As is tradition at Easter, ten of Croydon BSAC’s finest made the trek down to Devon to dive with Pete Fergus from his hard boat VENTURE. After last year’s debacle (we didn’t even make it out of Croydon because of the weather…TWICE!!!!) I was hoping for a good one, but with the winter weather having been bad to say the least, the odds were firmly stacked against us, could it be as good as in previous years?…
The forecast at the start of the week was rather changeable, but by Thursday as I travelled down the A303 with my hapless side-kick Paul Carvall everything was looking good: little wind, sunny, decent temperatures. Who’d have thought it eh?
Friday dawned and several stomachs were being affected by the assault-on-the-pallet that is the Ganges curry house. However, as you all know us Croydon BSAC-types are made of tough stuff, so we all soldiered on for a couple of dives, but not before we had entertained skipper Pete with our bespoke Venture Charters t-shirts.
We decided Friday should be a shakedown day to check all our kit was working, so opted for a dive on the Black Rock Trawler followed by the Glen Strathallen. Visibility on both was about 2m, which was disappointing but not unexpected. Both had plenty of life hiding in the gullys and kelp but unfortunately nobody brought any seafood up. Post-dive and the sun was out and everyone was happy, agreeing that easing into the diving was a good option. Between dives Pete cheered everyone up by serving up hot pasties and beans, whilst we amused ourselves by annoying James The Cabin Boy.
After Thursday night’s gut-slaughtering curry another trip to the Ganges wasn’t really on the cards so soon, so we retired to the Pub on the Hoe for pub-grub and beers. Most of us headed home fairly early as we had scheduled an 8.30am leave the next day to dive the Maine.
Saturday and it’s a 2hr trip to dive the Maine, probably my favourite wreck down this way. Unfortunately the viz was also rubbish here, perhaps 2m, and very dark. A few binned the dive and those of us that did stay couldn’t really see much : ( Large sections of the wreck appear to have collapsed over the winter and much of the metalwork has a clean “sandblasted” look to it where it’s been battered by the sand and shingle. Pete made up for a disappointing dive with chilli for lunch and once again James took the brunt of the banter. Our second dive was a drift at fairylands and the viz here was much better with plenty of life about and some lovely gullies and rock formations to swim over.
Sunday dawned and pissing rain was the order of the day. Our first dive was the Persier, always a crowd pleaser and once again didn’t disappoint. Viz was about 5-6m and plenty of life – a few lobsters and crabs got away, but everyone agreed this was an excellent dive. The viz was improving! Chef Pete arranged meatball pasta and hot drinks and James the Cabin Boy got to “enjoy” Paul C’s lusty advances. Second dive and we headed for the Glen strathallen again, viz had improved to the 5-6m we had had on the Persier earlier in the day so everyone was happy. It was flippin’ cold though!
Post dive and Kris, Scott and Tone said their goodbyes and headed home. The rest of us had a few beers, went back and got changed then hit the pub and the Ganges. Suffice to say that lagers, Guiness, gin, brandy and Christ-knows how many bottled of vino meant there were going to be a few sore heads the next morning….
Monday morning – oh my God. forecast was for 4-5 SE winds and the sea state was lumpy. There were green faces all over the boat and some dropped out of diving before we’d even untied the ropes. Due to the sea state and fragile state of the crew we opted to make the short trip to the James Egan Layne. Viz on the wreck was a good 6-7m and I’m please to report that the winter storms hadn’t caused any significant damage…not that I’d really know as I was too busy in the wheelhouse feeling like death to dive.
Given the topside conditions everyone opted for Monday to be a one-dive day so we steamed back in. Most headed home after a thoroughly enjoyable weekend whilst two stalwarts stayed an extra night to go for a romantic dinner for two.
Thanks to all the crew who made it a top trip and especially to Pete, James and Theresa for looking after us all:
- Paul Brown
- Paul Carvall
- Tony Ray
- Scott Dillon
- Chris Boddington
- Kris Boulton
- Ady Lupton
- Martin Bonner
- Rick Whitby
- Wayne Haiste
See you next year!