy, Me & Tony, and Bob & Allan.
Tony and I agreed we'd swim to the first buoy, take a bearing on the next buoy along, and then improvise. I talked Tony into towing the obligatory SMB, since he'd not had the chance to use his shiny new Buddy reel and SMB in open water before. And off we went. It was a relief to get into the water, since we were both weighted for the sea, making us a bit on the heavy side.
We got to the first buoy, realised we should have inflated the SMB already, forgot to take any bearings, and plummeted down to the bottom, where we found a boat. Why a boat was under the water instead of over it, I don't know. Maybe it's captain had been as good at sticking to plans as we were?
A brief circuit, and we felt we'd pretty much got all we were going to out of this piece of wreckage. We noticed a white rope leading away from the boat, tho, so we followed it. Why? Because it was there. Fortunately, it was a useful guide line, and lead us to a platform of some sort. We didn't stay here long, partly because it was rather featureless, and partly because a couple of 'other' divers happened along and stirred up all the silt. We carried on following the rope, and lo and behold, it lead us to the helicopter.
For those of you who haven't been to Horsea, the copter they have is way more impressive than the one at Stoney - it's much bigger, and much more intact as well. We circled it once or twice, and I noticed I was starting to feel mildly ill. I put it down to dehydration, and took a drink (Did you know you can use Platypus drinking bottles underwater?) We carried on along the rope, and made it to the recompression chamber.
At this point, I decided that, No, I really did feel bad. We ended the dive and surfaced. I felt worse with every passing moment, and Tony started to get really worried - he was afraid he'd have to tow me back in. It all turned out ok in the end - my breakfast made a bid for freedom, after which I felt absolutely fine, and we swam back to the ramp. Only to discover that the ramp didn't actually continue under the water. So we swam along to the ladders instead.
Funnily enough, after being the first into the water, we were also the first out of it as well. Bob and Allen returned next, not seeming too impressed with their first dive of the day. Dudley and Andy lagged behind quite a bit, doing a dive nearly twice the length of ours in which they were practising controlled buoyant lifts. Apparently that's how long it took Andy to get the idea of stopping on his way back to the surface (When WILL we let him forget that one little mistake..?)
Having started the day with half-empty cylinders, Bob and I had to get a refill. I had to pay the equivalent of two ten litre fills, instead of just one fifteen litre, for some reason - one of the perils of using a twinset, I suppose. At least they got the fills done fast.
For our second dive, we decided we'd seen everything Zone 3 had to offer in the way of buoyed bits of wreckage, so we went off in the other direction, just to see what was there. Tony spotted a Pipefish near the start of the dive (It's like a sea horse that's been pulled straight) but that was the only one we encountered, sadly. Quite a few fish, a lot of mud, and a fair number of mussels made up the rest of the dive. At one point, my curiosity got the better of me, and I used a bit of slate to prise open a mussel shell and see just what lived inside it. I was disappointed, it was very boring in there.
I was quite impressed, however, that I remembered how to use my compass. I took us all the way along, and then all the way back, and we surfaced right by the exit. Pure luck, I'm sure, but I gloated about it anyway.
Bob and Allan rejoined us, far more impressed by their second dive. Their plan was to pack up and leave at that point, but Allan was delayed when he realised he'd mislaid his cap. But only by an hour or two.
Tony and I were the only ones who opted to go for a third dive. My turn to drag the SMB this time. Rather than get mine all nasty and wet, Tony offered to lend me his. I accepted, but decided not to use the Buddy pocket reel. Clamped on a large McMahon instead, and off we went. The plan was to go right across the lake, over the boat, and back again. We found a guideline when we jumped in, and followed that. Sadly, unlike the rope we'd found earlier, this wasn't connected to any buoyed sites, so we missed the boat completely. Win some, loose some... We found the far side of the lake alright, marked by a fire extinguisher. It looked badly corroded, and I couldn't tell if it was empty or not, so we put it down and headed back. Then we followed a cable that went off at ninety degrees. Then we gave up on cables as a bad job, and fell back onto the compass. By pure skill (or luck, one of the two) we found the boat on the way back.
And that was the diving over for the day. We packed up, and headed (would you believe) for a pub.

(Edited by Dominic at 9:16 am on April 22, 2002)
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