Saturday, 29 May 2010

29th and 30th May - too much wind so no Diving :-(, our new Twitter name and Selsey Lifeboat celebrations

The forecast turned out to be right and rather too much wind arrived from the wrong direction (South) so all dive trips cancelled on Saturday / Sunday - the weather potentially looks better on Monday so we will have to keep our fingers crossed. Late in the afternoon got some exercise by swimming out to Phoenix to adjust the cover and ensure that all was well.

This morning's Discover Scubas and children's Tommi's club went well in the pool and another Seal Team member completed. However, suspect that the planned Digital Underwater Photography course tomorrow will have to defer until slightly better visibility.

We've decided to adopt Twitter as one means of highlighting spare places on Phoenix or other dive opportunities - mulberrydiver is our Twitter name so please follow us if you would like to get details of not only dive  opportunities but also vis reports from Phoenix  each weekend.

Finally - if you take underwater photographs then you might be interested in entering the Selsey RNLI Photo competition with a first prize of £100 - run by Selsey Camera Club - this year entries can be made digitally and there will slideshows rather than the viewing sessions at Manhood school. Details of Selsey Lifeboat week are here if you want to plan ahead then look at which has all the details of plans to celebrate 150 years of Selsey Lifeboats next year.

22nd and 23rd May - Sunshine, Blue Sky, Plankton and More Nudibranchs

Three visits to the Mulberry over the weekend with a Local Drift on the Saturday and the Mixon on Sunday - plankton much in evidence so although the water was clear it wasn't possible to see very far. Saturday midday, fog appeared very suddenly and meant that the drift divers had to amend their dive plan to enable each pair to be tracked. Dogfish, Smoothhounds, Plaice, Cuttlefish all spotted - Nudibranchs again much in evidence with one pair finding 20+ Janus on one dive. The Mulberry on Sunday afternoon was one of those dives where, although the dive was plankton affected and there was some current, everything went well and we enjoyed a hot drink on Phoenix before heading back under blue skies with a flat calm sea.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Reflections on Oban and Scapa

Two days diving in Oban preceded the Scapa trip - water temperature noticeably colder here (7-8C) and a chilly wind so that the RHIB rides meant windproof clothing was essential. Outstanding dive was the Rondo (vertical wreck with bow buried in the bottom at 52m) where superb visibility gave some classic views looking towards the surface with divers silhouetted against the remains of the rudder. We used the Puffin RHIBS which are fast but present something of a challenge as the tubes loom over you at the end of the dive - luckily Ian the skipper is used to pulling people in although there would not be many points for style. Two dives on the Breda ( one in very nice 10m+ visibility) and on the Thesis where I was able to photograph Linda inside the wreck against the exposed framework of the boat. Our favourite fish restaurant (Ee-Usk) again gave us an excellent meal whilst overlooking the Bay - finding that the local fish and chip shop had an eating area and offered more than the standard menu was an unexpected bonus.

In Scapa, we dived from the John L and had a relaxing week giving everyone the opportunity to experience Scapa diving - three people completed the Deep Speciality during the week and enjoyed kneeling on the bottom besides the Karlsruhe whilst scallops jumped around them (good but not quite as good as our last Deep course in Scapa when guillemots dived amongst us on the long safety stop). We dived the cruisers (Coln and Dresden twice) plus F2 + Barge (the second time in very good visibility when we were the only divers) and the V83 (first time in low visiblity when I was somewhat bemused by the rebreather diver tryng tro give me photographic tips first in sign language and then by writing on a slate).Visibility was consistently 10-15m, water temperature of 8C and whilst the wind was a cold North-Easterly, we had plenty of sunshine (the trip back to Scrabster was on a flat calm sea with excellent surface visibility) and opportunities to admire the Orkney landscape. The home-made soup at the Lyness museum cafe was a daily highlight - evening meals were frequently in the Stromness Hotel (excellent real ale) although we did take the minibus to Kirkwall for a chinese one evening. One member of the group succumbed and bought themselves a Tigger hood which we look forward to seeing shortly...............On the final day, in brilliant sunshine, most of us took the opportunity to snorkel around the Barrel of Butter and watch the seals............this crowned an excellent week....thanks to James, Steven and Dougie who looked after us well all week.

Next year we plan to visit St Abbs and the Farne Islands so the return to Scapa will have to wait until 2012.

16th May - Back from Scapa to Cuttlefish and Birthday Cake

Just about recovered from the long drive back from Scapa and nice to have warmer water (8C in Oban and Scapa - see separate blog for more on our two weeks away). Wind has finally migrated back to the West although rather stronger than originally forecast. Over the weekend, twice to the Far Mulberry and a fast drift off Pagham; visibility consistently 2-3m since the plankton bloom has arrived - plenty of Cuttlefish sightings including a very large specimen this morning at the Mulberry; (high embarassment factor for the divemaster celebrating their (18th + x) birthday as we sang Happy Birthday - post dive we sampled the very excellent Lemon Drizzle and Carrot cake baked by the same divemaster). Yesterday was the monthly Marshalled Lifeboat dive followed by BBQ (nice new shiny BBQ for me to use :-) ) - flatfish, cuttlefish, pipefish, dahlia anemones. pink sea lemons and flabellinas.  This afternoon recovered Phoenix for a well earned scrub (Barnacle city after 4 weeks in the water) and brush-up.