by Nick Harrison
We all know about Plymouth – most club members have dived there on at least one occasion, and for many of us it’s a regular destination. The wrecks are changing with the fierce storms and weird sea temperatures, but the Mount Batten facilities, the bank holiday traffic jams on the M4 and M5 and everything else are comfortingly familiar.
So when I volunteered to do this trip report (I haven’t done one since western Ireland back in 1997), I thought I would talk about the divers, the experiences and the team work rather than the dives themselves. The trip take-up was 14 divers, but over the three days leading up to the weekend we went down to 11 with various non-diving related incidents such as an RTA (road traffic accident), pressure of work, and snotty noses.
Unfortunately the RTA was Steve Walsh, our dive manager, who was co-responsible for getting the boat to Plymouth and into the water on Friday, ready for diving early Saturday morning.
Fortunately for us, Gillian was assisting in managing the weekend and was towing the RIB down with her 4×4, which she did on her lonesome. An awesome task by any standards, but she did it. Elaine and I arrived around 9.30pm, and the three of us launched and birthed the boat and stowed the trailer in the dark. A brilliant team effort followed by a well-earned – but sadly last-orders – beer. However,Gillian carried on working to prepare the 4-wave dive plan and buddy pairs for Saturday.
Saturday morning, the usual first dive faff commenced (not surprising given the range of equipment mentioned below – twin sets and rebreathers, whats all that about?) but we got the first wave off in good time and the others followed more or less on schedule. The first dive was reasonably local, as it was the first of the season for many. It didn’t stop the JEL being a great dive, despite the recent changes to the wreck.
The weather was improving, which encouraged the second wave to be a bit more adventurous, so we ‘poked our nose out’ and then decided the Eddystone was do-able. An amazing dive with lots of happy divers and testament to our strap line “We are Clidive – we love diving”.
This was followed by other unexpectedly good dives on Saturday and Sunday morning. But the weather was getting bad again and we decided to call it a day mid afternoon, following dives on the Elk, the Mewstone and the breakwater fort. We got the boat out and ready for bed by late afternoon, and were scrubbed-up and enjoying a relaxed Indian meal by 8pm. As we had a free day on Monday, we followed up with our own booze outside the Mount Batten – yep, as usual, the Mount Batten was closed for a function!
So what did our divers think of the weekend?
“After returning to Clidive after a long break, I didn’t realise it had turned into a full-on DIR techie club. Looking at Clidive Blue overloaded with twin sets and rebreathers, I wondered how the old girl would get up on the plane, but the new ‘quiet as a mouse’ engine just purred and off we went.” Neil Dyson
“Vomit-inducing lumpy seas at the Mewstone!… Highlight for me was all the happy faces coming back from the Elk on a day when we weren’t sure if any diving would be possible.” Gillian Bell
“Do you think we can fit another twinset between the rebreathers?” Richard Kelly
“Every trip with a dive on the Elk is a good trip!” Bart
And finally, a cheesy quote from Neil Dyson who I recall diving with 20-odd years ago: “The faces and the gear might have changed but after a couple of days back with Clidive it soon became obvious that the ethos of being not only the safest but the BEST club in the world has been passed down the generations.”