Scapa 2007 (being written)
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Considering I was going to be working during my holiday (because my boss had decided to take one of his holidays during my only holiday), I left work a bit early at about 1PM. I walked to the car hire place, to find that FastTrackBoy had messed up, and deleted Emma, Gordy, and Zoe from the car hire. While I was there, he deleted Mel's expiry date as well. Fortunately, the totty who left about two months ago was back.
There weren't many cars parked outside my house, which made parking the van quite easy. I loaded up all my dive kit, and realised that there would be plenty of space for everybody's kit. I collected Rodney from his work, and then drove to his house to collect his dive kit, and then headed along the M4. Father and Mother Garrett were visiting, so Rodney agreed that it would be nice to collect Emma and Gordy's dive kit, so that they wouldn't have to drive to Bath.
When we got there, we found out that Mother and Father Garrett had already left, so all Emma and Gordy were going to do was Christen their new bed. We then drove to Dindin and Sam's house, and loaded their dive kit into the van. Up at the University, everybody was there, except Zoe, Nick, and Max. Zoe turned up soon after we did, and Olly said "No hurry", when he spoke to Max. We're going to have to teach him to be more honest and forceful. There was beer to drink, and curry to eat, of course there was a hurry. The minibus had no aerial, so James and Olly sneakily took the aerial off the van, and put it on the bus! Top idea.
Anyway, with Dindin in charge, we packed all the dive kit into the van, and then drove into town (after Nick had sensibly pumped up the tyres). We had a quick pint at the Boater, before going to the BYO curry house. With an early start, we didn't go to the pub afterwards, and went back to Olly's house. He kindly made a cup of tea, and then went off on a rant about how women sap all men's strength and money. How to win friends an influence people! He must have gone to the Gordy School of Getting Women that has so impressed CherryBoy in the past.
We were going to leave at 6AM, and James had this strange idea of waking up at 5AM. I set my alarm for 5:15, which ended up being a good idea, because we had girls who wanted to get ready! This gave me time to try to check my e-mail, but Vodafone didn't seem to want to let me access the outside world. Hopefully this wouldn't last for the whole holiday, or I wouldn't be able to work. James kindly drove the first part of the journey. We picked up Nick and Max at their place (they were almost ready when we arrived), and off we went. Poor Dindin had to collect Gordy and Emma from a garage - the collecting wasn't too bad, but spending time with only the two of them in the van might be too much!
The radio mentioned the M5 being shut southbound on the way to Devon. This didn't bother us, until we saw signs that said it was also blocked northbound between J14 and J13. Nick pointed out that the travel reports had actually said it, but James and I had "spoken over it". With a combination of a paper map, and my TomTom's travel reports, Nick managed to navigate us around the motorway being blocked. We crossed the canal at least three times, but we hardly ever got stuck in any traffic. Top man! It all went well until Nick decided that he wanted to use his TomTom for travel reports, and handed a cable to James to stick on a windscreen. Thinking about if the reverse had happened made me smile.
Once we were back on the motorway, Nick and I tried to get data working on his mobile, so that he could get traffic reports on his TomTom without having to lay out a cable. Ignoring the advice on my blog, he had paid for a data contract with Orange for our trip to Scapa. We tried his SIM card in my old phone, it didn't work. We tried it in my normal phone, and it didn't work. We then tried putting it in my new spare phone, but couldn't open the battery cover. We had to give up, but it seemed that Orange hadn't enabled the data.
Once we got past Birmingham, we stopped at a service station, so that we could have breakfast, and change drivers. Gordy, Emma, and Dindin arrived just as we were ready to leave, so Dindin got a take-away cuppa, and joined us. I drove the next stretch (using my TomTom, so that my vision wasn't obscured by Nick's cable). We couldn't find out where the van was, because Dindin was in the minibus. After about 15 minutes, I realised that the bus had 6 gears, so put it into top gear. My stupidity amazes me sometimes! Thanks to Nick for keeping the music going while I was driving.
About four hours later, it was time to change drivers again. Max told me that there wasn't time for tea, so I was well-behaved, and didn't order any. With two voicemail messages, I had 15 missed calls, because of Vodafone's stupid way of calling back every 10 minutes to tell me I have a voicemail message. Emma was going to drive the van next, but Gordy wanted to sleep, so I kept her company instead. I remembered at the last minute that we would be without the radio, so took the aerial back off the minibus (much to Max's disgust). I made the few calls that I needed to make, and then chatted to Emma for the rest of the way.
After a few minutes, there was a nasty accident. Fortunately, the minibus (which had left before us) wasn't involved. After a while, we had to stop for fuel. Emma reckoned that Max would be driving at a sensible speed, so must be behind us. I was sure that we hadn't overtaken them, so we bet a cuppa. I won! According to the others, Max had been driving like a nutter, so had made good time.
Emma's feet were beginning to hurt, so I took over (despite saying that I wasn't going to drive both vehicles). Emma then called the others, and mentioned that I was driving, and complained that we'd been abandoned. The others felt guilty, so stopped and waited for us. We weren't sure exactly where they were, but Sam had the obvious idea of comparing the distances from Thurso that the TomToms were giving. I saw two gorgeous women standing near a lay-by, so pulled in to change drivers. Emma and I got into the minibus, and Gordy and Dindin took over driving the van. I got into the minibus, but Nick started driving while Emma was still half-in, and half-out of the minibus. We grabbed hold of her, and just about managed to close the door. Nick's excuse was that he'd seen a gap in the traffic, and gone for it!
Apart from taking breaks to hold our breaths while going over the Breath-Holding-Bridges, Zoe spent some of the journey trying to remove the cover on my new phone. Olly said, "I've got one of those, give it here". Zoe gave it to him (ooh-err), and I immediately started giving him jip. A few seconds later, the battery cover was off. I obviously had to "eat my words".
Nick seemed to have fun driving around all the windy roads as fast as he could - it was a good job that the diving kit wasn't in the minibus, it would never have made it in one piece! Still, at least I found out how my TomTom behaves when one is travelling at 60mph in a 30mph zone. Olly got excited whenever we went past a telephone box (any phone boxes, not just the old ones). I went to sleep about half-an-hour away from Thurso, and woke up with James shouting at Nick for gimmering around deciding where to park. As we were getting out of the bus, it started moving. We turned around to see Nick letting the handbrake off to let the bus roll down the hill a bit. He really was in a mad mood!
We emptied the bus, put some stuff in the van, and the rest of the stuff into the rooms. Gordy needed to check his e-mail account, to find out the details of the ferry. I powered up my laptop, but still couldn't access t'internet. Dindin couldn't either, but Olly saved the day. We then had a quick pint in the pub across the road, and then went for a Chinese (despite there being a new curry house next door to the hostel). The food was good, and the service friendly. A few of us went to the pub for a final pint (I put The Pretenders on the jukebox especially for Gordy).
With the bed making loud noises every time Gordy moved above me, and Olly and Rodney snoring, I was amazed that I managed to sleep well. We went downstairs to have tea and toast, while I tried to get my laptop working. I used the same USB port that I used in the office, and it worked first time. There weren't that many genuine e-mails, but there was plenty of spam to delete. Thinking it was the most northerly point in mainland Britain, some of the guys went to see John O'Groats. We met up with them at Morrison's, and had breakfast. I then went shopping, but couldn't find a bandage for my wrist, which had been hurting for over a week. I did find some bottom wipes. As we were walking out, Mel asked me what they were for. I replied, "To clear up after I've had a big poo". Apparently I got a really funny look from the girl that we were walking past at the time! Gordy had left Emma queueing up, so she was justifiably annoyed with him. I left them in the van on their own, and got into the minibus. As we were driving to Scrabster, Emma called to ask for directions. This was the 4th time we'd been to Scapa, they should really know by now.
Anyway, with the usual confusion, we loaded up the crates, and went for a cuppa before getting on the boat. The woman at the café told me that there wasn't time, so we walked towards the boat. Everybody walked straight on when we got to the boat, but I had the controversial idea of following the sign that said, "Departure Terminal". On the boat, I got lost finding the tea place, and confused about how to operate the tea machine, but we got there in the end. Top marks for Olly for getting the next round for half-price, and for carrying the cups to us, despite burning himself. I slept for most of the rest of the journey, before showing Mel how to shuffle an in-order pack of cards.
Being a gimmer, I managed to lose everybody else, but just dawdled over to the boat. Most of the others were there. While we were checking things were where they should be, the ones who were missing arrived, having pulled the crates around from the ferry. I can't remember who that was, but top marks for doing so. We unloaded the crates, and handed the light stuff into the boat (leaving the heavy stuff until the quayside had sunk to the level of the boat). I went off in search of some milk, but turned around when I saw Dougie and his wife driving towards us. They had several bags of food, which included plenty of milk.
After the brief, we got bored waiting for the quay to sink, so loaded the cylinders anyway. Maybe having a dodgy wrist I shouldn't have been the one to receive them into the boat, but never mind.
After lots of arguing, we decided who should sit where. I wanted a bit of time to myself, so, after buying some beer and dropping it off at the boat, went for a walk to the Orange bench, to make a few phone calls (not to Bird, because she was being Best Man), I then got back to the boat in time for fish 'n' chips. I left Olly in the capable hands of Dindin and Sam, and waited outside the chippy. He came outside a bit later, having got really confused trying to communicate with the locals. Dindin and Sam had abandoned him!
We had time for a few beers (it had to be four, so that we each bought a round) in the Ferry Inn. The girls were dancing to some of the music, but did stop for a while when my selection was played! At some point during the evening, two of the local lads decided to moon for two of the local girls, but I think that Sam wasn't quick enough to get a picture. We got back to the boat to find that Gordy had managed to finish his Rubik's Cube (with the help of his book, of course).
Our first dive today was on the Crown Prince Billy. This was the same wreck that Scary managed to sit on a gun, and then complain later that we hadn't seen any guns! As usual, the Crown Prince Billy didn't disappoint, and Dindin and I saw some guns this time.
Yesterday, I had put up my list of dive buddies for the week on the dartboard - Dindin in the morning, and totty in the afternoon. Somehow Olly had managed to get himself in for this afternoon's dive, but, while I was checking my work e-mail between dives, Rodney dumped Emma, and said he wanted to dive with me instead. It's supposed to be women arguing over me, not men!
The afternoon's dive was the SMS Karlsruhe. I had a few problems descending, but pressed the auto-dump, and descended much faster. I'll have to remember to turn it on next time! It didn't take long for us to find a swim-through. I took out my SMB, tied it on, and off we went. Unfortunately, we didn't actually get very far, so came back, untied the SMB, and continued with the dive. My ear started giving me a bit of jip, so we ascended slightly. We saw some guns, but my ear started giving me jip again, so we had to surface. Thanks Dave for using the SMB.
I can't remember who cooked this evening, but, knowing that I wouldn't have time to cook during the week, because I had to work, I did the washing up. We ended up in the pub, and the girls kept us entertained by dancing to YMCA.
Nick's ear was giving him jip, so Max asked whether she could dive with us (apparently, we were the only ones that she could trust). This morning's dive was the James Barie. Having opened my auto-dump, I found it much easier to descend than I did yesterday. We found a swim-through almost straight away, and I was surprised to find Sam swimming with us. Once we got out (it was quite a big swim-through), we went on a marathon swim, because Max wanted to see the whole of the boat. Towards the end of the dive, we saw Sam swimming downwards, chasing two other divers. I was just about to go to help, before realising that it was a Sam look-a-like, so I left her to it. We went back up the shot for a while, but then deployed an SMB and floated with the current. Once we got to about 10m, Max swam around all the other pairs, to find out which had least deco' to do, and stayed with them instead.
The afternoon's dive was the SMS Karlsruhe again, but this time I got to dive with Zoe (Billy's got a totty dive, doo-dah, doo-dah). Zoe wasn't up for doing any swim-throughs, but she was good at spotting fish. We had a competition - I can't remember what the competition was, but I remember Zoe explaining underwater that she one because she's a girl. We saw a lost Rodney, and a naked-branch.
While I was working, the others went shopping, and to the distillery. Zoe was very proud with the cigarette lighter doubler that she'd bought from that supermarket that people use when they're too pikey for Iceland. It was almost as if she'd discovered it herself (ignoring the fact that I'd e-mailed a few links for one to her just after Mel and James's wedding).
Yesterday, I'd realised that if we didn't start doing longer dives, I was never going to get my two weeks underwater by the end of the week. Dindin was up for doing some long dives to make sure that I managed it. We chose an excellent wreck to start off with - the SMS Konig. I got kitted up quickly, but couldn't get in the water because there was some ginger tosser standing in the doorway. We eventually got in, and went down the shot line. After a while, we found an entrance to the boat, and in we went. It was quite wide, but narrowed into a small corridor. We turned right, then turned left, and then went down a bit. We got to the end of the corridor, and there was a doorway to our left. I put my head through, and it seemed to run the whole length of the ship. Dindin wanted to go in, but I decided that being at 40m, five minutes inside a wreck, with 30 minutes' of decompression to do, it wasn't time to get stuck in the wreck.
To be continued...
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Created on: 06 Sep 2007. Modified on: 02 Nov 2007.
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