On the left, we have my Cochran Commander. It's over 20 years old and is a bit basic by today's standards, but it's never let me down in those 791 dives and it does two nitrox mixes so worked fine as my backup last week.
BA had a sale on, and flights to Madeira were £85, so I booked hand luggage only planning to hire kit and do one or two dives on the Saturday of a long weekend. I'd booked with Divepoint Madeira to go boat diving. They're in the Pestana Hotel Madeira Carlton which is a bit of a walk from downtown Funchal. We sorted out the kit and some 5mm wetsuits. Then we had to descend into the harbour, which did have a good ladder and rails down the steps and then swim the short distance out to the boat.
A rainy February day with winds blowing F6-7 south westerly is not most people's idea of a good day to go diving. The direction is a problem for a lot of sites in the south, but not parts of Falmouth where the shoreline faces west. So we headed off to Gyllyngvase Beach. Onstreet parking was free and unsurprisingly there were plenty of spaces.
During a long weekend to Tarragona, in Spain, I decided I should try to get a dive in so I contacted Ody Sea in Torredembarra. It's only 10 minutes on the train from Tarragona and then a walk to the marina. They've got their own cafe if you want breakfast before the dive or lunch after. I hired all the equipment and then I went out on one of their two RIBs to a site called Chaparo.
Most people in the UK dive in a drysuit. I did my AOW in an ill fitting wetsuit in Cornwall in May many years ago and can still remember the water pouring down the neck where it didn't fit very well. Since then my dives have all been mostly dry apart from when my zip started leaking badly.
Someone on a boat last year was telling me about how he had dived a tunnel near Lulworth Cove and he had video to prove it. So after the first dive on the Aeolian Skye this weekend, we went to look for it as a second dive. We were on a boat, but you could probably do it from shore and we were dropped near the west corner at the entrance to Lulworth Cove. We descended then came to the foot of the cliff in about 5m. Swimming westwards, eventually we found ourselves in a gully with the cliff on the right, and a ridge of rock going up to about 2m on the left.
Just before Xmas, I went for a short break to Lanzarote and did 4 dives while I was there. It was good viz and there were lots of fish including some large barracuda. I also saw a couple of sea horses which was good. As I was on a hand baggage only flight and equipment hire was €40 for the 2 days, I decided not to take my own kit. Normally, I dive with a long hose and a wing, so a traditional regulator set up and a jacket BCD is a bit of a novelty for me. It wasn't too bad though, but the big difference I did notice was fins.
Well 2015 proved to be a somewhat less successful year for my dive trips. I organised 3. One was cancelled completely and the other two only went ahead on one of the two days. That's UK diving for you. I'll be back with some trips for 2016, though I think the upper depth limit next year will be 45m and if we can get out on anything 30m or deeper, we'll go ahead. Trying to do offshore, deeper stuff is just too weather dependent.
April is traditionally when I organise my first dive weekend of the year in Weymouth. After a week of great weather, it predictably blew up for the weekend and Saturday was a bit lumpy. The plan had been to do the St Dunstan, but I decided to switch to the Aeolian Skye because the wind was westerly. We did a drift on Lulworth Banks first and found plenty of scallops. I also saw 3 plaice and a couple of dogfish. Viz on the Skye was about 4m, so better than anything we had last year.
A little early, but I've already booked 3 trips for next year. These are all out of Weymouth on RW Two.
- 11/12 April (up to 35m)
- 13/14 June (35-45m)
- 11/12 July (50-60m)