There was extreme excitement for our first club diving trip post Covid lockdown. Our usual convenient campsite at Martleaves farm had been booked a couple of weeks prior to the weekend and we’d been keeping our fingers crossed the scheduled lifting of restrictions were on track. For many of us it was the first time out of Northamptonshire and by the seaside in 2020.
As some of us were lucky to arrive Thursday evening we’d made special arrangements with the very accommodating George at the boatyard to launch the Rib on the Friday for it’s first 2020 outing. With 3 households on the boat it was easy to maintain the 1m Social distancing guidelines and we also had masks, shields and hand sanitiser available. The investment in the ladder last year really paid off as everyone is able to get themselves back on board, avoiding close contact and the usual man handling back over the tubes.
We headed to the Black Hawk, a good depth for shake down dives and to give the boat a nice long run out on such a beautiful sunny day. We passed the 9 cruise ships anchored in the bay and wondered when they will set sail again. The vis was a reasonable 5m or so and the usual suspects spotted on the wreck including tompot blennies, sand eels, lobster and a Brill well camouflaged in the sand.
It was great to have two of our newest members on board and on a club trip you really get to know other club members. What goes on tour stays on tour but that particular Rib trip will remain imprinted in the memories of those on board and everyone certainly got to know each other ! When we came to pull the shot line up it remained very firmly stuck inside the wreck, so we waved goodbye to it as we headed back to overnight in Portland marina.
With two additional members joining us on Friday evening we enjoyed BBQs and had a lot of laughs as we discussed the days events. With clear skies we spotted the International Space station that passed over us twice and most amazing of all we had great views of Comet Neowise.
The wind had picked up overnight, so we all took the opportunity to have a relaxed day and do some easy shore diving at the very sheltered Newton’s Cove. A maximum 3 metres depth, the waters looked almost tropical. There were lots corkwing wrasse guarding their nests and we also spotted a bobtail squid and decorator crab. Some of us saw a shoaling juvenile fish bait ball and intriguing mollusc and worm trails in the sand. A site worth exploring and would be good for some training/progression dives too. Beware you will need coins to pay for the £8 per day car park at the end of the road – something we don’t often have to hand in these cashless days.
Our final dive on the Sunday was a drift over the Lulworth Banks picking up some much longed for scallops. Back in plenty of time to wash the boat down and get back home early enough to have scallops for dinner.