Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Plymouth July 31st – August 2nd 2006

Wave Shape

Not being content with a week in the Isle of Man, Hugh & David set off with Robin on the morning of Sunday 30 July in his 4WD to check out the delights of the Cornish Riviera, on a trip to Plymouth organized again by Ros Parmenter of the Pennine Orca SAC. Unfortunately Malcolm had to drop out late on due to the pressure of work, or so we were told!. Still it did result in an nice even number of 6 divers on a 12 seater hardboat, which as it turned out was just as well as the conditions encountered on the first 2 days were just a bit iffy with a strong westerly wind and big seas.

Hugh could easily have had some chilly dives, only remembering at Pentrefelin that he had forgotten his undersiut, bootees and gloves. So it was Enid to the rescue, meeting us at the The Food Park. Although with Hugh and Robin seemingly asleep in the car Hugh was fortunate that Enid didn’t drive off with them!!! So after an hour we were just clearing Criccieth. After that Hugh’s otherwise meticulous planning paid off and we duly arrived in Plymouth in the early evening.

On Monday morning we went down on the Scylla, as you seem to be obliged to do if you go diving out of Plymouth. This is the Leander class RN frigate that was deliberately sunk as a dive site 3 years ago. It is already covered in worm casts and has reportedly grown an abundance of Plumose Anenomes since last year. The highlights though were a John Dory, on the sea bed under the keel, plus large mullet and a shoal of herring. Conditions in the afternoon restricted us to a sheltered bay within the Sound and a reef famous for cuttlefish, where those who found the reef duly found the cuttlefish, as well as sea cucumbers and myriads of large cables, ropes and abandoned pots.

Tuesday was even rougher and, as the skipper later admitted, was bordering on the borderline, with the swell towering over the boat at times. So we dived an excellent deep wreck of a wartime trawler. Apart from a wealth of fish, the highlight was pink sea fans which were subsequently found on other wrecks, but not on the adjacent seabed, seeming to prefer rusty steel plates. A couple of people were just a bit woosy afterwards, and again the conditions restricted us to a sheltered dive inside the breakwater in the afternoon.

Wednesday dawned bright with the wind having eased around to the NW allowing us back out to the open sea. The morning saw us visiting another very good deep wreck called the Rosehill, where the Cuckoo Wrasse were really friendly, and at long last we found a big Conger. In the afternoon we dived the famous James Egan Layne, a large wartime freighter in 22 meters, but with a very swelly bow at only 6 meters. This was a big disappointment for all 3 of us, with quite limited fish and marine growth, but it was big, resembling an old Soviet tractor factory inside.

The diving was markedly different to the IOM, all being largely currrent free, with whatever energy there was coming mainly from the swell rather than the tide. While the different crab species existed in limited numbers there were no seal, and no one saw a lobster. There were plenty of the usual fish, and a few different ones, on the wrecks but a surprising dearth of conger. The viz. though was OK, considering the sea state, but not as clear as the IOM. The intent had been to dive well offshore at high energy sites around the Eddystone Lighthouse, so there are plans to repeat the trip next summer if anyone is interested.. Plymouth is an excellent base, with the accomodation being just a short walk from the Barbican waterfront. So, all in all, it was well worth the effort.

(David Jones)

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