Winter Warmer (Nov 2015)

by Kevin.



21st – 22nd November, 2015 : The stories of the awful weather experienced by those brave souls who embarked on Topgun last November didn’t seem to dissuade take-up of this years edition with all spaces for a weekend of SCUBA diving filled in a matter of days!

(‘last year,despite horrible weather, we managed 4 dives in the sound on sites new to all of us with three dives lasting over an hour and one over 30m.’ – Chris L.)

And so it was that 8 brave souls (Tim, Neil, Geoff, Rich, Chris L, Chris H, Steve & myself) gathered in Plymouth on Saturday & loaded their kit onto Topgun, a sturdy hard-boat operated by skipper, Gary for Southwest Diving.

The sun was shining & in a brisk 8/9 degrees we set out, once outside the Breakwater things were in fact not too bad as we admired the coastline whipping past; Gary gave us our safety briefing – the boat is licensed for 12 divers but run as a 10, so with 8 we had plenty of space (10 is still roomy) with cylinder stowage below wide benches & BCDs etc on top with room to perch. The cabin can also pretty much take everyone if the weather gets foul.

Saturday 21st November : Northerly winds were mostly blocked by the land but the sea was still a little choppy

  • Hilsea Point Rocks : A 35 minute trip brought us to our first diving site but there was such a lot of stuff in the water we found out what it was like to do a night dive in daylight – at 27 metres it was dark & reading later about the pinnacles & other features showed me what we didn’t see (at least Steve & I in our buddy pair, others experiences may have been different) Not a huge amount of life, lots of starfish a big cuckoo wrasse & a few smaller fish, not a long dive as we ran out of no deco time before we were short on air. Some interesting ridge patterns in the seabed
  • East end of Breakwater (outside) : A contrast to the last one lots of kelp ‘ a sandy bottom. Again not a lot of fish – lots of really tiny ones , lots of rocks & starfish, started to get cold so we called it. Stevens DSMB reel jammed & I had to grab him & he let it go & we deployed mine.

SCUBA diving shipmatesBack to the Mount Batten centre to get cleaned up & then across to the Mount Batten hotel for a hearty meal (which I wasn’t fit to finish – shame!) with Gary to reminisce on the day & dives we’d known. We free’d the trailers stuck wheel so Chris could tow our RIB to Bristol for maintenance & garaging. Overnight accommodation in the Mount Batten centre was basic (bunks) but clean & comfortable.

Sunday morning dawned somewhat grey, but calm & after a slap up breakfast (full English) we set grabbed our fills and set out for day 2; we lost Chris H but gained Sue R & Rob.

Sunday 22nd November :

  • The Persier : Biggest wreck I’ve dived – and the deepest. Deeper than yesterday but so much lighter. Gary shot the wreck & we followed the line down & landed on the boilers – very impressive. The wreck is very scattered, feeling more like an urban battlefield of twisted metal struts, sheets & rusting hulks than a ship but there are some really large pieces & it feels like 20 dives would not do it justice – so much debris so many sheltered places & hidey holes the fish love & I’ve not seen as much life, even on the Spaniard. Along with fish (mostly Bib) we spotted a conga feel & a crayfish. A truly great dive, pity I didn’t go for nitro & gotten an extra 10 minutes like Tim & Chris L did. Check out this divernet article for more details
  • Tinker Shoal : A nice relaxed diving session to finish up. Lots of rocky outcroppings , vegetation & hidey holes, lots of rubbish too – bits of hose, plastic fish, bottle caps etc. Its not a rubbish dump but Tim came back with a haul of several bits of brass pipe, while Sue R revealed a similar haul. Started to get a bit chilly – think I had water in my suit from the previous dive, but fun nevertheless


Our thanks to Chris L for organising a very enjoyable and highly successful weekend, the weather held, we enjoyed the diving & the good company too : 4 dives, in-between plied with pasties, sausage rolls, sweets, fruit & endless teas & hot chocolates on board, with excellent help from Louis the deckhand & skippering from Gary, along with an evening meal, overnight accommodation & breakfast I can safely say this is probably the best value you’re likely to see, which is why I’m ready to sign up for another SCUBA session next year!


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