After seeing Gary's post for the 'winter special offer' dive trips to Plymouth on Yorkshire Divers, I sent Ruth a message and she replied saying she'd like to go. Four dives including pasty lunch, evening meal on the Saturday, B&B and air fills for Sunday all for £95 how could we resist. So we booked on the trip. After weeks of strong southerly and easterly winds they switched direction and it looked like it would go ahead, a message from Gary on the Friday confirmed that.
Saturday morning I rang Gary, we had 3” of snow in Cornwall! Gary said it was clear in Plymouth so we switched from the van to the 4WD and made our way there. Saturday was going to be a later start as the 2nd dive was a night dive. The snow seemed to stop a few miles up the road and it was then clear to Plymouth so we arrived in good time. We loaded up the boat, parked the car and when we were all ready we set off. There were only six of us, why? It was a cheap and sociable weekend, where were the divers?
The winds were still strong and very cold but we were heading around Rame Head to the Scylla so we would be fairly protected. We had decided to dive the Scylla during daylight hours so everyone could have a good look around safely, the James Egan Layne would be the night dive. The Scylla wasn't everyone's first choice but it was safer in daylight than at night. Gary dropped us in on the Bow shot line and down we went. The visibility was normal for the Scylla, around 4-5m, the temperature was 12C and that was a lot warmer than it was on the surface. We headed down the port side and swam through a few times and made our way to the stern, where we swam underneath around the prop shaft area. We ascended up the stern and made our way along the starboard side, again swimming through a couple of times. Into the bridge and out through the side, back to the bow and made our way back up. There wasn't any more life than the last time I was there, the usual wrasse and pollack, only a couple of nudibranchs but loads of plumose anemones and dead mans fingers.
As soon as we were on the boat Ada (crew) brought us drinks, when we were all aboard pasties were served, followed by chocolate. Gary put Topgun closer to the coast to give us some cover from the wind while we waited for dusk. It wasn't long before it was getting dark, Gary headed for the marker buoy and gave me a strobe to attach to it so he knew where we should end up. We jumped in at the last of any daylight. It was surprising how different it seemed at night, it's normally so green, now you could really see the rusty brown everywhere. To play it safe we swam down the port side, making our way through the remains of the bulkheads, to the broken area near the stern and swam back up the starboard side. Throughout the whole dive there were eyes everywhere, prawns of every size. We also saw several congers, crabs, lobster and a big tompot blenny as well as the usual wrasse, bib, pollock and whiting. A cracking dive and one I'd really like to do again at night. We only stayed down 45 minutes as agreed but by the time we surfaced it was pitch black. Once everyone was back on board we headed back, into the wind and waves slowly and safely. We left all our kit on board apart from our cameras and went to the Boringdon Arms to book in. The Bori is an inexpensive pub/hotel where a lot of divers stay as it is close to Mountbatten. We all met up for our evening meal, Gary and Ada left early to ge back and sleep on the boat while we stayed up for a drink or two.
The following morning the winds had dropped, the sky was blue but there was still a nip in the air. Our cylinders had all been filled, all we had to do was to carry them back to the boat. We had gained a couple of extra divers for the day so now there was eight of us. First dive of the day was going to be the Elk, a little deeper at 34m. The shot was dropped and down we went. The visibility on the Elk has never been great and today was no exception, at the surface there seemed to be very little current but down below it was running a little. We swam around it a couple of times and our bottom time was over. We couldn't find the shot line, it wasn't where it was when we went down so we sent up the DSMB. More drinks, pasties & chocolate for lunch and we basked in the sunshine while we waited. Our last dive was going to be back on the JEL. We went down the shot again, this time we went down the starboard side first. Visibility was 4-5m still and the temperature was still 12C. The JEL never disappoints as a dive, always lots to see. Once we reached the stern area we swam across to the stern section, Ruth and I were the only ones there and we spent a little time to look around it. After 35 minutes we swam back to the main part of the wreck and up the port side. Surfacing after 60 minutes we both had smiles on our faces.
A great weekend was had by all and what great value for money. We look forward to our trip in January when we are on the Coronation dive weekend. If not just for the endless drinks, pasties and chocolate.