A Bad Day of Diving... Can Still Be Pretty Good

By Denise Frier aka. Den

It was so good to get back in the water again. Given the weather forecast and the warning that we would not be able to do anything too far offshore, some of my friends dropped out of the diving this weekend, saying I must be stupid or desperate. I was desperate. 3 months of not getting wet is too long.

A scheduling mix up on the boat meant we had a late start. Darren and I left my place around 9am. It was only 3C, but the sun was shining. I should have guessed it would as I left my sunglasses at home. We arrived at the dive center in plenty of time to eat breakfast outside in the sun - even got a bit of a tan on my face. Gradually the others arrived and we got all the gear together and on to the boat - a nice boat with just 7 of us, so loads of space. We had planned on going scallop hunting a few miles away, but the wind had increased already so rather than risk a lumpy ride, we settled on a nearby site - new to us - which was rumored to have a lot of old shells and other interesting artifacts dumped by Victorian ships.

I was so happy to be back on the boat, in the sun and going diving again. My buddy and I rolled in first and started our descent. Not very good viz. Then worse, then worse again. Then someone switched off the lights. Then we hit the bottom - not that we could see it. Lights on, we started drifting gently across the sea bed. It was mainly sand, lots of hermit crabs of all different sizes. I saw one which looked quite large and went to pick it up - it was soft!!! I guess it was changing shells/homes. I tried to signal Rob to come back and look, but the silt was stirred up by me turning and I lost it. We carried on, hoping for that glint of brass, but the only shells we saw were sea shells! We found a coil of rope with a very large lobster in, but neither of us was brave enough to tackle it. Visibility was only a couple of inches, and with our strong lights on we could see about a foot ahead, but were really looking down - a mistake. I swam straight into a large rock! I had gotten used to the dark and was quite enjoying myself and didn't think to look ahead. BANG! - did I feel stooopid!

Rob found some kind of old leather satchel, full of lead. It was so heavy we couldn't lift it but trying to examine it on the sand just stirred up the silt, so we had to keep moving it. Eventually he abandoned it. I found a glass bottle, intact, but the bad viz stopped me from reading the marks on it. I brought it up, just in case, but I think it's just an old-ish milk bottle.

Looking at my air computer I saw I had gone into deco. I checked my nitrox computer and it agreed. My last-minute setting of my mix (I was originally going to dive air tables as we were diving with a buddy on air, who then switched groups) had obviously not registered. I knew Rob did not want to go up , but I was on a different mix to him and couldn't rely on his deco information so I signaled up. He handed me the reel to wind up and as soon as we left the bottom, my light went out. Great light for short deep dives, but not a lot of use if you want to stay longer than 40 minutes! Max depth 24m, 55 minutes on EAN 30%. Water temp was 13 degrees Suunto - which probably means 11C!

Back on the boat we learned that the others had reached 20m, decided it was too dark and come straight back up. Sorry to keep you waiting guys!

As the boat headed back to the dock the clouds started to roll in. By the time we were tying up it was raining. At least the gear got rinsed. A quick lunch, shower and we set off to the funfair (the real reason for coming here this weekend!), then the pub, then the beach for a firework display, then the pub, then the hotel bar, then back to the room for some furniture removal (but that's another story)!

Sunday was rainy and blowing a gale force 9. No diving :-(. We decided to go for a walk round the lighthouse and watch the waves. A few of us climbed down the rocks on to a ledge and got to see some of the waves quite close up. Isn't Gore-Tex wonderful?!!! The swells were about 30 feet and the spray was crashing right over the rocks - magnificent! After that a quick trip to the dive shop, a hunt around for some fuel and we started for home, stopping for a rather nice lunch on the way. Horrible drive, torrential rain, roads flooded, maximum 40mph all the way, but we made it - eventually.


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