Plymouth Trip Report
So Friday saw our merry band of divers travelling down to Plymouth for what had become known as the 'place of unicorns'.
This trip was the rescheduled, rescheduled, rescheduled and yes you guessed it rescheduled.. trip. This trip was originally planned for September 2019, moved to June 2020 then that virus forced us to cancel, moved to October 2020 then cancelled for weather, moved to May 2021 cancelled for weather and FINALLY saw us travelling down in April 2022
Hence everyone thinking it was the place of unicorns and just a mythical place.
Everyone arrived safely and we sat down to a meal and lots of laughter in our new home for the next couple of nights the Borringdon arms. What we can say is rooms comfortable and food - well if you are ever in Plymouth go try the food... we can strongly recommend it.
The only thing is DO NOT try and drive your car down to the pub, leave it in the carpark at the top of the road. The van stayed at the Dive Centre all weekend and we walked 'home'.
Day One - Persier and The Mewstone Ledges
Day one saw everyone up for a cooked breakfast and a walk to the Dive Centre to get kitted up and the boat "Seeker" loaded. This weekend we were diving with Indeep Dive Centre who are based in the yard at the Mountbatten Watersports Centre.
Then ropes off and yes.. the mythical place became very real. You could not have chosen a better day for those whose first UK boat trip this was... seas flat and sun out.
First Dive was The Persier, we were expecting great things as the viz the previous weekend was outstanding at 10 - 15 metres. Not to be for us, maybe 1 - 3 metres but you could still make out the boilers standing proud and with a gentle swell moving you backwards and forward and a torch you could make out the wreck as you swam around.
The second dive after a surface interval of pasties and hot drinks we dived The Mewstone Ledges a reef. A gentle swell accompanied us on this dive but it was a very pretty dive, you just had to move slowly and look in the nooks and crannies and so many sea cucumbers!
After unloading the cylinders and putting them in the filling station, locking up the van we took the walk back to the accommodation, we had already booked our table for the evening - how could you not resist the food after last night.
Showered, some of the group took a walk, returning for pre-dinner drinks, diver tales and an evening of chat.
Day Two - Scylla and the Breakwater Fort
Day two started with a full cooked breakfast for those a little brave. Why brave? well wind forecast was indicating a strong wind for later in the day, hence the early breakfast as this was all being anticipated. The weather as always never does what the weather forecasters say by the time we got on the boat and it was an earlier start it had already picked up.. so the dive plan was going to be fluid as originally we wanted to dive the Scylla and James Eagan Layne
Dive one was the Scylla but it was lumpy... giant stride in when told, get on the line and get under the water and regroup was the order of the day and you could feel the swell down on the wreck and if you choose to swim around the side of the wreck you needed that torch. On the top of the wreck the fish were out in force and visibility much better.
Dive two due to the wind and lumpy seas we came inside the breakwater walls to dive the Breakwater Fort, which is known as the last resort dive site... as you can generally always dive this site. It has some very nice coral fans on it.
As with any trip it is not just the diving that makes a trip but the group of individuals who join us. There were so many moments on this trip. A trip of laughter and occasionally some random conversations. Below is just one example...
Just one cryptic conversation highlight:
- How many slices of bread are there in a loaf of bread and how to you structure your lunchtime meals to use those slices! Yes this really was a conversation! Maybe this will be a social media post at some point in the future.... it was hilarious.
The Dive Rutland Club Members
Thanks to everyone who came - Luke Connolly, Ben Green, Keith Horsted, Marly Lysandrou, Pete Hotchkin-Jones, Tracey Roberts, Tim Sleight, Alan Starkey and Bridget Weid
And for the eagle eyed amongst you, you will notice we have one diver missing from the pictures above... that is Luke.. who sat the dive out when these pictures were taken.
Persier was a 5,382 GRT cargo ship which was built in 1918 as War Buffalo for the British Shipping Controller. In 1919, she was sold to Belgium and renamed Persier. Between 1934 and 1941 she also held a passenger certificate. She was driven ashore on the Icelandic coast in a storm in February 1941 which put her out of action for two years. Returned to service in February 1943, she served until 11 February 1945, when she was torpedoed and sunk by U-1017 with the loss of 20 crew.
The Mewstone Ledges
The tiny island of Great Mewstone was once inhabited, from 1744 until the early 19th Century, and evidence can still be seen of a turreted building on the eastern side of the island. The Mewstone is now only a home to a colony of birds.
The dive is just out to sea from this rocky island where a reef of gullies stretch out. Taking the SW route and staying within a maze of gullies. The marine growth is a little bar in sheltered zones but where the gullies fun the water there are a splendid display of dead mens's fingers and jewel anemones.
HMS Scylla was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She was build in Devonport dockyard and after an active role was de-commissioned in 1970 to be finally bought by the National Marine Aquarium. She wasn't purchased for sailing but instead her life was to end underwater as an artificial reef.
The Breakwater Fort
This site has a dive trail set out on it, you just need to find the orange line that takes you to the various sites. Start below the steps of the fort, heading away from the fort you will come across two towering concrete blocks, which in-between sits a Tavy Boat. This was sunk by the archaeological society for training budding marine archeologists.
Follow the rope and you will find the TASK. A triangular framework which is covered in sponges and dead mans fingers. Then onto the Glaucus, a cylindrical metal tub fallen of its back legs. This was used by a couple of divers from Bournemouth BSAC who lived in it for 7 days at 10m in 1965. Then onto the CSWIP a training structure for welding inspection and back.