The Canine Genitalia

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Special guest – Mr Thumb! (More on him later…)

Diving, eating and drinking in Exmouth 28 to 29th July 2008…


## The Journey

Every good dive trip report has to start with some ramblings about the journey so here are mine… Despite not leaving home until 10.30pm, Venessa wanting to drive and me reluctantly handing over control of the car, our journey was uneventful. Steve and Kevan however, were not so lucky. Driving down in Steve’s hot-hatch, the viz was so poor (good preparation for the weekend) that fogs lights were necessary. Also they were tailgated by some idiot for most of the journey. This really got to Steve and eventually he had to pull in to let the Prince Naseem wannabe past. “I hope the bugger crashes” commented Steve. Dave, Jo and Rob’s journey was similarly stressful. They had a slow moving Peugot in front of them for most of the journey with its fog lights on. Dave’s solution to this was to drive as close to the other car as is humanly possible without actually crashing into it. Luckily for Dave this seemed to work in the end because the driver pulled in to let Dave past. Dave didn’t hear the driver say “I hope the bugger crashes”.

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Chris and Chris

When we got to the Dolphin Hotel, we found that parking was an issue. In fact, later in the weekend, Dave nearly got duffed up because he was trying to bagsy a parking space for Chris who had driven around the corner to pick up the filled cylinders. Fearing reprisal, we moved Chris’ rather nice looking Range Rover and replaced it with our car. Unfortunately it was left untouched.

Anyway, on to the diving:

## Day 1: The Bretagne and the Galicia

Having an early start meant no fry-up, so cereal and toast was the order of the day, although I managed to charm a bacon butty out of the waitress on account of being later than everyone else! The boat was due to leave from the jetty at 8:30 so we all piled down there and unloaded the various cars.

Wave Chieftan III and her skipper, Richard, turned up. Chris Hunka noted how the numbering of Wave Chieftans correlated with the number of hulls, until it was pointed out that the boat was a catamaran! (much to Jo’s surprise). We concluded that our boat was a combination of the first and second Wave Chieftans before it. This seemed fairly apt since the boat was huge and looked fairly new. It had an enormous dive deck and a lift – So good news there. In fact, it was decided a bit later on, in true Marks and Spencer’s style, that this wasn’t just any old boat but was a luxurious, twin-hulled, canine-genitalia of a boat, floating on a refreshing zing of emerald-green, mineralized sea water!

First dive was the Bretagne, a steamer that sank on the 10th August 1910 when she struck another ship in fog. We jumped from the WCIII and swam to the shot in groups of 4. Always a bit apprehensive on the first dive, we went down the line fairly slowly to be met with 1 metre vis at the bottom. I think the nitrogen got to Venessa a bit at the bottom because she moved away from the wreck into open water. Signalling her back with my torch, she soon realised and finding the boat again we continued. After a swim around the the stern of the ship, we deployed our SMBs and ended the dive. Dave and Jo were lucky enough to catch a huge crab on this dive.

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Steve and Dave

Our next dive was the Galicia. This ship was carrying cement to Valparaiso when she struck a mine on the 12th May 1917. We noticed the barrels of cement on our dive, the barrels themselves having rotted away to nothing, leaving just large cylinder shaped concrete blocks. We also investigated the large winch mechanism that was still left on the port side, with various bits of anchor and line attached to it from salvagers and other diving vessels. The wreck itself was fairly broken up and spread out – it was pretty big too. We swam around to the stern of the ship but did not venture down to see if the propeller was still in place… Rob did, and it wasn’t! All he found down there was the rudder. Coming around on the starboard side, we found some pretty sea fans All in all, a fantastic dive helped by the slightly better viz than we had early in the day.

In the evening we all met up at Nico’s il Ristorante an Italian restaurant that had been booked. After too much food and some ‘mental-spicy’ pizzas we got down to the evening’s entertainment – Mr Thumb! (a drinking game – ask Chris Hunka). Safe diving principles allowed the victim to down their water if wine was getting too much for them. We burst out of the restaurant at around 11:30, having emptied it several hours before, and headed back to the Dolphin. Meanwhile, a hardcore splinter group (Chris J-R, Julie, Steve and Rob) went on to find another drinking establishment!

## Day 2: The Gefion and a Drift

People were feeling a little worse for wear when we picked up the WCIII. Richard brought a mate of his along… Kevin, who actually owns the Gefion wreck and, despite not looking old enough, had apparently taught Dave to dive. The Gefion was carrying coal, like the Bretagne, when she was sunk on the 25th October 1917 by a torpedo from a German U-Boat. When we went down the shot, which was set midship, we entered complete darkness. However, the visibility improved further from the shot and we investigated the bow section. The holds were discernible by a lattice of ribs exposed by the deck having eroded. This made the dive quite atmospheric. Gren and Sarah found the boiler on their dive, standing proud of the seabed. Unable to discern any other sections of the ship in the bad visibility they then swam around it several times!

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Asleep on the copious deck of Wave Chieftain III

The second drift dive was less interesting but produced more bounty. Three fingers of reef jutting out towards the deep. Due to my poor cuff dump, we took so long to sink that we completely drifted over the first finger. Finger 2 was the largest of the three and we spent as much time looking around it as we could before being dragged away by the SMB that was pulling us. Finger 3 was a bit of a blur but on surfacing we found that everyone else had a fantastic dive of plundering. Gren had collected as many scallops as you could stick in his bag and Sarah found an impressive piece of spidge, which will no doubt be entered and displayed at this year’s best finds competition. Kevin, having been let in the water by Richard a bit before us, had collected some large plaice.

So our weekend in Exmouth was a great success but, should you go diving there yourself, please remember that the Wave Cheiftan III is not just any old dive boat…