Beware the Tides of September

Salcombe weekend.

When do they say the best time to dive is? Last time I checked it wasn’t slap bang in the middle of the highest spring tides this century but undaunted we carried the Kingston BSAC flag high and proud. Talking of flags, John Rapley knows where to get you one cheap! He got swept out to sea in the Farnes in case you all forgot and swears by them!

Back to the trip, most of us arrived the Friday night after a mammoth drive and the usual car park that exists around Stonehenge! Being given a lift by Alex Morris I was subjected (endured) to repeat listening of the entire Depeche Mode back catalogue. To be fair he did mix in some Chilli Peppers. Not literally though! After settling in for the night there was only one way to prepare ourselves for the morning. Yep, you guessed it Ð down to the pub we went. A few jars later and after praying that we wouldn’t catch Jemil’s cold we retired to the B & B. This wasn’t that easy to do as it resided up a rather steep hill, OK for some of us of course but John was definitely feeling the effects of it when we reached the top! Another B&B off the list then it seems and not just for this reason! more later on that!

Had breakfast the next morning and after picking up the last straggler to arrive (Tony Colato) we headed to the harbour. £5.55 parking fee! Something fishy going on there! I had been warned about the skipper Pat but I found him to be OK, his boat was certainly up to scratch, any boat with a toilet normally does for me but add in a compressor, pasties and soup and now you’re talking! We had someone MIA from the Saturday diving as they had forgot to pack their dry hose feed, a mistake a novice could easily make but! ah I’ll keep his identity secret!

First dive was down to a wreck called The Maine which was a request from the masses. Now I’m sure it looks great in fine visibility but today was not that day. Hitting over 30 metres when the vis is comparable to Wraysbury on a Sunday is not the greatest experience and was one I was glad that was over quickly. It could have been a bus down there for all I saw! John thought he saw things carved into the side of the wreck but no one believed him! The second dive was much better, most notably because we got to see a seal again. Not just see! I was dive bombed by it and it almost had my head off in a direct charge at me. Wreckage again was promised but for me the enjoyment was in the caves and the little nooks and crannies. Everyone managed to return to the boat safely! will this good luck continue?

The evening was spent at a pub/restaurant John chose and speaking for everyone I can say the food was tasty, especially if you had a lamb shank. Seemed pretty popular. Trouble is I was so tired from the night before (Alex snoring – although he swears I did too.. mmm!) and with diving taking its toll I was glad we left around 11 and definitely not worse for wear. Even John managed the climb back to the B&B easily enough.

Next morning after breakfast I started hearing rumblings about things that go bump in the night. Well around 6.30 in the morning to be more precise. You see, John and Len were sharing a room and more to the point a bunk bed. John took the upper bunk which was surely a recipe for disaster which coincidently enough is what happened!

John scrambled out of the bunk early in the morning, missed a rung in the ladder and went crashing into the glass topped bedside table. Did the glass survive this assault? Not a chance. Fair play though he did own up to it and then spent the next couple of days with his phone turned off in case the bill came through for the table!

The day out on the boat started out better with Alex finding a replacement hose (oops, I named him!) and we all headed for the East Rutts dive site which John had mentioned was spectacular last time he was here. That was before those spring tides though. The dive itself for me was the best of the weekend; Alex even managed to salvage a working torch off the bottom! Second dive though was where things got interesting. The skippers words were ‘stay between the boat and the cliff, do not go beyond the pinnacle’. Wise words that most of us heeded. The dive itself was unspectacular but climbing back onto the boat I see Len’s DSMB being pulled away by the current with Len not far behind. Brian doing his best David Hasselhoff impression jumped back into the water with rescue rope in hand. Whilst Brian was bringing Len back John (Len’s partner) had snuck back on the boat claiming, and I quote, ‘every man for himself’!! Probably suffering flashbacks to being swept away in the Farnes! Even worse than this was Tony and Mark’s position in the water which could be said was halfway between Salcombe and Plymouth. Well. Nearly! Had to up anchor to go and rescue them and then of course rib them for the rest of the trip! Only fair for ignoring the skipper’s instructions.

On the way back we had some wise words from our skipper about making ‘everyday count’ and ‘not wasting your life’ as ‘he was reaching the winter of his life’! Very profound and uplifting at the same time. On the whole, the trip was well organised and despite the visibility below the weather above was excellent. I enjoyed it and I hope everyone else did.