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Summer at Dosthill
Doshill is a lovely little quarry, cheap entry, cheap air fills, cheap food, not far to walk to water, mini shop, portaloos.
It's a great venue for training - plenty of flat spaces to kit up, making it a lot easier than capernwray et al, usual 3m, 6m, 9m platforms, a few sunken objects.
Training venues are always to some degree going to get silted up as novices hit the floor before finding neutral buoyancy. But this is not necessarily a bad thing - better to get used to bad viz and practise navigation in a nice small quarry than in the sea with all the added fear factors (i might ACTUALLY get lost and need to be rescued, what if the sea monster gets me, oh god i'm boat sick, ouch i just pulled my arm when the boat flew and plummeted down, i'm tired from loading the boat, ....).
My only criticism: the map bears absolutely NO resemblance to the buoys on the surface. So it is useless. Also, if the map had been accurate, compass bearings between sunken items would allow people to practise navigation (rather than pilotage, which in bad viz is VERY tricky, or square profile compass bearings).
All in all, nice little place. A bit far away, but a nice change none the less!!
AND, it allows for depth progression to 25m in a small quarry environment. No fear about accidentally dropping deeper (like Stoney or Dorothea), so many of the issues for new divers are removed, and they can progress in relative calm.
See the gallery for photos at Dosthill quarry.
Isle of Man Trip 2004
This trip was great fun from beginning to end. I set off with Mike and Jason a day earlier than everyone else and stayed in the caravan overnight. On the way over, Mike had part of his Land Rover come adrift so we had to stop by the carriageway whilst he scrabbled about underneath it to get it fixed. Most people would have called out the AA but Mike being Mike, he had the wherewithal to fix it.
We all met up the following day at Holyhead for departure. Mike, Jason and I arrived around 10 ish but it was at least 11.30 before everyone else turned up……..so much for organisation he he he!
The sail across was great: sun, blue skies and calm seas, and once there we found our B&Bs. Unfortunately, the harbour was quite a way from the accommodation; it was a good job our kit didn’t have to be transported around.
We also discovered that we couldn’t leave the boats tied up to the steps and would have to use the guest moorings and tie up to a buoy in the centre of the bay…….. this would mean a long swim out in the morning to get the boat and back at night after tying the boat up.
The guys had the odd dive during the weekend but we found that messing about on the boats was just as good. Think we were all feeling our ages too.
On the second day, after a pleasant dive and snorkel for me (with seals) we took the boats to Douglas for a few hours. We did get into trouble rather with the harbourmaster as we should have radioed in before entering the harbour, the ferry was attempting to leave as we sailed in, gave the captain a bit of a fright with us playing chicken!!!
Another fate was to befall us too, once we had had a look around Douglas (seemed to be closed, with no fuel available) we attempted to leave the harbour. Attempted was the word as the “bar” had come up, this is to prevent all the water from leaving the harbour when the tide goes out. Unfortunately, it also means that no boats can leave either. We had to wait 5 hours for the bar to go down again and for us to escape.
Steve had fun getting from one boat to the other and nearly immersed himself in the water whilst we entertained ourselves watching seagulls trying to carry away very large fish that they had caught in their beaks.
In an attempt to get co-ordinates or GPS positions for the sail back (in the dark) Steve and I broached the harbourmasters office. This was fun as we were taken into the room where the harbour entries were being monitored and some guy made a funny about little boats coming in without radioing in first. We kept our mouths shut!
We left (a second time) at around 10.30 in the darkness, this was exciting to say the least and was the best part of the trip (for me anyway). It took us quite a while to get back to our resort – avoiding rocks around lighthouses etc and poor Ian was left to swim ashore at 1.30 in the morning.
The sail back was eventful as the weather was great when we set off but seriously deteriorated on the way. We got heavy seas and rain as we approached Holyhead and had to pass fuel between the boats in the middle of the journey.
We all got back exhausted but happy. What a good trip.
See the gallery for photos of the trip!
The Farne Isles 2004
Neil Pulman (with additions by Hazel Buckley)
Well here goes, this is fast becoming an annual pilgrimage to Jordy land where they speak funny but have hearts of gold. Least ways Stan Hall and his family do.
Its been several years now since I saw Stan and stayed at the famous bunk house, so thanks to Hazel for putting the trip on again this year. And without doubt, the trust that Steve and Ian put in Hazel and myself, in letting us take the boat out of their watchful eyes, must have been hard - but it did come back in one piece so I think the trust was deserved!
The motley crew consisted of two old stagers Hazel and myself, (or was it three, Steve) plus Mark, a pretty newby by my 14 wizened years standards. Whizzy joined us for Sunday and Monday. We set off on Friday afternoon to lug the boat up the M1 to the hallowed ground. (I did my first open water diving here all those years ago). So that we could get a full day in on the Saturday. After a good few hours and some searching of the grey matter to remember the directions (ignoring Hazel’s helpful written dive trip itinerary!) we arrived at Stans, Beadnell Village. It was glorious, there had been concerns that the weather would be poor, but with a spot of good luck it had blown over. Just time to sort the room out and go to the pub for tea, being a bit concerned not to forget anything on the boat, I probably checked this a few too many times, but I wasn’t coming this far to forget something now. The pub was how I remember it, good food, good ale, and of coarse good company.
Saturday morning and all’s well, low winds good sea state and no hangovers. We launched from Seahouses to go the Farne Isle’s.
“Humber coast guard Humber coast Guard this is Pennine divers Pennine divers”
And then we got told off for poor protocol!! So on the next dive we changed the official protocol for their favoured version of being brief, saying routine traffic, and being directed to a clear channel, as they had instructed. Except, that THIS coastguard shouted at us for not following the protocol we had in the first place!!! AAAAAAARGGGGG But by the end Hazel had reached a happy relationship with the coastguards, who asked her for a report from the Islands, as they had no knowledge of the conditions. It was all friendly after that!! (added by H)
Undeterred and with Hazel’s plan in place for the diving, we did the wreck of the Abyssinia ‘I think’, Steve and Hazel in first. Time for some sun bathing. Oh and a view of some girl’s backside hanging over the side of a RIB – still it brightens your day or perhaps that’s why the sun went in. Seals galore filled the water, and made it difficult to spot our intrepid duo - that and about 20 other RIBs!! (But its nice to have company in case it goes wrong ). Time to kit up and give Mark a tour in the Farnes. What did you think Mark, did I guide you round it OK ? It was lovely, we saw the boilers saw the fish, didn’t get lost, but by the time for assent it had started to run a bit. Tie the blob on to some wreckage and watch it go off at 45 degrees, all in a days diving, but what we got at the surface wasn’t.
“Can you see’m Mark” --- “No” – “That must be them” – “ No” – “Them” – “No”
“ Hi Stan” - -“ Where’s Y Bo-it “—“Don’t Know Can we get on your’s” – “ Aye “
And so the day was saved. Our pick up had got concerned that we had been swept off and had gone to look round the island; well that’s their story. (And one I am sticking to – with literally hundreds of divers in the water we were whizzing around checking out every pair that came up. Especially in the location agreed on in the dive plan!!!!! Neil!! Perhaps we should ensure all markers are personalised, to help the boat Cox in such times. It was MOST distressing looking at loads of strange divers coming up, wondering where the hell ours were, and if something had gone wrong. The circling the island a few times, and starting to fear. When all along they had come up directly alongside Stan’s boat and got on there immediately due to roughening weather. Did the experienced Neil request putting a call out to tell us where he was hiding?? Oh no, he just let me worry sick!!!! New protocol to be added I think – follow the dive plan, and if not, let people know where you are, don’t just wait for me to pull up to Lee and ask if he has seen you!!!!!!! – Addition by Hazel). A ship to ship transfer and we were all reunited. It’s all in a days diving with Pennine Divers. Time for Lunch.
Saturday afternoon, a pretty dive and the best I’ve had for a long time. I saw an Octopus - just sat there on a rock – it shot off quick when it saw me though, can you blame it, a pink and blue bubble blower with the poorest swimming performance its ever seen, may be it wasn’t that quick its just I am slow. Delay SMB practise for Mark this dive-‘ well done my boy’.
Evening gave the chance for some compressor operator skills to be brushed up on- and taught. Whizzy joined us for Saturday evening and good night drifted on till late. When of the remaining three (Hazel, Andy and Steve, Steve displayed his magician’s talents and entertained Hazel with numerous party tricks, which, fuelled with healthy amounts of Scottish decompression juice, caused much hilarity all round).
Sunday - and things couldn’t get any better, the sun’s up, the sea like glass, and we were off the hunt cannon balls. Steve gave an impromptu lecture on how to find them in the sand, as we sun-bathed on deck waiting for the slack tide - we had got there that quick we had plenty of time to wait. S and H went for the first dive whilst the topside crew fended off the local sight seeing boats that, due to the astounding viz, wanted to watch the divers not the birds etc. No cannon balls, so Mark and I tried, no luck either.
Over lunch we checked our bearings and found that we were in totally the wrong site, (note to training officer can we do more chart work). (Ah well, little islands are tricky to spot in real life and compare to the nice neat map. Note from Hazel – more GPS co-ords next time!!!)
The afternoon was back to scenics, through gullies and round headlands with the sun streaming thought the water, You can’t imaging a more relaxing dive. It was a shame to come up but the water was not as warm as the sun above and the cold got the better off us.
Clean off the kit, do all the checks, tomorrow’s the deep dive of the weekend - OK not hugely deep but 30m on the Somali is no picnic. The pub was a good as always.
Monday - Bollocks – Its blowing a hooly, the harbour is closed and diving is cancelled. Still don’t tell Ian and Steve, but we took the boat out - It's Hazel’s fault, she wanted some photos. We went to Blue caps and then a little past the Light House - it was hard work in a big sea, time to head for home, and when you're surfing a 5 metre RIB on 8m waves it doesn’t take long to get back does it Hazel? (WOOOO HOOOOOO, note from the surfing Hazel LOL, although I remember the waves being MUCH bigger than that!!!!!)
So how does it go…
“ Humber coast guard Humber coast guard this is Pennine Divers etc. – All safe well and accounted for “
“ Humber coastguard – Out “
See the gallery for photos of the trip!
The Farne Islands 2005
Iain Lingard & Neil Pulman (with additions by Hazel Buckley)
Posing for the camera
This was a completely new experience for me. Being a newly qualified diver, this was not only my first sea diving, but my first trip too!! It was also my first time visiting a dive site on a RIB - I found that the conditions are not ideal for kitting up, and by the time you have kitted up, you are knackered!!! What a great relief getting in the water!!
Once in the water it was all worthwhile, I was looking forward to cooling off and seeing what there was to see. The movement in the sea was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated, which was a relief. The wildlife was unbelievable!!! I could have stayed in one spot for half an hour just looking!!! I had been expecting to see a sandy bed, not much kelp, and being able to see things without looking. However, I discovered that hovering over the kelp was not the best - as Neil kept having to bring crabs and all sorts up to me!! So once I realised I could swim through the kelp forests to see what lay underneath, I followed and saw much more! At first I had a lot of fear that something was going to jump out of the kelp at me, the unknown sea monster would get me!!! But that faded as I got used to the situation, and I saw fish, starfish, urchins, anenomes, soft corals, lovely rock formations and much more. I also discovered that as I stirred up the kelp, more fish came out to see what was disturbing their world.
As for the trip itself, I enjoyed being part of the team and helping with preparation for the boat and kit. And of course the diving itself!! The thing was a whole new learning experience for me, helping the other divers and also learning to accept help from other divers!!!!! I learnt that you can't do everything for yourself, it's impossible!!!
And a very big thank you to everyone on the trip,and especially Hazel for organising it, looking after me under water and driving the RIB, and Neil for looking after me under water and driving the RIB. And more thanks to Ian for getting me through my practical and Hazel for getting me through my theory training!!
See the gallery for photos of the trip!