Monday 31 May: City of Waterford

Three of us went out on this dive; Paul Brown, Chris Boddington and Rick Whitby. The Bank Holiday weekend had proved to be the usual damp squib and checking on XC Weather throughout the week looked like the club’s dive with
Steve on the Saturday would be blown out but the weather would be dropping dramatically on the Monday.

A quick call the day before to Paul confirmed it all looked OK and got the text it was a go-er later that night by which time I had already prepped my rebreather ready for the next days dive. The best bit about the extremely early away is at least you know the traffic down to Brighton is going to be light and I was looking forward to a nice dive on a wreck I haven’t done for a couple of years. At 4.45am I left sunny Herne Hill and arrived just after Paul in Brighton Marina around 6am to try and nab the a decent spot on one of the benches.

First suprise of the day was seeing a mate of ours who I joined the previous week doing a Moldavia trip, Dan Parker and when the sheets went round I rather optimistically put down 90 mins probably hoping that I would get the same 15-20m I got the weekend prior when I did an hour and three-quarters in a balmy 10 degrees. Paul B annouced he was only going to do an hour so decided to buddy up with Chris and I buddied up with Dan.

The good thing about the Waterford is it is very intact and quite close in shore so at 7am (approximately 5 seconds after Bodd arrived with his characteristically well planned timing) we were off in bright sunshine. Steve warned us to get kitted up as by the time we were on site he would shot the wreck and we would go straight in. We were joined on the wreck by a rib from Brighton who I think had shotted the bow; Steve shotted the stern and after a brief wait we were in.

The tide was running a bit on the way done but nothing that wasnt a problem and halfway down the shot turned my light on as it was clear with the plankton and gloom that the viz wasnt going to be all that; probably not a suprise given the winds of the previous 2 days and I immediately thought that thought of a 90min run-time were extremely unlikely. After popping down to 30m we rounded the stern and came off the wreck a bit too look for some grub; the idea being do the wreck; get some scallops and then come back up over the wreck and up. I had forgotton my goodie bags and asked Paul if he had a spare; both Paul and Dan laughed saying there is no such thing as a ‘spare’ goodie bags; just more goodie bags. Once Dan had assured me that he had more than enough ‘extra’ bags I was happy to try and
get some grub.

Trouble is the viz was only 1m maybe 2m max the only thing I could see were clouds of bib/pouting coming in and out of the viz and bits of wreckage; Dan’s yellow fins and the distant glow of his main torch which was struggling to pierce the gloom. Likewise Dan said he saw nothing of me apart from my torch beam and the green glow of my rebreather HUD. Dan unsuccesfully fought a lobster which I pretty much figured out with the cloud of silt and swearing from my dive buddy we headed to the very impressive bow (the pointy bit) which stands very intact and is still impressive even in such shit viz. This is the point we had agreed we would head off and try to get some scallops and despite being inches from the bottom neither of us could see anything so decided to head back to the wreck; a couple of swimthroughs and we were up on the top of the wreck and decided to call it a day around 45 mins in – we both sent out blobs up; my unit threw a bizarre 2 min stop at 19m which cleared pretty much immediately and we headed to the surface for a wait until Steve picked us up.

On the boat saw a buddyless Bodd who had managed to lose Paul B early on – Paul using the age old excuse of ‘torch problems’ to get rid of his buddy so he could concentrate on the more important part of proving to be the seafood king especially now Wayne H my normal dive buddy has gone into temporary retirment in SE Asia. No suprise on surfacing Paul B was up with a very full looking goodie bag to add to the fridge saying the only reason he had left was he was approaching his max runtime he had agreed with Steve and just as he had hit the mother lode!

All in all a good day making the best of the so-so viz in the company with some good mates and as always good to get in the water. One of the bizarre points of the day is Steve had managed to pick up an internet diver who was doing his first UK sea dive complete with wetsuit; no torch; no DSMB, no reel and no buddy. Quite rightly the guy decided not to do the dive – god knows what he would have thought of the conditions compared to the red sea he last dived in!

Rick Whitby

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