Back in late 2010, the club had a talk from Mark Powell, one of the UK’s top technical instructors about his love for diving in the UK and in particular, some of the wrecks we had on offer. One wreck he particularly talked about was the Salsette, in about 45m of water off Portland. Although having never organised any “deep/tech” trips before, the opportunity to dive one of the UK’s top wrecks was something that we decided we couldn’t miss, and before you know it Nick had arranged a full Tech weekend out of Weymouth, using our preferred Weymouth boat – Outrage, to the Salsette along with a nice little 33m dive on the Sidon, a WW1 submarine.
Unlike previous trips, there was feverish preparation as those coming worked on their best trimix mix (we settled on 25/25), stage gas and the overall plan for the dive to give us the maximum amount of time on the wreck.
Eventually we all worked out our team plans (and then re-adjusted them when we finally got our mixes!) and headed down to the south coast on Friday night in a relaxed and leisurely manner (Dave B enjoyed a nice train journey with a few bevvies!) before meeting at “The Rock” to replan and rediscuss again!
Saturday arrived and as usual we were down on the boat unloading our kit and finagling before Rod, our skipper for the weekend, arrived. The weather was being kind to us (unlike Sunday – more of that later) and so we spent the next few hours steadily making our way out to the wreck. We soon realised that we weren’t going to have it all to ourselves as 2 more hardboats and a rib were seen racing along ahead and behind us. Rod decided he wanted to make sure he got the shot on the best part of the wreck and so put his foot down. We arrived and after some jostling (and banter!) with the other boats, had our shot in and were ready to roll.
Once we all arrived at the top of the wreck at about 35m, we realised how huge it was. Some headed left, some right, some up very slowly (remember kids, more undersuits means more weight!), but were all happy to be on a great wreck with pretty decent viz. A few were lucky to avoid all the other divers and have a great 30 minutes of bottom time before heading back up for some deco. The wreck is hardly broken up and it’s easy to imagine it afloat, even though it lies resting on it’s port side at the bottom. The universal chorus once we all returned to the surface was “when can we do that again”!
A slow return journey allowed us all to discuss the dive in detail and enjoy the great lunch laid on by Rod (he didn’t even forget the shot this time!). Eventually we got back to the scallop banks and since the forecast for Sunday was ropey, we decided to grab some scallops while we could. A great haul was collected and despite it getting a little bouncier getting out and a few overly aggressive yacht skippers coming a little too close for Rod’s liking (I can’t help but think he could do with a bigger “diver in water” flag) we all had a great time.
We returned to harbour high in spirits, despite the chances Sunday would be blown out, and were buoyed by the verbal exchanges between our protective skipper and some of the yachts about their ability to steer! After kit faffing and tank dropping off, a beer or two was on the cards along with a great curry from the fine Balti House.
Sunday arrived and the forecast was as predicted – it was very windy and rough, so diving was canned and we all rolled back to London. A pity, but despite the loss of Sunday everyone agreed that the Salsette was a majestic wreck and looked forward to trying to see more of it as soon as possible.
As ever, thanks must got to Nick for organising things (and not faffing too much on his rebreather!), and Rod for being a skipper we all want on our side!