On Friday the 17th of August 7 ULSAC divers left chiswick to take on the diving in Cornwall. Having left behind a gloriously sunny London none of us were too impressed being greeted into Cornwall by pouring rain. However waking up the next day to clearer skies and the addition of 2 more divers marked the start of what was soon to be an amazing trip.
We started our dives with a shore dive at Porthkerris, after 42 minutes of leading my buddies in circles over a sea of kelp it was clear my navigational skills needed work. Whilst getting ready for the next shore dive of the day I was confronted with a question which sparked a conversation that would plague me for the rest of the trip! (‘Vedika what’s your air out?’ The answer… anywhere over a 100 bar :p).
Although not as sunny as we hoped everyone was looking forward to dive our first wreck, the Volnay. But after having issues with finding the wreck on the echo it was no surprise our first wreck dive turned out to be a lobster pot! Luckily following some much needed guidance from local divers at least 1 pair got to dive the wreck and provided us with what we hoped were the correct coordinates for our next dive, the Hera. Finally leaving me feeling fulfilled having gotten to rummage through and penetrate some wreckage, we started our next day attempting to dive the Volnay again. It turned out to be a beautiful dive where I got to see my first John Dory! Our next dive of the day was nice scenic dive on Vase rock where after spending most of the dive fighting the current our hard work paid off when we got to end our dive gently drifting across the rock covered in pink sea fan, sponges and colorful jewel anemones. We were also lucky enough to get in a night dive, despite having nearly lost my fin (thanks to Natalie my amazing buddy for rescuing it!) at least we got to see a fish and enjoy some phosphorescence.
We ended our time at Porthkerris by diving the wrecks the NG Peterson and the Mohegan which soon became one of my favorite dives of the trip with lots of life, loads of wreckage to go through accompanied by rocks covered in jewel anemones, dead men’s fingers and pink sea fan. But it did leave me wondering how it was possible to dive the same wreck three times with three experienced divers and still manage to miss the supposedly enormous boilers which were apparently right next to the shot each time?
Following great dives from Porthkerris we were ready to see what Penzance had to offer. Accompanied by diver/photographer Charles Hood we started our dives at Seggi Rock, this was a beautiful dive, with incredible visibility, dog fish and huge boulders to swim trough. Spending our surface interval having lunch on the boat we started our long journey to wolf rock lighthouse in the afternoon. This was my favorite dive of the trip, with seals on the surface, conger eels below combined with a wall covered in colorful jewel anemones, amazing visibility and too much of the amusement of my fellow divers it was the only time I came up with less than a 100 bar! (But I only went in with 150 - Sorry guys!). Having been blessed with the weather it was no surprise when we were finally blown out, so we spent our day attempting surfing and undertaking some much needed relaxation on the beach. The next day we still faced bad weather so we headed back down to Porthkerris for the day to dive and in my case miss the boilers on the Mohegan again. With better weather we were back in the water at Penzance to dive our first wreck there, the City of Westminster but due to a slightly misplaced shot we managed to miss the wreck and got to see some rocks in great visibility. Our afternoon dive looked up where although slightly dark we got to see the rudder, propeller and a huge conger eel on the Hellopes. The next day we were blown out again and spent the day at lands end where we got a view of the longships lighthouse that we hoped to dive the next day. On our last day at Penzance with clear sunny skies we set of to dive the longships light house, faced with some swell our plans changed to take on a drift dive near the lighthouse. Being the last pair to have to go into the water we were confronted with strong currents and had to change our entry point into the water, probably the best thing that could have happened… as on our way to the new point we spotted the much anticipated basking sharks! No one hesitated to get into the water, getting to see the sharks swim right towards you is an experience I’m never going to forget! After spending the afternoon having lunch on the boat accompanied by the sharks we ended our dives at Penzance with a nice scenic dive at the Bucks.
Leaving Penzance we arrived at our final destination Torquay. Diving our first dive in low light and bad visibility definitely put the adventure back into wreck diving. Due to turning weather we could not do a second dive but no one was too disappointed after being treated to nice clean hot showers that you did not have to pay 20p or 50p for at Brixham marina (definitely even better facilities than at Mount Batten centre in Plymouth). So now feeling more confident with my diving it started getting pretty fun to tell experienced divers to let me know when they get to 80 bar so we can start our ascent, knowing it was unlikely I would get under a 100. We got to dive more wrecks that were completely covered with life such as the Perrone and the Bretagne, where it was rather entertaining to watch my buddy fend off a conger eel 2 inches from his face with his pressure gauge. Our last dive was a scenic dive off Thatcher’s Rock, although not as pretty as I hoped it was nice to end the dive trip exactly how I started it, leading my buddy in circles over a sea of kelp knowing my navigational skills still needed a lot of work yet it was good to know I could now hold my buoyancy at 4m to the surface and put up an almost fully inflated DSMB from 6m.
Before I knew it 7 ULSAC divers were on our way back to chiswick leaving me thinking about what an amazing opportunity it was to get to dive at so many different locations in various conditions and broaden my experience. So despite some not exactly as we planned dives, Nathan and Ken’s attempts to push me of the boat or how strangely most conversations used to end up on the topic of my air consumption nothing beat relaxing on the end of the boat in the sun (yes in my corner) and diving some great sites where I could build on my skills and gather some incredible memories! So I guess the last thing to say is a HUGE THANK YOU to Jer, Nathan, Vicky, Ken and everyone else who helped organise the absolutely fantastic trip! It couldn’t have been easy successfully accommodating the vast number of divers coming and going and I know dealing with us sports divers/ trainees probably isn’t the easiest of jobs but I did have a really good time (well I did stay for a week more than I originally planned) and can’t wait to get back into the water 🙂 !