Weymouth (26th to 28th February 2010)
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I was upgraded with the hire car, but, unlike last time I was upgraded I got a full tank of petrol and, unlike the previous time, I got upgraded to an estate instead of a saloon. I drove home, load my dive kit into the car, and then settled down to have a cuppa before packing my clothes, and driving to Weymouth.
I didn't realise that I was ignoring TomTom's directions until I was half way between J5 and J6. I ignored the directions until I got beyond Windsor, and then TomTom decided that going via Bracknell was the way to go. Unfortunately, my phone didn't connect to GPRS until I either held it together, or put it on the dashboard. Once TomTom got travel updates, it changed my ETA from 20:45 to 21:15. Fortunately, I made up time. Olly called me just before I bought some food to say that they were at the "pub by the sandy beach" at last orders for food were at 21:00. I wasn't going to arrive in time for that, so bought a Whopper Meal and found it a bit difficult to eat while driving along the motorway in the dark. I'm amazed that I got there in one piece, because I couldn't figure out why the car wasn't accelerating, and realised that I was pressing the brake, not the accelerator!
I arrived at the B&B at the same time as Olly and Megan, so we went to the The Castle Hotel for a few pints with John (joined later by Peter and Patrick). Back at the B&B, we met Jo, Dave, and Leo. Thanks to Peter for making us tea! I'd checked the weather forecast using Weather Guru, and found out that it would be a force 4 tomorrow and a force 6 on Sunday. Apparently it was going to be the worst storm for 20 years. Oh dear! Having been feeling tired all week, I had no problem getting to sleep.
Waking up in the night and hearing John talking to myself amused me, but he didn't keep me awake. I was first down to breakfast and got started on the tea and Fruit 'n' Fibre straight away. This "ropes off" at 10PM is the way forward, it even meant we had time to fill cylinders before hand if we needed to. After a leisurely breakfast, we loaded stuff into the cars. Olly had the excellent idea of saving on car parking by loading as much stuff as we could into my hire car, but Dave and Jo pointed out that we could park for free. Ollie and I had tried to find this mythical free-parking last time, but hadn't managed it. Dave knew where it was, so we didn't bother loading up my hire car. We were all ready to go, when Pete realised he'd lost his car keys. They couldn't be that far away, because he'd already unlocked the car. After about ten minutes searching for them, he eventually found them in his coat pocket. Apparently, it was our fault for not specifying "coat pocket" when we tentatively asked if they were "in your pocket"!
Anyway, I gave John a lift. [2010/03/17 21:47 CET I'm a stupid old gimmer, the barman has just given me some nuts, and I said "shockran". Maybe that doesn't sound that stupid, but I'm in Luxembourg, not Egypt!]. I was glad that I wasn't driving on my own, because I wasn't convinced I'd be able to find my way out to the main road without using SatNav, and I didn't have the coordinates of the council car park. Fortunately, John almost knew the way. I wasn't sure where we were loading up, but I thought it was where I'd last seen clean-shaven "weirdo falling asleep deco boy", and I wasn't wrong. Despite the weather forecast, it really seemed like a nice day, although I knew from past experience that a nice calm day in Weymouth harbour doesn't always mean a nice calm day out on the sea.
We loaded up the kit onto the boat, and those of us who drove then went to park the cars. Dave had already left, but had given directions to Jo. Olly and I followed her, and, hoping not to have to walk too far, she drove along the road that Ollie and I had driven along before. She turned around, went back to the main road, and then turned left along the road that I thought Dave had mentioned. I was amused to see her then turn along Netherton Road, before finding a parking space. We then walked along the footpath and arrived where the boat was moored. Job done! Top marks to Dave and Jo. I'll certainly be parking there in the future.
It was then time for a cuppa before finishing off sorting out my kit. I managed to sort it out before we got too far into the water, which was a good thing, because it was rather choppy on the way to Lulworth Banks. We spent a lot of time bouncing up and down before the skipper slowed down and asked whether we wanted to turn back. If he'd asked earlier, I might have said yes, but we were almost there, so I wanted to dive. Jo, John, and I dived as a three. I told them that there was no point in starting to kit up until I was half-way through kitting-up, so they waited. Jo pointed out that we ought to do buddy checks because we hadn't dived together before. They did their checks, and then it was my turn. My buddy check consisted of "Air in, air out .... I'm going to be sick". Fortunately, they moved out of my way in time for me to be sick over the side of the boat, instead of over them.
We jumped in soon afterwards. Jo had left her SMB on the boat, so we had to wait until Dave could throw it to her. We then descended. Unfortunately, I hadn't appreciated that it wasn't a delayed SMB, and I went down too fast. I ascended slightly, but the visibility was so bad that I couldn't see them. We'd agreed to continue the dive if we got separated, so I descended. I wish I'd got around to fixing my contents gauge light because I couldn't see a thing. It was very difficult to put up a delayed SMB on my own in a strong current and almost zero visibility. It didn't help that I couldn't find my main SMB first of all, so started putting up my reserve one. Once I'd got everything sorted, I started going with the flow. I considered ascending, but knew that it was nasty on the surface, and I didn't fancy ascending when it was difficult to see my dive computer. I continued the drift dive. The almost zero visibility made the current seem faster that it actually was, but it was still quite fast. Even if I had remembered to bring a goody bag with me, I wouldn't have been able to pick any scallops up. After a while, I bumped into a wreck. I can't remember what it was, but John asked the skipper, so I'll have to ask him again (no, John, it wasn't the Britannia!). I was beginning to get cold, so ascended slowly, judging my ascent speed by how quickly I was winding in the SMB. I was surprised to find that there were still other people in the water!
We then headed back into Portland Harbour for our second dive. I knew it was going to be fun when we were told we'd be diving the Bombarden Unit and the Landing Craft. Not having dived with John before this weekend, I didn't do as many swim-throughs as I normally do, but, despite the 6°C water, we had a cracking dive (and we managed not to lose each other). The air temperature of 12°C warmed us up slightly.
Back on dry land, I left Olly and John to pack my kit away while I went to get the hire car to take everybody's cylinders to Old Harbour Divers. Unfortunately, it was too early in the season for European serving totty and ice cream, but I was impressed with Nigel's new filling panel. We left the cylinders there, and went back to the B&B. There was plenty of time to drink tea, write up our logbooks, fix dive equipment, and watch the rugby (England vs. another team if I remember rightly).
Some of the guys walked into town, but Megan drove Olly, John, and me into town. Fortunately, Olly didn't leave the window open, so a seagull didn't pooh on one of the seats! We had a quick pint in The Boot, before going to Weymouth Tandoori. I'm certainly becoming a local there - the manager and waiters even recognised me! The food and service were up to their usual standard. I had almost no cash, so, after we finished dinner, I went to get some cash out of a cash machine. For obvious reasons, I went past the Tesco Personal Finance cash machine and used the Santander née Abbey née Abbey National cash machine instead. I saw some totty walking past with one of them holding a birthday balloon. As they got closer, I decided that the birthday girl was too young to be perving at. They got closer still, and I realised that the balloon said "30" on it. Bloody hell - I must be getting old! I caught up with the others at The Boot. They'd decided not to go in because it was too busy. You see what happens when I'm not there to lead them astray! We therefore headed back to the B&B for tea. I remember Dave coming out with a suggestion of what age it's acceptable to sleep with, but I've forgotten it now.
With another late start, we didn't have to start eating breakfast until 08:00, but I felt the need to start drinking tea at 07:30. Since we were diving in Portland Harbour, and the boat is moored on the seaward side of the bridge, it didn't really matter what time we left. John and I went to Old Harbour Divers to collect the cylinders (thanks to the others who came to help load the car and to Jo for paying). I left Olly in charge of kitting up my kit, and went to park the car. He's not as good as Dindin in sorting out my kit, but he did have lots of other stuff to do, so that's fair enough. Megan also asked me to get her ankle-weights out of Olly's car, and I was impressed to find that I knew which one it was (let's face it, I've got no excuse not to know, bearing in mind how many times she's driven me to and from the pub).
The short trip to Portland harbour was choppy, but not very long. It was nice and sunny yesterday (the air temperature according to my Suunto was 12°C), but very cloudy today (according to my Suunto, the air temperature was 6°C). Still, the weather was forecast to be rainy, so we'd actually been very lucky. I dived with John on the Countess of Earl (or whatever it's called). The last time I'd dived this wreck was with some sexy totty who, while we were kitting up, told me that she likes older men and has a school uniform. Needless to say I found it easier to concentrate during this dive! After almost 20 minutes, and still with almost zero visibility, my fingers started feeling too cold, so I signalled to John that I wanted to ascend. Understandably, he wanted to get back to the shot, but I was just too cold. With his dry gloves, he had more feeling in his fingers, so it was his job to use the SMB.
Back on the boat, I decided that doing another dive in these conditions was silly, so left John to dive with Olly and Megan. While we were having a surface interval, a helicopter arrived to pick up a diver off Skin Deeper. Apparently he/she had had a fast ascent and had blood coming out of his/her ears. I took a few pictures of the helicopter and winch-man, but they were too far away for my camera.
Others had the same idea as me, but some other mad people decided it was a good idea to go in for a second dive. I can't remember what they dived, but I know that nobody stayed in longer than 15 minutes. Nobody needed any fills, so we all walked up to collect our cars and packed up our dive kit. I offered to give John a lift to the station, so he loaded his kit into the hire car. We shared a portion of chips with Jo before heading off. TomTom gave different directions to the sign-posts and, sensibly, I decided that the signposts would be a better thing to follow than TomTom.
Feeling tired on the way back, I pulled into a service station for a quick kip. Bird said that she'd got problems with her downstairs lights, so I said I'd pop in to see if I could figure out the problem. She'd already tried resetting the CBs, but that hadn't worked. I didn't know what else I'd try, but it was worth having a quick look (and I'd get to see Bird quickly as well). I had a look at her consumer unit, and also tried resetting the CBs. This didn't work, but I did think it was strange that the CBs had fuse symbols on them. I stood on a chair to see closes, and realised that they weren't CBs, they were simply fuse holders. We replaced the fuse, and everything worked OK again. Being back home at a reasonable time, I had time to do a few jobs before going to bed.
In the morning, I was not impressed to see that there was ice on the windscreen and windows of the car. Not owning an ice-scraper, I used my Tesco Clubcard to scrape the ice off the windscreen.
Thanks to everybody for an excellent weekend.
(2010-03-06 15:20) If I'd done the second dive on the Spaniard for 13 minutes, I'd have done a total of 17 hours, 17 days and 17 minutes underwater.
(2010-05-05 21:47) Dave e-mailed me a few weeks ago to remind me what the rule is. It's "half your age plus 7". I typed this into Google, and found that Wikipedia even has a graph showing this!
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Created on: 27 Feb 2010. Modified on: 05 May 2010.
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