Date: 4th, May 2014,
Participants: Giles (organiser), Alec, Gregor, Mark
Departed at 7:30am from the kit hut. On arrival, we were greeted by plentiful sunshine, a calm sea, and signs advising us not to change into suits on the street. Apparently, for whatever reason, residents don’t like seeing naked divers. No problem, we would just change on the beach!
Conveniently, Chesil Beach is equipped with large concrete steps next to the slipway where we could lay out all our kit and other belongings. We split into two buddy pairs; with one pair in the water the others would do shore cover and keep an eye on our stuff. With some boat traffic and anglers on the shore, we were using our DSMBs in SMB mode to make ourselves noticeable.
Given some scary reports of 0.5-1m visibility from the day before, we were pleasantly surprised by a reasonable 5m viz, meaning we had a chance to see something besides green, slimy plankton. And we did! Besides rock, kelp and sea anemones, we saw an occasional fish, including a dogfish(!), a cuttlefish, a squid (according to Alec and Gregor), and an abundance of crabs. Despite seeing some metal bits and pieces, we could not locate any larger pieces of wreckage that are supposedly there, probably missing them by just a couple of metres. On the other hand, we had no trouble locating an old and rusty sewage pipe, hopefully no longer in operation.
We had our lunch at a nearby café, enjoying the sun and our fishcakes (or sandwiches) at an outdoor table. When trying to walk into the cafe to order, we were told off by the staff: folk in wet suits, “and I know they’re drysuits”, are supposed to give their orders from outside. After lunch the diving continued. Thanks to Giles’ expert use of the compass, and pure luck, our pair made a pinpoint surfacing right where we entered the water. Alec and Gregor, on the other hand, decided to drift off north, seemingly trying to steal some fish off fishing lines. Luckily, no fish or anglers were hurt in the process. At the same time, Giles and me were observing a buddy pair consisting of an 8-year-old and his (or her) father—both in wetsuits and the father without a hood. It took them approximately one minute in water to realise they were underdressed for the weather (11°C water temperature).
Back in street clothing and with the kit stored in the cars, we headed back to Oxford, making a stop for dinner at The Golden Lion in Winchester—a place so popular they were running low on potato chips (they were also running low on Sunday roast, but it was the chips they were concerned about most). On the bright side, they had no shortage of carrots, and the portions were generally diver-sized (i.e., twice the size you would normally expect). Back in Oxford around 10:30pm.