Ian's Plymouth Trip
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Well, what can I say? Yet another brilliant weekend was had by all. Ian Collins's first attempt at organising a dive trip was supposed to happen last year, but the weather put pay to all such plans. Never mind, the trip was re-scheduled for the 21st to the 23rd of March. We were diving at the Mountbatten Centre near Plymouth. It was the first time that any of us had dived there before.
Those of us who dived were:
Tim "Reserve Gimmer" Viney
Paul "Scary" McCormack
Rob "Tonto" Smith
Cat and her two mates
Gordon "Scroat" Taylor
Ben "Stripe" Keitch
Dave "ChunderBoy" Smallman
Emma (Saturday night and Sunday only)
Jon "OB1" Hayhurst
Friday the 21st
The plan was brilliant - the advance party (Ian, Scary and Tonto) would drive down in the van, with most of the dive kit, and put up the tents. The rest of us would leave in the minibus once I had arrived in Bath. It all got off to a good start - the van left on time and I found out that I had an afternoon meeting in Swindon, which meant that I could be in Bath by 5pm.
I was met at the University swimming pool by the lovely Emily, who helped me to unload the car and didn't even complain when I got changed out of my suit in the middle of the car park - top lass! Gordy then turned up in his new car (he had to explain to me that it was different from Emma's car) and Dave turned up in the minibus. Once Kat's kit and my kit were loaded onto the bus, I drove off to find somewhere to park (thanks to Emily's excellent directions that, unfortunately, involved me having to turn around). Dave said he'd pick me up there. Unfortunately, Dave didn't follow Emily's directions to pick me up (he didn't want to turn the minibus around), so it took ages for me to find them!
Anyway, after a quick perve at (for me) and grope of (for Gordy) Emma, we left for Brixton (where we were camping). Poor Gordy, he had to put up with me whittering on all the way to Plymouth. Fortunately for him, we had a little break at a petrol station on the way there. We all grabbed a quick bite to eat (I promised that Brixton had a chippy as well as a pub) before continuing our journey. Obviously "all" excludes Emily and Cat, who had to stop for a jacket potato each after their lesbian sex session in the toilet.
I'd heard on the radio that there had been an accident just south of the M4/M5 junction, so we headed across country towards the M5. Driving down the M5 was an experience for me - Gordy drives far too fast and close for my old man reactions. After about 30 minutes driving along the A38, Gordy asked where he was supposed to turn off to get to Brixton. I wasn't quite sure (as Tom will vouch for, my ability to pick the correct turning off the A38 isn't brilliant), so I tried looking on the internet. Bloody website didn't respond. Fortunately, Scary Ben was with us. He told us that he'd been there every weekend for the last year, and that he knew what turning to take. "Don't go too far", Ben said, "you'll have to cross by the ferry if you go too far". Well I've been to, and past, Brixton many times and I don't remember a ferry (I do remember a ford, but that's another story). Still, Ben sounded convincing. "This turning!" he shouted. Not convinced, Gordy said, "Are you sure?" "Yes", Ben said, "this is the one". Narrowingly missing a lorry, Gordy pulled off the A38. He then turned left and then arrived at a roundabout. "Turn right", said Ben. "This doesn't look right", I said. Turning right, Gordy said, "I trust Ben implicitly". After about 50 yards, I saw a distance guvna that said "Brixham 12m". Jokingly I said, "I take it all back, we're only 12 miles away". Both Ben and Scoat said something along the lines of "See, I told you so, you stupid old gimmer". Obviously, both felt rather stupid when I pointed out that we should have been heading to Brixton instead of Brixham - suddenly Ben's ferry comment made so much more sense. Gordy reckoned he'd only read the "B" and the "m", so he thought that the sign had said "Brixton". Ben reckoned that my dodgy London accent had led him to believe that I was saying "Brixham" and not "Brixton". So maybe he should've read at least one of Ian's e-mails.
Anyway, we arrived at Brixton campsite to find the 4 tents already erected (ooh-err) and no other tents on the campsite. We parked next to the van and went to the pub. We managed to get served at the chippy after they had cleaned everything ready to go home, with Tim confusing the poor lady by asking for salad with his burger and Jon doing so by not ordering any chips with his fish. We then joined the advance party in the pub. I knew from last time that drinking Grolsh was a very bad idea, so I started on Speckled Hen. Scary, Ian and I bored the others with tales from the Red Sea and we entertained Cat by perving too much ("I can see Cat's lips moving" caused almost unstoppable giggles from Scary and me). Gordy was very impressed with his ability to stop Ben's motorbike half way up Bathwick Hill by turning the petrol off. He said that he was going to unplug the lead that connects the spark plug to the battery, but decided against it. It was down to me to tell Gordy that the lead was known as the "HT Lead". Jon reckoned that the HT leads carried high current (even I knew that "Tension" is French for voltage).
Scary, Tim and I stayed for last orders, leaving the others to get an early night. We missed the hilarity of Emily and Cat trying to put up the camp bed - "Push harder, I can't get it in the hole". Anyway, after one more pint, we went back to the campsite. Scary had developed a brilliant way of saving time on the way back to the campsite. None of this stopping for a jimmy in the hedge, he just peed as we were walking along - such a nice man. The first night saw Scary, Tim and me keeping everybody awake by thinking about names for breasts. Once we eventually went to sleep, someone kept everybody awake by snoring - I think it was Scary myself. Half way through the night, we were woken by some Kevs razzing around the campsite in their Ford Escorts. That reminds me of a joke. What's the difference between a hedgehog and a Ford Escort? The pricks are on the outside of a hedgehog.
Saturday the 22nd
We all woke at a reasonable time in the morning (all feeling fairly refreshed because we had been good boys and drunk some water along with our beers during the previous night). This was going to be my first post-bend dive, so I wanted to be sure that I wasn't going to have problems. To be on the safe side, we had the usual round of fried egg sandwiches and Gordy even did a round of bacon sarnies for us.
So that was it - off we went to check out the Mountbatten Centre. I was pleasantly surprised - it's a really nice centre. There were trolleys to push our kit down to the boat with and we could park fairly close to the water. By the time we got there, my cup of tea had done its job, so I had to run fairly sharpish to the bogs. On the way back, I noticed that there were even changing rooms. Full of good intentions, I got back to the vans, picked up my wetsuit and headed back to the changing rooms. Fortunately, Cat didn't have the same good intentions and I got to see her in her skimpy little bikini changing into her wetsuit. Off to the changing rooms for a cold shower before getting into my wetsuit.
I'm always nervous diving from new places off new boats and I was especially nervous because, as I have said, it was my first post bend dive. Scary had agreed to look after me on my first dive (I'd dived with him far too many times last year, so I was comfortable with him) and, although I did have my dry-suit with me, I was diving in my trusty wetsuit.
Loading up the boat was fun - I was next to Cat in the chain of people and kept on having to bend down towards her cleavage to pick up the cylinders that she was holding. Nobody believes me, but I was actually being good - I was only looking at the cylinders and I only perved once! Anyway, the boat was loaded up and we started putting all our bits and pieces together.
Greg (our skipper) gave a very thorough brief, which put me at ease. We even got a nice bit of totty to cast us off. It was a little bit windy and, once we'd got out of the harbour, things started to get a bit choppy. Fortunately, there was plenty of space on the boat. While I was trying to stand upright and make the tea, Jon realised that he'd left his hood at home. Stupid old gimmer, that meant that his buddy and he had to wait until somebody had finished diving before they went in. He also turned up on the boat with a club reg and his dry suit inflator. "Anybody got a spanner?" he said in a forlornly voice (Gordy's choice of words here) before realising that he'd also forgotten his weight belt. Still, off we went to dive the Eddystone (thanks to Gordy for the spelling).
Kitting up was a bit of a nightmare, because the sea had got quite choppy and the boat was rolling from side to side. I'm sure that if it wasn't for Cat and her two mates on one side of the boat, we would've rolled over on the other side! By this point, people were beginning to feel a little bit ill. ChunderBoy was living up to his name, along with Emily, Tonto and Tim. I was feeling quite rough, but I didn't chunder. Gordy had asked if Scary and I minded him joining us for a 3-some, so I was going to be well looked after. Feeling nervous and sick maybe isn't the best time to go diving, but I knew I'd be OK once I'd got into the water. I got one hell of a shock when I jumped in - all my kit seemed OK, but it was rather cold. Definitely time to try the dry-suit.
Anyway, we swam to the shot and down we went. Despite the cold, we had an excellent dive with pretty good visibility. Scary and I jerked off a few sea cucumbers - I won every time. We did a little more harassing of the wildlife by trying to float a crab up to the surface. Gordy found a new coat stand (well I thought it was a coat stand - Scary and Gordy thought it was an anchor).
We surfaced after about 30 minutes - Scary and Gordy agreed with me that it was getting far too cold - and swam towards the boat. Fortunately, Greg moved ChunderBoy before he chundered all over us. We got back on the boat and then tried to get the Chundering Boys into the water - that was hard work. Scary then came out with a nice little rhyme - "What's that thing at the back? With a lovely big rack. It's a Catherine". While pulling Cat's glove off, Emily was heard to say "I think I need another finger". I love Emily, she kept on coming up with suitable comments all weekend.
Off to moor by the James Egan Layne for lunch and then a 2nd dive. On the way, Jon's cylinder, which hadn't been tied on properly, fell over and knackered some bits of his kit. He really wasn't having a good day for kit. Somebody had a brilliant idea of taking some pot noodles on the boat - I never did find out whose idea it was, but it was a brilliant idea. The only problem was, that nobody had thought to bring any spoons. Gordy spilt so much on his dry suit that it looked like he'd joined the Chunder Boys.
Looking around the boat, I realised that Jon had put on a nice brown cardigan. Pity we didn't have a camera with us - the force was strong with this one. For the second dive, I was diving with OB1 - it had potential to be a good laugh. We were in the second wave, so helped the first wave kit up. I have never seen so much gimmering in my life. Gordy was all kitted up ready to go, and Tim was still checking his tables. Tim took so long to get ready, that he made me look competent.
Anyway, once the first pair had surfaced, Jon borrowed a hood and then we went in for a dive. It was a strange dive - we were both very well behaved, and we even had to be adventurous and move the shot, so that it wouldn't get caught. Jon was quite cold, so ended up using LOADS of air. He had got down to about 80bar and I still had 150bar (I think that he must've been breathing from his pony). Well, I wasn't surfacing that early on in the dive, so I gave him my octopus and we did another 10-15 minutes on the JEL. When I got down to about 80bar, I suggested that we send up the SMB. Jon was happy with this and started to get his SMB out of his pocket. Seemed like a good idea, but I wanted my octopus back first - I almost had a force it out of his mouth before he realised what I was trying to say.
Anyway, we all survived both dives pretty well and headed back to dry land. The changing rooms and showers were really nice at the end of the day and there was even a drying room that we could use over night for £10. The only problem was that it was just a room and there was nothing to actually hang things on. Fortunately, I had my trusty airer with me and we borrowed a ladder and some rope. I intended to use my dry-suit the next day, but I wanted to have my wetsuit with me on the boat just in case.
Anyway, back to the campsite for some rest, food and beer. We had to stop off at Safeway on the way to get some sea sickness tablets for the Chundering Boys. Ben had brought some food to cook at the campsite, as had Gordy and Jon, so the rest of us left them to it and went to the pub for dinner. Even before I'd finished buying the beer, Gordy turned up whinging like only Gordy can. Gordy had bought everything that Jon and he needed, but didn't buy any pasta because Jon had plenty at home. The only problem was - Jon had left it at home, presumably with his hood. We didn't hear the last of it all night. Jon had stayed with Ben to eat his gammon. Ian very kindly offered to buy me dinner - an offer that I couldn't refuse. When Jon and Ben joined us, Gordy had a good old moan at Jon - he was obviously missing Emma.
Anyway, we had quite a nice evening in the pub. Gordy was happy when Emma arrived (he got his usual amount of groping in), as was Jon because Emma had brought a spare hood. Some rather strange things were discussed that night. Gordy reliably informed us that "I don't think it's a particularly big one. It's big for England, but, if you go abroad, you get bigger". He also managed to correct the grammar in my dive log (apparently I'd put once twice in a sentence - "two once's" according to Gordy. Does the man have no idea about apostrophes?).
In between groping Emma ("Jack Russeling her legs" according to Scary) and moaning at Jon for forgetting the pasta, Gordy decided he had to touch up Tim. I can't remember the logic for it - he went from moaning about how long Tim took to kit up to touching the bloke up. Anyway, he also ended up spitting his beer all over Tim for good measure. Gordy, Ben and Tim then got into a rather involved discussion, started by somebody saying "So how do planes actually fly?". This then went on to whether bubbles in the water will make things rise or sink. Based on my experience with the crab earlier on, it was definitely sink. Anyway, back to the campsite for an even colder night - Scary decided that he ought to make use of my Scout blanket.
Sunday the 23rd
Scary, Tim and I were forced to get out of bed when Ian started taking the tent down. It's only fair - it was his tent. After the usual gimmering around with fried eggs, tea and bacon, we headed off to the Mountbatten centre again. All our stuff had dried pretty well overnight and Cat's bikini didn't smell too bad either. Why she asked me to sniff it (or should that be "let me sniff it"?), I'll never know!
The weather was calmer than the previous day and we even had the casting-off-totty on board with us today (not that Emily and Cat weren't enough for us), so we had the tea made for us before the first dive. I started kitting up after most other people had finished, only to find that I couldn't find my 15 litre cylinder. Looking a bit more carefully, I found that Tonto had used it. After a bit (OK, a lot) of whinging, I used another cylinder.
The first dive was the Rose Hill (thanks again to Gordy for the spelling). Scary got lumbered with me again, but I actually kitted up fairly quickly (compared to Tim, even I look fast) and in we went. I was using my dry-suit for the first time on a proper dive (I'd tried it in about 6m off Chesil Cove), so was a bit apprehensive. I was convinced that it wouldn't leak, so bet Gordy 50p. I expected to have gimmer problems on the surface with my dry suit, but started descending down the shot straight away. Scary had more luck with the sea cucumbers than I did on this dive and we even tried some inversion guvnas at 30m (while holding onto the wreck just in case). I had a few problems dumping air from my suit, but got the hang of it eventually. I still kept some air in my stab jacket just so that I felt more comfortable. It was quite weird feeling the air moving around inside the dry-suit, but I'll get used to it. The ascent and deco stop were both OK, although I had almost no air in either my suit or my stab-jacket while going up from about 2m to the surface. Surely I can't need any more weight. The suit didn't leak, but Gordy still hasn't paid me the 50p.
After another round of pot noodles, I started to kit up for the 2nd dive, only to find that Cat had used my 12litre cylinder. She's so lovely, she already given me lots of hugs that day and even started to de-kit my cylinder so that I could use it. She's the best. Anyway, while we were kitting up, Greg heard on the radio that a diver was missing, so we went off to join the search. There were about 7 boats, one lifeboat (with a gimmer cox who managed to ram another boat) and a helicopter looking for this diver. It turned out that he had been diving with his buddy to about 65m (on tri-mix) and started fitting at about 6m. Unfortunately, he went down instead of up and there was nobody in the area who could go down to 65m to search for him. The chances of finding him on the surface were slim, but we carried on searching anyway.
Anyway, when the boat started getting low on diesel, we headed back to port. We'd missed our second dive of the day, but when somebody's in trouble that takes priority. We had paid for the 2nd dive that we didn't do, but then Greg had still used lots of diesel searching for the missing diver. We agreed to pay Greg, but he said that he would donate what we should have paid for the dive to the local RNLI branch.
Anyway, we washed all the kit down, had showers and packed up the van. Tonto was driving the minibus back and stopped off at Exeter Services for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, Scary and Ian had stopped off at the MacDonald's before the M5 (they had told ChunderBoy, but he was feeling ill asleep on the back seat - with land sickness he reckoned). It was about 7:30, so I called Bird to ask her to get some Stella from the off-license. She'd only gone to bed, so I needed to find some myself. The services didn't sell any, but I eventually found somewhere in Bath at about 10:20 that was still open and had Stella.
Tonto had Cat and Emily to keep him entertained on the way back while the rest of us dosed off. Not much to report about the journey back, except Tonto almost crashed twice. The first time he hadn't seen the "Temporary Traffic Lights" sign and Emily didn't think that she should tell him. The second time, he didn't see the "Slow" and "Oncoming Vehicles in Middle of Road" signs. Fortunately, he didn't hit anything either time.
Anyway, we unloaded the vans and I loaded up the car and set off home. Once I got home, I unloaded the car, cracked open a can of Stella and had a quick look at ratemyboobs.com. A nice end to a nice weekend.
Thanks to everyone for a brilliant weekend and to Ian for organising it all.
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Created on: 23 Mar 2003. Modified on: 23 Mar 2003.
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