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Maldives, 22nd – 30th April 2022

After two years of postponements (thanks to you-know-what), twelve Argonauts and two honorary Argonauts finally jetted off to the Maldives in late April 2022!

We spent a week with Emperor Divers, on board the Emperor Leo. It was a great boat and team – and we managed to pack in 17 dives along with some snorkelling too.

Starting and ending in the capital Male we journeyed through the turquoise waters of Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, Vaavu Atoll and South Male Atoll. We were lucky with good weather and water conditions throughout, but of course the Maldives is known for its strong currents! 


We had a real range of different dives from reefs to pinnacles and even a small wreck site (the Kuda Giro) on the final dive. Our dive on Fishhead Reef had particularly strong current and all we could do was hook in next to the butterfly fish, emperor angels and shoals of oriental sweet lips. On the Kuda Giro our searching in the fan corals was rewarded with a Longnose Hawkfish.

We saw at least four species of sharks, manta, mobula and eagle rays, leaf fish, morays and more. One day we were surrounded thousands of fusiliers being harried by jacks, clouds of cardinals and damsels floating above branching corals and friendly unicorn fish playing with our bubbles.  


We particularly enjoyed hooking in on the reef edges and watching sharks saunter past in the blue, oblivious to a dozen Argonauts watching in awe. We had a more up close and personal dive with a number of nurse sharks who were so curious and placid that they swam close enough to be fin-slapped!

One of the highlights was a night dive, where we dropped down to about twelve metres next to the boat and knelt still on the sand, torches held high above our heads. After about 15 minutes of waiting in anticipation the manta rays came to feed on all of the plankton attracted in our torchlight. Swooping, gliding and barrelling, just centimetres from our outstretched torches it was an incredible experience.

Aside from the diving we also enjoyed a beach BBQ and bonfire on a deserted island, watching the sun set and all of the stars come out. It was a wonderful trip, with a great bunch of friends and many laughs were shared – it really was well worth the long wait! 

Reported by Jess, Photo by Amanda and Sarah A, Video by Trevor

Uploaded in May 2022

The Farne Islands and Eyemouth, 12th-18th September 2021

After a grey and wet August, we were lucky enough to have a break in the weather for our week away. This was our first club trip for a while, with 9 Argonauts and three other divers and one non-diver joining us. Our first stop was at Beadnell, quite close to Seahouses, where our accommodation was with Farnes Diving. We had a group of twin rooms in a line, probably converted from stables serving the large stone house owned by Farne Diving. The rooms were comfortable, with beds that were a little creaky. We didn’t mind too much as we were there to dive!

The first day of diving took us to Big Harcar and Little Harcar, two rocks forming part of the Farne Islands. A group of seals looked on as we dropped into the water. Timid at first, one of the younger ones started playing with our fins, always approaching from behind and never seen until a tug was felt. The seals seemed to like Sarah A’s and Jess’s white fins in particular. This continued throughout the dive including the ascent, when the DSMB became the focus of attention. As always, diving with inquisitive seals is a real pleasure and enormous fun.

Our remaining two days didn’t include as much interaction with seals, but we saw some octopus and lobsters, including late numbers of brightly coloured squat lobsters in every corner. After the first day’s diving, we ate and drank at the Craster Arms. On subsequent days, we split into groups, going to The Salt Water Cafe (excellent seafood!), and a variety of takeaways. The dive boat, Farne Diver 2, had plenty of space and was well laid out for diving. After diving, Coxon’s ice creams, on the quayside, beckoned.

After our third day of diving, we moved on to Eyemouth, some of us making a short detour to Lindisfarne to see the Holy Island and castle. Our accommodation in Eyemouth was The Home Arms, run by the dive operator, DiveStay, which was comfortable and catered for divers, with a large kit area for hanging drysuits and getting tanks filled. After three days of self-catering at Beadnell, the included breakfast made a welcome change.

The dive boat, Wave Dancer 2, was a spacious catamaran with great facilities, including a 2-man lift. Tea and biscuits were served after each dive, which makes for happy divers!

Our first dive out of Eyemouth was Sarah B’s 1000th. This was on Black Carr and thankfully, she broke with the tradition of a naked dive. This dive was also memorable because we saw some octopus close up, a couple of angler fish, butterfish, lots of lobsters and an endless carpet of brittle stars. During this leg of the trip, every dive turned up something new, including flatfish, plenty of small scorpionfish and butterfish.

Notable dives included The Skerries, which started with a gulley populated by lots of edible crabs and led on to a cave that went into the rock face several metres. Above water, we spotted porpoises around the boat and gannets overhead. Sadly, a lot of dead seabirds floated in the water. This was a widespread problem and the cause hadn’t been established at this time.

Our evenings were spent in the excellent Indian Brasserie and The Ships Quarters in Eyemouth as well as The New Inn, Coldingham, all of which provided excellent food.

Six of us went on to spend another week walking and sightseeing in Scotland, taking a break from diving.

Reported by Trevor and the team members, Photos from Sarah A and Jess

Swanage, 29th-31st May 2021

One small positive of lockdown meant I had the funds to replace some of my aging dive kit and my ill-fitting dry suit. Having spent an unexpected fortune getting regulators and cylinders serviced (tip: put your transmitter on a short hose to prevent people breaking it by using it as a handle!) and following a brief test at Wraysbury it was finally time for our annual pilgrimage to Swanage.

Leaving home slightly earlier than normal didn’t make my journey any quicker as most of southern England also seemed to be heading towards the south coast, but I arrived just in time to join the rest of the gang for supper in the pub.

I’ve not needed to get up particularly early since we’ve been in lockdown and getting up on a Saturday morning to get a place on the pier at 7am was a slight shock for the system but worth the effort. We didn’t have a really early dive that morning so this allowed plenty of time for assembling the remaining parts on my camera, a wander round Swanage to see what had changed and a breakfast in the cafe.

The first dive was under the Pier; it was high tide so that made getting in the water down the steps a little easier, no needing to stagger/crawl painfully along the rocks battered by the waves which is even more challenging with a bulky camera. We had a good pootle under the pier. The visibility wasn’t good but we found things to look at – mostly admittedly crabs – and I had fun trying to use a new flash and snoot that I had only tested previously at the kitchen table. It proved to be an excellent opportunity to take photos worthy of the Crap Fish Photography group – getting the snoot pointing in the right place was definitely an art I had yet to master and in poor visibility the backscatter was lit up beautifully!

Our first boat dive was Old Harry’s Drift. This will always be memorable site for me as it was where I did my first sea dive back in 1996; I saw one crab and as I had only dived inland lakes before I was starting to wonder why people dived in the UK. As I hadn’t dived off a boat in the UK for about eighteen months I was slightly nervous but there was nothing to worry about. Having put the DSMB up, clipped on with a buddy line (even though my buddy and I have done hundreds of dives each we do it for convenience) we continued to fly along the bottom in a cracking 2 knot drift. The visibility was two metres at best but there was still lots to see including dog fish, crabs (of course), dover sole, a variety of anemones, lots of leathery sea squirts, even more slipper limpets, sponges, queen scallops and deadmen’s fingers some with baby sea slugs on them. At the end of the dive we ascended back up to the safety stop then out … eventually, whilst we were barely at 15m the DSMB line was reeled out such a long way with a small reel it took a few minutes to reel the line in again. Whilst you could argue that I shouldn’t have let the line out so far, I also decided that whilst its more fashionable to use a smaller reel nowadays and they are less bulky they are also more fiddly and I decided to switch back to my larger reel when diving in the UK.

On day two we did the Fleur de Lys and the barge. Whilst its broken up considerably more now the Fleur was a bigger boat than I had remembered. It was still too small a dive site for a boat of ten (and the second boat not long behind us) and the bottom quickly got kicked up so having circulated it a couple of times once my buddy and I had found the line to the barge we headed off there where the visibility was better. If only I had brought my camera! We saw so many nudibranchs including yellow-edged polycera, orange clubbed sea slug, thorny doris, and the violet seaslug, plus lots of eggs and a sea hare. There was lots to see and we didn’t need to drift off the boat.

Our second dive that day was on the Valentine Tanks. We were dropped in just before slack so when we first went down my buddy and I needed to swim quite hard against the current as we headed along the line to the second tank but before long the current eased. After what seemed like a long swim without much to see (they have changed the position of the line between the two tanks so now you have to follow a V underwater to get to the second tank) we were rewarded with conger eels, starfish, more nudis, wrasse, a crystal sea slug (see photo). I was also unsuccessfully trying to get my snoot to point at a topshell at until another buddy pair (not from our club) crashed straight through my site and we decided it was time to go back to the first tank. There we saw another conger under the rock plus lobster and a double spiral worm (photo) in crevices of the tank. Another good dive.

As most UK divers are painfully aware, when we go on dive trips we often end up having to do something else instead. This means we regularly end up going walking and the more adventurous of us have even tried our hands at kite surfing. Whilst the weather was glorious and the club had two more dives organised for the Monday (the first being the Kyarra) I decided to go stand up paddleboarding off the pier instead. Having only done it a handful of times on a lake I realised once I was on the board that it was quite a bit harder doing it on the sea. Fortunately all those with a Go Pro on the trip were on the dive boat so there is no recorded evidence that I spent the first thirty minutes just trying to stand up and remain standing for more than ten seconds … by the time the dive boats came back in I was up and making it look like I knew what I was doing.

Whilst it was a smaller group than our usual Swanage trips, all in all it was another successful trip, I have got my UK diving legs back on and am looking forward to diving again with the seals in Farnes in September.

Reported by Sarah A, Photos from Sarah A and Preeda

Wraysbury Diving Lake, 3rd May 2021

On Monday 3rd May Alex, Sarah A, Emily, James and Jessica headed to Wraysbury Diving Lake for the first ‘warm’ up dive of the year.

It was a good opportunity to dust off kit and check everything was in full working order. Sarah got to try out her brand-new dry suit, and Alex his new pony. It was also great to see some friendly diving faces in real life as opposed to on Zoom!

The water temperature was a balmy 11 degrees, and we spent around 45 minutes exploring the bottom of the lake. Not too much wildlife spotted, but we did see a couple of very large pike and many crayfish.

Despite the typically poor Wraysbury vis, we actually managed to find more sunken objects than we have on previous visits: a submarine, multiple boats, set of traffic lights, part of a Jet2.com fuselage (toilet cubical still intact) and a large plastic Ganesh?!

After the dive, it was back on dry land to tuck into a tin of infamous Veys’ ginger flapjacks, and some hot bacon butties. Both well earned!

Thanks very much to Alex for organising, it was a fun morning and we all look forward to more water time in 2021!

Reported by Jess

Mercers Park Diving Lake, 12th September 2020

On Saturday 12th September seven of us (Alex, Chris, Sarah B, Ollie, Julia, James B and Jess) met at Mercers Country Park Inland Diving Lake, in Redhill, Surrey.

This was a new location for all of us, and having read good things online, we were excited to see what was in store for us.  A former sand quarry, now turned into a watersports and diving lake, meant that the area was a hive of activity when we arrived at 10am, with a number of divers alongside windsurfers, kayakers and SUPers.  Despite the buzz, we all agreed that there was lots of space for easy kitting up and parking, and it didn’t feel too hectic. With different areas of the lake partitioned for sailors and divers, it all seemed quite organised!

The lake is surrounded by an underwater forest and is home to freshwater species such as pike, perch, roach and giant carp. Unsurprisingly, James was very enthusiastic by the fish spotting opportunities, and along with safety of course, which underwater hand signal to use for each fish became an important part of the dive briefing.

After kitting up in the sunshine we headed into the water. With an average depth of around 8m, we all enjoyed a long dive. While the visibility was maybe not quite as good as claimed on the website (we’ll blame the large group of divers who entered the water just before us), it was certainly better than we have experienced at other inland sites! We had fun exploring around the twisted tree trunks and between us, spotted a pike, rudd, a large shoal of young perch, a couple of carp and even some freshwater mussels. Perhaps Sarah had the catch of the day, finding an intact mug and old Nokia mobile (possibly intact – who knows!) on the bottom of the lake.

After, it was time for a sandwich and a socially distant catch up in the sun, before we headed home. Thanks to James for organising, and a big shout-out to new member Julia, for completing her first UK dive, and first dive with the Argonauts!  It’s great to have you!

Reported by Jess

Swanage, 25th-27th August 2020

With meticulous forecasting, our Swanage trip coincided with the worst August storm in living memory. We were joined by Steve W, an ex-club member and Howard, a friend of the club and our link to the Scuba Trust.

Our first day, in true dive trip style, was spent walking along the Dorset clifftops leaning into 60mph winds. A further walk in the afternoon included a stint of abseiling down a muddy slope to the beach and shopping for nick-knacks that were doomed to join a large existing collection of nick-knacks.

The Dorset clifftops leaning into 60mph winds!
Big waves hitting by storm Francis

Day two was exceptionally successful from the diving perspective. We had arranged a dive at 3:30, which would follow a leisurely walk in the morning to Old Harry Rock. Due to a shortcoming in communication, we discovered, after queueing 20 mins for pasties, and upon arriving at the head of the queue, that we had to be on the pier NOW!!! Stomachs rumbling, we scrambled to load the boat, ready to head out to uncertain visibility at Peveril Ledges.

The dive did not disappoint. As expected, the visibility was about a metre. With startled wildlife caught in our torch beams as we passed, we narrowly avoided hitting the ledges. Despite the gloom, we spotted an undulate ray and some decorator crabs.

The Second dive, on the Valentine Tanks, was very good. The visibility was much better and the tanks full of wildlife. The tanks housed some huge conger eels, lobsters, large edible and spider crabs, lumpsuckers, pipefish and a lot of bib. A very memorable dive.

Our next day’s diving started with perfect weather and a drift dive below Old Harry. The visibility on this dive wasn’t what we had hoped, but we saw a gurnard, a ray and lots of ordnance as this area had previously been used as a firing range.

Started with perfect weather
On the boat!

During the long surface interval, we made up for the previous day’s missing pasties then cowered in our cars from the torrential rain. Finally, we set off for the last dive of the trip: Peveril Ledges once more. This time, the visibility had improved and we spotted an undulate ray, dogfish, a baby conger eel and a shoal of bib. During the dive, the wind had picked up, making the sea rough, so it was good to be back on the boat.

Look closely at the face of Zoltar

Reported by Trevor, Akiko, Sarah B and Boggie


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