After pretty awful weather all week I think one or two people were getting a little jittery about our prospects for the weekend. What they had forgotten was that we had paid a little extra and booked some good weather !!
Having said that we couldn't afford the weather for Friday and the journey down was awful. The rain on the M25 made it almost like a river. It was in fact closed in a number of places due to floods. Most of us had a grim journey - the average being 6-7 hours while Adam excelled himself at 14 hours!!
When we arrived the sun was shining (we had paid for Friday night as well) After a few drinks on the balcony overlooking the harbour and Marina we headed into town via the water taxi. This is a shuttle service that crosses the harbour every half an hour. Great fun but it so small we couldn't all get in !! After a wander around the Marina and a few drinks in a range of pubs we settled for a Chinese banquet before heading back. We were all told that the bar at the centre was closed. It wasn't and poor Helen was left there on her own for 2 hours waiting for us before she gave up and went to bed.
The plan was to do the Scylla in the morning followed by the James Egan Lane . The weather was now very sunny and definitely weather to wear shorts in. The water was relatively calm and the journey out to the wreck went well - That is except for Christine who was feeling very unwell by the time we got to the site (40mins) She tried to get in the water fairly quickly but the sea got to her. After she got into the water she was feeling too rough and was forced to abandon the dive. She was hopeful that after a break she might be able to do the second dive. She was then sick several more times !!!
The Scylla lived up to everyone's expectations. It was a superb dive. Visibility was also very good, which made it a great dive for everyone. We were all able to enter parts of the ship that our skills and experience allowed, which was great for all of us. In the short time it has been down it has developed a great deal of life and the amount of soft coral and marine life has grown significantly since our trip of last year. As well as a wide range of corals the fish life is now developing well with shoals of Pollack, some Sea Bass, Ballan Wrasse and a few crabs. The pictures below should give you some idea of what can be seen.
Unfortunately Christine didn't recover and fortunately for her we were able to arrange a trip back with another boat. The second dive was on the James Egan Lane as planned. This is a very old wreck but it is still an excellent dive and is often listed as one of the top dives in the UK . It is very atmospheric, with lots of vertical struts and swim throughs. The cargo is still visible and includes a range of cartwheels , boxes of roof tiles and neatly stacked timbers. Unfortunately it was a bit crowded as a number of other boats arrived at about the same time. It also affected the visibility though it was still pretty good
During the evening we had booked a meal in a restaurant in a small village not far away. After a tiring days diving no one wanted to walk. So we booked our own private water taxi. This was even more fun than before as there is no jetty for the boat to moor against. As a result the skipper simply ran the boat up the beach and we had to jump out !! Most people got wet but there were a few gallant men there to help the ladies off - even if it was via a fireman's lift. Once again the meal was excellent with huge portions of food at reasonable prices. After a trip back on the taxi - yes we got wet again, we did make it to the hotel bar though most people were just too tired to party.
After the success of the dives on the first day we decide to repeat the dives for the second day. This time the sea was a bit rougher and Christine was sick throughout the journey. We all dived the Scylla again and Christine tried, had a short dive but just wasn't up to the rough water. Everyone enjoyed the dive again, but the sea started to take its toll with Colin and Simon joining Christine in the sick bay while Vikki just about managed to hold it together. After a vote among the team we decided to dive the Scylla again. Unfortunately this wasn't properly communicated to the driver - who then dropped us onto the James Egan Lane !! We did however come up and successfully managed to get out of the water despite the now rougher seas. We eventually got to the Scylla and again had an excellent dive.
This is a very good location and well worth the dive for some of the best diving in the UK . If we go again next year you will need to book a place fast.