August Bank Holiday Weekend Dive Trip

Getting a campsite for a busy bank holiday weekend was a challenge  – even the pop up campsite we used last time was fully booked. However, perseverance by the Diving Officer eventually found a great little farm campsite at Rodden, 15 minutes away from the boatyard.  Surrounded by photogenic Rhea, friendly Alpacas, rare breed sheep that were giving birth to lambs as we watched and chickens and guinea fowl running around, it was perfect and not too busy. The facilities even had a box of earplugs to help with the cockerel’s early morning wake up call !   As the thunderstorm passed and the rainbow appeared we decided to walk to the pub at Portesham. Possibly not the best idea we’ve had – up and over the fields of cows and back along the road in the the rain. It does very nice food though!  

Typical of a Bank holiday weekend it was pretty breezy on the Saturday, so we prepped the boat for an early launch on the Sunday and checked out Chesil as an alternative.   With the waves breaking on the shore and a reported vis of a couple of meters, Quiddles cafe was definitely more inviting.  We followed this up by a mooch round Weymouth harbour, sampling seafood, oysters and a beer at the Brewers yard. There are worst ways to spend a sunny Saturday but it managed to wear out the Diving Officer ! 


The rest of the group arrived Saturday evening and we ate our dinner watching a beautiful sunset.  


With a North westerly wind, there was a choppy sea as we left Portland on Sunday and headed for the shelter of the coast line.  The Black Hawk again made a good sheltered dive site not reliant on slack water times. It was nice to see conger on the wreck peeking out of the wreckage. After a brief stop at the tropical-looking Lulworth Cove for lunch the sea conditions had improved and we set off to dive the wreck of the Binnendijk.  We were lucky enough to see Dolphins spinning and leaping out of the water on the way.  Not so lucky on the dive which ended up being on HMS Seabed  – but hey! it happens ! 


The Bank Holiday Monday was glorious, with calm seas and sunshine.  We made the most of it with an early start to dive the Aeolian Sky, followed by a drift dive on ledges on the way back to the harbour.   We saw lots of jewel anemones, white anemones (actinothoe sphyrodeta) and a squat lobster amongst the twisted metal and pipework with what looked like valves along it.

Dive Trip to Weymouth – August 2020

Our second Rib Diving Trip post Covid lockdown. The 30 degree heatwave was over and we had overcast, grey skies but very calm sea conditions  – ideal for diving.  Sea temperatures were a toasty 18 degrees.   A few of us were lucky to start the weekend early with a Friday afternoon dive on the Aeolian Sky with vis around 8m. It seemed rude not to make the most of the conditions and we had it all to ourselves !

We tried out a new “pop-up” farm campsite at Bincombe Bumps overlooking rolling Dorset countryside and Weymouth Bay.   Great views on the few occasions when the mist cleared and an amazing amount of other “pop-up’ campsites, as a sign of the times ! We had BBQ’s and socialising during the evenings whilst enjoying the views of the lit up cruise ships and Weymouth Bay.  Again it was fantastic to have newer members come and enjoy diving with the club.

There was Shore diving at Chesil cove on the Saturday for some of the group including our two Ocean diver trainees.  A post dive comment of “That was awesome” , says it all ! 


The Rib diving contingent dived the Black Hawk. Amazement and delight when we found that the shot-line we were unable to retrieve the last trip was actually still attached to the wreck !  There was the usual tons of life on it, including conger eels, sand eels, cuttlefish, lobster, huge bass, shoals of bib and pink seafans.   A quick lunch stop at Lulworth cove and then a dive at Durdle door in the calm conditions.   Nosed into the archway we dived through the arch and then drifted along the coast almost back to Lulworth.

On our way back to harbour we stopped for an up close look at the beautiful Queen Mary 2  – standing out amongst the other 7 liners moored up.  


We finished the weekend off with a dive on the Lulworth Scallop banks drifting over the ledges, spotting anemones. queenie scallops and ross coral.

First post lockdown Diving Trip Weymouth July 2020

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.
 

Ribcraft gets a ladder – March 2019

In early 2019 Club Members unanimously voted to purchase a ladder for the club’s Ribcraft paid for by club funds. The main aim of the ladder was to ensure diving from the Rib was more accessible for everyone and provide a safer (socially distanced) method of retrieving divers from the water. The usual method of hauling yourself up over the tubes requires a lot of upper body strength and many of us were increasingly requiring assistance from fellow divers to get back on board. Climbing up the ladder is so much more dignified than being manhandled like a beached whale !

Our Rib diving provides a very cost effective means of diving in the UK. A weekend trip can typically cost around £35 for a total of 4 dives, compared to hard boat costs of around £100 to £140. It also adds to the overall experience in allowing greater flexibility for club trips and gives members the opportunity to gain boat handling and seamanship skills.