Plymouth Dive Weekend 28th-29th July 2012

After much anticipation Friday 27th of July dawned at last, and a group of K&E divers excitedly prepared for the big event- a dive weekend in Plymouth, two days diving off Aquanauts, hopefully taking in some lovely wrecks and marine life. While the eyes of the rest of the world turned to a ‘dive’ in East London (sorry, I couldn’t resist), we made our way down the A303 to escape the madness. Sadly ‘the madness’ proved inescapable, as in-car karaoke sessions threatened and traffic built up, and Len continued in his attempts to support an entire eco-system using only the stains on his t shirt, but we eventually arrived safe and sound. We adjourned to a nearby pub, to enjoy the Olympics Opening Ceremony (James Bond and Her Maj, congratulations to Danny Boyle!) and seek essential rehydration before the next days’ endeavours.

Saturday’s plan was to dive the classic Plymouth wrecks, the Scylla and the James Eagan Lyne. For those who don’t know, the Scylla is a Leander-class frigate, deliberately sunk as an artificial reef in 2004 that lies at about 24m. It’s almost completely colonised by marine life, and thankfully the fishing net that had been tangled up in the wreck earlier this year has been removed, thanks to the work of a team of volunteers managed by the National Marine Aquarium. Visibility was excellent, and as well as the usual sponges we saw some beautiful jewel anemones beginning to form their patchwork quilt-esque patterns. Another notable sight was Pete’s ‘Jolly Green Giant’ undersuit, an interesting specimen that will linger in the memory for rather longer than one would want.

After a rocky surface interval, we started the second dive, the James Eagan Layne. This Liberty ship was sunk in 1945, the victim of a German torpedo and now lies in 22m of water. I was otherwise engaged feeding the fishes during this dive, but was reassured it was as lovely as ever and the visibility was also quite good.

The afternoon’s activity was slightly more cultural- thanks to Jackie Maskell we enjoyed a tour around the famous Plymouth Gin factory. Luckily for the weary divers this included a much-needed, restorative G&T, which (inevitably) led to us thoroughly exploring the impressive cocktail list. I can confirm that gin makes several very good cocktails! An Indian for dinner followed, to varying levels of success.

Sunday morning’s plan was to dive the Persia, a cargo ship that also fell victim to a torpedo in 1945, with the loss of 20 lives. This is a lovely dive in about 28m, hosting lots of marine life, including a sizable lobster and conga eels. The final wreck of the weekend was the Polnic, where some divers were lucky enough to have a John Dory pointed (and then spelled) out to them! A successful incident-free weekend was enjoyed by all, thanks to Len Hard’s Olympian efforts in organising it all, despite a bout of manflu.

Report by Leanne Collinson