Barbados was the first Caribbean island that I ever went to. I went back in 1996 and wrote this report, so I decided that a return visit was well overdue. I booked return flights with BA about as soon as they became available and got them for £506 return. I then booked a reasonably priced hotel in Worthing via booking.com and got a taxi from the airport to the hotel. There was a supermarket near the hotel and I had a fridge in the room which made breakfast and lunches easy.
I'd booked Friday off work and managed to pick up a space on Divetime. It's a large Cat and there were only 8 of us on board, so there was plenty of room. Sea conditions were nice and flat, partcularly considering the time of year. The first dive was on the M2, which was a Royal Navy submarine that sank in 1925 with the loss of all hands.
I got an email from Dave saying that there was space on Dive 125 to do the War Monarch on 11th March. Load time was a thoroughly respectable 10:45, so I decided I was in. The name was unfamiliar to me, but I had dived it before. For a long time, the wreck had been thought to be the Rydal Hall, but in August 2011, Dave and Sylvia discovered the letters "WAR MON" on the bow, identifying it once and for all. The Rydal Hall is thought to be the unknown wreck a bit further out, but it's in the shipping lanes.
My next couple of dives also involved getting up ridiculously early and driving down to Redcliffe, which is between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. I booked onto a boat with Redcliffe Dive. We met up at Scarborough marina, and after signing reams of paperwork, they put the boat in the water and we headed over to Moreton Island, which is one of the larger sand islands in the bay off Brisbane.
I booked Wrighty for the third year in a row to do some diving out of Plymouth in the sub-45m region. I'd only managed to get an air fill as I'd turned up at the dive shop 15 mins before they closed, but I had carefully charged my torch only to leave it in the spare bedroom. Ooops. Still the drive down there was surprisingly quick and I had time for a couple of pints in the Boringdon Arms before closing time.
I'd planned to dive Saturday and Sunday out of Portland, and then heard of a dive going out of Poole on Friday night too. It seemed rude not to, so I headed down there for a 6pm ropes off at the quayside. It has to be said that driving into any town at 5.30 on a Friday evening is not the best idea, but I made it in time.
The boat was Beowulf. It's a very large aluminium catamaran with no less than 4 kitting up benches on it. And there were only 3 of us diving. The rest had paid and then not turned up for various reasons.
I'd booked to do the Pentrych 22m with Brighton Diver. Originally the plan had been to introduce someone to UK sea diving, but they'd pulled out, so I was on my own. I'd stayed overnight in Bognor and the sea looked quite calm first thing that morning. Driving to Brighton was a nightmare on Bank Holiday Monday. The roads were full of people who seemed to have all the time in the world.
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.
After the end of the First World War, the German High Seas Fleet was interned in Scapa Flow in Orkney. The allies couldn't agree what to do with the ships, so they were left for some time with a skeleton crew. In June 1919, the Germans heard the hostilities were about to break out and the order went out to scuttle the entire fleet. In all over 70 ships were sunk. The subsequent salvage operation was the biggest in history and most of the wrecks were salvaged. However, there are still 4 cruisers and 3 battleships in Scapa Flow for today's diver to visit.