Rob’s Sept Plymouth summary
Rob Howard – Equipment Officer
Rob has been a member of SISAC for a number of years and is an active member. New members look to Rob to provide serviced equipment during training and for rental after training.
As you may be able to tell, the trip didn’t fail to deliver for me. I have to also say that my driving navigator was tremendously patient with my rants and hormonal moments as well as coping with zero gravity effects entering the numerous Milton Keynes roundabouts whilst passing me sweets and grapes. thanks Robin ! x
07/09/19 HMS Scylla
My dive Buddy was Gareth who was on a rebreather with loads of camera gear. Our plan was to explore the various decks without penetration as I had not dived for a few months, (being a little tatty after a kidney stone in May) so Gareth had one on his quarry and the other on me.
The Scylla is thankfully an easy dive on the outside and provided several good photo opportunities for Gareth as well as some time for me to dial myself back in and initial anxiety and anticipation of the weekends diving off Plymouth. I have to say this dive provided a variety of things for me as I thoroughly enjoyed all 57 mins of the dive and being recovered swiftly from the DSMB by the Red Alert and skipper Danny.
The second dive was the James Egan Layne Liberty ship which is also a great wreck to poke about on. We dropped promptly down the Bow shot line and had a nice snap at the rapidly deteriorating Bow. The plan was to drift down to the stern and if time allowed find the broken off stern some metres off the main wreck. The wreck provided a mesmerising array of beauty and creatures from the shoals of fish to the massive Capstans, winches, wheels and cauldrons and completely F’d derricks. A vast wreck that’s only really appreciated on the fourth or fifth dive for it’s size and importance. It was fantastic to have 3-5m of visibility and a slow predictable current to help explore to find the new ever-changing historical wreck. We only managed part of the plan due to my gas levels but still I enjoyed a great 32 minutes amongst the metal.
As trip Dive Manager I was reporting daily to our Club Dive Officer and the second days buddy pairings had been planned slightly different. However, a further few changes were needed for the second day matches and one person not feeling well. This simplified the final pairings and I have to say I was grateful for the flexibility of the team that pretty much resolved this themselves.
Danny as a skipper of the Red Alert was exceptionally knowledgeable and provided an informative brief for every dive site. This virtually replaced the need for a DM as each pair knew and dived their plans perfectly.
The second day we had planned the Eddystone reef and then the J.E.L. I had been praying for a glimpse of some Dolphins that I had first seen in April 2018 and as if by order a couple appeared after we had chased some gulls diving for Yellowfin Tuna, again another magical moment for most of us on board.
The Eddystone is a good 40-50-minute chug from Bovisand and its reef is rich with life from Jewel Anemones to Wrasse, Pollack and Spider Crabs, surrounded by a helping of Kelp. A very enjoyable dive if conditions allow.
After pasties and coffee, we chugged back to the J.E.L for the second and last dive of the weekend. A final brief from the Skipper and most buddy pairs had already prepared their own agenda from the taster dive the day before.
My buddy John was happy for us to descend the Bow shot and scoot to the stern in order to find the broken off stern deck with rear gun mount ring. As planned we descended and headed toward the rear threading our way through the numerous holds and bulkheads. The wreck was teaming with shoals of fish and decorated with Anemones and small starfish so plenty to take in on our journey to the rear. I never fail to be amazed at the wheels and size of the chains or Capstan wheels, this left me in no doubt of the size of the ship in its former glory. Once reaching the rear I had already agreed with John the process of laying a line to search for the broken part and return safely to the main wreck to ascend the bow shot line. We hadn’t factored in the reasonable current heading directly at us whilst heading in a SW bearing. After what seemed forever, we sighted a car sized lump and a few more fins later, the Gun Mounting, lying motionless. We had a brief rummage around, revelling in the navigational success. However there were more pressing duties to hand like the 30-40 metres on line to retrieve and the swim back to the shot, gladly assisted by the now strong current which helped the gas consumption no end making a brilliant free ride back.
Summary of the weekend for me must be the tremendous camaraderie between everyone present and genuine desire to enjoy. The Clovelly Bay Inn on Saturday night was bang on, as well as the WhatsApp banter, especially keeping track on each other’s location, which wasn’t a race mind! Can’t wait until the next Plymouth trip.
I would like to thank Rob for taking the time to provide this personal summary of the weekend at Fort Bovisand.