Plymouth Progress (May ’22)

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!

A very determined Kevin, Pete, Geoff, Chris & Rob

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

Pete demonstrates the correct toggle pulling action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Sea fan forest

Conger eel giving us the eye!

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.

Divers in!

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.

Some stunning coral growths

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.

Nudibranch

Back for ‘lunch’ (it was 3pm!), some tuning of the boat, then a wash & put away & it was time to head home.

Success ?

  • 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
  • Lobster
  • 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

Man planning next excursion 🙂

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