Plymouth, May 2009

I booked Wrighty for the third year in a row to do some diving out of Plymouth in the sub-45m region. I'd only managed to get an air fill as I'd turned up at the dive shop 15 mins before they closed, but I had carefully charged my torch only to leave it in the spare bedroom. Ooops. Still the drive down there was surprisingly quick and I had time for a couple of pints in the Boringdon Arms before closing time.

The original plan had been to do the Maine but the weather wasn't good and a slight cock up with twice compensating for BST meant that the Persier was a better bet. It's far less tidal and lies in about 30m and is pretty broken up. The boilers are still intact and there was an nice little swim through bit about 5 metres long. I was struck by how rubbish air is as a diving gas. I've only been down there about 30 mins and I had 15 minutes of stops to do. Fortunately, I had a stage of 80% nitrox under my arm, so got to 9m, switched gas, pressed a button on my computer and it halved the deco. It was a nice dive and the viz was a respectable 8m or so.

For a second dive we did the Elk, which is really small. The viz was good but after 15 mins, I'd been round it twice so headed off in the vague hope I might find Elk Reef, though this seemed unlikely given I had no compass and didn't know what direction it was in. In the event, I found a dogfish, a welly and a lobster pot, which was all pretty exciting.

Saturday night was spent visiting the flesh pots of Turnchapel. Oh, OK, we went down the Boringdon Arms for dinner, which was nice and about as exciting as it gets there. The rebreather divers all told fascinating stories about how they'd almost died when some expensive bit of their kit failed. Us Open Circuit divers struggled to join in with stories of how we'd switched our kit on and it just worked.

Sunday morning, the wind had dropped and we were off on an 18 mile trip to the Orcis, just off Fowey in Cornwall. This was a new wreck for all of us, so we didn't know what to expect. The viz was nice, 12m, but there were big lumps of plankton in the shallows, about 4 inches long.

The wreck lies on sand, but just off a reef, so probably a nightmare to find without good numbers. The boiler was intact as was some rusty lump of metal that I was reliably informed was a Triple Expansion Engine afterwards. The bow stood up, the rest was kind of flat, especially the stern. I went round it once, then head off to the reef for a bit before bagging up. I got 43.8m on the wreck, the seabed was probably another metre or so.

Our second dive was the James Egan Layne which is a bit of an area classic. It's collapsed a lot since I first dived it, but there are still plenty of places to swim around it and the 6m viz was enough to find the broken off section at the stern, which is so covered in plumose anemones, it's probably the prettiest part of the wreck.

So a good weekend was had by all I think. Wrighty had installed new benches in the cabin with storage space underneath which no-one noticed. The stainless steel had more than a hint of LIDL shopping trolley about it. His new microwave was good though, as I was able to zap my Morrisson chicken and mushroom slices. It was about the healthiest snack I could find in there, which might explain why so many of the customers were the size of a bus.

We'll be back next year. Needless to say, the person who booked, didn't pay and didn't turn up, will not be welcome.