Fantastic Portland Diving

Long time club member Ian organised a “Fantastic Weekend” of diving (16th – 18th October) down in Portland. Ian writes:

A group of seven of from Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC club met on Friday night for dinner at The Boat That Rocks which sits next to the harbour where the group would be heading out from in the morning.

The Boat that Rocks!

We spent the night talking about what to expect of the diving over the weekend and being that it was October we weren’t expecting much in the way of vis or good seas.

However, we woke on Saturday morning to blue skies and calm seas, it was amazing! The Diving gods must have looked upon us favourably!

The seven club members (Ed. Even if one is taking the photo!)

We cast off from Portland marina aboard Skindeeper and powered through the calm seas for 1 1/2 hours to our first wreck, that of HMS M2 a submarine. It’s a bit of a sad story, as I guess all wreck stories are, but this submarine was on routine exercises when it went down in 1932. The submarine had been adapted to hold a hanger on its main deck that a float plane could take off from when surfaced. “The accident was believed to be due to water entering the submarine through the hangar door, which had been opened to launch the aircraft shortly after surfacing.”

HMS M2 retrieving her Parnall Peto seaplane. [Source: Wikipedia]

The M2 rests at 33m, which at that depth meant the waters were dark but the vis was between 4 to 5 m with lots of marine life as well at the wreck itself to see. It was a fantastic dive.

Sometimes all this diving can be too much for some!

On our return trip we stopped by and dived the James Fennel and some other wreckage nearby, with still the same excellent vis of 4/5m. The James Fennell was an Admiralty Trawler, bound from Gibraltar for Portsmouth. In thick fog she ran aground at rocks below Blacknor. Fortunately all the crew were rescued after their shouts for help were herd by a local man. She currently sits 15-18m on the bottom where she finally rested after numerous salvage attempts.

James Fennell1200
MV James Fennell

Saturday night we went out to Lin & Ozzie’s bistro in Portland and had a great three course meal from curried soup to one of the biggest flatfish I’ve eaten with bottles of wine 🍷.  At £40 per head you can’t whack it. 😉 [Ed. most of that would have been the wine bill!]

Sunday morning the sky’s a bit overcast, but flat seas allowed us to head out 2 hours to reach the HMS Saint Dunstan that sits at 29 m depth. The vis was again 4/5m and she was so full of sea life on it!

Happy Ian!
HMS Saint Dunstan

The Saint Dunstan was a bucket dredger but was converted during the first World War to be used as a mind sweeper. She was subsequently torpedoed by the Germans and sank. It was well worth the journey time out to the wreck!

Breakwater Fort - The Encyclopaedia of Portland History
Breakwater Fort – Portland [Source: Encyclopaedia of Portland History]

Second dive was a drift dive just off the Portland Harbour Sea Wall looking for a few scallops which we got & which also turned into the fastest drift Dive  I’ve ever done the viz was crap but my God was it fun.

Argopecten irradians.jpg
Scallop! [Source: Wikipedia]

I could of stayed down there all day 😆😆 once we got picked up about half a mile from the shore  it was the usual get cleaned up and say our goodbyes!

However Len, Mark and I [Ian] could not leave without going for the usual Club curry so booked another nights stay & strolled into Weymouth
The rest we can’t remember! 😉

Least Mark’s awake in this photo! Must have been the smell of curry and beer[Ed]