Following a very long journey, the Aquanaut Dive Club ‘Tech Team’ arrived in Newquay on Friday. Some had a leisurely journey, only bothered by several military helicopters(!) and nice lunch in Dartmoor, some struggled down after work, cursing the rush hour traffic, but all managed to get down and have a catch up beer before readying themselves for the first day’s diving. Much discussion was had on the weather forecast and how Saturday might be a bit lumpy, but as we all settled down in our very nice accomodation (6 blokes sharing a bunk room was apparently not too smelly!), we were hopeful.
Day 1 started with a very relaxed breakfast at 9am, followed by a long kit faffing session. High water slack was after lunch and so we headed out thinking that the wind had died down a bit… It had, but the swell was still in existence and it was extremely lumpy, even for a stable boat like Atlantic Diver. This lead to 2 immediate diving casualties and several other green faces. The Dolphins that briefly appeared seemed to enjoy it though! For those that dived, they enjoyed good vis and a nice wreck (the Petersham) and before we knew it, we were on our way back to harbour.
Doing only 1 deep dive a day, does give you lots of time to relax and so after a little rest, we headed off for our dinner. It was top notch nosh at Kahuna with Jeremy showing an immense appetite (and leaving room for coffee as well). We then went for a lovely walk along the beach and played with photo’s of the sunset before a swift pint and then back to bed, hoping for a slightly flatter sea the next day.
Day 2 was an even slower start with low water slack at a pedestrian 2pm. Breakfast was delightfully prepared (Eggs Benedict anyone or maybe a Mango smoothie?… best breakfast ever and putting many B&B’s to shame!) and after setting up we all wondered off the boat and went for some morning tea, with yummy pastries – not usual diving fare, but still dead nice. Reluctantly we dragged ourselves out of the sunshine and back to the boat and were happy that the sea had died down and was reasonably flat.
We arrived at the Tagona with a depth of about 42m and proceeded to enjoy a very nice dive. Viz was a bit murky at times, but overall quite good as we swam around 2 very large boilers and a reasonably intact stern and propellor. Bar one or two adventures (Jeremy having a “kit malfunction”), everyone enjoyed the dive and proceeded to replicate the previous day, but this time with a BBQ at Kahuna and an early night planning for the next day. It was a little breezy, but the food was excellent as ever and the usual banter kept everyone going…
Day 3 started early… really early… so early you just don’t want to look at the watch cos it’d scare you!
We arrived to kit up on the boat at 6am and then waited outside the harbour, eating breakfast panini’s (did I mention how good the food was!) and waiting for a special guest diver – Jane Morgan from Dive Magazine – who had wanted to dive our target for a series she was working on about diving off the North Coast of Cornwall. She was welcomed onto the boat with open arms (and a few requests to be a model – glory hunters!).
Jane arrived, loaded and we had an extremely slow ride out to the dive site, hoping to see dolphins or baskers. The wind had died completely, as had the swell and we motored slowly out over a mill pond! Some of the team even ventured on to the top deck of the boat for some great views of the south west. Other contented themselves with catching up on some shut-eye!
Alas, no Baskers were seen and the Dolphins briefly arrived, just as we were about to get in but we were all just happy to be on a flat sea, diving on a wreck we’d all been looking forward to – the U1021. We’d all seen the video and learned how the wreck happened when the sub hit a mine, killing over 50 German sailors in WWII.
As ever, the video didn’t do justice to what was a stunning wreck. Those with only 1 stage cylinder returned wondering when they could do their Normoxic course so they could stay longer, and those lucky enough to get 25mins bottom time (enough to see pretty much the whole wreck), enjoyed a dive for the ages with great vis and a stunning submarine.
The Conning tower was especially impressive with the glass intact still at the top of the periscope, as well as radio antenna and snorkel.
Obviously, the depth (50m on low water slack) meant a healthy deco schedule, but this passed without mishap and many returned to the boat with huge grins and statements of “best dive ever”. We’ll definitely be back to do it again! All that was left was a steady return to harbour, a dekit extravaganza, and then a quick drink (where we all got to relax and say goodbye, something we don’t always get to do), before heading home.
This was the first big Tech Trip that the club had organised, and it went off very smoothly indeed. Many thanks to Nick Dann for slick organisation, but mainly thanks to Chris & Annabel at Atlantic Divers. This is probably the best organised and slickest operation we’ve ever dived with – great accommodation, fantastic breakfasts, good lunches (inclusive), clear communications, a personable, knowledgeable and very skilled skipper and a fantastic dive boat. Even the weather worked for us!
…and days after the last dive, we’re still grinning about the U1021.