I decided to book Woody and his boat RW Two for an early in the year trip. It was the first time he'd been out diving in 2009. The forecast looked good and so I headed down to Weymouth on the Friday night through the pouring rain. Ropes off was a slightly unsociable 8.15, but sadly I can't do anything about the tides.
It was a grey morning with a distinctly chilly wind as we set off around Portland Bill, but the sea was relatively calm. I'd chosen to dive the Landrail in Lyme Bay. There was plankton in the water at shallow depths, but on the bottom, in 35m, I was pleased to see that we had 5m viz and that I could read my gauges without the aid of a torch. Conditions had improved in the last two weeks. Sadly the water hadn't got much warmer. The computers said it was 9C.
It's a pretty wreck with lots of dead man's fingers and sponge life on it. There were some big pollack diving through the wreckage, a couple of lobster, tompot blennies everywere, shrimps, no less than four conger eels, a dogfish and a plaice.
5 minutes deco was quite enough for me as my head was getting cold as were my hands, so my total dive time was 39 minutes,
During the surface interval, the sea got a bit calmer, the sun came out and we headed back towards the Bill and the wreck of the James Fennel. It's pretty broken up, so the dive is more of a drift with some lumps of wreckage here and there. It was OK, but 30 mins was quite enough. Maximum depth was 14.5m and the viz wasn't quite so good, especially where a slight surge was disturbing the bottom sand.
The wind started to pick up in the evening and by midnight, it was quite strong and cold. I was particularly worried that some of the women in the pubs might succumb to hyperthermia.
Sunday morning and it was still a bit lumpy though the wind was dropping off all the time. By the time we got in just after 11, it wasn't too bad at all and when we were getting out at midday, the sea was slight and the sun had come out. It was a lovely day to be out on the water. Well, unless you were the one person who was chucking up over the side.
We did the Moidart. The shot was on the stern which is a little off the bow section but everyone managed to find both bits. Jumping in, the viz looked fantastic, something of the order of 20m, but at about 20m, there was this horrible brown layer. Viz on the wreck was still about 5m though, so not too bad. The Moidart is a nice wreck. There's a particularly lovely bit of the bow section you can swim through with dead man's fingers absolutely everywhere. The sea bed was just over 36m but it stands 8m proud in parts, particularly around the bow. Sadly, it's still really cold, so I only did 5 mins deco.
Back on board, everyone had got into the swing of the weekend and asked Woody for hot chocolate, soup, pasties etc and was met with the expected torrent of abuse.
The second dive was a scallop dive. We went back round the Bill and over to the Lulworth Banks. There were scallops everywhere. It was like shopping in Sainsburys and encouragingly there were loads of juvenile scallops about, which bodes well for future years.
So all in all, a cracking weekend's diving. I had some nice dives and as always on RW Two, a good laugh.