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Billy's May Bank Holiday Trip

GingerCherry
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Obviously the whole weekend was planned to get as much diving in before Scary was allowed to dive again. This plan was foiled fairly early on, when Scary decided that he was, indeed, allowed to dive starting on the 3rd of May.

Unfortunately, he found out early on in the week before we were due to dive that he had to go abroad for 4 weeks to do some work. Poor lad, he'd only done about 2 days' work in the last year or two - he didn't know what had hit him.

Friday the 2nd
The plan was for Emily and me to meet at Bagwell Farm on the Friday night, put up the tent and then go for some beer and food (not Stella as Queenie and I found out as Easter). I arrived just before 8 (loads of bank holiday gimmers on the roads), to find Emily putting up the tent. By the time I'd arrived, she'd tried putting up the tent where she was told to and couldn't manage it because of the wind (ooh-err). She then roped two nice young men into helping her and they still couldn't manage it (the tent that is!). Moving the tent to the other side of the field next to the hedge and the built-in barbeque helped. Poor lads, they'd helped Emily out in good faith, hoping that she was going to be joined by some more totty and I turned up (Microsoft Word told me that "more totty" isn't an acceptable saying and suggested "tottier"). They disappeared soon I turned up, never to be seen again. We finished putting up the tent (getting worried that we weren't going to get any diving done over the weekend with winds like that) and then went to the Red Barn (nee Slaughterhouse).

We spent a nice evening in the pub (avoiding all the pokeyness that was surrounding the pool table), had some nice food and a couple of drinks. I was quite well behaved for once!

Back to the tent to be kept awake by the wind and Emily's snoring - I think the wind was louder.

Saturday the 3rd
Not too sure about today - we had to set the alarm for 8 o'clock - shocking behaviour for a Saturday. Still, it gave us plenty of gimmering time in the morning. We arrived at the Aqua Sport hotel in plenty of time for food and tea to wake us up. Emily concerned me slightly by not having a fried egg. We were booked on Maverick at 11:00 to dive the Elen R (a wreck in about 27m of water). According to the skipper, the water looked a little choppy, but he reckoned we'd make it. Emily and I sat drinking tea, watching all these teckie divers getting on Maverick with their twin-sets. We got on feeling underdressed with only 15litre cylinders and ponies.

Anyway, off we went. The water seemed fairly calm, until we got outside the harbour and then it all got a bit choppier. Moving further out, it got even choppier, so the skipper decided to turn back before we'd even got past the headland. We headed back towards the harbour and were promised a drift dive near the breakwater. In we went and down we went (ooh-err). When we got to the bottom, we realised that we could see bugger all without the torches. I even got to try out my strobe that we had lovingly attached to my stab jacket before the dive.

I loved the dive; we just went with the flow. We kept on bumping into each other, but I was a perfect gent (ask her if you don't believe me). I saw a flat fish with orange spots, which I knew was a place (Emily had described what a place looked like the previous night). This was probably the first time that I'd seen something underwater and actually knew its name (apart from sharks and dolphins I suppose). We saw some big crabs and two eels. Nobody else on the boat enjoyed the dive, but I had a whale of a time.

Back to the shore for more tea and food. We were booked on Top Gun at 16:00 to dive Lulworth Banks (another drift dive), so had plenty of time to spare. The guvna decided to leave early, so we went off towards Lulworth Banks. As we came up towards The Hood, two of the guys on the boat suggesting doing The Hood instead. Fine with us, so in we went. Some bloody fisherman had cut off the buoy, so the skipper dropped us off inside the harbour so that we would drift onto the harbour side of the wreck. You can never go wrong with The Hood it's so big - just big enough to block the harbour entrance - with plenty of bits to swim under, into and through. The current was a bit strong, but not too bad. Another brilliant dive.

Back to shore again, to meet TFC who kindly helped us carry our kit to the car - top man. Time to quickly put TFC's tent up (far less wind than the previous night) before we headed off to meet Gay Gordy at Swanage to do a night dive. For God's sake, did the man gimmer getting ready - he almost made TimV looked competent. After a fairly long walk from the car park, we jumped into the water. I was diving with Emily and Gordy was diving with TFC. Emily and I had a giggle. I can't really remember what we saw, but we did find an anchor and a radiator. Heading back to shore, Emily had a problem with her dry-suit dump and we had to surface - not too quickly, I dumped most of my air and held her down (ooh-err), so we had a normal ascent. The only problem was trying to get back up onto the pier. Gordy and TFC (with Gordy navigating) managed to swim at right angles to the pier and get completely lost. They eventually managed to get back to the end of the pier, but still had quite a long walk back before they got to us.

Up at the car park, TFC helped me get out of my dry suit. This involves me pulling the dry suit down to my waist and then somebody else bending down and pulling it off by tugging on the feet. Something, I'm sure you'll agree, that two grown men shouldn't attempt in a public car park at about 10:30 at night. Gordy disappeared quickly to try to find an off-license on the way back, but he was too late. Emily, TFC and I headed back, trying to avoid all the drunk drivers on the road (some idiot was so drunk, we had to follow him at 20mph in a 50mph zone because he thought that he was driving a tank).

We took the scenic route back through Weymouth. Emily thought it was so that I could cruise and perve at totty, but it was so that we could buy some milk and tea bags, honest!

A quick cup of tea and a threat to burst some pokey little kid's ball and we turned in for the night.

Sunday the 4th
This was going to be Gordy's day of organising diving. He'd booked us on a boat out of Swanage (called "Stella") to dive the "SS Kyarra". We met up with Ian Collins at the level crossing and carried on towards Swanage. It was such a lovely sunny day - we knew it was going to be fun. There had already been a diving incident that day, with two divers being air-lifted off Stella to be taken to the "pod" after the trainee had had a fast ascent. As the skipper pointed out, at least he knew that the oxygen set worked (although we didn't know how much was left!).

It was another excellent dive, although, unfortunately, TFC wasn't feeling 100% and left Emily and me to dive on our own. I was still well behaved and we had yet another good dive. Emily's fun to dive with, especially now she'd taped up her undersuit and added another weight, so didn't have problems with her dry suit dump. Obviously, she used the SMB 'cos I'd already given mine its annual outing at the Easter holiday.

We got back to the pier at about 1:30, only to find out that there was a boat with 2 spaces on leaving at 2 o'clock (the boat was fully booked, but two people were still in the pod, so Ian and I took their spaces). After a quick fill, Ian and I jumped onto the boat and it headed across the bay. It was going to be a drift dive and Ian was going to be the SMB man. As we were about to roll in, Ian suggested going in with no air in our suits or stab-jackets and going straight down. I'd never done that before, but it sounded like a laugh. At about 3m, I looked up to see Ian still on the surface. He joined me at 3m after a while.

During the dive, we found a fisherman's weight and a 6lb diver's weight. I got to carry that for most of the dive because Ian had the SMB. Passing a 6lb weight to one's buddy underwater does make one quite positively buoyant quite quickly. After about 50 minutes, and seeing loads of fish, crabs and an eel, we decided to call it a day and surfaced. Bloody boat was on the other side of the bay and making no effort to come to pick us up. It turned out that it had broken down and we were picked up by another dive boat after about 35 minutes. As Ian was climbing into the boat, we drifted past a lobster pot and I got caught in the rope. It wasn't too difficult to untangle myself, but then I noticed that the rope was caught around the boat's propeller. I went down three times to try to free it and succeeded on the 3rd try. It was quite hairy being close to a propeller while the boat was bouncing up and down on the water. I didn't realise how hairy it was - after I came up the 2nd time, the skipper thought that I was on the boat and went to put the boat in gear. Fortunately, he was told not to.

We met up with Gordy and Emily who had done another pier dive (Gordy managed not to lose the pier this time) and headed back to the campsite. Nice food and plenty more beer followed. We started playing doubles on the pool table (Emily and me against Ian and Gordy if I remember rightly). After a while, we were joined by some pokeyness (the Landlord's son). He started giving me jip for being useless at pool, so I let him take all my shots. When it came to him trying to pot the black, I told him that it was time to make way for the experts and took it myself. I only went and potted it! Wonders will never cease.

Monday the 5th
The plan was to dive the M2 at 12:30 and then the Royal Adelaide after that. The M2 is one of my favourite dives, although the commonly held story of how it was sunk isn't actually true (click here for the true story). The Royal Adelaide is a wreck just off Chesil Beach (that involves a long walk across the beach in full kit). I have tried 3 times to find the wreck and failed each time. The plan was for all 4 of us to dive at the same time, each about 10m apart attached by buddy lines. One of us would be guaranteed to find it.

That gave us so much gimmering time, even Gordy was kitted up in time. I was a little concerned that we didn't have a spatula to cook the fried eggs with (we could've asked the families next to us, but, after threatening to burst the kids' ball and cut the kids' kite when it landed on me, we didn't think that I would get a favourable response). To be on the almost safe side, I had extra sausages and tea. As always seems to be the case with the M2, the boat was full with teckie divers (twin sets, Nitrox and helmet mounted torches), but we managed to get in the water first. The water was very choppy - there's no way we'd have managed to dive it in the club boat. Anyway, I dived with Emily and Gordy dived with Ian. Another brilliant dive, we saw some eel guvnas and loads of fish, although it took me a couple of minutes to switch my new torch on. I'd agreed to take Emily on her first deco-dive, so we were going to clock up a couple of minutes of stops. At the end of the dive, we swam back along the top of the M2 and got to the shot-line. Neither of us was really convinced that it was the shot-line, but we went up it anyway. At about 17m, we got to the end of the rope and realised that it wasn't the shot-line. Not only did I have to use my SMB for the 2nd time this year, I had to deploy it mid-water while wearing my dry-suit. Fortunately, it all went OK. By the time we'd sent up the SMB and got to 6m, we'd finished our stops.

We were first back on the boat and were trying to stand upright, ready to help the next pair into the boat. I managed to fall over and twist my leg - see what the lack of an egg sandwich can do.

Back on shore, we decided that it was too late to dive the Royal Adelaide and get back home at a reasonable time, so we called it a day. When we got back to the campsite to take Emily's tent down, we realised that the gimmers who'd been using the barbeque over the weekend had let some of the embers blow onto Emily's tent and there was a nice hole in one corner. Nice of them to say something wasn't it. Still, some of them were totty and one of them hadn't worn a bra in about 3 years.

Thanks everybody for a great weekend. The 6 dives over the weekend took me to a grand total of 289 dives - only 11 dives to go.

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Created on: 05 May 2003. Modified on: 05 May 2003.
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