Calshot Divers visit Lundy

It's been a couple of years since Calshot Divers have visited Lundy to see the seals. Unfortunately the seals this year we're not overly interested in us - they stayed away from the divers, but did approach a few of our group who were snorkelling. "The Robert" was dived, which is interesting when the tide starts to run. What we missed out on with the seals though was more than made up for by the dolphins though.

Zoom to the pub

Zoom to the pub image

After far too many tea total (!) Zoom meetings, we are going to venture to the pub for a socially distanced pint.  Club shirts will be required as it's unlikely we will recognise anyone wearing a mask after 16 weeks of weight gain and hair growth! One member visited the pub last Wednesday evening and reported they were the only people there! It will be good to see all again, and to hopefully get some dives in the diary for the remainder of 2020.

Getting the club boat ready

Boat maintenance, Covid-19 style.

The 5.8m club RIB has been social distancing for over 6 months and was in need of some serious TLC.   Actually it wasn't as bad as expected, one "sticky" brake to start with, some loose wiring and some already detached grab rails that we failed to fix last season - not bad at all. We limited the working party to 4, but had a number of members come down to offer moral support, advice and coffee - so that and the sunshine mad for a very nice morning by the sea. Hopefully we will soon be able to get the boat in the water to make sure it floats, and to give the engine a run, then we're ready to dive! It's July already, this is probably going to be a short diving season, but we'll see what we can do!  

UK Diving 2020

Chesil Blenny

Far Away in Time... Perfect sunshine, a day off midweek, the freedom to meet a buddy 2m apart, and after 20 years, a plan to dive Chesil Beach again! My excitement was justified as I pulled up to my waiting Buddy to find sparkling clear waters with a gentle wave  on a virtually empty beach. A UK beach dive hasn't look so appealing since my first open water dive all those years ago! It was easy to social distance; only a slight change to the buddy check with no octopus demo and some considerate mask defogging. This wasn't a teaching trip (we'd both done hundreds of dives and were both fully self-sufficient with our own kit) but more of a chance to try diving within the new guidelines. It was wonderful to enter the underwater world again and with 3-4m viz, we soon spotted the inhabitants. Shoals of young bib, large Ballan wrasse and corkwing wrasse chasing off rivals.  The flotillas of sea gooseberries, like drifting alien craft, proved difficult to photograph as, trying to focus, my eyes slowly crossed.  The space theme continued with three cuttlefish encounters. One encounter was very close as it tried its best to 'become' the weed it was hiding in. There was even a bit of wreckage ! (Countess of Erne) After almost an hours dive, it was time to leave. A very inelegant exit, but that's Chesil for you with its steep shingle, but it was worth every aching muscle ! Thank you Buddy !

COVID19: Safe Return to Diving

COVID19: Safe Return to Diving image

From 21st May 2020, a proposed phased resumption of diving activities, commencing with limited shore-based diving, is being supported by BSAC in England and Northern Ireland (although travel restrictions still apply). In Scotland and Wales, the return to diving has not yet been confirmed. The full details are on the BSAC website. The exact proposal is detailed in 8 documents, which will take some time to digest. We are unlikely to schedule anything until mid-June, there are still hurdles to overcome even before shore diving - just getting a gas fill requires planning these days :-) Next Wednesdays virtual meeting should be well attended! Meanwhile, I'm going to get some new kit :-)

Virtual Wednesday Meetings

Calshot Divers Virtual Club Meeting

Our first virtual club meeting was a great success. We only had 11 members pop in, but we shared a drink and a few diving stories - so a pretty standard club night. Yvonne dropped in from Austria with a VERY large beer stein - which shamed a number of the older gentlemen with their wine glasses and beer cans! Hopefully we can make this a weekly event, unless anyone has other plans for a Wednesday evening? The conference link will be sent out via the group email beforehand, so contact us if you want to join or don't see the link. We meet at 8:30pm for 40 minutes (because that's what Zoom offers for free!) - dress code is relaxed, but you do need to be dressed (yes Brian, that means you!). Stay safe, and see you next Wednesday.

COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Pandemic image

As you’ve probably expected, and following our virtual branch meeting last Wednesday, the Committee have decided to CANCEL all planned branch activities until the end of April. We will continue to monitor the advice given by HM Government and the BSAC, and keep you informed of any changes via the club mailing list. We currently have no pool sessions booked and the planned trips to Vobster and Lymington will have to be rescheduled. This will likely also have a knock effect to the Tango trips due to members not being "dived up" even if they are an option – watch this space. Meanwhile, now would be an ideal time to revise your SD and DL materials – I’m sure that we can provide online sessions and run some Theory Tests while we’re all sat at home. Stay safe, and those members with a cough, get well soon.

An evening with Dave Wendes of Wight Spirit

An evening with Dave Wendes of Wight Spirit image

What can a diver possibly do on a cold, wet and windy evening? Well, 3 members decided to battle the elements and traffic to spend an evening in Christchurch with Dave Wendes that's what! Admittedly a couple of pints of beer and a  lot of brass was involved. Dave is a well known local skipper who has dived, researched and documented many of the local sites since starting in the 1960's. This evenings event was to discuss wreck identification and to launch his supplement to local diving site bible, "SOUTH COAST SHIPWRECKS OFF EAST DORSET & WIGHT 1870-1979", which can be purchased from the Wight Spirit website. The evening, organised by TAL, was well attended and involved lots of time to handle and discuss the various trophies from along the South coast. Some suggestions relating to the "Pin Wreck" definitely warrant further research... The only questions left are 1) which order should we dive the new documented wrecks and 2) when will the visibility improve! That will probably be the Wednesday evening discussion for a few more weeks.      

Skittles 2020

Wait for the food and skittles to start

Divers and family members meet up for the annual (well, we did the same last year!)  skittles evening at The Ship Inn, in Redbridge. With almost 40 people attending we had our Junior, Senior and New Members well represented. Once we'd all finished our food, the main competition began. Last year Luke easily won, so this year was ready for a shake up! Luke started well clearing the 9 pins with 2 balls, and scoring 15 in the first round - the second round was closer with John, Mike, Chris and Newton also clearing pins in 2 balls!   ...but Lukes nerves held, and he scored a wopping 28 points from 6 balls, Mike came a very close second with 27.  Well done Luke, we'll get you next year! :-) The usual raffle was held to help raise funds for the branch, which included donations ranging from Fused Glass by Helen to a massive 2.5 pint drinking glass! Simon won the best prize though, a book on the Solent's Flying Boats! A massive "Thank You" must go to Karen for organising another great evening.... same again in 2021 (but don't tell Luke!) :-)    

A true and perfect day in Portsmouth

A true and perfect day in Portsmouth image

After a quick trip across the Gosport Ferry to Gunwharf Quay - the foundations of which was set up as an Ordnance Yard in 1706 - we landed only a few hundred metres from the entrance to the Historic Dockyard. After paying our dues and being given an annual ticket, the three of us were enticed by the prospect of the Harbour Tour, which would commence at 11:00AM. With 45 minutes to kill, we swiftly toured Boathouse 4, which is alongside the jetty to where our tour would begin. Built in 1939 in response to the need for a rapid rearmament programme prior to the start of World War II. This vast building, incorporating its own dock, housed the historic boat collection of the Royal Navy Museum, as well as other private and trust-owned vessels. These were in various states of repair and restoration. After leaving Boathouse 4 and walking up the esplanade, we were met with the sight of Horatio Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, the world's oldest serving naval vessel. The sight of her was overshadowed by the immense size and sound of the two brand new, colossal Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers; HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. In front was berthed the smaller monitor gunboat, HMS M.33, which had seen action in the Dardanelles Campaign and action off Galipoli in 1915. By now, time was encroaching, and we were in danger of missing the harbour tour. A quick step-two, and we were at the jetty, and boarded what was a fairly full boat. A lovely bar down below, but we wanted the sights, sounds and smell of Portsmouth Harbour, so we all elected to ascend to the top dock. A nice spot out of the rain and wind was right behind the bridge. After departing and cruising past the two aircraft carriers, both of which flanked by three MoD Police vessels, the captain took us on a tour of the historical harbour installations and the various vessels along our route. We passed HMS Dragon, fresh in from her deployment abroad in the Middle East, and two of the new River-class patrol vessels. The next vessel was one of the larger Geest Line 'banana boats', to which through Portsmouth over 70% of the UK's bananas come. By now the rain had picked up, and other passengers were starting to wilt and become weary in the conditions. Thankfully we were out of the wind and rain, and could soak in the views of HMS Bristol, a now destroyer-turned-hulk used for accommodation at the local Royal Naval institute. The tour took us round the Gosport side of the harbour, taking in the views of HMS Dolphin, the Submarine Underwater Escape Tower and a small glimpse of Haslar. After we arrived back safely on terra firma, a quick stop in the site's well-known high-street coffee shop courtesy of John ("Not a real Costa", according to John) was made before we walked up to the National Museum of the Royal Navy's entrance, about 200 metres up from us. The exhibits were fascinating as were the dioramas and the large cannons on display. We did manage to find only one diver, though! After a trip round the Navy's museum, and as neither of us had been on HMS Warrior before, that was our next stop. The decks were very wet, but going on a Sunday at the start of January, we had the vessel to ourselves bar a few visitors here and there. Warrior was constructed in 1860 and was Britain's first iron-hulled, armoured battleship. Sadly,  a decade after being built, technology had advanced so far, she was rendered obsolete. After numerous tours as a 'third class' ship, she would spend many decades as a fuel jetty before, in 1979 , she was earmarked for preservation by The Maritime Trust. The restoration would take 8 years to completely return her to her 1862 layout condition, and even today she is still having sections restored. Departing Warrior, we headed straight to visit the famous Mary Rose. King Henry VIII's finest flagship, of which she served for 33 years in numerous battles abroad before sinking during the Battle of the Solent, July 1545. She would lie where she sank until in the 1960s when Southsea branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club, as part of a project to locate shipwrecks in the Solent, initiated the first modern search to find the Mary Rose. The project to locate her was under the leadership of historian, journalist and amateur diver Alexander McKee, while veteran archaeologist Margaret Rule would lead the raising and further study of the vessel. For the last three decades, the wreck of the Mary Rose and associated artefacts had been under careful conservation; the main wreck itself having a plethora of humidifiers, spray nozzles and sensors to track the progress of conservation. These were removed in 2016 when the purpose-built four-storey visitor centre was built around it. We marvelled at the size of the wreck, the array of artefacts found within and the stories of the men (and dog!) that crewed the Mary Rose. By the time we had left, the grey sky had darkened and our stomachs were in need of some sustenance. Unfortunately, the local pubs on the Portsmouth side were all full, so we elected to try on the Gosport side. Alas, the first pub on the Gosport side was also full but finally found in a pub on Gosport High Street. After a lovely meal and a drink, it was certainly a good day out for Calshot Divers.

A decade of Calshot Divers

A decade of Calshot Divers image

I decided to throw together a quick slide show of our club activities over the last decade... that was a long evening! I ended up with about 3 hours of video and over 500 photos!!! Luckily the slide show program only allows 150 images - so you've been saved - it animates down to just over 3 minutes!  This shows more of the "people" side of the club as opposed to most of our other videos that show the underwater stuff.

They found the Dishwasher

They found the Dishwasher image

In 2014, we were invited to the clubs 30th Anniversary after having left Calshot Divers in 2001.  Reminiscing with past Buddies inspired me to return to diving. My family were older now, so I dug out all the old kit I had refused to part with.  My cylinder was a bit heavier and my suit, a bit smaller but I got it all serviced. I was ready to re-join Calshot Divers. I was given a refresher on Sports Diver skills and soon I was enjoying skimming over the sea to the challenge of new dive sites; the weightlessness of a different world and finding the surprising and varied creatures that live there. Since then, I have taken a boat handling course, assistant instructor course and I am aiming to complete Dive Leader this year. The great escape; spending a day of the weekend as someone more than ‘mum’ is liberating for me and the family. They’ve learnt lots without me; even where the dishwasher is! Karen, like many of us, learnt to dive when younger and packed up when family life took over. Returning to diving may not be as hard as expected, some skills have changed (dive computer, delayed SMBs and Nitrox for example) but the basic human and physics remains the same (you can't ignore Boyles Law and you still get wet).

Launching the RIB on a lovely day in October

Launching the RIB on a lovely day in October image

We took the club RIB out in October for a number of reasons. We wanted to check out the new launching arrangements at  Calshot slip, try some Sidescan Sonar stuff and play with a new 360º camera! On a computer you should be able to click and rotate the video while it's playing, or on a tablet/phone you should just be able to turn the device around to look behind you.

Things to do at Vobster…

Things to do at Vobster… image

A typical mid-week trip to Vobster Quay with an assortment of Ocean & Sports Divers practising various skills. Buoyancy, DSMB, Navigation and Depth Progression were all covered at depths between 6 and 20m.  

The Pin Wreck out of Kimmeridge

The Pin Wreck out of Kimmeridge image

This unidentified wreck out of Kimmeridge was discovered in 1990. Divers have named it the "pin wreck" due to the large pins holding the copper hull to the wooden frame. The anchor standing upright to one end is of a mid 1800s design, so the wreck is thought to be post-1850. The wreck itself is upright on a sandy seabed at 30m, which gives pretty good visibility. She is a very interesting wreck, yet very confusing. A set of machinery midships - a vertical capstan and associated cogs and worm gears plus a steam boiler and water tanks - but no sign of propulsion. This has suggested some sort of work barge, which along with stories of a recovered military button and single diving boot have further confused wreck identification.

Calshot Divers visit Lundy

Calshot Divers visit Lundy image

It's been a couple of years since Calshot Divers have visited Lundy to see the seals. Unfortunately the seals this year we're not overly interested in us - they stayed away from the divers, but did approach a few of our group who were snorkelling. "The Robert" was dived, which is interesting when the tide starts to run. What we missed out on with the seals though was more than made up for by the dolphins though.

Calshot Divers at Swanage Pier

Calshot Divers at Swanage Pier image

An Ocean Diver trip to Swanage in the sunshine - for a change! An early start means we secured a base camp on the promenade leading to the pier, so everyone camped by the cake! Gill says; " My family has been involved with Calshot Divers for a few years now.  My husband Joe had been a diver in the military for many years and had missed it.  I was always looking for different experiences and challenges for our two teenage sons to try out, so the try-dives with Calshot Divers seemed like a good opportunity.  Very reasonably priced and something different that not many people get to try out; both boys loved their birthday treats of being under water in a safe environment and Joe enjoyed being able to get back to diving again. So they all decided to train as Ocean Divers.  It was good for them to have something they could all do together and the boys enjoy having an unusual skill.  The boys have used their experience of diving towards their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Awards.  They have both dived at Andark and Vobster and Adam has been diving in the sea at Swanage.  I have been able to relax knowing that they are in safe hands.  So far I have not braved the water – but I have enjoyed the other benefits of involvement with the club – Lovely people,  the annual Skittles night (with amazing raffle prizes) and days out with a difference, usually involving me sitting in the sun eating cake and watching them dive.  Then of course being ready with a flask of hot chocolate and some towels. "

Ocean Diver day at Vobster

Ocean Diver day at Vobster image

The divers are getting Younger, Younger and Younger :-) Once diver trainees have got the basics under their belt we head to Vobster Quay which offers a range of depths in a controlled environment. The beginners' ledge is around 12m with a nice drop to 20m where it gets a bit dark and colder. There's also a good range of entries, exists and obstacles to negotiate.  

A little trip to Andark Lake

A little trip to Andark Lake image

Andark Lake is a local site offering progressive ledges down to a maximum of 7m, and so is an ideal site for divers first dives or for testing kit. The on-site shop and hot showers make it bearable all year around. This trip saw a mixture of first dives and PADI crossovers to UK diving. Adam says; " For my birthday I was given a try-dive session with Calshot Divers which I went to with my Dad.  They provided all the kit and instructed us on what we needed to do. Since then, I have enjoyed diving for 3 years and I am learning to be an Ocean Diver and Sports Diver. When we dived at Vobster Quay I dove through an aircraft that had been put at the bottom of the quarry and saw different types of fish. "

Diver Recovery Drills with Calshot RNLI

Diver Recovery Drills with Calshot RNLI image

After several winter weeks out of the water, the yearning to get back in overcame any fear of the cold and a little trip down to Calshot RNLI ensued. We hope we’ll never need their services but it was a great way to meet the crew and familiarise them with the types of dive kit they might encounter. They then took us out in their RIB, and we spent an hour or so jumping out of it and being pulled, rolled and hoisted back in. Great fun rounded off with a nice hot brew, thanks to the Calshot Lifeboat crew.

BSAC/RNLI Sea Survival Workshop

BSAC/RNLI Sea Survival Workshop image

This was our first "in-house" RNLI/BSAC Sea Survival course following the new course syllabus.  The course compliments the RNLI "Dealing with Divers" that we've done a couple of and covers what we as Divers need to do once on the surface to improve our chances of survival and detection. A number of idea were tested, and everyone was impressed with the visibility of a torch stuffed up a DSMB!

Calshot Divers and the Flying Boat on That's Solent TV

Calshot Divers and the Flying Boat on That's Solent TV image

John Greenwood on that's solent TV earlier in the month discussing the Calshot flying boat. Some background details on the site and some green underwater video (yes, that is the best visibility we've ever had on the wreck).

"The Lost Flying Boat" documentary

Image

An absolutely brilliant little 20min documentary by Plane Hunters (aka Aviators Lounge) about the Calshot Flying Boat and our involvement. Plenty of details on the possible wreck identities and exploring a similar aircraft at Southampton's Solent Sky museum - which is well worth  visit when you consider how Calshot and Southampton were so pivotal in the entire flying boat era.

Diver Rescue training with Calshot RNLI

Diver Rescue training with Calshot RNLI image

What an evening, what an experience! One of our members was attending an event and chatting with Calshot RNLI staff earlier in the year. The RNLI guys each have a small pocket book with step-by-step instructions on how to deal with common situations. The page on "Diver Recovery" was very basic... "remove kit and get the casualty in the boat" pretty much covered it. An offer to provide some diving casualties in full kit was made and accepted. This was a great opportunity for both sides of the orange tube to see how the other half operates. Watching even our largest divers being recovered into an equally large RIB with easy just had to be seen to be believed. Calshot RNLI don't see that many divers, but it's still a worthwhile skill for them to gain, and it was also useful for us to see how they operate and to compare casualty notes with the professionals. Thank you guys, we hope never to need you, but it's comforting to know you're there if we ever do!        

Valentine Tanks Dive

Valentine Tanks Dive image

The two valentine tanks we dive in pool bay are absolutely teaming with life. Here's a brilliant example of gentle 18m UK diving - and it doesn't actually mention the massive history and heritage of these famous little tanks!

Plymouth Club Trip

Plymouth Club Trip image

We've not dived Plymouth for a couple of years, so this trip was well subscribed with a full boat every day. Luckily the weather was brilliant, and diving was pretty good too! Eddystone,  the Scylla and James Eagan Layne did not disappoint.

Diving the Eleanor R in Dorset

Diving the Eleanor R in Dorset image

The Eleanor R is a lovely little under dived wreck.      

A Newbies Year in Review

A Newbies Year in Review image

This year I took the plunge for the first time as a qualified Ocean Diver and just a few days after completing my training, I found myself in the middle of the ocean clinging on for dear life!   The first time on a hard boat, the first time on a club trip and the first-time seeing waves crashing over the bow. I must admit my maiden voyage wasn’t the smoothest by any stretch of the imagination but this weekend diving at Lundy Island was one of the best experiences of my life and finally made me understand why people made such a fuss about "The Dive Bug".   For those that don’t know much about Lundy Island, it was the first designated Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) within the UK and still is to this day. If for some reason that doesn’t paint a picture of how important and incredible this place is, then maybe the thought of towering rocky cliffs covered in puffins and pristine calm waters surrounded by sleeping seals does.   I did 4 dives over this weekend with surface intervals each day that were substituted by a quick snack and some snorkelling, but my maiden voyage below the ripple of the waves was The Knoll Pins on the eastern site of the island. After a detailed briefing from the skipper, my buddy / weekend roomy and I kitted up and stepped off the starboard side for my BSAC baptism. Left shoulder to the slope I slowly descended to my maximum depth of 20 meters and looked around in awe at the life that clung to these rocks.  Jewel anemones, dogfish, pink sea fans, Red Sea fingers and mermaids purses - the list goes on, but due to my lack of marine identification skills I’ll have to stop there.   15 minutes in and 100 bar of air later, I made my way through the middle of these two prestigious pinnacles where I slowed down alongside my chaperone for a quick safety check. Air OK, depth OK, buoyancy balanced, I turned to take another look around the aquatic universe surrounding me, when something no number of hours in the classroom or controlled open water centres could have prepared me for... A GREY SEAL!   Although I know diving in 3’s is discouraged (and this certainly wasn’t part of our dive plan) in this instance there wasn’t much we could do (and to be honest we didn’t care). I wasn’t sure if what I had seen was real or some unlikely onset nitrogen narcosis never experienced before, but one thing I did know is that after swimming swiftly off into the distance, her elegance and shimmering sapphire eyes reminded me that this was her world, an amazing aquatic environment and a setting I could see myself spending A LOT more time in!   After our trio was reduced back to the original 2 founding members, we swam shoulder-to-shoulder through the final stretch of the dive making a gradual ascent up to our safety stop at 6 metres. 3, 2, 1, I ascended reluctantly through the shallows and as the light broke through the waves above my head, I couldn’t stop thinking that I didn’t want this to end. Hand in the air and air in my jacket, I lay back alongside my buddy, fin kicking as we watched everybody else emerge from the depths and swim backwards to the boat.   As I approached the vessel and grabbed the rope, fellow club members stared down over the edge with wide smiles as I hoisted myself round to the stern. With both hands on the bars, feet on the grate and a story to share, I gave the nod to the skipper as he raised the lift. I spent the next 15 minutes gleefully sharing my experiences as others did the same, and then we shovelled down our snacks, strapped on our snorkels and dove back in with another mighty splash!   The rest of the weekend was spent between the surface and the seabed, splashing around with a harem of seals as they took turns chewing fins, chasing bubbles or in one instance even snatching regulators! As I strapped my cylinder back in for the last time on the Sunday afternoon and let the air out of my jacket, I couldn’t help but feel deflated. This inaugural trip was coming to an end; an overwhelming experience with an excitable bunch of people, that I would never forget.   I spent the remainder of the summer starting the next level of my training, as well as enjoying a few more trips out with the club across the south coast.  These trips included The Gertrude off of Chesil Beach, Swanage Pier and the Christchurch Ledges and each one never failed to take my breath away.   As the sun sets on another gloomy wintery day and I sit here reflecting on what a great year this has been, I glance over at my sports diver student notes and continue to count the days until I can take the plunge once again! When you sit back and relax over this holiday period and your mind turns to the resolutions you want to make for next year, please promise me that one of those will involve a boat and some bubbles.

Diving the Robert at Lundy Island

Diving the Robert at Lundy Island image

The MV Robert is one of the very few wrecks around Lundy. This 1956 coaster sank in 1975 and lies on the seabed at 25m. The shallowest part being 18m. The ship is very recognisable as such, and so appears "easy" - but beware of the current if you linger too long.

Diving with the Lundy Island Seals

Diving with the Lundy Island Seals image

An absolutely brilliant trip to Lundy with plenty of "interactions" with the locals. This was one of our trainees first real boat trips, and one we reckon they will never forget!

Calshot Divers 2014

Calshot Divers 2014 image

What a year - with some major highs and lows! Jan - Litter Pick Feb - Excel Dive Show Mar - Recompression Chamber May - 30th Anniversary Jul - RIB Engine Stolen Eight pool sessions and Try Dives!

Reuniting the PP118 children after 60 years

Reuniting the PP118 children after 60 years image

Wow - well we didn't expect that! Following our earlier BBC News story before Christmas we were hoping for a few emails or photographs to appear - not a living descendent who remembered watching the PP118 events unfold. Tom Menzies, contacted us and said he saw the fire... and that it was his father who was on the burning aircraft - so we just had to meet up and get the story recorded as soon as possible. Listening to these two gents remembering that day in 1950 and hearing how Peter Anderson ignored the fire and risk really brings the story home.

BBC Radio Solent and the Flying Boat

BBC Radio Solent and the Flying Boat image

An early morning BBC Solent Radio segment with John Greenwood and Julian Clegg.

Revealing the story of Sunderland Flying Boat PP118

Revealing the story of Sunderland Flying Boat PP118 image

Our 3 minutes of fame on the BBC News this evening revealing the story of PP118 at Calshot. The story of Andy Anderson's heroic rescue is remembered by his family. For decades local people have believed the aircraft wreck at Calshot was that of PP118, but we have now confirmed that this is not the case - PP118 was beached and scrapped - which leaves us an unidentified Sunderland. In our opinion, Andy's story is so epic, that it actually deserves remembering even if we didn't find the specifc aircraft in question.

Comparing notes on a Sunderland

Comparing notes on a Sunderland image

 

Calshot Divers search for and recover US Destroyer

Calshot Divers search for and recover US Destroyer image

"Calshot Divers raise US Warship " - according to the Echo When Calshot Divers were contacted by distressed model builder and member of Solent Radio Control Model Boat Club David McNair-Taylor, who had lost his recently completed model of a US Destroyer, the British Sub Aqua Clubs divers sprang into action and planned, organised and completed a successful recovery of the model within a few days. Scale Captain of SRCMBC David, took more than seven months and spent in excess of £500 building his latest highly detailed model of the WWII warship – the USS McNair (DD-679) – and was understandably devastated when the model of the destroyer, sunk in deep water on its maiden voyage at Setley Pond, near Lymington.   Desperate to recover his latest model, David sought help from Calshot Divers, a local Scuba diving club based in the New forest. Permission to dive the pond was arranged with the New Forest Park authorities and a meeting was held where search options were discussed and a plan was formulated. Diving Setley pond and completing the search was particularly difficult due to the very low visibility and also the vast area of the lake. However, the divers were assisted by photos of where the model sank and had a well formulated search and recovery plan. Divers Stephen Pooley and Ralph Quinn completed the recovery within 25 minutes of submerging and found the model by fingertip search, taking great care not to inadvertently damage the model by accidentally landing on it. Calshot Divers Diving Officer Stephen Pooley said "The request to recover a model boat was certainly an unusual challenge but one which appealed to us straight away. Interest within our club was overwhelming, and we had many of our members along on the evening of the recovery - everyone enjoyed being involved in a different sort of dive. Some of the best diving in the world with an incredible array of wrecks is right here on our doorstep – it was nice to find a new wreck, albeit in a pond and actually a model" Model owner and Scale Captain of Solent Radio Control Model Boat club David McNair Taylor said "I am so very grateful to the members from Calshot Divers. The recovery was a huge success and the model exhibited very little damage after its time underwater. Work to restore the Destroyer to her former glory is well underway and she will be back up and running soon."  

Want to Learn to Dive?

Want to Learn to Dive? image

Well you've found your way to this website, which is the first step in what could be a life long hobby! Why not have a read and then get in touch.  

CSAC Boat Handling Course

CSAC Boat Handling Course image

It may surprise you to find out that we do more than just go diving (or meet in the pub to talk about it!).

10 till 5 with an hour for lunch

10 till 5 with an hour for lunch image

Remember GCSE? Well the Ocean Diver and Sports Diver courses are about that level. Since going metric, and dropping the RNPL Dive Tables, any maths involved seem to revolve around multiplying or dividing by 10. The more advanced stuff like gas requirements require you to divide by 2 and multiply by 3 - luckily, rounding up is normally an option and you just say "safety margin" to get away with it! The Biology side of thing goes about s far as ears, lungs, sinuses and a heart - all fairly simple (and logical) stuff. With basic "First Aid at Work" being a similar level. Don't think diving is too mentally taxing - it's all rather logical and easy to understand. If you've got a GCSE and can ride a bike, then you can probably learn to dive... (here's the small print and forms)

Wow – a dive report!

Wow – a dive report! image

Close inspection of this page will leave you wondering where all the dive reports are! You may even be wondering, do they even still go diving?   This year has seen plenty of action in the pool and the sea, on hard boats, our club rib and a fair amount of training from Ocean Diver (First BSAC qualification) right through to boat handling as well as try dives. So why the lack of reports?   Quite simply, because the club have not had anyone to do them regularly. Or chase people to do so. Until now.   My names Pete, I am Calshot Sub Aqua Club's shiny new marketing officer and I joined the club all of three months ago. So expect more updates - more details of upcoming events, offers from kit and service providers and a lot of other stuff. As a PADI Advanced Open Water diver with a bit over 100 dives logged, I had shamefully only ever done 2 UK dives. Doing all my diving abroad meant nice warm water, great vis and interesting fish life, but with long periods of no diving I was a frustrated experienced diver all kitted up, with nowhere to go. So I would occasionally check out websites, wonder if my 5mm wet suit would be ok, despair of all my non diving friends but essentially not do much about it. Until I spotted Calshot Sub Aqua Club's website. A bunch of divers who live and meet in the region of the New Forest was exactly what I needed. All I had to get past was this tricky bit about lack of vis, cold water and the fact that BSAC are all scary hardened divers who scoff at their PADI equivalents and our training. It's been a bit of a revelation. And for the hundreds of you out there who qualify as divers abroad but don't dive in the UK for any number of reasons, or in fact, for anyone interested in learning to dive, or if you want to further your training, I am here to tell you: Calshot Sub Aqua Club will welcome you with open arms. The members are all very friendly, and have a wide range of experience from Mat who has been diving since before the sport was invented, to newly qualified Tim. Qualified with another agency? Doesn't matter - you can still come diving with us. Want to learn to dive, or improve your current diving level? CSAC are for you. Not only are there plenty of training opportunities, you only pay for course books and pool or sea dive costs. All BSAC trainers do their teaching for the love of it - BSAC is non-profit. And what about this cold water and lack of vis? It's definitely true, the water here is colder. So you need a decent wetsuit or consider buying a dry suit (we have some going really quite cheap). My 5mm wet suit was more than adequate for the water in October, though I am going to invest in a drysuit in March for the new dive season. And the vis I have had on the dives I have done has been fine. Not 30 metres like abroad, but absolutely fine. I have now been diving at the famous Vobster Quay, out of Kimmeridge and also completed several pool sessions so that I can take my skills to the next level. Vobster was great - I especially enjoyed the swim through created by the aeroplane and the concrete pipes. Kimmeridge was fascinating, loads of fish life and I spotted several crabs and a prawn right out in the open. We dived the "Sea Caves" which is a very weird collection of underwater blocks - not entirely sure how to describe it, but my torch came in handy for looking in all the crevices. And that's the thing. When it's all boiled down, you may get 30 metres of vis abroad - but you can hardly look at it all can you? As a diver, I know that you spend your time looking at what is close to you. Not 30 metres away. Fish life? LOADS of it, and really very interesting. Wrecks? More than you will ever encounter abroad. Diving is all about adventure. And the south coast has some of the best diving in the world, and BSAC some of the best divers you will ever encounter. Who will help you settle in with patience, humour and at a pace to suit you. I'm genuinely excited about going diving next year will all my new dive buddies, and really looking forward to exploring the abundance of diving that the UK has to offer. Come join me!

National Park Authority reveal what lies beneath the waves

National Park Authority reveal what lies beneath the waves image

For almost two years the National Park Authority has been carrying out a Coastal Heritage Project covering 26 miles (41.84 km) of the coastline from 10m above sea level through the intertidal zone to six nautical miles off shore. During 2010 the project selected 4 wrecks in the Western Solent and proceeded to mark them with bright yellow marker buoys.   The four wrecks which have been marked with buoys are: The Serrana – a steam ship torpedoed by a German U-boat in the First World War with the loss of five lives The Fenna – a timber two-masted Dutch schooner which sank in bad weather in 1881 The Ceres – a steam barge which was caught out by strong winds and sank in 1898 The Margaret Smith - a dredger carrying a cargo of gravel which sunk in 1978. This represents the archaeology of the future, allowing archaeologists and divers to monitor how the ship deteriorates   This was followed in February 2011 with the release of a 30-minute DVD titled 'Wrecks of the Western Solent' which gives a brief overview of the wrecks and explains the project to non-divers. It's also planned to release waterproof underwater slates with details of the wrecks which divers can take with them.   James Brown, Maritime Archaeologist with the New Forest National Park Authority, said it is the only heritage trail in this country marking a series of wrecks. He said : ‘Archaeology is a window on the past and underwater archaeology has the greatest potential to add the most information as it’s relatively unexplored – the underwater heritage trail is about finding the links to our history and telling the story of humans in times past'.   People can find out about the New Forest National Park’s rich coastal heritage whether they are below the waves, on the water or on the shore thanks to their unique underwater heritage trail.

A 15 year Surface Interval

A 15 year Surface Interval image

The Last dive log in my little red book was dated 1995. It didn’t seem that long ago but the date suggests otherwise! Then in early spring my neighbour (Graham), who I knew to be a BSAC diver, gave me a load of Dive magazines to browse.   You know how things tend to go once you start reading, so yes: I was soon dragging my old dive bag out of storage. Most of it was delivered to local dive shops for servicing and I bought a few items such as an octopus (these weren’t common practice in 1995; buddy breathing was taught) plus a few sessions on eBay.   After Google-ing my old BSAC club: Calshot Sub-Aqua Club, I started turning up at the weekly meetings. Almost all the members were unknown to me, but they definitely have the same friendly welcoming outlook that the club has always had.   As a result of this I have restarted diving with the club, thoroughly enjoying it, and looking forward to more during the rest of the season.   If anyone reading this hasn’t dived in a while then I definitely recommend contacting Calshot Sub-Aqua Club!

Calshot Divers on BBC Radio Solent

Calshot Divers on BBC Radio Solent image

Following our recent Try-Dive advertising we were lucky enough to have Nadine Dukeson from BBC Radio Solent attend for a try dive at a local swimming pool. Nadine, along with 3 other prospective trainees, were given a brief initial introduction to the Calshot branch and the British Sub-Aqua Club before being shown the more practical side of diving and the equipment involved. Once changed everyone completed a short swimming test (damn those insurance requirements!) and then progressed to snorkel, where they got to grips with straight leg fining and using standardised hand signals to communicate. Once everyone was happy we moved onto the heavy kit, 12kg cylinders and a few extra kilos of lead to make sure we went down and stayed there - finally we were really diving! As soon as we reached the deep end of the pool, Nadine was attacked by the smallest battery powered penguin you can imagine! You know the type, small bullet type body and an exposed plastic propeller that just loves to wrap hair around itself. The penguin still works, and Nadine didn’t mention the hair pulling on the radio – so I think we got away with it! From then on things settled down, forward and backward rolls, break dancing, Buddha balancing and messing with the underwater frisbee all of which caused no further injuries. Nadine’s report was broadcast a few days later on Jon Cuthill’s morning program on Radio Solent. Listen to a snippet of the BBC Radio Solent broadcast made by Nadine after her Try Dive.  

Looking for a Sunderland

Looking for a Sunderland image

We have been talking about the local Sunderland Flying Boats for years in the club, but never actually dived one. Research carried out over the last 6 months had enabled us to pretty accurately locate one wreck and three potential names for the aircraft – PP118, G-AGKY or ML883. This Sunday tides, weather, lifeboats (and a quiet evening in the pub on Wednesday) meant the time was right for a sonar search of the target area. We launched the RIB from Calshot slip around noon and on our first pass over the target area we located a 5m high ‘bump’, a couple of quick turns showed we were over something of a decent size! We spent the next couple of hours zipping backwards and forwards taking depth readings every metre or so. From the location of the site, its orientation and its general size it’s quite likely we have found a suitable dive target. We did a quick run to the second target site and had a look around, but didn’t identify anything in the short time we were there. That’s probably something for next time.

Dusting off the Cobwebs

Dusting off the Cobwebs image

As the winter months were finally over it was time to dust off all the dive gear cobwebs and get back in the water. Although the start of the dive season is no surprise to anyone it is incredible how many divers don’t prepare their kit for the forthcoming season... well, erm... perhaps I should say its incredible how I don’t prepare MY kit for the forthcoming season! A quick check of my dive kit the day before discovered two latex wrist seals that were harder than steel and titanium combined and 2 leaky regs. Hmmm, I thought... this could make my first dive with Calshot Sub-Aqua Club a bit tricky to say the least! After an easy drive to the top secret boat storage location and (by my standards anyway) relatively faff free boat preparations, Helen, Ralph, Steve and me set off to Poole Harbour to dive the Valentine Tanks. “Why are they called the Valentine Tanks?” and even more confusingly – “why are tanks in 15m of seawater in the first place?” are questions I just can’t answer, but they are tanks and diveable so that’s fine by me. As it turned out, warming the wrist seals in my hand seemed to miraculously fix my drysuit problem and a couple of turns of an Allen Key seemed to fix the regs, so I was looking good for diving. All we needed to do was go to our pre-programmed GPS marks, find the marker buoy on the mill-pond flat surface, the wrecks on the sounder thingy and away we go – easy! Well theory always goes better than practice and – as it turned out – the marker buoy was not doing the best job at marking (being submerged just below the surface) and our X didn’t seem to mark the EXACT spot to throw in our shot. I presumed the tanks had either driven somewhere else or the Eyjafjallajökull Icelandic volcano was not only interfering with air travel but also our GPS satellites! Eventually the wrecks were found and it was me and Steve to be first in. Diving with a pony cylinder just in case one of my regs decided to leak again created a bit of kitting up faff with hoses, but this was quickly sorted, and we were in the water and descending the line soon afterwards. Landing on the turret of the first tank, there was lots of life to see including a semi-curious large wrasse, a few large lobsters, blennies and many shrimp. Following the line to the other tank we saw many hermit crabs and one of the snail-like things that owns their shell in the first place. As you can probably guess, I am not a bio/zoologist (or whoever knows about marine life), but I did recognise the dogfish! The second tank is split in two with the turret lying alongside the main chassis. Looking around it was clear the second tank, although not intact was just as busy with life as the first – including a baby conger eel and another (or maybe the same) semi-curious large wrasse. Later after Helen and Ralph's dive, we found out we either missed or were unlucky not to see a large, mysterious, reddish-pink fish with large lips. In spite of all the fabulous weather we were having on the surface the water was still a bit on the cold side, so we decided to ascend a little sooner than we would have otherwise. My preparation, as it turned out, didn’t just apply to old kit but also the nice new shiny stuff you buy at a winter dive show, blissfully thinking that this dive torch and that new flash dive computer will prevent all leaky drysuits and cylinder O-rings! I took out my new DSMB and reel and prepared it for the ascent, untangling myself from the various bits of string I had tied to it and my new torch. Any time lost untangling myself would surely be made up for by the super efficient deployment mechanism that would crack open a CO2 canister at a simple pull of a lever. I reached for the lever - one pull... two pulls... three pulls... nothing! The reason for this malfunction was later discovered to be an empty canister – something that I had missed in my pre-season kit checks. Fortunately this did not cause any severe problems, and we ascended safely to the surface. After a period of losing the marker buoy again Helen and Ralph were in the water and came out with similar reports embellished with sightings of that pink fish. All that was left was a nice boat drive (well in my opinion anyway – I was driving) back to the slipway. All in all a very pleasant and relaxing first dive of the season – 2010 starts here!

Bank Holiday on the Betsy Anna

Bank Holiday on the Betsy Anna image

It has been a while since I have enjoyed a dive on the Betsy Anna quite as much. We were not too hopeful as the previous week had provided gale force winds which would surely stir up the bottom and reduce visibility to a mere few metres.   After a 45-minute run out of Swanage the sun was out as we rolled off the side of the boat and disappeared below the surface. About 10 metres from the bottom I began to focus on the sea bed below, which was surely a good sign. The sunshine was reflecting off the light coloured bottom and illuminating large shoals of Whiting. I had to remind myself that this was not a tropical dive, just Christchurch Bay in August.   Once comfortable we swam towards the boilers which were home to a number of lobsters and conger eels. After a full inspection we eased towards the stern of the vessel and past the exposed prop shaft. More large shoals of Whiting parted and revealed the partly intact stern section with many large pouting swimming through the ribs of the ship. I followed a large anchor chain away from the wreck and sat on the sea bed gazing back at the grey silhouette of the stern which rose up a around 3 metres above the sea bed. With plenty air remaining there was still time to inspect the bow section before ascending close to where we began the dive, on the boilers.   The best dive I have done on the Betsy Anna for sometime, made even better by the sunshine and great visibility.

Vobster Quay 2009

Vobster Quay 2009 image

Two of the club's divers head off to Vobster Quay for an early(ish) season splash.   7:30am on a Sunday is early at the best of times, but if you stay up 'til 2ish preping your new twinset for its first splash, it's especially early.   Anyway, off we go to Somerset.   With perfect over water navigation, Vobster is found and a lower car parking space is secured (phew). A quick coffee was taken before getting everything together. It was amazing how many people were walking around and jumping in the water with wetsuits on. The water was measuring in at 6 degrees, wearing a wetsuit must be painful for anything over a couple of minutes!   Well, it must be true about drysuits shrinking over the winter because it was a struggle getting the zip closed... but then again I'm pretty sure I haven't grown up physically or any other way, so maybe neoprene does shrink. Either way, a new suit may be in order.   Finally got into the new twinset harness, I think it might be a bit tight. There's no way I'd be able to do a shutdown, I couldn't even reach my drysuit dump valve! We jumped in and went for a little float around.   Underwater navigation was a little less capable than the land based equivalent; I thought we were heading right towards the aircraft bits but the first thing we found was the boat you end up at if you go straight out. After that, we headed off to the right properly this time.   At the deeper parts, the visibility dropped right off. At one stage my torch wasn't being much use, I could feel my fins on the bottom but couldn't see it, less than a metre vis. Everywhere else was much better, 2, 3, 4 metres maybe.   The old dive profile below shows a little bit of a hiccup; you can see at around 25 minutes where I set off my SMB. I thought I was doing a good job (it's a crack bottle one, how hard can it be??!!) but the line wrapped around the reel handle and off I went upwards. I got it freed but in all honesty, I should have let it go. Lesson hopefully learned.   Made it back ashore, I like my twins! Need a bit of adjustment on the harness then they'll be good.   Now: drysuit...... There was a nice chap from DUI at Vobster and his wares were very tempting. Very nice suits! It's at times like those when I wish I was a banker, one bonus payment would nearly cover the cost of a nice new suit! I'll start saving the pennies and see how close to a DUI I can get.