The bank holiday weekend diving in Plymouth in my opinion represented the whole spectrum of everything that diving in the UK has to offer. As a start, a big thank you should go to Colin who managed and organised everything expertly and additional thanks should go to those towing the boats.

The Mount Batten Centre was an excellent choice of venue and had the majority of diving requirements easily catered for. The easy walk down to the pontoon and boats definitely made life easier. The dining options nearby were an additional bonus, although the portions at the Clovelly Inn may have led to several members diving a bit heavier the next day!

As good as the food was, the main reason for travelling to Plymouth was the diving. An advance party of our divers managed a trip to the Persier on Friday – with enthusiastic feedback from all. Saturday’s diving started with all divers heading out to the SS James Eagan Layne, a wreck providing an excellent atmospheric dive (8m+ vis) with plenty of life to suit all divers, including what was left of a large lobster that had fallen victim to resident conger eels. Braver RBSAC members even fed a “friendly” conger with some of the remains.

Next up was an equally rewarding trip to the Mewstone Ledges. Having built up a reasonable numbers of dives now, I took the opportunity to borrow a torch and have a good old poke around all the nooks and crannies, finding large edible crabs and tompot blennies. Trainee sports divers also managed a few drills mainly focused on important DSMB usage.

Unfortunately an overnight storm meant that Sunday’s diving was dictated by a heavy swell and drizzly conditions. Several experienced divers (rather wisely), chose to decline this particular day and unfortunately illness dissuaded a couple of others. As it turned out, all the dive boats in Plymouth followed our example and headed for Cawsand Bay. On the dive, Sports diver trainees completed mask clearing and AS ascents under the watchful eyes of trainers and a compass jellyfish. An afternoon dive was attempted in the lee of the Mewstone as conditions had calmed slightly. The first wave of divers went down and experienced a peculiar washing machine dive due to a continued swell and swirling mass of kelp. The subsequent waves decided against this one.

On Monday, illness and deeply unlucky kit malfunctions meant that several of our divers were unable to join, what turned into, the best dive I have completed in the UK by far. Sea and weather conditions were excellent, so the collective decision was to head for Eddystone Reef – regarded to be one of the best dive sites the UK has to offer. On the way, a small group of porpoises were spotted off one RIB and an individual by the other. Initial difficulties placing a shot that kept dropping into 20m using a 15m line (by divers who shall remain nameless) were overcome and all enjoyed a stunning dive. Easily over 25m viz, compass jellyfish, alternating colour bands of jewel anemones and shoals of mackerel feeding around us on the ascent meant that this dive was particularly special. After the Tornado headed for home, the Cormorant headed out again for the eastern side of the Mewstone. This time we navigated our way quickly out of the kelp and found a series of gulleys and walls full of life. The highlight for me was another wall of banded, coloured jewel anemones and a well-hidden squat lobster.

If every dive weekend were to follow this pattern, then I for one will be a very happy diver.

Trip Report by Andrew Boulton