With the UK on lockdown because of Covid-19, diving is on hold and quite possibly far from our minds.
But we must remember this will not go on for ever and better days will come. To help maintain some club cohesion I thought I would share a small story that relates to some possible diving next year when hopefully things will be much more normal for all of us.
During World War Two my great uncle, whose name was William Kendall, was serving with the Royal Navy. He was an experienced sailor with many years service, but was placed on a relatively poor quality destroyer named HMS Exmoor, which had a generally young and inexperienced crew. In February 1941 whilst on convoy duty in the North Sea HMS Exmoor engaged with the enemy and was subsequently sunk. Most of the crew were killed and lost at sea. My uncle who was reputedly a strong swimmer got close enough to the shore such that even though he died in the water his body was washed ashore at Lowestoft where he is now buried.
The HMS Exmoor is a protected wreck and a war grave but it is possible to dive it. She sits in approximately 30m of water and is relatively upright. As next year is the 80th anniversary of the sinking and my uncle’s death I hope to organise a Charnwood Saltz trip to Lowestoft to see if we can dive the wreck. I would like to do this in conjunction with the local BSAC club to develop links and to benefit from their local knowledge, and if possible also with some sort of backing from the Royal Navy who in the past have supported similar BSAC projects.
Although it could be some time till the dates are confirmed, assuming we can go, it would be good if club members might consider whether or not they might come on such a trip. Given the depths involved you would have to be Sports Diver or above, but with a year ahead of us those members currently Ocean Diver should have time to get up to Sports. Personally it would be very special for me if we could dive the HMS Exmoor. Along with many other members of the family I have the name Kendall.
As soon as I have any more information I can let the club know.
In the meantime we will, God-willing, get through this current pandemic and hopefully get to see each and dive together in the not too distant future.
Saturday 7th March saw a group from the club swapping the cold spring water for the Midland Dive Chamber for a 50m dive in the dry
After a safety briefing that highlighted the lack of common sense amongst the general public (we saw the aftermath when a patient tried to smoke a cigarette in a chamber full of 100% O2) and showed us common signs and symptoms of DCI, we donned fetching scrubs ready to enter the hyperbaric chamber. The first part of the descent was very strange. It felt like we were dropping deceptively quickly, needing to clear our ears every few seconds, but it took us 50 seconds to reach 3m. It then got very warm and misty as we descended to the bottom (30.5oC; 65% humidity). Footballs shrunk in on themselves, a ping-pong ball went bang and a sheet of 5mm neoprene became paper-thin. More interestingly, most of us struggled with our ability to process simple tasks. Converting numbers into a six-letter word took some of our group 7.5 minutes. I think the best part of the dive though was listening to Martin and Nick’s voices change from baritone to soprano. As we ascended, the temperature dropped to a chilly 12.8oC and the scrubs felt woefully inadequate. We spend much of the ascent on 100% oxygen as a safety precaution – the NHS would frown on the Dive Chamber if they created their own patients! After surfacing we had a de-brief and the chance to ask lots of questions. The staff were brilliant, just the people I’d want to look after me in a medical emergency.
When it comes to UK
diving, you half expect to be blown out if the dive trip is to the coast. But
heading to the Lake District should have been a pretty safe option!!
Over the weekend of
21st to 23rd Feb, four of us drove to the Lakes with the original intention of
diving Hodge Close and then Devils Bridge on the River Lune. But the colossal
flooding we experienced prior to the trip meant that Hodge Close was ‘like
builders tea’, and according to a local expert a complete non-starter. The
River Lune at Devils Bridge would have been suicidal.
Thankfully we are a
resourceful club and swiftly adapted our plans, diving Wastwater on one day and
Capenwray the next. Wastwater was choppy above, but calm, clear and serene
below. The rocky outcrop known as The Pinnacles was mystical as ever,
descending from 15m to somewhere near 80m. Capenwray is the north’s answer to
Stoney Cove, but probably not quite as good! However the visibility was again
very good and afforded us all the chance to visit some different wrecks and
practice free ascents or SMB drills.
Coniston YHA accommodation into the picture, and some good local food and beer,
and the whole weekend was tremendously enjoyable. It was British diving in
every way; exciting, adaptable, adventurous, and given the winter storms, a
case of wrestling victory from the jaws of defeat.
Charnwood Saltz spent the weekend diving in the Lake District, undertaking a wide variety of dives, including Sports Diver depth progression at Wastwater, and what turned out to be almost bog-scuba in Lake Windermere
Participants: Chris & Maria Brown, David & Harrison Dring, Tim & Sue Long, Martin Luck
Friday 13 June:
Chris, Maria and Martin met on the shingle of Cley beach, just after low tide (14.30). Chris and Martin swam 100m out to the wreck of the SS Vera and attached a buoy to the mast, while Maria enjoyed the warm sun. The sea was flat calm, deceiving us into expecting a fine weekend ahead. C&M headed for the campsite at Weybourne, while Martin preferred the luxury of Sherringham YHA. A pleasant meal at The Lobster in Sherringham completed the evening.
Saturday 14 June:
Everyone met at Cley at 8.00 a.m. ready to dive just after high tide (07.52). There was a gentle in shore wind and low breaking waves. A local warden advised that we were too early for slack water, so we lazed on the shingle until overtaken by boredom. Maria and Sue tried to swim for the buoy at 9.30 but the easterly current drew them too far away and they had to return. Tim, David and Martin went in at 9.50 from a position to the west of the buoy and had more success, dropping perfectly on the wreck at about 6m. Maria and Sue reached it on a second attempt. Viz was 1-2m with gentle currents changing from eastwards to westwards as we dived. There was lots of metalwork to investigate, plus crabs, lobsters, stone fish, tube worms, and gardens of plumose anemones. Dave thought he saw an eel but no one believed him. Tim-the-clepto acquired a fishing weight and a small folding grapnel for his collection. After 45 min or so we recovered the buoy and drifted gently back in on the westward current towards the car park. Chris and Harrison provided shore cover and a valuable datum against the drift.
Sunday 15 June:
We had hoped for a morning drift dive on the reef at East Runton but early inspection revealed a strong, squally inshore wind and crashing waves. Instead, we headed for Wells and a beach walk. A stroll along the broad, flat sands to the west of the town led us to the pine woods. Tim and Chris were frightened of getting their feet wet in the pools behind the beach so Dave became St Christopher and carried them over. The children (Harrison and Sue) enjoyed tree swings in the woods. An ice cream cornet on the way back to the car park rounded off a fun and surprisingly energetic club weekend.
Over the weekend of 4th, 5th & 6th October, some of us from the Club managed to fit in a nice little end of season diving trip. There were five divers, Dave, Tim, Faye, Jeff and John. Pete, Olive and Monty came along for the seaside experience. As per the weather forecast, the Saturday was pretty good, a slight swell out to sea, and good dry conditions, the weather that is as you can’t really stay dry when scuba diving!
In the morning we dived ”The Missouri”, an old but famous wreck on the edge of Porth Dafarch Bay. There was plenty of life, Faye and Dave found the bows, and lots more to explore. John, Tim and Jeff found the boilers. There were several sightings of crustacean life, but nothing big enough to eat. A big old conger was also seen, but it didn’t stick around long enough to have its picture taken, or be filmed by Tim and John. The prize treasure catch was by Tim who found a really good cylinder boot. He decided he didn’t need it, so left it for another. Sadly it was Jeff’s!
Saturday afternoon saw us in slightly rougher seas diving Englishman’s Rock, just of Rhoscolyn Head. A mixture of kelp and rocky gulleys were home to the usual array of fish life. Disappointingly again there were no crabs or lobsters big enough to take for the pot, or so it seemed. John did in fact not only spot a good edible size lobster, but had a fight with it. The lobster eventually sacrificed one of his claws and made a not so clean getaway. The fight was a draw.
Sunday’s forecast was not so good, so it was shore diving in the sheltered areas of Trearddur Bay. We didn’t get that deep, but there was a mixture of stuff to explore and look at. We were all experienced divers, but it would have made a great site and dive for a trainee diver, especially as the access was pretty easy. All in all another good dive, and we all enjoyed it. Following the infamous or famous Anglesey weekend of 2012, when all diving was completely blown out, this was our first proper full weekend of diving off the island, and went down pretty well. Thanks to the skipper, Aubrey Diggle, for his big boat, his helpful skippering, and his laid back and friendly attitude to us divers. P.S. Anyone diving ”The Missouri” this season, please look out for John’s weight belt. It somehow ended up on the bottom as he was getting back into the RIB.
Christmas Meal – January
On 13th January I organised a Christmas meal for us all at the Laughing Buddha in Loughborough. I’d received 22 responses to the email I sent out for the meal and was very surprised that all 22 turned up. The booking was made for 7.30pm and we all started with drinks and proceeded to get updates from one and all. This was especially significant for one of our members who had had a serious health issue before Christmas which we were all relieved to hear was not as bad as we all thought. Then it was onto the buffet and general chatting between all (round tables so much better for group conversations) the restaurant staff were very good, as soon as you’d finished a dish the plates were taken away ready for the next dish. All the dishes were superb and we would definitely book again. At the end of the night it was discussed that we should have a go at guess Faye’s baby’s weight before everyone settled up their bill and left for home. All in all a good night had by all… I hope !!!!!! John Branston
World Record Attempt Success!
The record attempt took place on Tuesday 27th August 2013 and we can now reveal that the Guiness Book of Records have CONFIRMED the record! All of us at Delmar Dive Club are very grateful for all the help that you have all given us to complete this challenge. Thank you. To say thank you & we are going to throw a party to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and for breaking a Guinness World Record. We hope you can all attend. Please bring along your family and friends too and let’s make the evening one to remember! The evening will be packed full of entertainment and there will also be a raffle with prizes to be won. On the evening, we will be giving all those that participated in the challenge an official Guinness World Records medal to show our appreciation. We look forward to seeing and socialising with you all on this celebratory evening. Celebration Party Nemo’s bar, Stoney Cove, at 8pm on Saturday 30th November 2013.
Preparation for the main event was three days of wreck and wall dives in the southern Hebrides. Eventually, we made the 7h crossing to the remote St Kilda archipelago in heavy swells and rain but accompanied by bottle-nosed dolphin coursing below the ship’s bows, scurrying puffins, swooping gannets and an occasional sea eagle.
A fine window in the previously overcast weather gave us three superb dives amongst rocks and caves of Hirta and Mina Stac. The vis was at least 20m and we enjoyed stellar performances by glistening plankton, crinoids and jellyfish in the bright blue waters. We dived to 20-30m in the company of seals, cuckoo wrass and shoals of pollock. Following the final dive, a pair of basking sharks entertained us while we de-kitted, one of them presenting its gaping mouth in classic fashion.
After a night moored off Village Bay, we were allowed an hour or two on the island itself, snooping around the crumbling stone dwellings and cleits, wondering at the hardiness of the Soay sheep and trying in vain to photograph the island’s unique species of wren. The strange 4000 year history of the St Kilda’s inhabitants, their tenuous survival on seabirds and eggs, and their eventual evacuation in 1930 makes for intriguing and instructive reading. With the weather closing in, we beat a hasty retreat to South Harris but managed several more excellent dives around the islands before a final night in Tobermory.
On the way back to Oban we squeezed in visits to the wrecks of the Hispania and Thesis in the Sound of Mull, although slack water time was limited and a firm grasp of the shot lines was called for. Overall, a superb week’s diving and cruising. Rob and his crew set high standards and could not be faulted (immaculate ship, relaxed atmosphere, comfy bunks, superb food, fresh-baked bread, free gas). I made valuable new friends and buddies amongst the LUEC team, all of whom seemed oblivious to my relative lack of diving experience.
Thanks to them all for making me welcome on this extraordinary trip. Martin Luck
Underwater Dominoes Guiness World Record attempt at Wigston Pool 27.08.13.
As part of their 60th year, BSAC suggested that local clubs might like to organise events to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the British Sub-Aqua Club’s formation. Delmar Diving Club (Wigston) had an idea to attempt to take the World Record for underwater dominoes (which currently stands at 48) and, as they do not have 60 divers, they sent out an email to clubs far and wide inviting members to take part in the event. What could be simpler than a game of dominoes? Sue & Tim received the email from Delmar and circulated it to Charnwood Saltz members, and I thought that it might be quite novel to take part in the attempt and perhaps become a World Record holder in the process (to be right up there with the worlds other dedicated athletic types). I was up for it and decided to try and encourage other club members to have-a-dabble after all it would be a bit of fun and something different to our normal activities. After finding out more information from Delmar, I was able to inform members of how the event would unfold, and gradually more members took an interest.
Charnwood Saltz representatives on the night were Andy Parkin, Sue, Tim & Zak Long, Luka Wright, Peter Bailey and John Branston. Kris and Beatrice volunteered as marshals on the night when the call came out for extra volunteers to help manage the attempt, and no-one was going to get in or out of the pool area with such a formidable duo on the doors unless they were supposed too!! I was told that there would be media interest generated by the event, and we were invited to bring along club banners and display them if we had one. After consulting with Sue, it became apparent that we did not have one so I set to work buttering-up one of the suppliers that I work with in Leicester (a small family owned-and-run firm called R. Billson and Sons Ltd (431 Thurmaston Boulevard, Leics. LE4 9LA 0116 276 2555 – for all your flag & banner requirements J) and they VERY kindly agreed to sponsor Charnwood Saltz participation in the event by providing a rather magnificent 8 x 2 banner bearing the clubs name, contact details and two rather natty looking divers! Result!
Armed with the new banner, hammer, masonry nails, string and a Stanley knife (other kinds of knife are available) we made our way to Wigston Pool and I was very eager to stake our claim to a piece of the building wall (as close to the main entrance as I could) to make sure that we were noticed. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was severely diluted when I was informed by the organisers that the mortar police would not allow us to attach anything to the building hmmmmmm, what now? The only place that I could display the banner was on the car park fence, not ideal, but it was up and visible (it had presence and it looked lovely). When the other Saltz had arrived and we all stood chatting after registering (and eating free pizza sponsored by Domino’s Pizza of course who else?) the official photographer was taking photographs of the participants, and it was hurriedly decided to take the banner from the fence and hold it out proudly in front of the team as we posed for our team photo. Excellent idea and then we rather cheekily kept it unfurled in the background as the organiser was being interviewed by a BBC camera crew, good free-publicity call us by!!!!
The event briefing was eventually given by Delmar Club officials, everyone started to get their kit organised, the marshals donned their badges, and then we ate more free pizza to while away the time as we could not have access to the pool until 8.30. The Mayor of Wigston welcomed us all to the event and wished us luck, and then we moved into teams of four ready to get it on! The event was to be independently witnessed by the Mayor and Mayoress of Wigston, and a local vicar, to satisfy the Guinness criteria for a World Record attempt to be considered valid. Shortly after 8.30 we went inside to the pool area to kit up. There were cameras below the water line to record what we were doing and verify that we were in fact playing dominoes as set down in the rules, and there were snorkelers swimming around keeping an eye on us too. It was all very well adjudicated what could go wrong??
We eventually entered the water and, after confirming that everyone was ready, we all submerged together and waited! When the first Klaxon sounded, it signalled the start of the ten-minutes and we were able to shuffle the dominoes and start playing the game. We had to make sure that our movements were slow and steady so as not to cause any rapid water movement that could disperse the dominoes as they were laid on the bottom of the pool, and we eventually finished two complete games by the time ten minutes had passed. However, to satisfy the criteria, we all had to finish the game that we were playing (and sit, or kneel with our arms folded, to signal to the snorkelers that we had finished) before being able to surface together. Eventually we were given the thumbs-up to surface and the watching crowd on the balcony clapped and cheered as we came up we had done it! What a laugh, we are all potential World Record holders, ooooohh matron how very novel! We made our way out of the pool, de-kitted and changed and the evening all but over.
The mood was very quiet as people dispersed, it had been a long evening and some had a long drive home, so there was no time for a formal thanks for coming and well done back-patting address from the organisers, and I don’t think that there was really much appetite for that from the participants either! It was a good experience to be part of the World Record attempt with other Saltz members, and divers from other clubs, and we all have to wait now to see if the information submitted by Delmar to Guinness will be enough to be awarded the World Record. Fingers crossed eh? Talking of records if Sue, Tim & Zak become World record holders (an entire family of world Record holders) would it be worth contacting Guinness about that one for another day eh? Andy P.
A narrow boat trip organised by John was enjoyed by everyone despite the weather.
Farne Islands 25th – 26th May
Six members of the club (Andy Parkin, Chris Harris, Luka Wright, Martin Luck, Jeff Howells, Tim Long) made the trip to the Farnes, resolutely ignoring the cold and storms of an unduly poor Spring. We stayed at Annstead Farm bunkhouse, a mile south of Seahouses. The weather cleared for our weekend and we dived in bright sun and flat seas. Early starts each day found us aboard the 8m rib Moby, skippered by Graeme Harrison, heading out on the 20 minute trip from Beadnell Bay.
On Saturday we dived a wall at Big Harker (18m) and the Chris Cristensen Propeller (20m), and on Sunday we explored gulleys around Hopper (20m) and the Abyssinia wreck off Kinvestone (10m). The legacy of the week’s turbulence was dreadful vis (1-2m; perhaps slightly more on Sunday afternoon) but there was fun and interest to be had poking around in rock crevices and amongst wreckage. The strong currents around the islands, on spring tides, made it easy to miss targets or get stuck in rocky, seal-infested lagoons, but the skipper’s guidance was reliable and we made the most of the unpromising conditions.
Training in Stoney Cove prepares one well for such experiences. According to Luka, the Christensen prop was 18th century. Reflecting on this over pint or two of Wylam’s Gold Tankard in the Black Swan on Saturday evening, the rest of us felt he should stick to chemistry rather than history. He wisely passed no opinion on the age of the Abyssinia wreckage. Martin Luck
Quiz Night – 13th February
The quiz was organised by Phil & Debbie with five teams of four competing for the converted title! The teams were arranged on a first come & sit where you can basis. Who would get the wooden spoon & who would take away the bottle of wine? Several round including a picture round were well fought out before the break for pizza. Then it was back for the last round. Phil had supplied several copies of the same newspaper and it was a race to see who could find the answers the quickest. Well done for organising such a good evening. This time the winners were “Long Shot” who took the wine, whilst “Plunkers” have the wooden spoon and the task of setting the next quiz.
We are all looking forward to the next one – date to be confirmed. Sue Long