Dates: summer 2011,
Author: Margreit

It all started of with a small group of people going down on Friday, with many more joining during the week.

On Saturday Horse turned out to be in urgent need of (more) TLC, as it would only go slow and extremely slow as it was. She remained sadly parked next to the harbour for the rest of the week. However, this was by no means the downfall of the trip, as Moose immediately came to the rescue! The first (and by no means last) exploration of the James Eagan Lane was a fact. Another boat ride and then free (!!) air fills later, and then it was high time for some well deserved pizza. At the house the first lot of several reinforcements had managed to find their way to Plymouth as well.

On Sunday we first headed to Firestone, and some teas later to keep the café-people happy (and us as a bonus as well) we were ready for some shore diving. The bottom drops steeply there, and along the slope we first encountered kelp, and then lots of other plants and fish and even a few jewel anemones. Navigation turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, what resulted in quite a good workout in the way of a long swim against the current in order to get back to the starting point for some. As the weather was so good, we then decided to relocate to a nice little beach outside of Plymouth, in the village of Portwrinkle to also include a night dive and BBQ. Very nice area, even if somewhat shallow, but very colorful. Some wrestling with crabs later, and a spontaneous competition for the largest crab, we then enjoyed the BBQ (why is it that there is nothing that tastes as good as burnt sausages after a days diving?). The keenest people then went back in the water, while others headed back to Oxford, and some of us just sat around enjoying the sunset.

Monday morning dawned bright and early, and we were off to a hard boat. Real sad that we had to miss Horse, and spending a day instead on a hard boat, with heated cabin, hot drinks, plenty of spaces and a picknick-lunch to enjoy! Hands Deep was first on the list, followed in the afternoon by Eddystone lighthouse. Two beautiful, very scenic dives, with rock walls completely covered in differently coloured jewel anemones.

Tuesday was a another beach day, this time in Talland Bay. White sand, clear blue sky, sun and lots of ice cream. Also the story of how far out you can swim out of the bay on a cylinder (quite far, but still not deep enough to do AAS ascents), and getting completely exhausted in the process, clearly some more exercise is in order there! Still we earned our next ice cream! Also the highly needed practicing of rescue drills…and this worked out fine on a family-filled beach without worrying anyone thanks to some efficient shore cover. Also a very big thank you to the instructors who spend the best part of this day (as well as quite a lot of time during the rest of the week) training us! At least now we have several more people with up to date rescue skills – lets hope we never need them!

The next couple of days continued with a mix of hard boat and shore diving. On Wednesday we visited the JEL again, followed by the Poulmic – a pretty broken up wreck not too far out of Plymouth, but with lots of fish around. On Thursday we had some stunning sights on the Persier, parts of it are completely covered in pink sea fans, and the viz just continued to get better and better all throughout the week. This was followed by a nice glide along a massive sort of canyon at High Sea Point. Friday found a somewhat reduced group chilling on the quay in Fort Bovisand. While in the water we managed to have some very long shore dives, following a trail underwater. Very colorful, lots of stuff to see and a very chilled out way of diving. Slight hiccough in the form of someone cleaning out their engine right as we get back to harbour (great globs of oil everywhere, ugghh!!), but later on this disappears and there’s plenty of possibility for another dive. Reinforcements arrive in the form of Mel and Stephen, and later Andy and Paul as well. In the evening we invited ourselves over for pizza and drinks with several ProMare/Msubs people, and got to know more about some of the wrecks.

The next day it’s high time to get the Moose out again. This time we go to Kingsand, with the idea that it’ll be a bit faster to get to the JEL from there (turns out to be not really the case, but it’s a nice place to go to anyway). A good while of kit and Moose faff later (how long (or thin) is a bit of string?) and we are off! Managed to confuse a fisherman, as the guy was convinced the shot we put in some way away from the JEL must have a wreck and thus fish underneath it, and wanted to fish there…would have been funny if the shot then suddenly started moving around. While some of us were busy playing around with this shot the others had a dive on the JEL.

Sunday we moved boats yet again, and were diving of a different hard boat, at least once we managed to locate the boat. We went back to the Persier, where Ali managed to dive with a completely flooded drysuit. We then had another lunch-break floating around and waiting until we could go back in, to the Elk. This is still a complete ship to look at, except that a lot of the deck has disappeared. Great views! Lots of fish and a conger hiding as well. Everyone got narced to some extent (though admittedly some more than others..), and there was rumoured to be a massive struggle with a lobster as well. Then it was sadly time to pack up, sort the kit, clean the house and head back after a very successful week.