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SarahT, Dave and Rob's Plymouth Trip

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Just having got back from diving in the Florida Keys with Doctor Professor American Steve, I headed down to Plymouth to do some diving in some slightly colder waters.

Those of us on the trip:
Sarah "Turpinator" Turpin
Dave "ChunderBoy" Smallman
Rob "Tonto" Smith
Mark Vowles
Scary Ben
Emily, and,

Friday the 2nd of August
I arrived in Bath at about the time that I expected (I made quite good time - maybe it was because of BBC Berkshire telling everybody about long delays westbound on the M4 near Swindon, so nobody used the M4 and it was flowing freely). Almost got stuck going across Bathampton toll bridge because I couldn't figure out how to use the car's electric windows.

I met everybody at Bath and everything seemed to be going to plan, except Nick and Max were yet to arrive because Max's train home from work had been cancelled. Rob and Dave kindly offered to take my cylinders in the Union's people carrier because I had to have space to pick Becky up from the train station in Tiverton. Emily and I set off, via Mark's house, towards the M5. Unfortunately, neither of us was really concentrating where we were going and we ended up following the same route that RichB and I had followed a couple of weeks before hand. This route is normally OK because it ends up going into the A303, but we had to go back on ourselves in order to pick Becky up.

In the meantime, some gimmer had put Becky on the wrong train and she was on a train that was going to Taunton instead of Tiverton. With amazing timing, we arrived at Taunton station at the same time as Becky. We then carried on our journey towards the campsite at Brixton (I can't remember who Ben was travelling with, but he was under strict instructions not to try giving directions to Brixton - see my trip report about Ian Collins's Plymouth trip for the reason why).

Well, Emily, Becky and I kept ourselves entertained with several games of "marry, shag or push off a cliff". If you haven't heard about this game before, one person is given the names of three people and asked to put them into the three categories. Now, one of us was given a choice of three people, one of which was CherryBoy. He didn't come into the "push off a cliff" category - the closest he's ever come to getting lucky. Should I say whose options they were?

After almost coming off the road because, as always, I had forgotten that the road bends round to the right, we arrived at Brixton Campsite. We found Mark and Ben putting up their tents, but Emily and I couldn't be bothered to do that sober, so we went to the pub. After leaving my wallet on the bar, we went to the riff-raff side of the pub to waste our money on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" quiz machine. For the first time ever we managed to win some money (we got about 3 for a 50p stake, followed by a further 2). Things then went downhill when we were joined by one of the locals who fed in quite a bit more money and upset Emily (doesn't the man know that doing that is my job).

Back at the campsite, I managed to put my tent up without a problem (obviously Speckled Hen has the same tent erection qualities as Caffrey's instead of those of Stella). Emily wasn't convinced that there was enough room for two in my tent, so slept in the West Wing of MarkV's tent - what a gentleman.

After a quick look at the stars and the International Space Station, we all went to sleep (except for Dave and Sarah, who lulled the rest of us to sleep with the sound of Sarah's moaning - "Oh yes, ChunderBoy....YES....YES!"). No windows to steam up this time though!

Saturday the 2nd
After a good night's sleep (for some of us, Chunderboy looked a bit knackered), we arose at about 6:30 to get the kettles and frying pans going. Bacon and egg sarnies for Emily and me, and we even found time to fry some sausages for lunch - we were being good. [Emily's asked me to point out that, although I started cooking, I let her take over as soon as she surfaced and she did most of the work]

About an hour and a quarter after we started cooking (well, after I started cooking, no other bugger was up), we set off for Mountbatten. We had both boats (BathTub and Diversity) with us and were planning on launching the boats on the public slip and mooring them over night. There weren't too many people gimmering around on the slip when we got there, so we got the boats in the water and packed fairly quickly. Then we headed off to the first dive site. Ben was coxing one boat and Nick was coxing the other. Ben got rollocked by Nick for "playing Russian Roulette with the boat's propeller" by taking a short cut (even though the charts showed enough depth and Ben had taken a yacht through the same stretch of water - please read Max's footnote). Anyway, after I'd had a quick chat with the coastguard, we caught up with the other boat and started putting divers in the water (I don't remember too much gimmering with the shot, but there probably was some).

I had the pleasure of diving with Scary Ben, who had just got his dry-suit back from being repaired. While we were waiting for the 2 other pairs to finish their dive, Ben jumped in because he was too warm and immediately found out that his repaired dry-suit leaked through the dump. He fixed the dump, finding out that the water that had leaked through was salty. After the others came back up, in we went and off down the shot without any problems at all. We found time to play with a few sea cucumbers (mine came way before Ben's did), juggle a few sea-urchins and dig a hole in the sand so that I could claim a deeper depth than Ben.

Ben hadn't managed to fix his drysuit and was getting wetter and colder by the minute. After about 15-20 minutes, he'd had enough, so he decided to ascend. That was easier said than done - with all the water in his dry-suit, he only just had enough lift in his stab-jacket to leave the bottom. I did get worried for a bit, but I always knew that if the worst came to the worst, I could always leave him there. Anyway, we safely got to the surface (even after we found the SMB had come back down to 6m and we had to redeploy it - I even used it after that.

When we got back on the boat, Ben caused untold hilarity by climbing out of his dry-suit to show soaking wet clothes and then proceeding to pour water out of his "dry"-suit. He was shivering quite badly, so we left the other boat to sort out its remaining divers and the shot-line and headed straight back to Mountbatten. Ben then went straight into the shower and came back with a spare club semi-dry suit. I quite enjoyed the lunchbreak. We've always found there to be a fair bit of totty at Mountbatten, but there was a sailing event on and there was plenty of top quality sailing totty around. Unfortunately, there was a fair bit of pokiness around as well. Becky got chatted up by a strange bloke during lunch, who, it turned out, didn't live very far from her parents.

After lunch (and warming Ben up), off we went to the old favourite - the James Egan Layne (everybody's favourite second dive). We had problems planing in BathTub, so I climbed across to Diversity. It all went quite well, especially after I sat upright after being told off by Nick for slouching. This time, I had the pleasure of accompanying Emily on her 69th dive - we had a giggle. I got deeper than Emily - even though she put he dive computer in the same hole that I put mine into. Either she's got shorter arms, or my computer reads deeper than hers. We saw a massive crab, a dogfish, another big fish that Emily did a funny impression of, climbed up the side of the wreck and had the usual "Red Dwarf experience". During our safety stop, Emily started playing charades and I joined in, thinking that she was singing "Music Man". Another brilliant day's diving and a top rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on the way back to Mountbatten. We couldn't get through to the Coastguard by radio, so I telephoned them. It turns out that its radio system had failed that afternoon - good job that we didn't have a problem that afternoon.

Back to the campsite via Safeway and the chippy. There was some poky little kid getting in the way when I tried to park, but he soon moved. His mother (who wasn't wearing a wedding ring) had quite a nice cleavage, so I stopped for a chat. It turned out that she had a long-term boyfriend - what a waste of time that was. Anyway, into Safeway to buy food for Sunday and to annoy anybody that we could find.

Nick, Max, Ben, Emily and I ate our fish 'n' chips (I stayed in the car, so we actually got the right order this time) and drank Stella (Ben had bought some "good-value cans" that turned out to be bottles, but I used the supplies that I'd taken down with me) while the others cooked their food. Dave planned the next day's diving (well done to Rob for planning Saturday's diving) and some of the guys had my Florida pictures inflicted on them. I tried to persuade people to come to the pub, but nobody fancied it. I thought about going there on my own, but couldn't face the thought of ending up talking to the quiz machine bloke from the previous night, so stayed at the campsite and drank some more Stella. Anyway, we had another early morning on the Sunday. Everybody else headed to bed fairly early, leaving only Nick, Max and me to look for the space station. No moaning to lull us to sleep, but I think that we'd all had quite a long day, so we didn't need any help in sleeping.

Sunday the 3rd
Another early start (6am), but it could've been worse - 5am was the original start time. The moorings would still have been locked by the time we got to Mountbatten if we'd got up at 5am. Leaving the tents to dry, we headed off to Mountbatten. I set off, closely followed by Mark and Ben, who were closely followed by the people carrier. Emily and Becky were trying to work out what my ideal woman was like, putting me off my driving so that I managed to miss the turning to Mountbatten (Mark and Rob followed me instead of taking the turning themselves - as if I knew better than a road-sign). [Yes, Emily did the cooking again]

A fairly easy start to the day, because we didn't have to launch the boats. All we had to do was turn up, perve at the totty filling the cylinders, pick-up the cylinders, kit them up and put them on the boats. I was very happy today because Dave had arranged for me to have another totty dive (Billy's got a totty dive, doo-da, doo-da. Billy's got a totty dive, do-de-do-da-day) with SarahT. He did ruin it slightly by giving me another dive with Ben for the 2nd dive, but never mind.

So, off we went to dive the Persier (thanks, Max, for a perfect drop-off). The current was running quite a bit as we went down the shot, but it got better as we approached the bottom. My fully charged torch lit things up quite well. Almost straight away, I spotted a sea cucumber. Fairly soon, it was doing its business. Not wanting to hurt it, I put it gently back onto the wreck. Sarah then managed to swim over it, getting caught in its gism. I then found another one, so passed it to Sarah. I deliberately passed it the right way around, so that she wouldn't get covered in gism. She didn't trust me, so turned it around. Oh how I laughed!

Once we were all back in the boat, we went to retrieve the shot. As we started to pull it up, Nick started shouting at us from the other boat, so we drifted off and left him to it.

After another nice lunch break and more perving at totty, we set off for the last dive of the weekend. Fortunately, Rob and Dave had felt sorry for me and I was allowed another TottyDive, this time with Becky. We were last in the water, so dropped off the other two pairs and tried to stop all the nutty boats from running over the SMBs. Nick and Emily were left in Diversity and were slowly drifting away from us and, more importantly, the SMBs. I wizzed over to check that they were OK. They hadn't seen the SMBs, so Nick was just drifting, hoping that the boat was drifting at the same rate as the divers. Back we went to try to protect the divers from all the boats. Slowly Diversity drifted onto one of the SMBs and almost got tangled up in it. As Ben said when he surfaced: "What f*ckwit just tried to moor to our SMB?". Fortunately, he said that to me and not to Nick and Emily.

Anyway, Dave dropped Becky and me near the shot. Becky was dropped almost next to the shot, but the same wasn't true for me. I was dropped fairly close to the shot, but, unfortunately, not quite close enough for me to swim against the current. Becky drifted back to me and we went down holding hands (don't tell Rob!). We saw quite a lot of stuff, but couldn't stop long enough to look at anything. The SMB almost got tangled in a couple of lobster pots, but we survived.

We got back to Mountbatten at low tide. Fortunately, the other slip was just low enough to use. Emily, Becky and I had to leave pretty quickly, because Becky had to catch a train at 20:00. Needing petrol and food, we stopped off at a petrol station. A brilliant place to stop - it did what looked like lovely freshly cooked pasties, so I got one when I went in the pay for the petrol. Becky needed a hand getting back into the back seat along with all the kit. Knowing that I wouldn't forget it, I put my pasty on the car roof while I helped her in. I don't need to tell you what happened next - I think I surpassed myself in gimmering moments with that one.

Back in Bath, we washed the boats down and packed all the kit away. I then headed back home and eventually got back at about 12:45 and unloaded my dive kit - too late for a Stella, I went straight to bed.

Reading back through this, I'm sure that I had plenty more gimmering moments, but I can't remember any more. I'm sure that people will e-mail me to remind me what other stupid things I did, although I don't think any one will surpass the flying pasty.

Footnotes from Max:
Can we have song sheets for the most popular songs next time please? [How's about this then?]
Gimmering - you did a while putting on your gloves on Sunday. But you did put your fins on quickly. [Me, fins and quickly in the same sentence - never!]
Ben going inside Mewstone - ah, it does say 1.9 metres on the chart but only in the very narrow gap and we did not know where narrow gap was and where we were in relation to the narrow gap. So we were probably driving over the green bit, for which it does not give a drying height! [Well, in my book, what Nick doesn't know about boats isn't really worth knowing. He's the guvna.]
Mark Vowles' airbed exploded on Sat due to the heat! [Shouldn't that be Mark Vowles's airbed?]

Footnote from me:
Not forgetting me getting confused between Becky's octopus hose and my pressure gauge hose because they were both red.
...and how could we forget Ben's yoga on Saturday night?


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Created on: 03 Aug 2003. Modified on: 03 Aug 2003.
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