Exmouth - deep trip
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This was the second of DrySuitBird's trips, and, this time, we didn't have to take any time off work. Hopefully we were actually going to get to dive this weekend. Several of the guys on the trip were staying with Karen, Andy, and their new baby (or DrySuitBloke, DrySuitBird, and DrySuitKid, as they are sometimes known). Four of us were booked into a B&B on the outskirts of Exmouth, just past the Saddlers Arms pub. The weather forecast wasn't brilliant, but things were looking better than the last trip. The bad news of the weekend was that "ropes off" was at 06:30, and that the nearest place to get trimix fills was Plymouth.
Dindin and I already had full tanks (having taken them to Cardiff a few weeks ago), but we weren't sure what to do about Sunday. If we were only doing a 50m dive on the Sunday, then I suggested that we just top up the twin-sets with air, and assume that we were using the same mix as the Saturday (if only we had a helium analyser). If, as had been discussed in Weymouth, we were doing a 70m dive, then we'd have to go to Plymouth. Knowing how crap Deep Blue can be, I did consider staying in Plymouth on Saturday night. This was before I found out that "ropes off" was at 06:30 on Sunday, as well.
Before booking the B&B, I asked Cat whether we could stay with her. Apparently, only having a single-bed, and me not having security clearance meant that it wasn't a good idea! James said that we could stay at their gaff on Saturday, but Sunday's early start meant that we had to stay in Exmouth.
[28/10/06: Continued on my delayed journey from Langley to Bath, after I'd updated my blog]
I was too busy to leave work early, so got caught in a bit of traffic, but nowhere near as much traffic as I had done a few weekends ago. I managed to park close to Flat1, so we didn't have too far to carry Dindin's kit. Queenie and Caro were walking past, as we were about to leave, so we had a quick chat before leaving. I'd been flashed a few times on the motorway, and we figured out that it was because I'd switched my front fog lights on by mistake. Gimmeration, who ever's heard of front fog lights before?
We stopped for fish 'n' chips at Bear Flat. The chippy had been renamed as the Chilli and Merry Fryer. It was definitely under new management - neither of the people serving were fat, or Greek. We made good time down the M5, but got to the B&B a bit after the guvna had left. Fortunately, the guvna was far more reasonable than the jobsworth from the hostel in Plymouth, and he just left the room key in the lock. We found the B&B (after I'd driven past it twice), parked the motor, collected the door key, and went to the Sadlers Arms (sic) for a pint (OK, so I had two).
[To be continued, I need a kip before I get to Bath]
Dindin's alarm went off, but we didn't get up straight away. I stayed in bed, dreaming about drinking tea. After a few minutes, I decided that I'd be better off getting up, and actually drinking tea. I was also busting for a jimmy, so nipped into the bathroom. As I came out of the bathroom, I noticed that Dindin was still asleep. "Dindin", I said, "Has your alarm gone off?". "No", he replied. I couldn't believe it - I'd managed to dream about an alarm going off, and actually get up! Anyway, we put the kettle on. We had to drink out of cups, instead of mugs, and use warm long-life milk. Not the best cuppa in the world.
At about 05:30, we were ready to leave. I opened one of the back doors of the car, and heard a hissing sound. I immediately closed the door, because that was bound to stop the air leaking out of the cylinder! We found out that it was my Nitrox80 stage, so I'd have to do the dive with only Nitrox32 as a decompression gas! Oh well, there was nothing else we could do. We stopped off at a petrol station on the way to Exmouth Docks, and bought breakfast (a sausage roll for Dindin, and an onion bahjea for me), elevenses (scotch eggs), and lunch (pasties).
I hadn't bothered with a map, because the instructions on the skipper's website just said "follow signs to Exmouth Docks". We did that, but could only find a bit of sand (which, as we all know, is the enemy of the people), and no docks. We drove around a bit more, and couldn't find anything more promising. At this time in the morning, there was nobody around to ask for directions, but we eventually saw someone emptying the bins. BinEmptyingBoy gave us directions, and then whittered on for ages about when he went diving. We eventually got to the docks, to find some guys already there. Most people just put their kit on the boat, but I put mine together before putting it on the boat. This gave the impression that I was a slow old git - I don't know how people could think such a thing.
Steve and Megan arrived, and Megan immediately came up to us, and said, "Oi. You two. I want a word with you!". We looked up, and I said, "Oooops. What have we done?". Jokingly, she replied, "5 o'clock this morning. Natter. Natter. Natter. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp!". Oh dear. It turns out that they were in the room beneath ours, and the floors are very thin. Megan had heard us come in after the pub last night, and said, "I hope they're not getting up early tomorrow!". By leaving early, we'd missed out on the bacon sarnies! Megan must have amazing hearing - she even heard me switch the kettle on! Anyway, there was a small shop that was open at that time in the morning, so we needn't have stopped at the petrol station. After unloading, I took the car around to the car park, and put £4 in an envelope, and put it through the door of the fishing shop (with the registration number written on the envelope, of course).
Things were looking a bit rough, but the skipper was confident that we'd get a dive in, although he was also sure we wouldn't be diving the next day. He put the kettle on, and we set off towards the Avalanche (which Dindin and I had dived on the last dive of Dezzy's weekend). It was a long, bumpy, trip, during which we had to re-tie all the twin-sets back on several times. It was almost too bumpy to write up our back-up plans. Unfortunately, we were going to have to do a very short bottom time, because we were using trimix on a 57m dive, and I had very little Nitrox80, so was planning the dive on only using Nitrox32. Oh well, better than no dive at all.
As we were kitting up, somebody mentioned the pasty oven. I'd forgotten all about that - fortunately, we had our pasties on board, so I handed them to the skipper, who put them in the oven, ready for when we surfaced. I did quite a good job of kitting myself up, but the skipper was a top man when it came to helping out. Because we were having a short bottom time, Dindin and I were in no hurry to get in the water, so went in last (that's my excuse, anyway).
I was surprised when we got to the bottom, because my 3 dive computers were all reading 50m. Gimmeration, the back-up tables that we'd worked out were for 57m. Bearing in mind that fact that we wouldn't be diving again during the weekend, I was so tempted to ignore the back-up plan, and blag it if the computer happened to flood. I could tell that Dindin was thinking the same thing, but he wouldn't let me be naughty! It was a top dive, but we didn't find as much stuff as the previous time we'd dived it. Because we'd got our new CO2 auto-inflating delayed SMBs, I was happy to use the SMB. It's far easier, and, in my opinion, safer, to use than a standard delayed SMB. Dindin used his when we got to 6m, so we were being proper tecky!
Once everybody was back on the boat, we headed back to Exmouth. Because we were going with the wind, it was a much calmer journey back. Most people's twin-sets still needed tying on (mine didn't, because the skipper has tied mine on, and Dindin's didn't because he's the daddy!). The warm pasties did the job, accompanied by several cups of tea, and some emergency scotch egg action, just in case. Steve was a very rare character - the only person I've met, who drinks more tea than Dindin and me.
Back at shore, we unloaded the kit as quickly as we could, because there were lots of tourist gimmers getting in the way. Once we'd got the kit off, I went to get the car. Some gimmer has put some silly advert under one of the windscreen wipers, but I just ignored it, and drove around to load the car up. Once we'd loaded up, I parked it in a free parking space, and we went off in search off ice-cream. We didn't have to walk too far, so we got our ice creams, and walked back to the car. Dindin didn't trust me to reverse out of the space, so took the keys off me, and took over. He quite liked driving this motor, so said he wanted to drive for the rest of the day. No problem, I could eat ice-cream and perve at totty. OK, I'd have done that even if I was driving, but never mind.
After finishing our ice-creams, we headed back to the B&B. I called Danny to see whether they might be going out, but he said that there was no chance. While I was talking to Danny, Dindin missed the turning, and we ended up in the middle of nowhere. I looked at the map (c1992), and realised that if we followed the road we were on, we'd end up back at the M5! We turned left along the narrowest roads known to man, but the map wasn't clear enough. Dindin was busting for a jimmy, so stopped to have a pee in the bushes. At this point, I quickly got into the driver's seat, so that he could try using his GPS software. He wasn't impressed, but I knew roughly where to go, so carried on driving while he booted up his PC, and got the GPS software running. By the time he'd got it up and running, I'd got us back to the Sadlers Arms pub. Who's the daddy?
We stopped off at the B&B for a shower and a quick cuppa (horrible milk again). When I got out of the shower, I realised that I'd cut my ear slightly. I said to Dindin, "Dindin. My ear appears to be bleeding.". I hadn't appreciated how worrying what I said sounded, so was surprised when he looked really worried. We had a quick word with the B&B owner, who had a very very sexy girlfriend with nice big norks. He didn't mind if we didn't stay for the Saturday night, so we decided to go back to Bath for some curry and beer. Had he insisted on charging us for the Saturday night, we had been considering staying in Exmouth and doing curry and beer in Exmouth.
We went into the Sadlers Arms for some food before heading back to Bath. The whole pub was full of missing, or extra, apostrophes. Still, the food was good. I'd forgotten my cheque book, so we had to nip into town to get some cash, so that we good pay the B&B guvna. It was a top excuse to go back for one final perve at his missus.
During our journey back, Dindin drove, and I called people to arrange beer and curry. Max suggested meeting in the Green Tree. I hadn't been there since about 1991, so it seemed like a good idea. We unloaded Dindin's dive kit at Flat1, and then went into town. Scary was on a hot date with Suzanne, so didn't join us. Sam (looking as sexy as ever) was up for curry. We went into town, but the Green Tree (being a very small pub) looked very busy. I went inside, couldn't see anybody, so we decided to meet in St. Christopher's Tavern instead. We called everybody, but didn't get through to Nick and Max. We went into St. Christopher's Tavern, ordered our drinks, sat down, and then realised that Nick and Max were actually in the Green Tree. I didn't know that there was a back room! Gordy and Dindin joined Nick and Max, so it was down to Fat Mike and me to finish their beers!
We then went for curry (via the Green Tree to say "hello" to Nick and Max). The table was ready for us, and the service, food, company, and beer were excellent. Even Mr. and Mrs. Elley were up for curry. On the way there, we bumped into Big Karl (he who got tackled by a girl), who was out on a date. He loved seeing us! As we walked out of the curry house, we saw a Christmas shop (in October!). With signs forbidding pictures and eating, so there was time for a photo opportunity. The camera on my phone wasn't quite up to the job, but Gordy's had a flash, so he took the picture. Sam took this time for a quick grope of Dindin. After the curry, we went to Scary, Dindin, and Rodney's local. Rodders didn't join us, because he was going to a party, at which there were going to be two ex-girlfriends! The Elleys headed home, but Fat Mike, Gordy, Emma, Sam, Dindin, and I all went to the pub (I can't remember the name of it, but the beer was good, and it was open until 12). The conversation soon got into the gutter (mostly my fault), so the less said about that the better.....
On the way back, Sam decided that it would be a good idea to climb the scaffolding as we walked along the pavement. When we got back, Scary and Suzanne were around. Scary opened a bottle of wine, so we stayed up a bit longer. They'd been to the cinema, Suzanne had told Scary to turn his phone onto silent mode, Scary had done so, but the silent mode obviously isn't set correctly, because the phone rang mid film! I called him, and sent him a text message, just to check it worked OK now! Silly old fool!
The next day, Dindin, Sam, and I went into town for breakfast. I can't remember the name of the place that we ate at, but it only served organic food, and had some very nice totty waitresses. On the way there, we went into Lloyds to get some cash - I know it's sad, but the leaflet that said "I want it now" made me laugh. While we were eating, Danny called to say that they were going out today. It was nice of him to let me know, but we were too far away, and had drunk too much last night, to consider diving.
Dindin mentioned that Rodders had sent some strange text messages last night (involving the word "help"), but he seemed OK, but a bit drunk, when Dindin called him back. Back at Scary's gaff, he was painting. It was quite relaxing watching him paint, but Sam really wanted to help. I'll have to arrange a time for her and Dindin to stay with me, so that she can redecorate my hallway. I had to smile when Scary suddenly realised that he'd painted some of the wall that he didn't want to paint! Rodders was around, but had to go back to where the party was, to collect some of his clothes.....
After several cups of tea, it was time for me to head off (I was meeting Mr. Hayhurst at Heathrow). As I got into the car, I took the advert out from underneath the windscreen wiper, and discovered that it was a parking ticket. Gimmeration! I'd paid before we left in the morning! Anyway, I got home in good time, and then got the bus to Heathrow to have a few beers with Mr. Hayhurst (more about that in my blog).
Thanks everybody for a top weekend.
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Created on: 25 Oct 2006. Modified on: 05 Nov 2006.
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