Westbay trip by Julien Segers

Westbay is one of the club’s favourite diving destinations. In my short time so far as a diver it has become one of my favourites, with a wide variety of sites at all depths, wrecks and reefs. It has the practicality of our accommodation being very close to the marina. And Westbay is a special place for me as it is where I had my first diving trip and became certified as an Ocean Diver last year – all the more appropriate a place to finish my Sports Diver!

As part of my Sports Diver training I volunteered to be assistant dive manager to Alex S for this trip. I had to work out slack times, schedule dives, check the nearest hospitals etc so everyone else didn’t have to! The weather forecast had me a little concerned as we were meant to have thunder as well as fairly strong wind, but this turned out to not be an issue. The gravity of the role dawned on me when Alex made me sharpen a pencil with a knife – don’t be an assistant DM if you don’t have to.

The first dive of the trip was the classic Baygitano, a steam collier sank during WWI. Lying at a depth of 20 metres so accessible to all certified divers, it is home to a large population of bibs, lobsters, conger eels and plenty of others. I suppose you could call it a conger-gation. It is also a very popular site for fishing, as evidenced by the abundance of fishing lines. Alex M and myself found a poor crab tangled in a lot of fishing line, which we were sadly unable to free.

We went back to the marina to get our air tanks filled and grab some lunch, with fish & chips for some of us. For the afternoon, the more experienced divers went to dive the St Dunstan, an old bucket dredger that also sank in WWI. It was a site the club had not been to before. With the rib from another group of divers we went around looking for it, taking us probably the best part of half an hour before we managed to successfully shot the wreck. I would write more about it, but it was too deep for me to dive it!

The other half of us, including myself, dived High Ground, a nice shallow site near the coast, ideal for training. We would return the following day for my last Sports Diver dive. Personal highlights included seeing squid eggs and a catshark swimming right in front of my eyes and startling me, which now means I have been scared by a shark.

The boat unfortunately ran into some technical issues when it hit a buoy and damaged the sonar, but thanks to the technical skills of both Alex, Nathan and others, this was fixed Well Enough(TM) for the following day.

In the evening most of us went to the George, a nice local pub. Our diving officer Nathan set a trend by ordering a pint of a local cider that we then all ordered. French Alex and I used to occasion to plan the diving for the next day: as the plan was to first dive a deeper wreck, the Moidart, we sat down and found slack times made it possible to go back to the marina between the two morning dives, so lazy people such as myself could stay in and meet at the marina later. And the following morning, big thanks to both Alex’s, Declan and Tobias for gathering as many as 40 scallops – perfect for the BBQ we would have that evening!

The other half of us dived Golden Cap that morning, a nice shallow dive. After going back to the marina for lunch, half of us dived the Sawtooth ledges, a slightly deeper reef, shaped like ridges as the name would suggest. The second half of us then went back to High Ground, where I finished my last Sports Diver lesson, starting with a few drills and leading the rest of the dive.

In the evening a few had a nice quiet walk around Westbay. Alex S asked the maths experts how to win at the slots, to which they all said to not play – which make sense, the game is rigged to bring money to the house. This was of course the day a certain individual, who shall remain anonymous in public, won £700.

For the last dive of the trip, we all loved the Baygitano so much we went back for a second time. Similar experience to two days ago, with many congers, bibs and lobsters. One of said lobsters was huge, probably half a metre!

All in all, a very enjoyable trip! We were very lucky with the weather and especially the visibility, 10 metres at times – some of the best you can have in the UK. As I write those lines a second trip to Westbay is ongoing but I doubt they had as good a time as we did with the weather and visibility. 😉

Scilly Sailing and Diving

by Barny Darby

It had been a few years since the great 2014 trip in which we had managed to have a yacht and the Percy in the sound of Mull, diving the Hispania, Rondo etc. Then the yachties headed off North to dive the summer isles and the scapa flow. All the divers were keen to again explore some slightly tricky to reach sites. So with Verity, Gabi, Joy and Barny diving, joined by Pete (a yet-to-be-recruited member) and a few yachties to look after the above-water elements we set off to the South West.

We picked up a Bavaria 46 in Falmouth, and stocked it up with trollies worth of food, and dive kit bound for Land’s End and the Scilly Isles. First we planned a warm up dive on the Mohegan on the manacles wreck. This gets great write ups in all the books, but Verity’s log book provided a less enthusiastic review.  In the end Verity’s view won-out and while the sea fans were widspread there wasn’t much else to commend the wreck. Sadly (since we do most of our diving in Dorset) we found that in Cornwall there is a no-catch rule for divers on shellfish so there would be no seafood for our friends on the yacht on this trip.

above: kitting up for the Mohegan

After this we made a stop at St Michael’s mount for a land trip, and then sailed on to Scilly wanting to dive the King Cadwallon the next day. The Wreck Tour reported that slack here was at LW St Mary’s, and having bumped into a few other divers on the quay we didn’t expect to be alone on the site. It had been raining all day, but we still went over to try and dive at the appointed hour, but when we arrived the two local hardboats were picking up their divers not dropping them off!! Sadly it seems slack is at 1.5hrs before LW St Mary’s. So we scrapped that dive, and headed to an anchorage near Tresco (see photo below of the yacht – the one of the left) in the lovely location. Here we did a shallow dive and saw some amazing underwater gardens with great varieties of different seaweeds reaching 3-4 meters up from the seabed.

The next day we went to the wreck of the Cita, slightly the worse for wear after a brilliant camp fire the night before. We managed to get everyone in the water on time, and it was certainly the best wreck of the trip – a container ship which hit the island in 1997 at top speed as all the crew had fallen asleep with alarms switched off. It is said that the cargo of tobacco didn’t last long before it was salvaged by the residents. Now it is covered in anemones and extends from about 15m downwards to c.35m (although we stopped at 25m). highly recommended for future investigations.

photo: drying out after the Cita

Now the time came to head back from the Scilly’s to hand back the boat. So having stayed as long as possible to stand on very nearly every island, we had to make it all the way back in a day, but of course we wanted to get a dive in too. So for a rather tricky piece of dive management: we set off (sailing) from Scilly at 3:30am aiming to dive the longships reef (off lands end) at slack c.8:10am.  then sail on the east going tide from lands end to the lizard.

By 5:10am with the wind low we started to give up hope that we would make it on time, but by 5:30 it had picked up to a solid force 3 and veered northerly which gave us the better wind angle needed to make the necessary speed. by 6:30 we were expecting to be early! In the end it worked out almost perfectly, and while one pair bailed due to cold/lack of sleep Joy and I jumped in on slack and could quickly see why this is rated on of the best dives in the UK, even on the 4th rated part of the site (the best rated parts were facing the swell) there was life everywhere and brilliant viz. You could dive for days and still not have seen it all, one to return to when there is less swell.

photo: making the close approach to the longships lighthouse after we furled the sails

Thanks to all those for coming, especially those who had to stay on the boat while it rolled around near the dive site, and didn’t even get any seafood to make up for it.

Next time, maybe southern Ireland?


Diving Explorations in Central America

by Roberta Lenart

I spent April and May in Central America where I visited three countries that stretched between oceans: Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Of course while there I made time to test the waters in both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Just a week after arrival to the continent I dived in Panama at Isla Cobia. It’s part of the Coiba National Park off Santa Catalina by the Pacific. Santa Catalina itself is a fast developing village that is still relatively untouched by tourism. In the last couple of years the number of dive centres more than doubled to seven, the road got paved and there is an abundance of restaurants. It has the charm of a pre discovered paradise.


I organised my dive with one of the well-established dive centres. It was not cheap $650 for three days and two nights staying on the island in the ranger station with nine dives. The boat ride to the island was an hour and a half but once there all the sites were within 15 minutes. We had one dive guide between the six of us. In the Pacific there is no coral as it’s too cold for that. Visibility was greatly different even within a single dive. It could have been as low as two meters but the norm seemed to be 12 meters. The best we had was around 15 meters. Current was strong occasionally.

Every single dive we experienced thermoclines. If you have never seen this it’s hard to imagine it. The definition of thermocline is an abrupt temperature gradient in a body of water such as a lake, marked by a layer above and below which the water is at different temperatures. In this case it meant that the temperature dropped from 28 Celsius to around 13 Celsius. Very rarely it was hotter body of water. There is a visible difference between the water bodies so you always see it coming. Once I was swimming by it and put my hand in it to check the temperature. It was freezing cold so just swam by. Even if you have to swim through they never last long though.

As for fish life there was plenty to look at. We saw white tip sharks at almost every dive. There were rays, various eels, jacks, angelfish, snappers, puffer fish, surgeonfish, sea horses and a turtle. The most memorable things I saw was two massive lobsters fighting in a crack. They completely ignored us while pushing back and forth between the rocks. It was quite a sight.
I questioned some of the dive practices I saw like sending divers up on their own when they were low on air for the boat to pick them up. I got surprised to learn after a short sunset swim that there were salt water crocodiles in the water. No warning sign was on the shore or any mention of them until I was waved out of the water.
I was told the accommodation was going to be basic. That would have been fine it’s the toilet tank that I had to fill from the shower until water ran out from there too that put me off the most. Overall I think two days would have been better use of mine time and money at Isla Coiba.

Topography, fish life and conditions were very similar to Isla Coiba in Costa Rica at Isla Caño. It was even more remote than Isla Coiba and harder to get to. Two dives cost $135 and dive time was limited to 45 minutes. They said it was to protect nature. There was a similar relaxed attitude toward safety and the dive guide was not bothered by the steady flow of small bubbles from his BC hose at all. During the first dive visibility was touch and go and most of us seemed to be preoccupied by flooding masks. The second dive was much more enjoyable. We swam under a big school of spotted grunt. There were so many of them it felt like we were swimming in a cave. It was dark beneath them. We also saw altogether over 10 swimming white tips, lobsters, various morays, tunas and a school of big eye trevally. It was a very good dive.
I left Costa Rica to the north to Nicaragua where I dived around the Corn Islands in the Caribbean. Flying is considered expensive $164 return. The alternative is cheap no more than $10 each way and includes a lengthy bus ride and then a boat and another boat and potentially rough seas. It can easily take up 36 hours to reach the Corn Islands. I value my time and comfort so it was really a no brainer for me.

Diving around Little Corn was GREAT! The island itself can be walked around in three hours. There is no transport at any kind unless you own a bike and there are two dive centres only. There is a huge number of dive sites around the island but its manly the West that is dived due to weather. I bought a package of five dives for $150. All sites were within a couple of minutes boat ride and everyone was very professional. Coral was healthy and there was plenty to look at. Nurse sharks were regular. We did not see more than one on any dive and it usually followed us around. Maybe expecting to be fed a lion fish. They are invasive species without natural enemies and dive guides occasionally feed them to sharks. That was not the practice of the dive centre I dived with so missed that sight. Little Corn highlights included seeing eight big lobsters jammed in a small cave and there were quite a few really big sting rays. There were many other fish as well like parrot fish, angel fish, puffer fish and crabs of all shape. I had my 150th dive as an extra night dive over my dive package. One of the best dives I have ever had! We encountered a baby reef shark, green turtles, large eye toad fishes, bearded sea cucumbers, massive hermit crabs and my favourite a translucent Caribbean reef squid. With all the lights on it it looked like a rock star with white lights running around it against the black sea. When it had enough of us it was gone so quickly like it had never even been there.
I also dived on Big Corn. Just the one dive. It was similar to Little Corn only that was better but then I again it might not do justice to compare only after one dive.


My final dive during the trip was in Lago Apoyo in a volcanic crater back on mainland. It has five endemic species and hydrothermal vents. Interesting experience it was.
There were other spots I missed to dive but I believe I covered some of the best these countries have to offer. I hope I made you curios to visit some of these locations!

Mid-summer weekend diving in Portland

Following on from the fabulous trip to Swanage at the end of May (sadly no blog was available for that trip) we headed out to dive further west in Dorset.

Even trying to fill us the Percy Too in the petrol station showed once again what a boat it is – filling from pumps on both sides of the aisle!

Anyway the next morning 9 of us headed a top speed to the bottom of Durdle Door for the well known tourist site – a stone arch on the Jurassic coat (see twitter/facebook for more pics) – you can just make it out on the left of this photo:

Barny did an underwater search to get his hand in for his advanced diver, while Igor did their first open water drysuit dive and Jack his first open water dive with No.1. With all dives a success, we had lunch and set off for the Alex Van Opstal. Which we shot near the bow, now sadly the first group got too hot before slack arrived and so at they went down the line it came off the wreck and they missed the site, however with the slot moved back up to the wreck the remainder had a great dive and even managed to pull up a few lobsters for the BBQ in the evening sunshine…

The next day saw the Aolian Sky as the go-to site for every boat in the area – 4 RIBs and 2 hardboats circled the site waiting for slack, but it’s such a massive site that some pairs didn’t see any other divers down there, while everyone explored the incredible site including some sighting of the mythical landrover wreckage.

The afternoon saw more high temperatures, and a dive on the Lulworth banks on the wreck of the British Inventor which was covered in both fish (Bass, Pollock etc) and scallops provided for some Sunday evening dinner (Nathan’s Crab and Scallop risotto shown for example):

So that’s all! Next up.. West Bay…

7 hardy divers went to Porthkerris for Easter

Porthkerris – Sealife to Pondlife!

Over the Easter weekend, seven hardy divers made the long trip to Porthkerris for 4 days’ of diving off Cornwall’s southern coast. The first three days saw us exploring estuaries, go searching for wrecks and getting up close and personal with all sorts of sealife. The fourth day involved some very exciting sub-aqua activity as well, but not in the way we’d hoped!

The Log Cabin

We (Emily and me) arrived at Porthkerris Divers on the Thursday evening while it was still light and so were able to appreciate that the dive centre had a wonderful aspect right out to sea and the amenities looked very handy indeed. Here, check it out for yourself…

Save for Nathan, who joined us later that night, we were the latecomers as Verity, Aidan, Alex S and Keith had already setup camp in the log cabin, our home for the weekend. We unloaded our kit, negotiated our way around the fearsome guard….peacock(!), and then everyone headed to the pub for dinner. The Five Pilchards in Porthhallow (just a few minutes drive from Portkerris Divers) did the job nicely has it has a cosy pub feel and good food at decent prices.

Everyone was in bed early after the pub, to get ready for the first day’s diving.

First Day – Helford River

If you wake up early enough and it’s a clear morning, you can watch the light flood in large log cabin window from the rising sun over the sea. I caught a glimpse during an early morning toilet trip and it really was something. I went back to bed though to catch some more zzz’s and prepare for my first sea based dives in a dry suit…I was a little nervous to say the least.

Around 8am we had got all of our kit loaded into the cars for the short trip to the shingle beach and then transferred all of that to the RIB, including the cylinders which had their first fills back at dive HQ in Marylebone….

The Porthkerris Divers’ tractor had the RIB in the water in no time and we were off gliding through the calm waters with Keith at the helm to our first dive spot, Helford River.

Nathan and Keith acted surface cover as Emily and Verity formed a buddy pair and Alex S, Aidan and me a formidable dive trio…well, it was more like a three legged race team with me as the comical third leg! Not being used to the dry suit in salty water (the area of the river we were in was still somewhat salty and I had only one practise day in the suit at freshwater Vobster Quarry in Somerset), I hadn’t weighted myself sufficiently and had trouble getting down. Eventually though a duck dive and heavy finning downwards (luckily I equalise easily enough) got me to the bottom and although I had some issues staying down, we completed a beautiful dive at around 14 metres depth in 12C water with a very gentle drift. There were lots of sea urchins, sponges, dead man’s fingers, what I believe were dahlia anemones, a square crab (who was keen to ward us off his patch!) and goby.

Emily had similar weight issues as me, but more sensibly went back to the boat for more lead. Emily’s main concern about the diving though had been the cold, which she is more susceptible to feeling than myself (a dive in 7C water at Vobster had almost put her off UK diving!), but an investment she made in a Fourth Element Xerotherm thermal base layer did the trick and warded off the chill.

Keith and Nathan then tried another wreck near the river for their dive, before we headed back to shore.

First Day – Volnay Wreck

After Verity had tackled the somewhat confusing voucher system for air fills at Porthkerris Divers and we had some warm food in our bellies from the well stocked onsite cafe, we headed out to sea again. This time to the Volnay Wreck – a 117m steamship which sank in 1914 and which lies at around 20m below the waves. It’s fairly broken up and flattened and had a healthy amount of life around it, which we all explored in the same buddy pairs in two waves. On our dive we saw the ubiquitous cuckoo wrasse, a couple of spider crabs, more goby, some delicate sea fans, a nudibranch, pipe organs and sea urchins and loads of other stuff.

We rounded off a great day’s diving with a home cooked meal – kudos to Verity (head chef) and Aidan (sous chef) for preparing – and soon after eating, we had all headed off to bed, knackered from the first day of diving.

Second Day – Downas Cove

With a small breakfast and coffee washed down quickly and no need to launch the RIB from shore, we were an efficient and well-oiled machine on the second morning. The sun threatened a few times to make an appearance on the longer boat ride out to Downas Cove, near Lizard Point. I think we were supposed to have dived on a wreck (let’s call it wreck A) but neither my buddy pair with Verity, nor Aidan and Nathan’s pair nor the second wave trio of Emily, Alex S and Keith were able to find it! Not that it mattered though – it was my favourite dive – watching an undulate ray glide through the 8-10m viz (a few metres better than the dives the previous day) was one of the reasons. Dogfish, a camouflaged thornback ray, rock cook, ballan wrasse and even more cuckoo wrasse were some of the many other reasons.

Whilst the first wave was down at 20metres plus, Emily, Keith and Alex S got to watch a seal playing about in the waters near the boat, so we were all on the look out for the big stuff the rest of the weekend. The following day did not disappoint – more on that below!

Second Day – The Manacles (sort of) and Porthkerris shore dive

Aidan and Nathan did a drift dive along a reef in the afternoon while the current was still running strong. The rest of us opted for a more gentle dive on the The Manacles at the penwyn wall later in the afternoon during slack tide. Descending the shot, I was excited about this dive as I heard the wall was teeming with colour and life. A surprise then when Verity and me discovered a shot suspended in a green void with nothing to see but salty water in all directions – well, except for Keith who joined us and looked a little bit confused by the fact Verity and me were starting to ascend again! He fixed a lift bag to the shot and soon we were all back on board the RIB, shot and all, heading back to shore. All was not lost though because when you’ve got air left, why not dive?! So Nathan, Alex S and myself did a shallow shore dive among the kelp and pipefish and, of course, cuckoo wrasse. I also successfully practised DSMB deployment for the first time in open water and agreed with Alex to try for real the next day at depth, which would hopefully count towards my sports diver course, which Emily and me have been working on since joining the club in February last year.

A relaxing BBQ on the beach in the evening, put on by the dive centre cafe, was the perfect end to an awesome day’s diving.

Third Day – Downas Cove

Alex S took us back to Downas Cove on the third morning’s diving to search again for the elusive Wreck A. Alex S and me formed one buddy pair and Emily and Keith formed the other for the first wave. Verity, Nathan and Aidan opted for a drift dive afterwards on the reef. The abundance of life wasn’t quite so noticeable this second time at Downas Cove, but it was successful all the same as I managed to complete the DSMB deployment first time whilst battling against a cramping hamstring (just to add to the pressure!). Emily spotted some dogfish on her dive and came up smiling.

Third Day – Mohegan Wreck

We had a long wait on the beach until the small slack window late afternoon to dive the Mohegan, a 145 metre steamer that sank in 1898. With the Cornish sun belting over the water and a pod of dolphins spotted close to shore, it was an enjoyable wait indeed. Whilst we acted surface cover for Alex S and Keith to do their afternoon drift dive on the reef, we had a closeish encounter with the pod which was heading out in the direction of Downas Cove and being trailed slowly by a few interested dive boats – that was pretty special.

I thought the dive on the Mohegan was a good one, as I’ve not dived many large wrecks in the UK which still has plenty of its parts still recognisable. So getting a good look at things like the boilers on the Mohegan and picturing how the men would have fuelled them to power the ship made for an exciting dive for me. Some of the more experienced divers though felt there wasn’t enough life on the wreck, but I spotted a tompot blenny for the first time on the dive (as well as starfish, cuckoo wrasse and ballan wrasse) which was plenty enough life for me!

That was Emily’s and my last dive of the weekend, as we had a few days’ holiday planned in North Devon from the Monday and so it was a fitting end to an educational and interesting weekend’s diving and we both felt that we had gotten better at handling the drysuits and more confident at UK diving in general (being warm water PADI learners, the UK is a whole different ballgame!).

A trip to The Five Pilchards that evening took a surreal twist, as Keith and Alex S following us to the pub in the Land Rover had a malfunction on a steep hill and the vehicle ended up the PorthKerris divers’ pond – which was a better destination than off the steep cliff at the bottom of the road! Keith and Alex S were thankfully fine, although the hunt is now on for a new vehicle to tow the RIB. I understand there was still plenty of excitement on the fourth day even if though there was no diving, as recovery teams and cranes turned out to remove the Land Rover from the pond and the RIB from the sea and there were lots of spectators to watch the events unfold. No one can say that trips away with London Diver No 1 are anything but eventful!

Here’s looking to my next trip in Swanage at the end of May.


A dive trip to Mozambique (Tofo Beach)

For many years I had heard of the diving at Tofo beach in Mozambique, both from South Africans that I had met, and from the tales of whale sharks told by other London Diver members Morgan and Hannah who had worked nearby at Barra.

At last Joy and I had the chance to visit this not-very-accessible place – it conformed to my belief that the best places in the world to visit (if you like remote) will take you at least 3 flights from Heathrow… We flew to Johannesburg, then on to Maputo and then finally to Inhambanne. When we got there after about 18 hours we could reclaim our bags in this baggage reclaim area:

after all, even my hand baggage had been taken off me since there were essentially no overhead lockers to put it in!

We were based at Tofo Scuba (https://www.tofoscuba.com/) which was the original scuba center in the area (although there are now 5 as it’s become so famous). The entire coast of Mozambique is hundreds of miles of perfect soft sandy beach which allows for some boat manouvers which would certainly not be encouraged on Chesil Beach…

They have a tractor which drops the boat on the sand and then pushes it over the sand into the sea (no trailer at this point), then when you get back you just drive up the beach on full throttle…. Certainly saves time compared to all the slow approach to pontoons.

Anyway you are probably wondering what the diving was like – we did 4 days diving, 2 dives per day. All in the range 25-31m on Nitrox 30. There is a lot of life, with a huge variety of fish, turtles, coral etc water temperature was 24-26C when we were there in April. Here are few pictures that try to capture to density of fish:
(circling kingfish)

(and a massive turtle)

(pretty cool tree coral)
And then a few more novelty ones like this exceptionally well camoflaged frog fish just look at the lips…

and a bit of lion fish action!

We also saw some reef sharks, and a pair of very interested devil rays that look rather like mini manta rays. Sadly we missed out on seeing manta rays ourselves despite a couple of dives on ‘manta reef’ but they group saw then on our last day (when we couldn’t dive due to flying!!)

For those considering a trip, and hoping to see the megafauna the guide we had (born a bred in Tofo Beach) recommended August as the best month, since there are also humpback whales in the area, and perhaps more types of shark. It’s worth noting that sadly the number of whale shark sighting in this area are quite a bit lower than they were 10 years ago so don’t pin your hopes on that.. but the diving is cool and the people are wonderful as well so worth putting on the list!

Barny and Joy

Diving in Jordan

(by Roberta Lenart)
The idea of visiting Jordan came from a scuba diving magazine that described a trip to Aqaba on the Red Sea, the only coastal city of Jordan. It appealed to me not least as did not just talked about what’s underwater but also went into detail describing Jordan on land. I wanted to see Petra (re-discovered by IndianaJones) just as much I wanted to dive in the Red Sea. The two together really captured my imagination and decided to pay a visit.

After short research it was clear that weather is going to be a factor as summer temperatures can rise into the high 40s while during winter snow might fall in the North of the country and water does cool down. For what I wanted to do both on land and underwater September seemed to be the best time and since I read the article in September it gave me a year to plan and prepare. At the end I spent 2.5 weeks in Jordan including four days of diving.

Jordan is mainly desert and after a week in the sand I was ready for South Beach how south Aqaba is known. The street leading up from the sea is home to dive centres / hotels / restaurants. Seemingly they all offer similar packages but after closer inspection I think there are variances. I stayed at Red Sea Dive Center not least as they were willing to negotiate the price. They turned out to be a very organised and professional centre with friendly dive guides and brand new equipment.


The dive sites themselves were superb too. All within a couple of minutes’ drive from the centre and all dive sites are shore dives. It’s similar to what I experienced in further south in Egypt: visibility in the low 20s and water temperature in the mid-20s. Coral is in good condition and there is so much to see! Under every rock and in between there is something to look at (flounder fish, stone fish, crown toby, lizard fish, turtles, eels, just to name a few) and it’s all dynamic: I missed when our dive guide liberated a smaller octopus from a bigger one and only saw the ink in the water and the retreating bigger octopus. It was quite a scene. I enjoyed watching a curious hermit crab trying to peek into / under his new neighbour’s shell brought there by the above mentioned dive guide. One of the highlights was for me to see a 15 cm seahorse in the last five minutes of my last dive. I did not realise it then and was told only later he was carrying eggs.

Other than the wonders of nature there is a tank and a ship wreck both sunken for divers to be explored.

I hope this brief recount entices you to pay a visit to this corner of the World!

The Diving Officers Report – 2016 Season

This blog is adapted from the Diving Officers Address to the AGM in October 2016


Firstly some summary statistics for the year…

Dive count from RIB 2016: 184.  Mad diver award (for most dives) winner: 27 dives. Trips:9. Number of different divers: 20.

(Dive count from RIB 2015: 182. Mad diver award winner: 23 dives. RIB trips:6. Number of different divers: 18)

So we grew on every count!

We kicked off the season with a well-attended Christmas trip to Stoney where groups of people had to re-enact their favourite scenes from their favourite films. I have seen some really shocking things underwater but that definitely took the biscuit.

Thank you to all of you who attended, it was really nice to meet with Romain’s lovely family.

It was also the occasion to welcome Lukasz and Marcos to their first ever UK dive. My first UK dive was also a Christmas dive although it was in Wraysbury proves that there has been an improvement in the club over the years! Although the water was a bit chilly we did manage a good twenty minutes and we even made it to the plane.

In March we started the season with London Diver’s traditional rescue scenario weekend. On the Saturday we went through some real-life style drills where Aidan, James, Andrew and Sofia shown us what it takes to become a BSAC Dive Leader. One of my highlights was when Nathan jumped off the boat to simulate a man overboard  but although most people on board noticed nobody said anything for a while; Nathan, i don’t think it is because it was you, definitely

To do with us all being a bit rusty. I also found really entertaining  when Andrew was left on is own on the boat and had to lift up un unconscious James with no help.

Our next trip saw a small group heading to West bay. It was the occasion to meet Peter who joined us on a dive trip for the first time. The vis was quite Challenging that weekend but we did dive on some very good wreck like the Saint Dunstan and the Bagytano. It was good to be back in Westbay too which we had avoided for a few years due to the lack of air compressor. It is very handy that the Harbour Master is now in charge of it and that we don’t have to go to that horrible tackle shop like we used to.



Andrew organised our next trip over the first May bank holiday weekend and had the very good idea to extend it one extra day. The trip was well subscribed and we had a good mix of steel and rock diving with some stunning vis on the Glen Hallen and the Scilla. We also managed to visit twice hands deep which is definitively one of my favourite UK dive site. We did avoid the lighthouse this time as some of us were still traumatised by what had happened there last time.

After this we went to Weymouth. Barny organised this trip. We were in full plankton bloom and dived through some really challenging condition but still we had a very enjoyable weekend.

We continued our tour of Dorset with a trip to Swanage. Nathan organised that one, the weekend coincided with Swanage seafood festival which was quite handy at lunch time. The Weather conditions were not ideal over that weekend but Nathan was never fazed out even when on one occasion because of sea conditions, his plan A turned into plan B which turned into plan C. Well worth always being prepared!

We returned to Westbay at the end of June. Chris organised this trip and we had some very good reef diving over West and East tenant which I am never bored on Thank you Chris for organising this trip!


We returned to Weymouth in early August. Barny once again organised this trip. I missed this trip unfortunately, however I have heard of an attempt led by our most accomplished and respected divers (Nigel and Keith) to tow Roberta all kited  up water-ski style from Persy to the shot line! This sort of things always happens when the D.O. is away.


We returned to Swanage again organised by Nathan – on this trip we saw Declan and Marcos for the first time. It is always very positive and refreshing for us oldies to have new members on a trip and especially when it is their first ever dive trip! Marcos not only finished his last Open water dives and is now focusing on the exam paper but he also entertained us no end.

I remember receiving an SMS from Nathan describing Marcos status as “last seen bare feet and wandering in his pants through town looking for a sandwich”!…Nathan arranged to dive places which we don’t dive much, like the wreck of the Venezuela which according to those who dived it was really good (it still gives Barny a nightmare with the number of lobster sightings) and this is a good reminder to us all that there are so many dive sites in the channel that we should try to take some risk and not only dive places that we have dived already  many times. We finished the weekend in beauty with a sea horse search in Studland Bay.

After that Emma had organised a live-aboard trip aboard the Halton to the Shetland. The trip was full and saw a mix of club members as well as of friends of the club. The trip was very good; stunning good vis,  good food and good company. Although according to one of the crew members we were quite high up on the list of the most annoying dive party. I think they got a bit shocked when Andrea and Emma loaded two crates of booze.


For the last trip of the year, we went back to WestBay. This was organised by Verity. This was Verity first trip as Dive Marshall and it was really unfortunate that we were blown out on the first day however people who attended made the most of it, either going for a hike or windsurfing. The Sunday was much better although very very choppy still and if it was not for Barny’s determination, I think we would have given up. But we went to the Baygitano and to my surprise, I had never seen such good visibility on this wreck. We actually return to the Baygitano in the afternoon, firstly because we forgot to pick up scallops on the first dive but also because it was too difficult to drive the boat to the Heroine which was our intended site.

In general I think we had a very good year. I think logistically it was much easier. Having the boat stored in Dorchester makes it easier for us to get the boat on sites. It makes it as well less tedious for boat towers especially on the return journey home. It does have some disadvantages though that we need to keep in mind: for example the trailer and the boat do not get the amount of TLC that they used to  when they were on Nigels drive. And it shows a lot. I hope Nigel won’t have a fit when we winterise perseverance this year.

It also means that realistically we are limiting ourselves to which area we can reach and this is one of the reason we dived so many time in Dorset this year.

Having said that there are still many, many dive sites that we have yet to visit that area and we should take advantage of the variety of wrecks and reefs that we are lucky to have access to.

I would like to finish this report by a big thank you to all of you that organised a trip this year,

Chris, Andrew, Barny (at least three trips), Nathan (two trips), Verity and Emma.

I would also like to say a big thank you to a very reliable and dedicated team of instructors led by Leigh for the time that you give to the club every Tuesday, Aidan, Alex Marshall, Jon and of course Leigh.


Diving Officer


Shetland Islands – September

The London Divers Expedition for 2016 was to Shetland in September. Eleven divers spent a wonderful week diving, touring round the islands and enjoying life on our liveaboard ship.
Shetland is a special place for diving as it is less intensely dived and fished than many parts of Britain. With reliably good visibility (generally we found 10 to 15 metres) and plenty of wrecks and scenic sites, there is something for everyone.
Wreck Dives
Our first day was spent diving locally from the main port of Lerwick. We explored the Pionersk, a Russian factory ship which sank at anchor in a storm. It was a big a big wreck with lots of fish including my first cod. Often eaten, rarely seen.
Another notable dive was the E49, a British submarine sunk by a German mine in 1917. All of the crew perished and it is certified as a War grave. The good visibility allowed us to see the largely intact hull lying part exposed in the sand. We explored the conning tower which was on its side and even the long periscope was intact.

Conning tower of E49

SeaSearch Dives
I performed two SeaSearch observation dives to help record what wildlife is present today in Shetland so that when recorded on the central database, it is possible to compare with observations in the future and to benchmark against other parts of Britain. Giants Steps was an amazing scenic dive with plenty of wildlife especially Dahlia anemones of so many colours and patterns. The second was a superb drift dive which I also did as an assessed open water exercise as part of my BSAC Dive Leader training. I have never seen so many dog-fish. We could not help benefitting from the enormous scallops above water, seen below being expertly cooked by Nathan.


Sun Star

My 100th Dive
I was very pleased that this milestone would happen during the expedition and I was so lucky that it turned out to be my favourite dive of week. The Fraoch Ban is a small trawler which sank off Brassay island in 1999 and is now populated with masses of colourful plumose anemones and surrounded by curious flatfish. The dab now actively follow divers to feed from any food stirred up by the divers’ fins. See the video to understand why we loved this dive so much.

team nathan-cooking

The Big 100 celebration

The MV Halton
Our home for the week was a converted Scottish trawler which was amply suitable for some of the windier days we experienced. The equipment, facilities and cooking were very good and such fun for partying in the evening.


What a special place. We travelled to the island of Unst which has the most northerly pub in the UK. Whilst drinking the delicious locally brewed beer we were further north than the capitals of Sweden, Norway and Finland and nearer to Norway than we were to Inverness. The Vikings may have left a long time ago but there is still something unique about the scenery, the traditions and people.
We had a brilliant time on the trip. Several of us progressed in our diving including me who did planned deco dives and used Nitrox for the first time as well as progressing my dive depth. What more could we have wanted.


BBQ’d Scallops


For the May bank holiday a few of us headed down to the Dorset coast to enjoy some fine weather, and get up close with some plankton bloom…!

We kicked off with a dive on the Arfon, a new site for the club (http://www.divernet.com/wreck-tours/p301720-wreck-tour:-88-the-arfon.html) which we managed to find pretty easily (near to the Aolian Sky) however sitting at around 35m it was extremely dark and murky so after short dives we returned to the surface with the intention of finding some shallower dives for the rest of the trip…

With the plan already in place to have a BBQ on the beach that afternoon the mission was to find some scallops to enjoy – we headed for a quick picnic in Lulworth cove and then dived the Black Hawk (where Alex and I saw a ray) and followed Keith’s guidance on this site of ‘swim South for scallops’ – the result was mostly successful with the group picking up a dozen for our tea. We stopped off for some Dorset ice cream in Weymouth old harbour before heading back to Portland and stoking up the BBQ.13323441_1054446957911049_1657667974352576383_o

As we woke up to another day of blue sky with much better visibility above the water – the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast stretched out for miles – we headed for the Binnendjik (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Binnendijk) which sits at around 25m; she sank during WW2 and it appears was carrying a cargo of tyres, copper wire and lobster. This was a fine dive, enjoyed by all and being the 10m shallower than the day before the light was quite good – one to recommend!


We finished the weekend with a fun drift across Lulworth banks, before heading home!