Plymouth, June 2006.
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I had arranged a bit of deep diving action with Danny and Dave for Gordy, Emma, Dindin, and myself. SarahT had also arranged a trip that weekend, but it was going to be slightly shallower. Earlier on in the week, she had e-mailed everyone to say that they were camping at Brixham. However, speaking to Emily during the week, I realised that she'd got confused, and they were going to be camping at Brixton as well as us.
My boss was happy for me to leave a bit early between 14:30 and 15:00. After all, I'd done a full day's work by then anyway, and it meant that he could leave early as well! I was pleased to see that we'd been given a car with Satnav in it. I knew exactly where I was going for the whole weekend, but the SatNav had the potential to keep an eye on the traffic for us. I programmed in my home address, but the SatNav threw a wobbly when I went via Slough Scuba. I'd found out yesterday evening that the screws on my argon bottle straps were too small for my backplate, so I needed to get a couple of washers from Slough Scuba. It had to be a rushed visit, because the school opposite was about to finish, so the area was going to be flooded by 4x4s.
SatNav settled down when I started driving home. I'd already packed my dive kit the previous day, so all I had to do was to load everything into the car, and drive to Bath. There wasn't much traffic on the M4, so I got to Bath in good time. Dindin was ready and waiting to go, so, with Sam's help, we loaded up the motor. While we were loading up, Emma called to say that there was really bad traffic on the M5 (Gordy and Emma had left early, so they could get nitrox fills at Deep Blue). We considered leaving later, but decided to bite the bullet, and leave.
I had already set a route from Slough to Brixton, via Bath, so we decided to let SatNav do its thing. It started taking us towards the A46, and up to the M4. I remember saying to Dindin that it wouldn't pick up any travel reports from TrafficMaster until we joined a trunk road. He didn't believe me, but, as we started going up the A46, it got us to take the next turning left, turn around, drive back into Bath, and then out of Bath along the A37. That was the way that we would have gone, had we not had SatNav! We were wasting good drinking time. After several more changes of mind, SatNav got us to the M5. Unfortunately, we joined the M5 further south than Collumpton, so had to change drivers at Exeter Services instead. As Dindin pointed out, Burger King, and service stations, are prime examples of what's going wrong with this country!
Ignoring SatNav's suggestion to turn off the A38 before the Brixton turning, Dindin got us to the pub in time. He dropped me off to get the beers in, and drove round to the campsite. Emma was leaving the pub as I arrived, which was a shame, but there were still quite a few guys still in the pub (including two new divers, who I'd never met before). Sam In The Corner was serving behind the bar, and was very friendly. Just a pity she's not as well stacked as the landlord's daughter. A few beers later, we walked to the campsite, to put up Dindin's tent. Dindin kept on refusing my offers of help, and started to put the tent up on his own. He'd probably realised that allowing me to help would have hindered, and not helped, since he accepted Rodney's offer of help, even though Rodney wasn't sleeping with us (ooh-err). Unfortunately, MarkV had gone to bed, so we couldn't borrow his pump, and I'd forgotten to ask Dindin to pack one. No airbed for us.
We had to leave Bovvie reasonably early, and I also had some kit gimmering to do, as well as getting fills, so we got up fairly early. Emily and Dindin did an excellent job with breakfast, and SarahT was wearing a top showing off a fair bit of cleavage (she was so impressed when I greeted her saying "Hello You Two!").
We were likely to be going deep, so we had to empty our twin-sets, and get them filled. I also had to mount my argon cylinder onto my backplate, and get happy with my new stage cylinder. Dindin had got jealous of my new purchases, so I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he buys some new cylinders. Carrying an 11-litre stage seems strange, considering it's about the size of a main tank. It felt quite cumbersome on land, but I was sure that it would be fine underwater. Danny was on hand to get us a round of teas in, before we got on the boat. Gordy was having a justified whinge about Deep Blue, for charging him £7 to top his 100bar Nitrox50 up to 150bar Nitrox32. Good old Richie strikes again.
We were going to do a wreck, but the consensus of opinion was that we should go to Hands Deep, since it was a flat calm day. I wasn't convinced, but had to go with the majority. Danny got us all life jackets, so that we didn't get hot, sweaty, and dehydrated in our dry-suits. This was excellent, since there was a couple on board, and she had a fantastic pair of norks. It would have been a shame to cover those babies up in a dry suit. Because I wasn't wearing my dry-suit, it was going to be easier to pee off the boat, so I was good, and drank lots of water on the way out to the dive site. When we got there, I tried to pee off the back of the boat, but developed a Gordy bladder!
Because this was going to be my first dive with two stage cylinders, I decided not to bother using the 32% as a travel gas, but to breathe air on the way down. Dindin was amazed that the first time that I attached the cylinder to the backplate was on the boat, just before a 40m dive. He was right to criticise, of course, but I wasn't going to agree with him! It seemed like a perfect time to check out new dive kit to me! The good news was that I needed to attach the bottom clip to the ring that I normally attach my SMB to. It was a perfect excuse not to use an SMB!
During the dive, we saw lots of sea urchins, Gordy and Emma, and lots of rocks. It was a bloody good dive, but Dindin cut it a bit short, because his VR3 had turned his backlight off, and was giving him low battery warnings. I was amazed that I managed to unclip both stage cylinders without any hassle at all. It'll never happen again. The totty was out of her drysuit by the time we got back on board, which was a nice surprise!
Back at Bovvie, I realised that Blue Raider wasn't going out again until our second dive, so we could leave all our kit on-board. That gave more tea-drinking time. There were no pasties, but the burger and chips did the job. Danny's daughter was serving, along with some totty that I didn't remember meeting before. During our break, we set about working out what trimix mix to use the next day. I started working it out, but Gordy kept interrupting, telling me that I was doing it wrong. I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong, so just carried on, so that I could learn from my mistakes myself. It turned out that he was being the stupid gimmer, and not me!
While we were drinking tea, this top totty walked by, wearing a white bra, with a St. George's cross on it. I suddenly developed an interest in football! Danny joined us for a while, and the top man noticed that I'd lost weight.
EnglandBraGirl was parked on the quayside, so we had to walk past her, to get to the boat. It's a hard life! Our second dive was going to be on the Scylla, or the Lane, depending on which had fewer boats above it. It turned out to be the Scylla. Gordy and Emma gave me jip for diving the Scylla with a twin-set, and two stage cylinders. Fortunately, I'm not that bothered about what other people think, so carried on. I want to get used to diving with two stage cylinders, so I was going to carry them on a shallow dive, even if I didn't use them. Gordy and Emma kitted up first, and Gordy decided to take two stage cylinders. I think that was his way of saying, "Actually Billy, I think you're right". They jumped in, and, for some reason, were back on the surface in about 10 minutes.
During the dive, Dindin (who was also carrying two stages, having borrowed Scary's) tried to get through a hole. He reckons that he got through, and then got bored. I could see behind him, and he was nowhere near through the hole. I then showed him how it was done. Later on in the dive, I removed and replaced my second stage cylinder. At least I tried to replace it, but my bloody torch got in the way, so Dindin had to help me. When we got back on the boat, we discovered that the reason that Emma and Gordy and surfaced early was because Emma's VR3 had flooded. I didn't really know what to say to comfort her, but am sure that I should have come up with something better than "You wouldn't get that with Finnish technology". Sorry Emma, I love you really!
Back at Bovvie, Gordy and Emma had decided to dive on air the next day, so Dindin and I agreed to do a shallower wreck (the Unicorn at about 45m), although we would still do it on trimix, so that we remembered it! The only place that we could get trimix at was Deep Blue, so we started packing up the cars. I tried explaining to Gordy that if he carried on trying to get me to hurry up, it would take longer, but it didn't stop him. I just turned the ginger filter on, and carried on packing up my kit. Gordy and Emma decided to go ahead, and sort things out. When they got to Deep Blue, they were told that we wouldn't get a trimix fill in time. With Danny's intervention, we arranged to leave the cylinders at Deep Blue, and pick them up at 7am. When we got there, we were told to leave our mobile numbers, and they'd call us when they were filled, so we could get the cylinders that evening.
Dindin and I went for a quick drink at the Mountbatten bar, and watched over the water (including watching the others take Diversity out of the water), had a quick shower, and went shopping. Even after all this time, Deep Blue hadn't called, so we went back to the campsite, where the BBQs were going full guns. Dindin and I still wanted to pick up our twin-sets that evening, but Dindin really fancied a beer. I wasn't really in a beer mood, so decided to wait until we'd got our cylinders before having a beer. At about 21:30, the guy from Deep Blue eventually rang, and said that the cylinders wouldn't be ready until about 22:30. I couldn't be bothered with that, so said we'd collect them at 07:00.
Gordy told us that we shouldn't leave planning our dive until Sunday morning. He was right, but what he failed to take into account with his comment was that we didn't know what mix we had, so couldn't plan anything! Gordy reckoned that we should plan based on what fills we expected, but I couldn't see the point. Gordy and Emma had their dive planned. I didn't really understand it, but it involved bending the Suunto dive computers. After years of criticising me for bending my Suunto, they were planning to do exactly that!
I had a quick can of Stella (thanks Rodney, for keeping it cold), before having an early night.
We arrived at Deep Blue at 07:00, to see my twin-set outside, being emptied. They'd filled it wrongly, so had to start all over again. My stage also had about 45% O2, instead of 50%. As you can probably imagine, we weren't impressed. Even after they'd topped up the stage, and refilled the twin-set, I had 48% O2 in the stage, and 27% helium in the twin-set, instead of 30%. Gimmeration! What a good job we hadn't planned the night before, basing the plan on what fills we expected to receive.
We loaded up the motor, and drove to Bovvie. We didn't have long to kit up, because we really wanted to catch slack water, so parked where EnglandBraGirl had parked the previous day. Gordy was being rather smug, saying that he was glad that he and Emma were diving on air, when he saw the hassle that we'd had with fills. Comments like that are so useful! Despite Gordy's interference, Dindin and I got our kit on the boat, and off we went. Both Danny and Dave were on the boat today, so I knew I'd have no problems kitting up! When we got to the site, the echo-sounder showed a depth of 52m, not the 45m we were expecting. Gordy and Emma were a bit concerned, so I obviously had to comment to Dindin that I was glad that we'd got trimix fills, instead of air, like Gordy and Emma did.
We were in first, and there was no current at all. When we got to the bottom of the shot, Dindin showed me his torch, which had exploded. I gave him my spare torch, and went of to explore the wreck. Dindin didn't follow me at first, staying at the bottom of the shot. He didn't seem very happy, but signalled that he was OK, and followed me. We saw a big boiler, a lobster, a conga, and a big shoal of fish. Dindin still didn't seem happy, so I turned to swim back to the shot. He was still saying that he was OK, but also signalled that he wanted to find the shot. I couldn't see it straight away, so decided that a free ascent was a good idea - whatever was bothering Dindin would be better off sorted out in shallower water. As we ascended, Dindin saw Gordy and Emma's torches as they were descending, so we continued our ascent up the shotline. We did all the necessary stops, switching gases at the relevant depths.
Chatting to Dindin on the surface, he said that he felt quite light-headed throughout the whole dive, and never really enjoyed it. Still, at least we got to the surface safely. Emma and Gordy surfaced safely, but Emma really didn't like her Suunto beeping at her, because she'd bent it. It was something that I'm used to, but, understandably, she didn't like it.
Back at Bovvie, we had time for burger eating, tea drinking, and kit gimmering. Unfortunately, the tea drinking was interrupted by Ben walking around in his shorts. As Paulien pointed out, it was an improvement over yesterday, when she'd seen him in only his pants! Before gimmering with my kit, I had a quick kip in the motor. When I woke up, I was ready for kit gimmering. As soon as I started, Dindin and Emily turned up to help. I knew I could rely on Dindin to help with kit gimmering. I explained what I wanted to do, and then TeaServingTotty turned up, and started chatting to me. While I was chatting to her, Emily and Dindin took my kit apart, and did what I'd explained. Job done!
We went back to the campsite via Manhatten, took the tent down, and then headed back to Bath. On the way back, I was playing with the SatNav and on-board computer. The on-board computer said that we had 70 miles until the petrol tank empted, and the SatNav said that it was 60 miles to Bath. I commented to Dindin that it would be an excellent feature if the two systems communicated with each other. About 50 miles later, the SatNav told us that the tank would be empty in 20 miles, and offered to give us directions to the nearest petrol station. We were impressed. All it needed now was an internet connection to find out which petrol station was cheapest. I was supposed to be driving Gimmer back from the cricket, but he had hay fever, so stayed in Slough.
Thanks everybody for an excellent weekend.
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Created on: 22 Jun 2006. Modified on: 28 Jun 2006.
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