Tag Archives: Trips

Swanage, May 2015

Phil, who’s midway through his sports diver training, gets the first dives of the season under his belt in Swanage.

It’s Friday evening , I have checked and re-checked my diving kit and packed a good bobble hat and outer coat to wear on board after each dive, as UK diving can be a bracing experience. I’m happy everything is in place, including the cake and apple pies I promised my Best Caravan buddies that I’d bring with me  to complement all their goodies. So with the Blues Bros on the CD, like Jake Elwood, I have my sun glasses on, a full tank of fuel, a pack of Mr Kipling’s and I’m on mission from the sea gods of Swanage.

Having arrived at The Palm Beach Hotel where the bell boy took care of my kit, known locally as the Swanage Bay caravan park, I headed straight for the bright lights of the bar and immediately had to clear my ears at the cackling, high pitch screams of the resident karaoke singers. Following a swift drink, the tinitus in my ears soon became my cue to hit the sack and look forward to early morning breakfast with my best caravan buddies.

The first dive under the pier left me with mixed emotions as visiblility was almost zero and buoyancy an issue. The second dive drifting off the Fleur de Lys left me emotionally scared, trying to deploy my first DSMB in open water – still all part of the enjoyment Trevor told me afterwards. I was down but not beaten. A few beers and a good night’s most welcome sleep saw me up and at ‘em the next morning for a dive with Boggie, to see the WW2 Valentine tanks, followed by an afternoon drift dive. WHAT A GREAT DAY! Forget the buoyancey issues of yesterday – I was down there with the fishes, crabs, eels and a good mile and a bit drifting at what seemed like break neck speeds, “2 miles per hour, kid” Boggie informed me later.

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Back on board, the sun was shining and Swanage was my Hawaii, minus the coconuts and splendid cocktails! However, a fresh strawberry ice cream and a stroll with my diving buddies completed a marvellous weekends diving with the Argonauts. Roll on the Scillies in July!

Mull, Scotland, 2014

Emily finds diving off the west coast of Scotland just as beautiful as she remembers it.

It’s five years since I last dived off Mull. Then I was a relatively inexperienced sports diver in a wetsuit. These days I’m a slightly more experienced dive leader, although less hardy in the comfort of a dry suit. I have fantastic memories of that first trip to Mull, and it didn’t disappoint this time round.

We were blessed with the most perfect weather all week – sunshine and flat calm seas – which only added to the beauty of the area, both above and below the water. Some of us made the most of the weather and a free day the first day by climbing Ben More – the highest mountain on Mull. A first mountain for some, with stunning views of the island and across to Skye and the mainland. Although some knees didn’t recover from the descent all week…

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We had a fantastic week’s diving a mix of wrecks and walls. There was so much life, including squat lobster, crabs, conger eels, wrasse, goby, cod, butterfish, sponges, fan worms, and lots anemones including jewel and plumose anemones.

Some of the highlights included:

  • the Breda – with its hull covered in plumose anemones
  • the Shuna – silty but atmospheric with lots of life
  • the Rondo – pick your depth – 5m or 50!
  • the Thessis with swim throughs and lots of pretty sponges.

My absolute favourite though was the Hispania which we were able to dive twice. It is completely covered with pink, peach and cream anemones. It looks like a pink furry wreck – and is very pretty. There is a lot of life on it – we managed to spot scorpionfish and lots of nudibranchs, as well as pollock, cuckoo wrasse and a small eel – amongst others. This is probably one of my favourite wreck dives ever!

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We were lucky enough to have catering at our accommodation from the wonderful Jules and Jem, who cooked up delicious meals every evening, and made us great lunches for the boat. We also had time to explore the pretty town of Tobermory and the beautiful island of Mull with it sea eagles, seals, mountains and beaches.

All in all, an excellent week diving with great friends in a fabulous location!

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Tenerife April 2014

This was a lovely warm water trip, which everyone seemed to really enjoy. Highlights were that:

  • James W and Mark passed Ocean Diver, James G got his first experience of instructing in open water and Emily H completed her cross-over from PADI
  • newer members gained valuable diving experience in a range of conditions (boat, shore, sunny, windy, rough)
  • Experienved divers buddied up with the less experienced ones and enjoyed the oppurtunity to share their skills
  • Sarah got some great photos with her camera
  • Gareth came out of the closet as a non-diver and a hard-core cyclist

Who Came

  • James Gardner
  • Claire Bale
  • Emily Hughes
  • James Wilson
  • Emily Morgan
  • Gareth Morgan (now a non-diver)
  • Chris MacNab
  • Emma Noble (non-diver)
  • Rachel White
  • Mark Wingrove
  • Olivia Blandford-Guyon
  • Charlie Masding
  • Trevor Peacock
  • Philip Gray
  • Phil Johnston
  • Sarah Armstrong

What we saw

  • Dolphins from the boat
  • Cuttlefish
  • Octobus
  • Arrow crabs
  • Trumpet fish
  • Sea hare on the night dive
  • Lots of little puffer fish
  • Ornate wrasse
  • Bluefin Damselfish
  • Zebra bream
  • Atlantic rays
  • Eagle ray
  • Lizzard fish
  • Blenny
  • Roncador (bastard grunt)
  • Grouper
  • White bream
  • Flat fish (plaice)

Must not touch category:

  • Black, brown and yellow fangtooth morray eels
  • Fireworms
  • Sea urchins (one discovered in Sarah’s knee)
  • Scorpion fish
  • Jellyfish (especially not with face and lips as James G did – ouch!)

Diving

We dived with Aqua-Marina in Vista Sur. It was well placed for the beach, restaurants and the appartments which were right behind the centre.

We also had our own wet room at the dive centre equipped with toilet (unflushable), showers and washing facilities which was really handy.

There were too many of us for the one boat so we spent the first two days in three groups:

  • one boat usually dived from Las Galletas (kit went in orange bags and everyone drove to las Galettas)
  • one group walked kit down to the boat at the shore near the centre
  • the thrid group did training shore dives

After the first two days the trainees joined the others so that we just had two groups.

The third day was rather rough – quite a challenge for the trainees’ first boat dive. They all got down though and enjoyed a picturesque dive.

The diving included:

  • shore dives
  • boat dives
  • a night dive around the local breakwater
  • wall dives
  • cave dives
  • wreck dives – El Condesito
  • swim-throughs
  • scenic marine life dives
  • descending and ascending the anchor line

The underwater landscape was mainly terraces of ledges that go down to a sandy bottom with pinnacles/gullies and overhangs.

Trevor’s GoPro flooded on El Condesito – but it survived!

Après Dive

The biggest decision most of us had to make was whether to go for a large beer (jarra) or a small beer after the day’s diving!

  • Emily M and Sarah A’s birthdays
  • Expensive mojitos at the magic bar
  • Noisy nightclub developed our signing experience – we all hit 50 bar at 6:30am and did an ascent back to the accommodation – some of our ascents were more controlled than others! Improvised bow-ties and straw “art”
  • Frequent visits to little Italy – recommend the vegetarian pizza (and limoncello!) – Trevor managed 4 in a row.
  • Cheap beer and friendly staff at the family bar – our regular meeting place. Mark took the garlic mayonnaise challenge, and survived!

And finally…

… we all had a jolly good time!

Swanage

18th – 19th May 2013

After a long winter, we knew the water would still be quite chilly but we were all excited nonetheless for the first opportunity this season for most of us to ‘get wet’.  It was also the first trip for newly qualified Ocean Diver Phil.

We travelled down to Swanage on the Friday evening and made our way – in part via the pub – to the caravan park and tried to get at least some sleep before a very early start the next day.

Day 1: Saturday 18 May

There were two separate morning dives.  The early risers had a tide to catch at 0725 and had to persuade the kit hire shop on the pier to open early!  The weather was clear and surprisingly calm, certainly in comparison to a similar trip last year.  We took the Mary Jo a short distance to the shotline for the Fleur de Lys.  As well as the wreck, which lies at around 14m, a fair number of fish were to be seen including dogfish and wrasse.

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The lazier morning group enjoyed a relaxed time under the pier, a good opportunity to test out kit after the winter and get our “diving legs”.

In the afternoon we took the Mary Jo out to Peveril Ledge for an exciting drift dive at 18 – 22m. The current was pulling fairly strongly, so we deployed buddy lines and SMBs at the start of the dive, before everyone rapidly got pulled in separate directions. A great whiste-stop tour of the Ledge, with lots of local sea weed, starfish, dogfish, wrasse, and even a huge ray.

 

Day 2: Saturday 19 May

A slightly later start on Sunday saw us rested…after another evening in the pub!  We started with a fairly shallow and gentle drift dive, to just 8-10m on the Tanvil Ledge and saw more wrasse and dogfish.  The second dive on Sunday was the by far the most special.  We travelled out further in the bay and descended to 15-20m over the mussel beds for a very fast drift dive!  The current was strong and so most pairs used buddy lines.  The vis was not bad at all and there were again a number of fish to be seen.  For some of the more recently qualified divers, there were comments such as ‘the first dive where I really felt like I was diving’ and for the veterans (!) it was also an enjoyable dive.  Charlie & Trevor even saw a cormorant swooping down to 6m as they did their safety stop!
So overall a great weekend.  A couple of achy ears with dives therefore wisely aborted and a little bit of rain towards the end, but also lots of sunshine, smiles and an aching to get back in the water again soon!

Massive thank-you to Gareth and Emily for organising the trip!

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Swanage 25th May 2012

Diving

Day 1: Saturday 26 May

It was too windy to dive on Saturday but it was still a glorious day so we explored the local area – including walking, swimming and the local pubs…
We even made friends with the local donkeys!

Day 2: Sunday 27 May

Dive 1: Fleur de Lys

An early start for our first dive of the weekend (and the season for some of us). We descended down a shot line onto the Fleur de Lys – a fishing trawler that sank in 2000 and sits at about 13 metres. There was a strong current, and the visibility wasn’t great which made it pretty challenging. Most people didn’t stay on the wreck for long and moved off to do a drift dive across the sea bed.

Dive 2: Pier

Some people decided to do a second dive in the morning under Swanage pier. This might not sound that exciting, but even at 4 metres you can find all sorts of interesting things including spider crabs, tompot blenny, anemones, sponges, lobster and plenty of fish.

Dive 3: Valentine Tanks

The final dive of the day was another boat dive to see the valentine tanks which sit at about 15 metres. Luckily it was much calmer than the morning, so this was a much more relaxing dive. The valentine tanks were designed and built in the second world war and were meant to float – but they didn’t! They sank in 1942 but are still fairly intact, and they play home to all sorts of sea life. We saw a massive conger eel, crabs, lobster, a massive cuttlefish and lots of fish.

Who came

  • Charlie
  • Claire S
  • Boggie
  • Sarah
  • Phil
  • James
  • Claire B
  • Emily
  • Gareth
  • Rachel
  • Trevor
  • Aidan

Accommodation