It was finally happening! The boat was going to Plymouth – our attempt earlier in the year fell foul of a number of conspiring factors – but not to be daunted here we were again (Rob, Chris H, Geoff & Kevin with Pete having gone on ahead)
Plymouth being a couple of hours away & low tide being around 11am necessitated a 5:30 am wakeup to get to the boat-shed for a 6:30 meet to check things over, get the boat out, hitched up, transfer gear & head off – we are determined!
The forecast was for sun & cloud, warmish (16 degrees) & an almost flat sea (BF1-2) – we had the weather gods on our side!
An uneventful journey brought us to a slightly sleepy Plymouth around 9:15 where we met up with Pete in the upper car park for a quick brief before assembling & loading kit, donning our suits & getting the boat in the water – we may be a little rusty after all this time but muscle memory soon kicked in!
Trailer parked, Chris rejoined us & we agreed our target – the Fort: something relatively stress free considering many had not dived much these last few years & the boat had hardly been in the water either.
Dive 1: The Fort
Chris, Geoff & Pete were in first and set off round the fort while Rob & I motored around on the surface and caught up on things (and caught a few rays – as I said the weather was lush). 45 minutes later & our party returned with tales of fair visibility & plenty of life; perhaps the lack of significant activity these last few years had nurtured things
Above: Chris demonstrates he still remembers which direction to go to ensure he falls out of the boat!
Rob & I wasted no time in going down to see what they were talking about. 2-3 metres visibility (after the initial few metres descent) gave us the chance to surprise a few congers, spot a few lobster, observe parades of prawns everywhere, be visited by Ballan & female cuckoo wrasse (of various sizes) and be amazed by literally hundreds of pink sea fans on most available surfaces, including one with eggs being laid by a nudibranch. I recall a member of our party being blown away by a vision of a veritable forest on a large storage drum that got hit by the sunlight just right.
45 minutes later we too returned with our tales of wonderment – this is probably the most life we’ve seen at this site for many a year!
Dive 2: The Fort (again!)
Being only a max 11 metre dive we all still had over 100 bar left & so decided to do it all again with a second shorter dive with the same buddies in the same area rather than going back.
Chris, Geoff & Peter came up from this one slightly early as Chris was running low on air & mentioned there was a fair bit of current but again they’d spotted congers, lobsters & sea fans (among other denizens) & even a dead octopus!
Rob & I followed & I much enjoyed this second dive, for one thing my mask wasn’t leaking all the way round & for the second it seemed like the visibility was a tad better. I spotted a few lobster & congers as well as plenty of blennies playing hide & seek in various pipes along with the prawns whether hiding under debris, along with a few odd dead mans fingers or lined up at the bottom of the fort.
As our air started to run low we changed direction & let the current carry us as we wound our way up the fort wall investigating every cranny & being rewarded with blennies, a velvet swimming crab, an edible crab & various fish as well as swathes of various sea weeds glowing brightly in the afternoon sun.
Back for ‘lunch’ (it was 3pm!), some tuning of the boat, then a wash & put away & it was time to head home.
- Boat in Plymouth – Tick
- Boat works – Tick
- Glorious weather – Tick
- 2 dives each – Tick
- Loads of life – Tick (see list below)
- Pleasantly tired – Tick
I’d say mission accomplished! (Many thanks to Geoff for the underwater photos & everyone for supporting the trip)
By the way, Rob produced the following list of wildlife spotted which was added to by a few of the other divers – wow!
- Pink sea fan
- Nudibranch’s laying eggs on pink sea fan
- Baby jewel anemones
- Tom pot blenny
- Ballan wrasse
- Spiny spider crab
- Velvet swimming crab
- Common prawns
- Fan worm
- More nudibranchs
- Conger head end
- Conger tail end
- Common starfish
- Spiny starfish
- Snakelocks anemone
- Sea cucumber
- Leopard spotted goby
- Dab or sole (nit sure which one it was)
- Squat lobster
- Candy Stripe flat worms
- Brown sea cucumber
- Little moon jellyfish
- Sand mason tubes
- Dead men’s fingers
- Sea orange
- Sea squirts
- Deceased octopus
- Deceased spiny spider crab
- Live spider crab
- Baby lobster
- Female cuckoo wrasse
- Baby conger in a small pipe