Weymouth (28th to 30th August 2009)
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I'm certainly getting used to getting lifts from other people. I've done enough driving over the years, so, until Rodney moves to Germany, I get to take a back seat (OK, passenger seat). Anyway, after a quick cuppa, we loaded my dive kit into Rodney's work's people carrier, and set off to drive to Portland, hoping that the Reading Festival wouldn't delay us too much. Knowing what the traffic everywhere was like, TomTom suggested using the M25 and the M3. I would never have used the M25 if I was navigating without TomTom, but we went with Yoda's recommendation, and it turned out OK. It didn't take long before Rodney went over 70mph, and TomTom mooed at him. He was totally confused, and I giggled as I remembered setting TomTom to moo whenever we went over the speed limit last weekend!
Olly had tried to have something to eat at "the pub by the sandy beech", but it was full. This was a bit of a pain, because we were hoping he'd be able to order us some food to eat when we arrived. We made pretty good time, and stopped to get fish and chips on the way. There was no fish ready, so I went for sausage and chips. Parking outside The Bunker seemed too difficult, so we parked along the road leading to Chesil Cove, and walked to the pub. The others had got a table, but thanks to Rodney for keeping me company while I ate my sausage and chips. It was very windy, which didn't look promising for diving tomorrow.
Rodney offered to buy the beers, but I bought them since he'd driven all the way. This turned out well, because he had no cash anyway! The others had got to The Bunker OK eventually. I'd e-mailed a link to the website during the week, but had, apparently, e-mailed a link to the B&B instead of the Bunker, so Rich and Chris and Rob and Nic had both gone to the wrong place. I'll have to check my sent e-mails to check. Back at The Bunker, I read the BBC News website to keep myself awake while the others got to sleep before I started snoring. [2009-10-04: I didn't send the wrong link, the others just misunderstood the website.]
[2009-09-02: Started writing while having a curry in Edinburgh while changing trains on the way from Aberdeen to Edinburgh] I'd asked Olly to ask for breakfast at 06:45. This hadn't gone down well with the others last night, so I wasn't surprised to find I was the first one at breakfast. I took my PDA and keyboard (with recharged batteries) with me, but there were two blokes already at breakfast, so I chatted to them for a bit before the others arrived. Not only had I forgotten to call Old Harbour Divers to ask for vegetarian pasties, but I hadn't even thought to ask The Bunker for vegetarian breakfasts. I really am a crap mate sometimes.
Anyway, with our relatively early breakfast, we left in good time. I'd spoken to Mary during the week. The boat was going to leave at 08:30, but she assured me that we'd be able to get fills before we left, even though the shop didn't open until 8 o'clock. I wasn't convinced by this, but my only other realistic option was to get a taxi during the week. Rodney and I unloaded the car next to the Marina, and, leaving the others to load the boat up, drove to the shop to get fills. Fortunately, Rodders had checked his cylinders, found out they weren't full, and put them back into the car. Rob did the same to his, and put his 15-litre cylinder into the car as well. Nic was also hiring a 15-litre cylinder from Old Harbour Divers, so asked us to collect that too. So much to do, in so little time.
Rodney didn't manage to persuade Rob to drive to Old Harbour Divers, which meant that Rodney had to drive along the narrow road (Rob had to drive back to Portland anyway because he'd left something behind). We were waiting outside the shop when Mary and Nigel arrived. We followed them in with our cylinders, but realised that we should have waited a bit when we went to get the rest, and found the door locked again. After a while, I went to check on the cylinders, and saw one of Rodney's cylinders not being filled, so had to get that one started too. I then remembered about Nic's cylinder, so asked Mary about that. I hoped that it was full, but they weren't sure they had a spare 15 litre. They found an empty one, and started filling it. There was no way we'd be ready to leave at half-eight. We left the shop at 08:40, with Mary (who was at the boat) calling to hurry us up. I sorted out the cylinders while Rodney went to park (fortunately I'd got lots of pound coins from Langley Stores yesterday, having got rid of all my change on Thursday). Anyway, we left at about 08:50 and Nigel didn't seem bothered at all. Fortunately, we hadn't affected the dive by getting fills.
It took us a while to get out to the dive site, which gave Rodney and me time to put our kit together (and have tea, of course). There were three other divers on board, who seemed quite chatty. Pete (who met us at the marina and held the gate open for a while) was without a buddy. I asked whether he wanted to dive with one of the other blokes who was on his own, or dive with Rodney and me. Amazingly, he chose Rodney and me! I was sure he'd regret it sometime! For some reason, we were last in the water - I wonder why that is! I didn't fancy messing about with my camera, so let Rob take it diving. At least I'd get some good pictures!
Rob's diving pictures (click on the images to open a larger image in Flickr):
It was a pretty good dive. I'm not a big fan of diving as a tree, but we did OK on this dive, and found some pretty good swim-throughs. One was a bit tight - it wasn't the twin-set or stage cylinder that was a problem, but my VR3s! Towards the end of the dive, Pete showed me his dive computer. I couldn't actually read what it said, but I was sure it was the same as my Suunto, so I just signalled OK. With hindsight, I should actually have understood what it said, but never mind. A while later, Rodney signalled he wanted to go up. Remembering my promise to use the SMB, I got out my SMB, while Rodney danced around with joy. I had to do deep stops, so Rodney and Pete went up my SMB line, and I joined them about ten minutes later. We all surfaced OK, although my Suunto beeped lots because it thought I was bent.
Getting back onto the boat was OK, and the lunch was OK too, because half of the pasties were "cheese and bunion" (the others were "steak and pigmy"). Nigel asked whether we wanted the pasties now, or when it's calmer inside the harbour. We were all going for the latter until Rob asked how long it would take to get to the harbour. When Nigel told us it was about an hour and a half, Rob decided for us all that we'd have them straight away. I certainly liked his logic, but it wasn't that easy eating pasties while being thrown side to side. Needless to say, Nic didn't feel too good, but Chris didn't either, so there were two cheese and onion pasties I had my eye on......
When we got to calmer water, Nic and Chris felt better, so tucked into their pasties. A bit later, Nic apologised for not wanting all of it., but that wasn't a problem, because I was ready to help out! I made everybody tea, and sneaked a second one in for myself. Nic gave me lessons in making tea for normal people, which I put into practice when I made a second one for her. Our second dive was going to be on The Dredger, but I had other ideas. Nigel knew exactly what my plan was, but was obviously having nothing to do with it. Rich picked up on my plan as well, and asked, "Just so we know which way to avoid, which way is the The Hood?".
After getting fed up with waiting for me to get kitted up, Pete jumped into the water (Rodney had decided to dump us and dive with Rob). I met Pete in the water, and we went down. Straight away, I led us towards The Hood. I knew it would take a while, so finned pretty fast (so fast, in-fact, that I had to wait for Pete at times!). We saw Rich and Chris swimming back towards us. Rich asked me which way The Hood is, so I pointed behind him, and carried on swimming. I then wondered whether he did ask for directions, or whether he was telling me off for something.
We carried on, and I spotted an anchor. Realising that it might be well stuck, I knew I'd have to fold it up before trying to pull it out. Unfortunately, as soon as I got my hands on it, I knocked all the silt up, and could see nothing. I was worried about losing my VR3s in the struggle, so pulled the chain out, and handed it to Pete. Unsurprisingly, he couldn't pull it out either, so we gave up. I considered attaching a buoy to it, but couldn't be bothered. We eventually got to The Hood - I'd forgotten what a brilliant wreck it is. Knowing that it was unstable, I didn't try to go inside, but admired it from the outside. After a few minutes, Pete switched to his pony, so I decided it was time to head back. We found the anchor again, and the silt had died away. I approached it much more carefully this time, and pulled it out first time. Job done! We swam back towards the shot, but I decided to surface before we got into decompression on my VR3s. Pete used the SMB, which was good, because I had to cope with ascending while holding an anchor. I was finding it difficult, so was not very impressed when Pete wanted to do all 3 minutes of the Suunto safety stop. Anyway, we got back onto the boat OK, but when Nigel asked me what air I had left, I found out I had about 10 bar left! After picking up the anchor, I hadn't checked my air, and had used lots of air on the ascent, and also used lots of air as we swam back to the boat because we didn't get picked up for a while. Ooops! It's a good job Pete kept a better eye in his air than I did. The lift seemed a bit temperamental, but we got back on eventually.
Back on dry land, we loaded up Rodney's motor with the empty cylinders, and dropped them off at Old Harbour Divers. The totty who helped filling our cylinders this morning was serving ice cream, so I was happy. It took a while for us all to order ice creams, but we got there eventually (not having enough cash, I asked her to add the cost to my diving tab). After finding out what time we had to leave in the morning (collect the full cylinders at 09:30 for the boat to leave at 10:00), we headed back to Portland. Rich and Chris went round to the DIR shop (to find it closed), but I fancied tea and a shower more than a walk, so didn't join them. [02/09/2009 23:49: to be continued, the train arrives in Euston in less than 7 hours, and I need to have a shave before I go to sleep, and breakfast before I get off the train.]
After chatting to Margaret for a while, I popped downstairs to get the wine and beer that I'd bought from Able and Cole to apologise for putting scallops in the bin when we stayed before. After a few cups of tea, it was time to head into Weymouth for a curry. Rob and Nic were already there, Megan was happy to drive back, but they only had room in Olly's car for two people, so I offered to get the bus in. Rich and Chris had different ideas, and said if Olly drove them to the headland, then they'd walk in. Well., I wasn't going to argue with that! I'd forgotten to take my cheque book, so Rich kindly gave me a lift to the
Midland Bank HSBC cash machine. It was all fine, except having to put up with a bloke peeing up against the wall.
After Olly had dropped Rich and Chris off, he came back, and collected Megan, Rodney, and me. We parked in the car park, paid for the parking ticket, and went for a pint in Weymouth's oldest pub (The Boot). Rich, Chris, Rob and Nic joined us after a while. Rob came in, and informed Olly that he'd left his car window open, and a seagull had flown inside and pooed all over the seat! I have to admit that it was quite funny, but we all managed not to laugh at his misfortune (especially since Rodney and I wanted a lift back to The Bunker). Not only that, but Megan was driving back, and it wasn't even her fault!
[It's now a few weeks since we were diving, and my old man memory is failing a bit, and I can't remember much about the rest of the evening.] After the curry (with the usual amusing cherry), we went back to The Boot for last orders. To be honest, I was pretty tired, so didn't really want another beer, but it seemed rude not to! Thanks to Megan for putting up with the half-cleaned seat and for giving us a lift back.
For a second night in a row, I'd managed not to snore. Hopefully this will carry on, but it's bound not to last. Margaret's daughter was in London today, so her mate Sue took over the breakfast. As long as we didn't have to cook the breakfast ourselves, I was happy. It was a nice warm day, but it was likely to be windy out on the water. We weren't in any hurry, which was good, but, although we were on the boat in good time, the cabin wasn't unlocked, so we couldn't start sorting out our dive kit. While we were waiting, a seagull pooed on me. Unfortunately, people weren't as considered as we were last night, and everybody fell about laughing. Nigel arrived, and gave us the option of going out to do the dive that we'd planned to do, or diving in the harbour. Thinking about Nic feeling seasick, I suggested the harbour option, but was outvoted.
As we got out into the ocean. it was clear that it was choppier than we'd hoped for, so we soon turned back. Fortunately, we turned back before any other boats did, so it wasn't too busy inside the harbour. I was happy when Nigel told us we were going to do the Landing Craft and the Bombardon Unit. I didn't think I'd ever repeat the classic dive that Scary and I did many years ago, but I knew we'd have a good dive. Nigel gave an interesting brief - I'd dived these wrecks several times, but didn't know much about them at all. As expected, Rodney and I were ready last, but Rodney had the excellent idea of being dropped off on the Bombardon unit instead of the Landing Craft. Despite this, the visibility was still terrible, but we had a cracking dive. Rodney led for most of the dive. It amused me seeing him go into holes with no idea whether he could get out at the end, because the visibility was so bad. I knew the wreck so well that I knew when he was going to have to turn around, and when not!
We were the last to surface, and found that the lift had finally broken. It had been playing up yesterday, but had completely given up the ghost today. We had our kit hauled into the boat, and then had to climb in onto the lift. With the lift broken, we weren't going to have a second dive, so headed back to Weymouth. Being a Sunday, Nigel was unable to get a replacement part for the lift, so that was our weekend over. We dropped the cylinders off to be filled, and then went for tea in a nice coffee shop. We then collected the cylinders, and headed back to the Bunker. Everybody was up for heading back tonight, but still up for keeping our reservation at the pub. If I'd been driving, I wouldn't have been up for staying longer, but Rodney liked the idea.
Seeing the wind and waves when we went for a walk along the beech, we were fairly sure that we wouldn't be diving tomorrow, even if the boat was working. Since Rodney was going to be driving back tonight, I limited myself to two beers, so that I wouldn't be too annoying during the journey!
Pictures of a windy Chesil Beach:
[2009-09-21 21:07 - Trip report finished on the Liverpool Street to Norwich train.]
[2009-10-04: Spelling checked and pictures added.]
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Created on: 02 Sep 2009. Modified on: 04 Oct 2009.
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