Author: David Benz
On the 28th of October, 2016, a group of OUUEG divers drove down to Plymouth for a weekend of late-season diving. Our team was small but perfectly formed: Marko Jung, Giles Richardson, Tom Walter, and David Benz.
After a night at the bunkhouse in Ivybridge we continued to Plymouth drydock and picked up Seahorse. If you haven’t seen it in action, the drydock system really is impressive. Dozens of boats sit on racks in a giant shed. On request, a tall forklift fetches the requested boat from its rack and places it gently in the water. It’s a marvel of engineering and faff reduction. We were soon kitted up and on our way.
Conditions that Saturday morning were fantastically calm and clear, with hardly a ripple on Plymouth Sound; we loved the sea and the sea was loving us right back. We decided to take advantage of this rare opportunity by motoring the thirteen nautical miles out to Eddystone Rocks. Our first dives were on a reef just southeast of the lighthouse. It was an explosion of colour! The summer kelp had died back by then, and low plankton meant we had ~15m visibility. The rocks were covered with tiny pink, blue, & yellow anemones, looking like a crust of jewels. Fish swarmed everywhere. We also saw sea fans, crabs, lobster, starfish, and half a dozen conger eels, one of them swimming freely over the boulders. Giles was particularly interested in clearing and photographing the three anchors we found in different places on the sea floor.
During our lunch break we considered other dive sites, but thought that we couldn’t possibly do better than where we were. Our second dives featured more abundant marine life, and we even managed to find the scattered remains of a steamship. We maintained exemplary partial pressure the whole time. The sun was setting as we cruised back to Plymouth. Suddenly Marko yelled out, “DOLPHINS!” A pod had appeared on our starboard side. They seemed eager to investigate us, leaping out of the water and racing alongside our rib just an arm’s length away. We ended the day with homemade steak & ale pies and mountainous sticky puddings at the Morley Arms (RIP).
Sunday was another bright and windless morning. We headed out to the Persier, locating the wreck by triangulation of onshore landmarks. The water was so clear that we could see the entire spread of the ship while still fifteen metres above it. Nearer the wreck, the visibility was a bit poor in one sense: it was difficult to see very far because there were so many fish in the way! After exploring the Persier’s delightful assemblage of bits & bobs & boilers, we puttered back toward Plymouth.
We moored by the breakwater fort in Plymouth Sound to put on our fancy dress. This was the OUUEG *Halloween* trip, after all, and we had each spent a fortune (£10 at Asda) on our scary costumes! Giles was a grim reaper, Tom was a Frankenstein, and David was a Scream spectre. We still followed proper diving protocols, and Tom’s buddy check in monster-speak is a YouTube classic. Our dive was a shallow, ghoulish poke around the base of the fort. Marko drove the boat and marshalled while sporting a ridiculous red clown wig.
Eels, wrecks, dolphins, pies, monsters – a fabulous weekend all around!