All posts by Akiko Miki

Widewater Beach, Shoreham-by-Sea, August 2020

The 8th August saw our first club dive near Shoreham-by-Sea on Widewater Beach. It was going to be a scorcher with temperatures in the mid-30’s but calm seas, no wind and favourable tides (more on this later).

Six divers fought for parking space (Jess, James, Akiko, Chris, Trevor and Ollie) with four support crew (Sarah – DO, Alex DL training, Emma and Riley – the mascot for the day).

There were several firsts in the dive, Ollies kit, Alex’s training and Riley’s first time on the beach. We set up our stall on the busy beach and got the SEEDS briefing done before the divers inserted themselves into their dry suits. Risks we considered over and above the usual were jet-skis (deploy DSMB’s), fishing lines (take a line cutter) and getting lost (take a compass). Entry was down a shallow shingle beach with the dive being due south until a small ledge was found followed by a swim East until 1/3 air used and then a return. The dive was limited to 60 mins max…what do they say about plans never surviving first contact? It was noted that the yellow buoy should not be reached during the dive.

We tried to get divers in the water ASAP as sitting in a dry suit with temperatures in the 30’s is no fun. Jess and James were efficient as usual and in the water and diving but 12:50. Trevor and Chris got in next and were off 10 mins later with Ollie and Akiko getting in at 13:10.

With the divers out of the way, Sarah then went through planning with me (Alex) whilst Riley (12 weeks old) bravely went to the shore to see if he could eat the sea water.


Riley, the mascot enjoying the sea.

Sarah and Alex then kept a watchful eye for DSMB’s to be deployed and sure enough after 60 mins one came around the corner of the groyne (the beach version) as James and Jess returned bang on time (a prize is on its way). Shortly after, Ollie arrived without kit from the path at the top of the beach. He and Akiko had drifted four groynes down so now had to bring their kit back. Finally, we saw the last DSMB deployed but way out past the yellow buoy. Binoculars suggested that this might be the Trevor/ Chris pair but this wasn’t certain. They did seem to have found a couple of paddle borders who stuck with them as the drifted further West. At about 14:40, Ollie, who had been dispatched to find the lost boys, found the errant divers way down the beach.

Everyone had a good time including divers, shore cover and of course the day’s mascot. Viz was about 5m and a variety of flora and fauna spotted including baby cuttlefish and long straight seaweed. It was a good shake out for equipment with also a couple of lessons for the dive brief. First, even a 0.1 knot current will push you the best part of 200m down a beach over an hour (a considerable distance with full dive kit on) and second if you cannot find an objective ensure that there is a plan in place.


By Alex

Photos&Video: ‘Riley’ by Alex, ‘Divers’ by Sarah A, Video by Trevor



Swanage 2019

Weekend conditions

Water temperature of 11 degrees Celsius.

Wind speeds of force 4-6 on Saturday, 2-3 on Sunday.

Friday 3rdMay 2019

We made our way across to Swanage on Friday afternoon/evening, arriving at the Swanage Coastal Park, successfully navigating our way from the south east.

News from Bryan, the Skipper of the Mary Jo (our chartered weekend hard boat), was that high winds forecast for Saturday, meant no dives were currently planned for Saturday, unless weather conditions improved.

On settling into the Coastal Park, we made our way into Swanage for dinner and after dinner drinks at the Black Swan Inn!

Saturday 4thMay

The next morning, we waited in anticipation for news of improving weather conditions, and Bryan confirmed the planned afternoon wreck dive to visit the Fleur de Lys was on! 

So, mid-morning we headed off to Swanage Pier and found sufficient car spaces to park up side-by-side off the pier and begun making our preparations, with the assistance of the shop/rental shop of Divers Downs.

With the Mary Jo ready and with divers and equipment safely on board, we made our way out into Swanage Bay to where the Fleur de Lys lay in waiting.

Following a successful dive outing and an opportunity for some of us to try our new equipment(!), we settled into pizza and pasta, followed by an early night, in anticipation for what was promising to be improved weather conditions for the forthcoming day.

Sunday 5thMay

At 0630 we queued briefly for parking on Swanage Pier under clear blue skies and a rising sun, in anticipation for the days’ 2 planned drift dives. With parking and preparations complete, we set off once again on the Mary Jo.

<Peverill Ledges>
With slower tide speeds and improved visibility, Peverill Ledges gave us increased opportunities to spot wildlife and other maritime objects.

<Old Harry Rocks>
The tides were noticeably stronger off Old Harry Rocks and probably as close an experience as we’ll get to being flying superheroes (or being in a washing machine)!
With the second of the days’ drift dives complete, we began making our way home, for a well-earned night’s sleep, and fortunately with a Bank Holiday Monday to help rest up and recover.

Particular thanks to Trevor for organising!

By Ollie

Pembrokeshire August 2018

We arrived at our cottage in St Ishmaels on the Pembrokeshire coast on a bright sunny afternoon. Sadly the weather wasn’t quite as kind the following morning, with stereotypical Welsh rain and too much wind for the dive boat to go out. But we took the opportunity to explore the area, with a trip up to St David’s – as well as an unscheduled trip to Halfords to replace a broken car battery… And we even cooked up a curry feast, followed by a blackberry and apple pie, decorated with an artfully crafted octopus! 


Blackberry and apple pie before cooking

The weather was a bit breezy for the rest of the week (although no more rain and lots of sun), which meant the diving was spread over the week. Most of us managed to get in a good three days though. And the diving was great. The boat was very spacious, and the skipper Brian really knew his stuff, having dived here himself for years. He gave detailed briefings, and we were treated to lots of sealife. Unfortunately, the vis wasn’t great due to the weather, but we still managed to see plenty. The highlight for me were all the crustaceans, including lobsters, lots of different crabs, squat lobsters, shrimp and huge crayfish. Akiko and I even sotted a lobster who had clearly just finished a rather tasty meal of one of these crayfish, judging from the shell scattered around! There were also lots of fabulous sponges – more varieties and much bigger than I’ve seen in UK waters before. Another great spot was the huge scallops, half buried in the sand and busy feeding. There were plenty of flatfish and gobies, the odd tompot blenny, and the occasional wrasse appeared out of the gloom!

Our boat


And when we couldn’t dive, we made the most of everything this beautiful place had to offer. We explored the stunning coastal path, with craggy cliffs, practically deserted and dramatic beaches, baby seals in the coves, and lots of birds. There was swimming in the sea, body boarding, and cycling. And some of us made the most of the wind to practise our kite-flying skills! It also turned into a bit of a gourmet trip as we made the most of the self-catering, with home-made pizza, pasta, and yet more blackberry desserts!



Red Sea 2018

Twelve Argonauts, with kit, flew to the North Red Sea in May 2018 for a very memorable six days of diving aboard the good ship Whirlwind booked via Scuba Travel. 


We had a packed itinerary with the possibility of four dives per day including a daily night dive. We thus all chose to dive on Nitrox to ensure that we could get maximum value out of the possible 22 dives. 
Highlights of the trip were seeing dolphins (one doing a victory roll in front of us), a heart made of stones on the sea bed left after an undersea wedding, several trips to the Thistlegorm (both outside and inside) and to also to the Giannis D. 

There was some great wall diving with an abundance of both flora and fauna including a Spanish Dancer, lobsters, blue spotted rays, stone fish, moray eels, puffer fish, leaf fish, octopus, napoleon trigger fish, turtles, bat fish and a white tipped reef shark.

Aside from diving we developed the new sport of “fin cricket” played between those on the boat’s dive platform (with a fin) and those in the water (bowlers and fielders)
This was a great trip that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
All, bar one, of the photos are courtesy of Tom Pepper and you can see more of his work onwww.tompepperphotography.comor on instagram @tompepperphotography

By Alex

Lanzarote in October 2017

In October, an intrepid foursome headed to Lanzarote for some autumn sun and underwater fun.

The weather was beautiful, hot, sunny and calm waters. The water was a balmy 22 degrees and crystal clear.

We did 7 dives in total, all of which were lovely and easy (max depth was about 27m, great visibility and no current) and with lots of life, especially fish.

We saw: barracuda, shoals of sardines and other unidentified fish, tuna, triggerfish, jacks, an ANGEL SHARK, sting rays, an eagle ray, octopus, cuttlefish, flat fish, nudibranch, squat lobster, cleaner shrimp, moray eel and SEAHORSES!

Plus, we visited the excellent [underwater museum]( which was a really fantastic and unusual dive among the statues, all of which have a message. What’s particularly nice is that they limit the number of divers in the museum at any one time which means you really do get to enjoy the ‘exhibits’ – I wish they did this at some other dive sites!

We spent our evenings exploring the restaurants of Puerta del Carmen – a surprisingly good variety to choose from, and playing games at our lovely apartment.

Overall, a wonderful, relaxing and beautiful trip!

We dived with Atlantis Diving: who also arranged our apartment.


by Claire & James

Selsey in October 2017

A select group of intrepid Argonauts sports divers (James B, Mark, Alex and Jessica) braved October weather for a really enjoyable day out with Mulberry Divers, off Selsey. We woke up very early (for a Sunday morning at least) and headed for the South coast.  After signing our life away on various bits of paper we convened at the sea front for the all important bacon roll and coffee, before kitting up and heading out on the rib to the first dive site.

The Mulberry rib has a rather impressive engine and a very friendly skipper named Steve, who had a flask of hot Ribena waiting for us at the end of each dive. We were also lucky enough to have the boat all to ourselves – an Argonauts charter!

Wind over the previous days, large Spring tides and a HW slack all meant that the viz for our first dive, on the Far Mulberry was a rather murky 1-2m. This meant that we didn’t see an awful lot, I spotted a friendly looking Tompot Bleny and Alex caught a glimpse of a not so friendly looking Conga Eel. The weather on the surface however, was mostly blue sky and sunshine, so that was good for Rachel who was acting as our shore support (Rachel confirms that the cockles from the local fish monger are good!).

Things improved for our second dive at Waldrons Drift – better viz with the Ebb tide clearing the water slightly. We had a few nice sightings as well; quite a large Cat-Shark, Plaice. Long-Legged Spider Crab, Pollock, Dead Mans Fingers and big Edible Crabs all spotted.

All in all, a fun day out and a nice end to the 2017 UK dive season!


by Jess

Southern Red Sea in September 2017

Four club members made a relatively late booking to dive some of the sites in the southern Red Sea in September.  The itinerary and the port of departure seemed to change on daily basis, even up to the point of arrival, apparently due to exercises being conducted by the Egyptian coastguard.  However after a long flight and an even longer transfer we finally reached our boat at Hamata late at night and once the boat departed the tiring journey was soon forgotten.

We headed south, diving on sites at Fury Shoals and then St Johns. Most days we did three dives, one day we managed four and they were all excellent dives. We would usually be awoken early for a dive before breakfast and then do another before lunch. And so on… lots of diving, lots of eating, lots of relaxing. It’s hard to pick out a favourite dive as there were so many great ones, but I really liked diving at Abu Galawa Soraya which had a central lagoon surrounded by beautiful coral gardens – a very tranquil and relaxing dive. There was lots of sealife to be seen, including many things I hadn’t encountered before. Barracudas, stone fish, crocodile fish, trigger fish, moray eels swimming out in the open, octopus, dolphins and a couple of bonkers porcupine fish were some of the highlights. After a couple of days at St Johns we headed back north, diving at Fury Shoals again, Elphinstone reef and Marsa Shouna.

Red Sea 2017

The boat itself, the Okeanos Xplorer was nice and comfortable and the dive guides and crew were very friendly and helpful and made getting ready for the dives and getting out of the water very easy. Food and drink on board was excellent and there was plenty for vegetarians – so no danger of losing weight on this trip. We returned to a different port, Port Ghalib so our return journey to Hurghada wasn’t so tiring. After 20 years of diving this was my first proper liveaboard experience and I’d been promised great things. I can say that I wasn’t disappointed, I had a great week and would certainly recommend it to anyone.


by Chris

Scilly Isles, September 2017

This is our second trip to Scillies, booked right after the successful, joyful first trip in 2015, this time as a joint trip with another club. Again, we began with the long drive from London to Penzance, met up with people from another club there.

The three-hour crossing from Penzance to St Mary’s was not so bad, but some of us stayed on the deck to have fresh air. Our accommodation was a big house where ten of us stayed while two people who organised the trip stayed in the cosy top-floor flat in another house nearby.

It was drizzling and windy on Sunday morning, our first day to dive. With little hope that we could dive, we went to harbour to load our dive gear and cylinders onto our boat, Tiburon (meaning ‘Shark’). Our Skipper, Dave, was a calm, soft spoken man with a lot of knowledge of the sea at Scillies and also a photographer.  The weather was constantly changing from drizzling to sunshine, then to rain. The wind was picking up day by day however, Dave always found a place for us to dive. The water was 14c – 15c and visibility was relatively good, about 5 – 10m.

We dived at various sites, wrecks and reefs covered with stunningly beautiful jewel anemones at different islands. We, of course, dived with seals.  However what made this trip most memorable is that… we saw Sunfish! Two of us watched it swimming across before us during diving on the first day, and then, while we were moving from the first dive site to the second site on the following day, we spotted it swimming close to the surface!  Dave manuvoured the boat to come close it and the Sunfish was, instead of swing away, pottering around there, waving its fin like a dog wagging its tail!  As we didn’t expect Sunfish in this trip, it was a real treat!


Towards the end of the trip, we heard that the ferry might not set off on Friday, Saturday (on the day we were heading back to Penzance) and Sunday, and were a bit concerned. While extra one day or two to stay at St Mary’s is nice, most of us would have to go back to work on Monday…Thankfully, the ferry with us onboard departed to Penzance on Saturday, however it was cancelled for the following Monday.

It was a good, satisfying trip as ever and we are already planning another trip there in two years time.


by Akiko

Club trip to Swanage – June 2017


Waking up at 6am on Saturday morning to the pitter patter of rain on the caravan window was not what the gorgeous sunny weather of the previous month had promised. Nevertheless, Swanage Pier beckoned so, after a quick breakfast, it was off to the pier to ensure that we would get a parking place on said pier when it opened at 7am. All Argonaut cars arrived at the same time! Next to Divers Down who supplied all necessary needed extra equipment and who also promised to fill tanks in a hurry if needed. (The perfect second hand dry suit for Mark was a necessity Rachel!)

Figure 1: Arriving at the Pier on Saturday morning, Rachel, Trevor and Chris

First dive was under the pier, a useful shallow dive for those of us who had not yet dived that year to get back into the swing of things. On the way out there was plenty to see including crabs and fishes (not technical I know) and other bits and pieces under the pier. As usual, it was easy to find our way out but more difficult to get back with the tide starting to push against us and the suspicion that we were going round and round in circles (Navigation by surfacing seemed to fix that).

Next dive was the Fleur de Lys on the Mary Jo. Pre-dive chat seemed to indicate that it was a pile of wood on the sea floor. However, giant stepping off the Mary Joe and descending the shot line showed that there was still a distinct shape to it. It was a bit busy to start, with all 12 of us bumping around but we all soon separated. It did take us two circuits to find the line to the steal barge which was definitely in one piece. We saw plenty of Wrasse and many Sea Squirts on the barge.

The team decided against a cheeky third dive and repaired to the caravan park to freshen up before going to the Black Swan. We couldn’t get inside so we were outside (which was fine being hardened divers). The meal was great fun with much banter and joking around.

Sunday morning started with a beautiful view from the caravan park and once again we were outside the pier by 7am. Once on the pier we had to wait till 11am till our first dive so clearly we had to disappear to the nearest café for breakfast and chat.

Figure 2: : Breakfast with Chris, Akiko, Boggie, Sarah, Trevor and Alex

The first dive took us on the Mary Jo again to the Carentan in 30m of water. Down the shot line the water got darker till we approached the wreck with the water brightening up again due to the reflection of the sea bed (orn possibly because the clouds had parted). I managed to see the sonar eye but missed the highly polished toilet seat. Saw a Conger eel hiding in a tube. Time at 30m was short so with 5mins before deco started the DSMB was deployed and up we went. Clearly on the boat there was much talk about who had gone the deepest with 10cm being the difference between first and second place.

Last dive for me was a drift off Old Harry on the Viper with the sea getting rough and sea sickness threatening. We had to hang around for the shot line marker buoy to pop up as with any tide, it went below the surface. When all was ready the whole boat disembarked like a parachute jump and off we went to the bottom. I used a buddy line with Trevor as my SMB pulled hard and threatened to separate me from my buddy. Saw many ghostly dog fish but not much else. Most of the sea bed was gravel and gave me to wonder whether it would have been like this 200 years ago before the advent of bottom trawling. Well before gas or deco time became a problem, we surfaced as there was little to see.

Some of the troop stayed till Monday but I left on Sunday having had a great weekend. Many thanks to Rachel, Mark and Sarah for organising the trip. I look forward to next year!

by Alex