Articles

Falmouth Underwater – New Book

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A few years ago I wrote a few guides about Falmouth underwater. These were short separate guides about wrecks, marine life, snorkelling, shore diving and dive sites around the area. These were well received and a few people said I should sell them. With that in mind, I have collated them, added more information and lots more photos. I have just converted them to a Kindle Book and it is available on Amazon for just £2.99. Packed full of full colour images of the underwater wildlife and wrecks around Falmouth. You can preview a few pages or buy it here – Falmouth Underwater Kindle version

Falmouth Underwater Book Cover

Falmouth Underwater Book Cover

This book is now available in print, re-formatted so it looks quite good, full of updated and improved images, it isn’t cheap as it is print on demand and full colour. The print version is also available from Amazon – Falmouth Underwater Paperback

ss Brest – 1879

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The ss Brest was a 1472 ton Cunard cargo ship. It ran aground in dense fog near Beast Point in 1879. It had been dived in the past, how recently we didn’t know. So, it wasn’t new, just new to us.

We were asked if we could help free a mussel rope by a recreational fisherman from Cadgwith, it had become entangled, others had tried to release it and failed. The fisherman had been talking with Dave, when they said it was next to the Brest, Dave offered our help.

Before we headed down, we thought we would do some research on the wreck and it’s location. What we found wasn’t what we expected, for such a recent wreck.

Beast Point is an old name for Bass Point, which lies just to the east of Lizard Point. The board of trade report usually has very accurate details of the sinking and the location, for some reason there is very little locational information within the report. The Hydrographic Office co-ordinates were listed as ‘Unreliable‘, making it near Kilcobben Cove, about one mile from Cadgwith. Another report stated it was wrecked near Polbarrow, which is half a mile from Cadgwith. A newspaper dated September 08, 1879 also listed the wrecks as striking the rocks at Polberro Point. Another paper stated that the Brest ran ashore between Church Cove and Polberro. The fishermen said it was on Whale Rock, the Hydrographic Chart has Whale Rock 0.8 miles from Cadgwith. Looking at older ordnance survey maps of the area, Whale rock is 200 yards closer to Cadgwith than the hydrographic chart shows. Dive reports listed a few scattered plates or a cave with encrusted material in it. Where were the fishermen going to take us? What would we see?

We headed out on their boat, to where the old charts listed Whale Rock. There were two buoys floating, that was the top of their mussel line. We jumped in with a line to tie to the anchors, then were to cut the mussel line free. The anchors were a mess, I tied the rope to them and cut off the main mussel line, job done. Now to look for the Brest. The fishermen told us to head straight towards Whale Rock, we had taken a bearing and headed along the reef. It wasn’t long before we saw a few ribs, then a few scattered plates. As we searched we found more and more, including an area where the decks had collapsed on each other, a large piece of the hull and even the remains of the bow. What we saw was more than the scattered plates that had been previously reported. There was also no sign of a cave. Were those reports of this location? Or were they of the hydrographic office’s location? Or the Whale Rock as on the hydrographic chart? We shall return and look at those locations as well, just in case.

ss Brest

ss Brest

ss Brest

ss Brest

Burnside

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Locally the name “Burnside”, has caused arguments in families and cost some people 1000’s of hours and pound notes. So what is “Burnside”?
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Malta Holiday October 2017

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After our very enjoyable October 2016 holiday to Malta, we have decided to do it again in 2017. Actual dates to be confirmed, for now, here are some of the details.
There are many dive centres on the island but the one we have chosen, was the one we dived with last year, Sea Shell. I hadn’t heard of them before but it was the proximity to our accommodation, plus the fact they were actually open, that made us choose them.
Sea Shell operate TWO large RHIBs from the front of their shop, on the waters edge at Mellieha. They also have plenty of transport for shore dives etc. The package we went with was the “Best of the Three Islands”, it can be adjusted to any level of experience and offers the perfect ratio between boat and shore diving,
as well as all the best dive spots around our islands. This package consists of 4 shore dives in Malta, 2 shore dives in Gozo & 4 boat dives around Malta and Comino @ €300.00 excluding equipment hire or €390.00 including equipment hire.
The indicated price includes: 6 guided shore dives and 4 guided boat dives, equipment (where applicable), Gozo ferry fee, boat dive supplements, transport from your accommodation (Mellieha, Xemxija, St. Paul’s Bay, Bugibba areas) – dive centre and back, land transport dive centre – dive site and back, cylinders and weights.
Additional shore dives are charged at €24.00 per person per dive (excluding equipment hire). Or, you can change a shore dive to a boat dive for an extra €10.00. Nitrox is available for €3.50 per tank.
They normally meet at 8.15 and go out for 2 dives. From most of the dive sites, you’ll be back by around 2pm.

WEB: www.seashellscuba.com

Accommodation

We stayed at the Luna holiday complex, which is a 5 minute walk to the dive centre. It was mid priced, comfortable, breakfasts were good and it has 2 swimming pools. There are plenty of hotels above and below this price, maybe not all as close as the Luna. We will probably stay at the Luna again.  Luna Hotel B&B for 10 days is £489.75, they have offered us a 10% discount as a group rate. Once we have an idea of numbers and official dates, they will confirm prices.
Other options available are self catering apartments. For a group of 6 or less, we can have a Hanover apartment @ €90.00/night. This is adjacent to the Luna and works out at only €15 per person for 6 sharing.

Location

Mellieha is close to the north of the island. It has the largest real beach on Malta, which is a long sandy mile long beach, with a rocky break in the middle. The beach has sun loungers to hire and several beach cafes. The water shelves slowly and is good for swimming. There are a few restaurants around the area near the dive centre, there are plenty more with shops in the town, up the hill.

For non divers and non diving days, there are plenty of attractions and things to do. Mdina is an amazing town to walk around, the Popeye (1980’s Robin Williams film set) village is also an interesting place to go, take a swimming costume and towel and spend the day there. The city of Valletta is steeped in history, as is much of the island, it also has many shops and  museums.

Everyone speaks English and they even use the same plugs as the U.K.

Flights

Flights options are:
Bristol to Malta with Ryanair return, direct flights – £151 plus luggage (£28 per bag each way, so another £56) 10 kg hand baggage.
Bristol to Malta with KLM, 1 stop – £126 inc. luggage 12 hand baggage.

Who is interested? Contact us for more details, dates to be advertised shortly. It will be early-mid October.

Scubafest Cornwall

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ScubaFest is a scuba diving festival, organised by SITA, the Scuba Industry Trade Association. The Cornwall event is held at Pentewan Sands, a holiday park near Mevagissey, during the May Day bank holiday weekend. Pentewan Sands has a capacity for around one thousand people and based on Pentewan Beach, it is an ideal location. It also has an indoor swimming pool and a large club house. During the event the pool gets used for try scuba diving and try freediving sessions. The club house usually has entertainment or live bands on during the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

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Lanzarote 2012

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We had been to Lanzarote a couple of times before and had enjoyed the island and the diving, it was time to return. Technically it is the same piece of water as at our home in Cornwall – UK, just a bit further south. The sea temperature would be around 22 at this time of year, nine degrees warmer than home, we still took our dry suits. read more →

You’ve learnt to scuba dive, what next?

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Whether you learnt to dive close to your home or somewhere warm and exotic on holiday, you may now decide you want to actually go and dive for fun. For so many people, learning to dive can be a lifetime achievement, it would be a huge shame if they never continued. The people you learnt with, may have nothing more to do with diving apart from teaching. read more →

Hotel Inspector

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As seen on TV

Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector – Eden Lodge

Sometime during June 2013, I received a call from someone, claiming to be from a company who make The Hotel Inspector program. I was pleasant as always, just in case. A week or so later, I received another call. They explained who they were, TwoFour Broadcast, they produced the program ‘The Hotel Inspector’. It sounded convincing, so I went along. Apparently a hotel in Falmouth was taking part, they had a disused pool that they wanted us to look at, in view of it being used for diver training. Another couple of weeks passed, another call. They had now decided to renovate the pool, we would be invited to stay the night, then try the pool the following day. All went quiet for a couple of weeks, then I received another call, the time and date had been set. We were then told the hotel’s name, the Eden Lodge. I had mentioned the need for somewhere to change, they had organised a shed for changing in.

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Evitas Rache (Revenge)

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For most of the year, our boat Stingray, mainly takes divers out to various dive sites around Falmouth Bay. Sometimes it takes groups of people out for a wildlife watching trip, as a WiSe wildlife safe operator, we are recommended for this sort of activity. Once in a while we do survey work, towing a magnetometer or a side scan sonar tow-fish. Our latest charter was as a safety boat for a German film crew. FFP New Media GmbH were filming their latest adaptation of one of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novels, “Evita’s Revenge” or “Evitas Rache”in German. The films appear on ZDF, a TV channel in Germany. These films of Picher’s novels are extremely popular in Germany. Rosamunde Pilcher was brought up in Cornwall, where most of her novels are based. She received a tourism award for her film’s adaptations, bringing tens of thousands of German nationals to Cornwall, to view the locations used in the films. This film involved the use of a Riva Aquamarine boat, brought down from Fowey to Falmouth for a few days of filming. We were there for safety, to save the actors, should they fall out of the boat.

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WiSe Master Class

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WiSe Master Class March 8th 2014

A couple of years ago I completed a WiSe, Wildlife Safe, course with Colin Speedie of wisescheme.org. It was a very informative day. As well as relaying the relevant safety information, we learnt some basics about animal behaviour. We were now offered the chance of taking part in the WiSe Master course. Experts from several fields had been invited, it seemed too good to miss.

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