Weymouth (15th & 16th August 2009)
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Things were fairly quiet this afternoon, so I left work early. This gave me time to finishing packing and have a quick kip before Ollie arrived. Being a nice chap, he had driven from work to my gaff to collect me and my dive kit before going driving down to Portland. We took two stages with us (including my 11-litre stage), but left my pony and my 12-litre main cylinder behind. It was a good job we weren't camping, because we'd have almost filled the car if we'd taken camping stuff as well.
Out on the M4, TomTom suggested that we avoid travelling through Windsor, and turn left near Reading instead. Since TomTom knew what the traffic on the M3 was like, we followed his advice. Traffic between the M4 and the M3 was quite slow, which was annoying because, once we we'd come off the M4, we didn't have much choice. Minutes were gradually knocked off TomTom's ETA, but it didn't look as if we'd arrive before 21:00. I suddenly remembered that I'd only set it to navigate us to Portland, and not to The Bunker. I looked through my favourites, and selected the destination as "unknown road, Portland". Ollie had faith that I knew where The Bunker was, but was a little less convinced about "unknown road"!
Olly had been told that there would be lots of cars in the car park, so we were pleasantly surprised to only find a couple there. As we walked past the front door in the light, I realised why Dindin and I had got confused with the lock box (what is it with Dindin and lock boxes?). We met Olly and Megan in "the pub by the sandy beach" (I'm never going to let Olly forget warning novices about the sand on Chesil Beach). They'd managed to find a table, but it was only really a table for two. Unfortunately, the only other tables were the ones outside with the
drug addicts smokers, so we squeezed onto the small table. I'd been busting for a jimmy half the journey down, but just about managed to buy a round before nipping downstairs.
When I got back upstairs, Olly was showing Ollie pictures of his and Megan's new house. Ollie spotted the white toilet with a wooden seat, and all three criticised people who did that. I let them rant for a bit, before informing them that's what my toilet is like! We then decided what we wanted to eat, and I went up to order the food. When I was waiting to be served, I looked at the specials board, and was confused when I mis-read "local pan seared scallops" as "local porn". Are people really that fussy about their porn? Anyway, I placed our order, and joined the others back at the table.
The food, as always, was pretty good, but, unlike last time, I was unable to steel any of Olly's onion rings (he didn't order any, and didn't leave the table). Being sensible, we called it a night after three pints, and walked back to The Bunker. After dropping my bags off in the room (thanks to Ollie for getting them out of the car for me), I went up to make tea. I knocked on room 6, but Ollie didn't want any. Olly said he was up for tea, and would join me in a bit. I made two cups of tea, and settled down to write my trip report. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the keyboard to work, so I read the Guinness Book of Records instead. The Bunker is a really nice place to stay. Olly didn't appear, so I drank his tea, and went to bed. [18/8/09 17:53 to be continued, I need a jimmy before the train gets into Paddington, and I need to get out of the mobile free carriage before I give a pokey little kid a clip round the ear].
I couldn't remember what time Olly had said we should have breakfast, so whenever I woke up during the night, I was worried that I might not have set my alarm for the right time, so I didn't have the best night's sleep ever. Either that, or I was worried about something else. The problem is, I almost never get stressed, so on the occasions that I do, I have problems coping with such an unknown emotion. Anyway, I woke up at 7AM, and went up for breakfast. The others were nowhere to be seen, so either they'd left without me, or I'd got up too early. Fortunately, it was the latter, and breakfast wasn't even ready yet. The woman serving breakfast was very nice and friendly, so I didn't mind waiting. Anyway, I had tea and fruit 'n' fibre while I was waiting (no muesli or black pudding, unfortunately).
It wasn't long before the others arrived, so I didn't have time to try to get my keyboard to work. The PDA wasn't fully charged, but it certainly wasn't empty either, so I doubted that was the problem. It could be the keyboard batteries, but I didn't have any spare AAA batteries, so couldn't check that. I put my overnight bag into Ollie's car, and off we went. There was nobody to unlock the gate, so we just unloaded the cars onto the pavement, and waited for somebody to unlock the gate. While we were waiting, I heard somebody say into his phone, "Hello, is that Mary?". Once he'd finished, I asked whether he'd been speaking to
Mark Mary at Old Harbour Divers. He had, and she had told him it's OK to load the boat if somebody unlocked the gate.
We didn't have to wait too long, and somebody promptly propped the gate open with a cylinder. With the help of a trolley, we took all the kit to the boat. Somebody moved the cylinder, and was holding open the door. Apparently, propping the door open is prohibited, and the rule is enforced. Once we'd loaded the boat, I took over holding the gate. After about 5 minutes, I realised that I ought to sort out my dive kit, so asked somebody else to hold the gate. Nigel turned up in good time, and said we had 7 people on board. Mary turned up a while later, and said that there should be me, the other two who'd phoned up earlier, and Olly's group of 4. I explained that I was one of Olly's 4, and off we went! I'd forgotten that pasties were provided on the boat, so had bought 4 pasties from Sommerfield on Thursday. Still, the orange Clubs and wine gums went down well! [18/8/09 23:00 to be continued, the train's just coming into Slough]
Our first dive was going to be on the "Benny" (according to Olly, it's a Scandinavian-sounding name with lots of Js), but we later found out that there's only one J in it (Binnendijk). Olly and Megan still weren't quite sure what cylinders to dive with, but figured it out before they actually jumped into the water. Ollie had enough weight, and I promised to do my drysuit zip up, so were were going to have no problems on this dive. The Binnendijk isn't the biggest wreck in the world, but I don't remember diving it before, so really enjoyed the dive. We saw several heads and tails of congas, but never actually saw a free-swimming one. We also saw a bloke with a scooter, which, when we got closer, turned out to be the biggest camera in the world, not a scooter! We found a few swim-throughs, but there weren't any long ones. Still, I've only dived with Ollie a few times, so wasn't going to be too adventurous. I didn't want to do that much decompression, so we didn't stay down too long. Unfortunately, Ollie did all his stops at 5m, which wasn't within the "Suunto zone", so we spent longer decompressing than we had to. Still, it didn't matter, because Olly and Megan had also done a 60 minute dive (and they were using Nitrox32). As Nigel pulled the shot in, it came detached from the buoy, and he lost it. The rope floated on the surface for a while, so I offered to jump in to catch it, but Nigel said not to bother.
After the lovely pasties, our second dive was a scalloping dive in Lulworth Banks. I've rarely bothered collecting scallops before, but the two other divers were going to collect them, so I asked them whether they'd take what I collected. They were up for this, so I put my goody bag into my pocket. The reason that I've never bothered collecting scallops before is because I didn't think I'd ever get around to doing anything with them. Since the others were going to have them, I was up for it. As I said numerous times that day - IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! We just got taken by the current, and picked up scallops on the way. We got about 2⁄3 of a bag before it was time to ascend. Although Ollie used the SMB, I had problems keeping upright holding my goody bag, and kept on having to dance to get the air in the right place in my drysuit (just like Dezzy did a few years ago). As we were waiting to be picked up, I told Ollie that I'd offered our scallops to the other divers. He refused, saying we could cook them tonight. Back on the boat, I was pleased that the other divers had been successful, so didn't actually need our scallops. It didn't take long to get back to shore. We loaded the cylinders into Olly's car, and Ollie and I walked round to Old Harbour Divers. By the time we got there, Olly and Megan had already unloaded the cylinders. Excellent! We had a quick look at the new Suunto HelO2, had some ice-cream, and paid our bills. While we were queuing for ice-cream, there were two kids with painted faces behind me. Worryingly, I commented on their faces, and spoke to them as if they were normal human beings. Surely I'm not becoming tolerant. I think I'll have to go to Legoland to get the Legoland twitch back!
We went back to The Bunker, but I was concerned when I saw Ollie go into a different room to the one I'd knocked on last night! I turned out the room has two doors, so I hadn't woken a random person up to offer him tea last night! We had tea and showered, and then cooked the scallops. I do like sea food, but it's often too much like hard work. The scallops weren't that difficult, but they still took a long time for what they are. Anyway, it kept us out of trouble for a bit. Megan kindly drove us into Weymouth. We met their mate in the Ship Inn, but not before Ollie started ranting about a particular colour of car. I let him rant for a bit, and then told him what colour my first car was! Olly was more interested in the fact that I used to own a car! Their mate is an electrician, so Olly and Ollie (it's a good job they spell their names differently) both wanted to ask him about electrical work they wanted to do on their houses. We had time for two drinks in the Ship Inn before we went for dinner at Weymouth Tandoori. The food and service was as good as normal, except we had to wait a while before a table was available. As before, the curry with a cherry on top caused amusement!
Back at The Bunker, I had a quick cuppa before going to bed. I didn't stay up too long, because I still couldn't get the keyboard on my PDA to work, and there was no Wi-Fi network at The Bunker.
We had plenty of gimmering time this morning, so weren't in a particular hurry over breakfast. At Old Harbour Divers, we waited for our twin-sets to be filled, and then drove round to the marina. We had to wait a while for somebody to open the gate, but didn't waste any time once it had been opened. We loaded all our cylinders into the boat, but couldn't do much else until Nigel arrived and unlocked the cabin so we could get our kit out. Nigel wanted to go back to do the "Benny" again so that we could find his shot again. Olly and Ollie were against this idea, but Nigel said that he wanted his shot back, and the others were up for doing some search and recovery. I didn't really like the idea of doing the same wreck again, but am happy just being underwater, so went with the flow. I didn't particularly like some of the other divers on the boat - they made themselves tea, and didn't offer anybody else any. The bloke sitting next to me was quite chatty, and his girlfriend had breasts, so they were nice, it was only the three blokes who made themselves tea that I didn't like.
Despite diving the same dive again, I still enjoyed it. Somehow Ollie and I managed to miss the boilers again! At the start of the dive, we saw a "strange thin sideways fish". I had no idea what it was called, but when Nigel asked, "Did you see the Sunfish", I decided that must have been what we saw. I can't remember much about the dive, but I think that Ollie stayed in the "Suunto zone" more today, because we didn't do too much deco. Back on the boat, it seemed that nobody had found Nigel's shot, but, with the new secure clip he'd bought this morning, he didn't lose today's shot.
We then headed to the coast, and moored up for lunch. After tea and pasties, I fell asleep. A bit later, I got woken up because we started moving. Resting against a metal bar isn't the best idea, because I could move at all. Fortunately, Olly was on hand to pull me up. We should really have waited another hour for slack water, but everybody wanted to finish at a reasonable time, so decided to go earlier. We weren't moored far from the Black Hawk, so I had to start kitting up straight away. The shot had dragged away from the wreck, so we started swimming against the current. It was too much like hard work, so we drifted with the current, and put up an SMB. We came across some scallops, so I got out my goody bag, and we collected some more. I didn't expect to cook them, but was going to try to trade them with my local Chinese take-away when I got home. We didn't get as many as yesterday, but we still got about ½ a bag full. Ollie kindly offered to hold the bag of scallops while I wound in my SMB. On our safety stop, he started shaking the bag to get rid of some of the rubbish on the scallops. I saw a hole in the corner gradually getting larger. I shouted at him to stop, but gave up in the end. I decided it would be quite funny to see all the scallops fall out of the bag when he shook it! Some of the others got onto the wreck, but I think we had just as good a dive drifting with the current. While we were waiting for the others, Nigel pointed out how small Olly's SMB is. He was a lot closer than another pair, but the other SMB still looked larger!
We were quite a long way from Weymouth, so it took a while to get back to the marina. We unloaded the kit as quickly as we could, and loaded up the cars. Unfortunately, we'd left Ollie's substantial plastic bag at the bunker, so had to use a supermarket carrier bag for the scallops. Ideally I would have liked to fill my twin-set before we left, but we really didn't have time. The roads were fairly busy on the way back, but TomTom seemed to get us back in good time. I thrashed Ollie at the mini game - I'm sure he'll be practising ready for the next dive trip! We were also amused when we overtook a car that had a woman in the passenger seat, with "BOOBS" written on the rear left-hand window, and an arrow pointing to her. I didn't see it, but Ollie said that the window on the other side had "TWAT" written, pointing to the male driver!
Ollie didn't have time to come in for a cuppa, so we unloaded my dive kit, and he left. The doorbell rang just as I got out of the shower. It was Ollie, coming to collect his TomTom charger. Ooops. I'd forgotten that it was his TomTom charger attached to my TomTom. Fortunately, he realised as soon as he left the petrol station, so hadn't got too far. I then ordered a Chinese take-away, and walked up to collect it. It was ready when I arrived, and I showed the bloke there my bag of scallops. He asked whether I wanted to exchange them for my take-away, and I told him that I did. I think we were both happy with the deal - he got about 30 quid's worth of scallops, and I got sweet and sour pork, egg fried rice, and the fun of collecting them.
Thanks everybody for a top weekend.
PS: I can't find a website with a description of the Binnendijk, so please let me know if anybody knows of one. I've probably got the spelling wrong.
[2009-08-23 - update]. I could have left my twin-set at Old Harbour Divers, because the next time we're diving will be with Old Harbour Divers again. Oh well.
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Created on: 18 Aug 2009. Modified on: 04 Oct 2009.
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