When Gary, aka Great Uncle Bulgaria – the oldest and wisest of the Wimbledon Wombles and their leader, asked if anybody wanted to help clean the Glanmire wreck of rubbish, we wombles jumped at the chance. Little did we know that temperatures would plunge to below freezing and Angus, the first named storm of the year would be threatening us out in the North Sea. James,aka Tobermory – an engineer, a skilled inventor, and avid diver tooled himself up with a variety of cutting implements and was chomping at the bit to get started on the clean up. He excitedly told us of his vast array of lift bags and clips as we planned our operation in Oblos on Friday night.
Sadly Jake, aka Orinoco – who loves sleep and food, was snowed in and didn’t make the first dive on Saturday so there was plenty of room on deck and we braced the -3 degrees and set out as the sun came up over the cliffs.
Chris, aka Tomsk – an athletic Womble, discovered that ‘slack’ doesn’t always mean slack and reappeared at the surface puffing and panting, with tales of endurance and exhaustion. He must have been delerious because he kept mentioning something about a train.
It turns out that wombling at 32m in the dark with a raging current is quite tiring and shortly every body was back onboard , empty handed and empty tanked.
Dive two was more successful and shortly after descending James sent up a lift bag. Attached was a mere tonne of tangled rope which took four of us to haul on board. This manoeuvre was expertly executed by Douggie, the toughest and most agile 73 year old I know. We were momentarily concerned that James was in fact wrapped up inside but it turned out to be just a couple of gasping fish which we duly rescued.
By 8.30 pm we were all fed and watered and ready for bed, thanks to the early start, and everybody had turned in by 9pm! (Good little wombles).
Uncle Bulgaria was really looking after us and on Sunday morning we were greeted by a radiator festooned with warm, dry, gloves. This was a bonus seeing as it was so cold the mask bucket had frozen solid and we had to salt the deck! Liz , Andy and Chris opted for a dive on Anemone Gullies, and enjoyed 55 mins of exploration, flat fish and lobbies whilst down on the wreck some serious wombling was going on! Tim and James launched several creels to the surface, whilst Bob and Tom sensibly kept their distance. Luckily all wombling bags and divers made it safely back on board and enjoyed hot coffee and an odd biscuit or two to warm through.
Following the fourth and final dive we arrived back in Eyemouth harbour to unload our wombling haul, which was actually quite impressive (see photo) and we celebrated with a ‘healthy portion’ of fish and chips.
Learning points of the weekend:
1. Tides are unpredictable.
2. It’s bloomin’ cold in November in Scotland.
3. Pruning saws are not that effective on rope under water.
4. An 18l cylinder is not such a daft idea.
5. An empty twinset is very bouyant.
Thanks Gary and Zoe for the usual hospitality, and to all the junior wombles for making it a great wreck wombling weekend.