What better way to spend your 60th than under water?
Arriving at Portland Marina at 8am, with the sun shining down upon us, we loaded our kit onto Scimitar, our dive charter for the day. Incredible weather for March, although windy, the sun shone for the whole day.
After a hot chocolate on board, we left harbour to round Portland Bill for our first dive site – St Dunstan at 29m ( http://www.divernet.com/wreck-tours/p301673-wreck-tour:-40the-st-dunstan.html ) The St Dunstan is a bucket-dredger. It sank in Lyme Bay in 1917, after striking a mine.
The trip around Portland Bill was slightly lumpy, though Nick, the skipper assured us not as bad as on the Saturday! The St Dunstan dive site was nicely situated to be protected from the North Easterly winds.
The St Dunstan is like no other wreck. Everything seems to be in the wrong place: the boilers and engines for example are in the bow. There are a number of dredging buckets lying along the side of the St Dunstan, with chains and cogs everywhere. The wreck has lots of wildlife, with Pollock, Bib, Crabs and Conger eel all observed during the dive, just to name a few. There was of course lots of growth on the plates, on a vessel sunk in 1917, providing colour and interest.
Having managed a 45-minute dive on Nitrox and a 15L cylinder, I surfaced with a wide smile and returned to the Scimitar one very happy birthday boy.
After a welcome pasty, chocolate bar and coffee, our second dive was on the Gertrude, just off Chesil Beach, with a drift over to the James Fennel at around 15m. Take a look on the Scimitar site for details on the Fennel (www.scimitardiving.co.uk )
As it was my 60th, it was important that we dived for a minute for every year and we did! A lovely 60-minute dive exploring wreckage, flora and Fauna and we even found a large anchor all on its own in amongst the rocks.
Returning to port, to unload the kit, we headed to the Aqua hotel to get ready for the evening out. We had booked a table at the Cove House on Chesil front. Our table was well situated, with a lovely view of the sun setting over our dive sites in Lyme Bay. A great way to end a memorable birthday.
Many thanks to Nick and crew for another great trip out on Scimitar and to my dive buddies for making this a memorable passage into my diving 60’s.