I'd driven down to Falmouth on the Friday before the May Bank Holiday in 2000 and the traffic was horrendous. So this time I decided to take the Friday off, go diving in Exmouth, and then drive the rest of the way down, hopefully avoiding the traffic. It worked. The trip wasn't too bad at all.
There were 5 of us planning to dive in Exmouth with South West Divers. They run a large RIB out to a variety of sites. We were scheduled to dive the Bretagne and the Galicia.
The club arranged to go diving in Beer in Devon for the weekend. Beer is a very picturesque village. It has a stream running down the side of the main street and generally looks the part of a Devon fishing village. The beach, however, is nothing special. It's made up of large, grey pebbles and the middle section is used by fisherman to beach their boats, so there is some oil about and a lot of winch cables to trip the unwary. There is a small car park for about 15 cars by the beach, though it was generally full by about 8.30 in the morning, though there was room to unload
I arranged the trip on Our W. The plan was to do the Rotorua on the Saturday, which lies in about 60m and the Buccaneer (46m) on the Sunday. The rate of dropouts for the trip was pretty bad and there were only 7 of us on the Saturday. The Rotorua was an 11,130 gross tons liner which was torpedoed on the 22nd March 1917 by UC-17. It's a long way out from Weymouth, about 26 miles and is only do-able if you can go out there with the tide, which luckily we could
This year's trip was 4 days long, so we got to avoid the traffic on the Friday night before the Bank Holiday. We were booked on Our W, skippered by that colourful character Woody. Friday morning, the sun was out and the sea was glassy. And the day before a Bank Holiday too!
UKRS trips have a reputation for being a bit techie, and largely I think it's undeserved. This time, however, we were planning to do some deeper stuff. Steve had booked Divetime, an Offshore 125, with enough room for 12 divers with full kit and a lift at the back to make getting back on the boat easier.
England was in the middle of a heatwave as I drove down to Plymouth on the Friday. I'd left early, so traffic was fairly light and I was at Deep Blue by 2.30pm where I dropped off my tanks for a fill. Our accommodation was the New Inn in Turnchapel, which is only about a 15 minute walk away.
We decided to dive the Australbush on the Saturday. This was an armed 4398 ton merchant steamship, which was en-route from Le Havre to Barry when it was torpedoed in November 1917. Some websites claim it was British, but it seems to have been Australian.
I decided to try and organise a UKRS trip a bit later in the year than usual. Plymouth seemed like a good idea as we hadn't done a trip there in ages. I booked the hardboat Storm. It launches from the Mount Batten centre, which has plenty of free parking and you can now get nitrox and trimix fills there from Deep Blue. We stayed in the New Inn in Turnchapel, which was only 5 minutes away from the Mount Batten centre, and had plenty of car parking. They also did reasonable food.
Due to a miracle of organisation, 5 of us ended up staying in Bognor Regis, most of the rest were in Littlehampton except Craig who decided to get back to nature and bring his tent. Our B&B said they did do early breakfasts, but 6am was apparently too early, so they left me an exciting bowl of cornflakes and two slices of bread. I didn't really think I was getting my money's worth and, at £25 a night each for a twin room, it wasn't cheap.