Late May Bank Holiday trip to Plymouth

After moving the annual club trip to early May and Portland last year, it was decided to wait until slightly later in the season when it would be warmer and to go back to Plymouth this year. So the late May Bank Holiday saw a mad-dash down the M5 by a good number of K&E members to Mount Batten, a water sports activities centre located right on the harbour. No long walks with heavy kit!

Friday night saw lots of late arrivals and a few civilised drinks at Mount Batten, then an early night before the next days’ diving. Saturday dawned, typical Bank Holiday (lousy) weather and a quick breakfast was followed by the loading of two boats, an operation that was as speedy as it was organised. The first dive was preceded by the mentally bracing sight of watching one of the club’s most experienced divers rope in two fellow divers to rigorously shake and shimmy him into his drysuit, a feat of truly epic proportions. We spotted a cuttlefish on the first dive, and were treated to the sight of it changing colour several times. Tom went treasure hunting and rewarded the skipper with an authentic rusty spoon from the seabed. After lunch the second dive was to be in the basin – we dropped in at around 30m where the visibility was fairly good and almost immediately came across a ray sitting on the sand. Sadly, this was the last dive in which my drysuit wanted to be involved, and after enjoying the refreshment offered by about 3 gallons of seawater swirling around inside, I retired it for the weekend, looking forward to the next two days in a semi-dry suit.

Saturday night was the BBQ, which was predictably rained off. Sunday morning saw the popular decision to dive the James Egan Layne followed by the (slightly less popular) Fort. The JEL is a beautiful wreck, sitting in 24m with an abundance of marine life. The Fort is a non-beautiful brick wall, with the odd starfish. In my semi-drysuit my overwhelming impression of both dives was that they were cold, very cold! We warmed up on Sunday night by trooping off to a local Indian restaurant across the water in Plymouth, which had apparently mysteriously moved from its previous location and thus pushed the navigational skills of K&E’s chief barman to the limit. Service was fairly friendly and incredibly slow, and resulted in a frantic sprint through Plymouth’s party district to catch the last watertaxi home.

Monday’s dives were to be the Scylla and then a scallop hunt. The Scylla is a breathtaking wreck, deliberately sunk in 2004 as a giant diver’s toy. Swimming along the sea life encrusted gangways, peaking through windows into the body of the craft and seeing how the sea has turned this mundane boat into a thing of beauty gave me a timely reminder of all I love about diving and why I got involved in the sport in the first place. It’s truly a privilege to be able to visit this site, and this dive rendered all the ripped neckseals, dropped weights, snapped mask straps, leaking drysuits, forays into the shipping lane and lost breakfasts irrelevant.

The scallop dive was slightly less impressive. Suffice to say K&E won’t be setting up a stall at Billingsgate any time soon. Then it was off home again, a successful trip and one I’ll definitely hope to repeat, next time in a drysuit. Thanks to Brian Deluce for organising the weekend!

By Leanne Collinson