Tag Archives: Trips

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


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](https://underwatermuseumlanzarote.com/en/) 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: http://atlantislanzarote.com/nuevo/ 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

Farne Islands and Eyemouth, August 2016

In late summer a large contingent of Argonauts (and friends) headed up to the Northumberland coast for a week of fantastic cold water diving. The Farnes are home to one of the largest grey seal colonies as well as a wide variety of birds.

The conditions didn’t disappoint, with dozens of close encounters with seals, huge lobsters, wolf fish, octopus, crabs and vast walls of coral. For several in the group, it was the first big diving trip after qualifying as Ocean Divers – and it set the bar high!

Here’s a few photographs from the trip: