At last after over 12 months of waiting, all concerned were available on the same day and the weather was rough enough for the second half of the Boat Handling course, with David, Brett, Nia and myself launching from Pwllheli. After a quick refresher of the first half done in the harbour we set of to rougher waters, everything was going well with everyone coping well with the weather and exercises for example man overboard, deployment and retrieval of divers. Then three quarters of the way the heavens opened up with a torrential downpour the sea was flatten with the force of the rain and we lost sight of land but luckily it was only short lived. Just before the end of the course we only had one more exercise the avoidance manoeuvre. Brett as usual went first, the idea was to turn sharply to starboard and then to port passing the dummy on the port side, as Brett went past the dummy on the starboard side we thought oh well he has abandoned the first attempt but he turned sharply to starboard launching David to port landed on his back in the water. I think Brett wasn’t satisfied with just using a dummy for the course he had to do one better and use David as a human dummy, we coped well with the situation which was to forget what we’ve been taught and do your own thing!! David was safely retrieved back into the boat and we resumed the exercises with Brett still at the helm we all decided to hold on tighter. With the course completed we headed back to the harbour and retrieved the boat without incidence.
Dawn broke over a cold grey sea flecked with wind blown spume under a leaden sky. Still asleep, the three dive hardened veterans, Mickey ‘The Duke’, Wyn ‘Spud’ Jones and Pete ‘Ebay’ James, tossed and turned, haunted at the prospect of the trials of skill and courage and endurance they would have to demonstrate to become fully fledged members of the elite BSAC S&R squad…..However by the time we arrived at the Harbourmasters slip at Pwllheli it had turned out quite nice.
The briefing was anything but, using language and technical terms only dimly remembered by some (a complete mystery to others) from the theory instruction at boot camp years before. At the call for volunteers, The Duke, an old hand at this game, developed a severe list to Port. ‘My back has gone but I’ll try to keep up’ he wheezed. So the gallant threesome under the stern gaze of obersturmbannführer D Jones BSAC AD (retired), coxed admirably by 1st lieutenant Andrew ‘Scotty’ Scott, set off to see what they could find.
The first test of man against the elements involved the team swimming in an expanding square search pattern, aided only by a compass and the ability to count past ten, retrieving treasure trove as they went and recovering said trove to the surface. Who was up to the challenge of leading such a task? The unblinking good eye of the obersturmbannführer fell upon the three. The Duke closed his eyes and rolled over in pain. Spud explained at length how he had ordered a new compass but despite his best efforts alas it had not arrived in time. Ebay, who had spent much of his life swimming round in circles trying to follow a compass bearing, saw his chance to shine, ‘Me sir…I’ll do it’. So the die was cast, the shot was laid, the divers prepared, one requiring the services of a personal dresser and in they went. At the bottom the hours of planning and preparation paid off handsomely. The team worked as one scouring the depths for booty. The priceless (worthless?) objects retrieved were returned to the surface somewhat miraculously with The Duke’s bag which turned out to be filled with water at the surface?? The divers followed the loot upwards, eager for fresh orders.
The next task was a rectangular search (no, not looking for rectangles!) Ebay having the only reliable direction finder was once again on point. Ebay was a little troubled at this as this pattern did not involve swimming around in circles and the counting was also going to be more onerous. At the bottom they regrouped. First leg ,OK. Second leg, The Duke was weakening, Third leg, The Duke had disappeared into a cloud of silt. This time the booty included a fine looking dive cylinder. The Duke and his bag were nowhere to be seen, Spud had the boat lift bag but just shrugged when asked for it. Ebay had a small bag and managed to attach all the goodies and sent them shooting to the surface. Luckily the vis was good enough for Ebay and Spud to lurch out of the way as the cylinder returned to the bottom just as fast as it had gone up! Ebay was going to become the human liftbag but while explaining to Spud he noticed that Spud was wearing a very useful looking liftbag hooked around his tank. The boat liftbag retrieved the cylinder was once again sent on it’s way and right on cue The Duke appeared out of his own personal silt cloud. Triumphant, the three ascended and flopped exhausted into the boat to be revived by tea and butties.
The respite was short lived, The obersturmbannführer was determined to exact the maximum from them. He ordered a moveable jackstay search. The boat fell silent as no one had the foggiest idea of what he was on about. Then it dawned on them the enormity of the task ahead. The moveable jackstay search is the stuff of legend, old men in pubs could sometimes be heard to talk of it but in truth, while technically feasible, it has never actually been accomplished. Ebay was a spent force, The Duke was holding up well but good for nothing so it was up to Spud to save the day. The preparations were painstaking and deliberate, knots tied and retied on every combination of ropes and floats until an acceptable arrangement was ready for deployment. The ropes attached the order went out .’half ahead due west Scotty’. Scotty responded by drifting South, then full ahead North with a bit of West thrown in at the end. The Jackstay laid, the trio once again leapt into action, or two did, the other just kind of slid over the side. With Spud in charge they lined up on his string and as one swept the first pass. Swapping sides like clockwork the second pass was done. Now came the tricky bit. As those who have done the lectures will recall, a shot weight should be sufficient to prevent movement on the bottom. It would appear that the club shot weight is quite sufficient in this respect. Spud could be seen to glow red behind his mask with the effort of dragging the shot 10m (well maybe 5) until the glow was obliterated by the profusion of bubbles coming from his reg. Third pass yielded goodies to keep the enthusiasm up but hat waned again rapidly as Spud fought against the second shot weight. Forth pass yielded the holy grail of the trailer crossmember so short on air but undefeated they followed the spoils to the surface. Back in the boat and buoyed with success they were soon brought back to earth with a list of items still on the bottom. However we have the coordinates and we have more volunteers, there’s no hiding from the S&R boys.
Training at NWDC at 5.6oc
Well the weather was cats and dogs,but peter insisted it was going to be diving weather at 2pm, well it wasn’t! So all the takers started to get out of dry clothes in the rain into dry suits except Andrew who drove to nwds in his suit and Peter who surprise surprise was in his semi,nothing new there then!!!!! So the buddies were paired up,Adrian & David,Andrew & Wyn,Peter and myself.
The mission was to do navigation and deploy smb in midwater for the dive leader trainees and smb deployment and diving with a deployed smb for Adrian for sports diver course. The water was 5.6,but it felt colder. Peter and myself went to the boat,then onto the blast huts and round the corner along the road and then through the tunnel after which we ascended to 10 metres for the exercise. Peter demonstrated the deployment of the smb,which went pretty smoothly,followed by myself,the exercise went ok,the blob went up and I didn’t touch the bottom and didn’t break the surface so therefore it was a midwater deployment!!!
Although a young woman offered to take my smb off me and made the comment that she preferred them firm,at 5.6oc not bloody likely honey. Wyn and Andrews exercise went well judging by the smiles on their faces. Adrian was a little like father like son,not firm enough,it can only get Harder!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But Peter was almost right,the sun did come out for us to get changed back into our togs.
DOROTHEA…So named after the wife of the original owner
On this day in 1728 Captain James Cook was born and in 1914 the famous poet Dylan Thomas came into this world. But as none of these two birthdays affected club members it was decided to go for a dip in Dorothea !!
Dilwyn had a nervous start to his day when he was accosted in a car park in Talysarn by two strange looking men who offered him some sweeties. David an Wyn then led the way down the track to the quarry, Dilwyn’s Ford Focus steaming and puffing behind Wyn’s Landrover ( Duw paid a poeni gennai winch os ei di stuck !!) Irfon and Andrew had already arrived to set up base camp. We were the only ones there which was a bit worrying !!!! Could the weather warning of a possible storm Force 12 in Lundy and Viking have been responsible or was there any other sinister reason ?
The Plan was for Wyn and Irfon to go off on a bit of an exploratory dive and do their own thing whilst David was to put Andre and Dilwyn through their paces. Andrew continuing his Dive leader training and Dilwyn to complete his Ocean diver qualification.
Andrew led the dive ( having firstly demonstrated how to enter the water using the Rudolf Nuryeve Swan Lake entry of a half turn pirouette tight Tutu move ( not to be attempted unless under the supervision of an adult) and Dilwyn led the dive back under the guidance and supervision of Andrew. David was hovering a couple of meters above them like a mother hen guarding her chicks. The dive went according to plan with Dilwyn completing his outstanding exercises although he had a senior moment when his weight belt tried to escape round his knees. David and Andrew combined gracefully to adjust his dress accordingly and appropriately.
Not a word was spoken on the long walk back up the slope to the car park. Dilwyn nervously anticipating the outcome of his dive ( had he passed or had he not !!!) and Andrew didn’t have the breath to talk because he was also carrying most of Dilwyn’s weights as well as his own (Diolch Andrew) Irfon and Wyn had already returned and were de kitting ( please note kitting NOT Knitting) And then it happened….. The thing that all divers fear….. Every members worst nightmare.
Terror and fear spread like wildfire a sense of extreme panic spread………
Wyn brought out some of his chocolate slab cake.
( rumor has it that Wyn will be appearing shortly on Dragon’s Den trying to market his chocolate cake as some sort of edible weight belt that can be consumed before diving) The result of the day was that Andrew completed yet another dive leaders dive and Dilwyn finally completed his Ocean Divers qualification and proceeded to bore everybody at the pub .
Irfon and Wyn left still chewing the chocolate cake.
Diwrnod da yn Dorothea heb os… Ymlaen ir nesa