In a bid to get the best Trip Sec Award I pulled out all the stops:
- Facebook event – Check
- Text messages – Check
- E-mail – Check
- A full guide to the arrangements, directions, parking, food etc – Check
- (But more on this later.)
Finally the day arrives, it’s Saturday morning and we’re on route to the North East. It’s a beautiful day (sun shining and very little breeze) and even the traffic is kind to us.
Car by car we arrive at the Royal Quays Marina and find our grassy knoll of a car park, all that is but one! The clock’s ticking, everyone’s on the boat and yet we’re still a man down. Finally John arrives, I think he was a bit stressed given a friendly fisherman warned him that his car windows had been left open, his response – “F**k Off!” :-).
“What kept you” we ask, “I got lost” he says, “bloody sat nav kept taking me to a dead end”. So – back to my event planning, “Didn’t you see the Facebook event? The guided directions? The annotated satellite photo of where to go and park?”, “No – What’s all that?” – I GIVE UP!!!
Finally we’re off and after a short sail, dive one is on the Cider Wreck. It’s flat calm and still the sun is shining. Tim’s brought along a new toy (his pride and joy), a two hundred odd pound strobe for the shot line.
In he goes to clip it on and keep us well navigated whilst the rest of us faf and finally get in the water. It’s a pleasant dive with reasonable vis for this part of the world but all too soon our damned computers are telling us to get topside. We’ve all manage well, Liz found some “spidge” (a ginger ale bottle) and some with the help of the strobe came up the shot (that can’t be said of me, Graham and Jared).
All onboard and it’s time to pull up the shot, heave-ho up she comes but what’s this? No strobe! “What the ****? * 5” Tim says and before you can say surface interval he and Keith are making bubbles again. What’s a bit of deco between a man and his strobe?
In no time at all (or so it seems to those of us with tea-coffee and hobnobs) a victorious pair surface with a strobe flashing almost as brightly as Tim’s smile.
Second dive of the day (or third for some) is on the Pandora, another smashing dive with ok vis, boilers, prop shaft and a partial prop. Again the three wise men can’t find the shot but hey ho DSMB practice is always useful 😉 . We’re not the only ones to surface under an SMB, Tim & Liz were doing so well clearing deco until some overly helpful diver starts pulling them up followed by Allan piloting the boat over the top of them. Can’t remember Liz using language like that before, she must have learned it from the kids at school.
Unfortunately at this point we’ve a diver worse for wear, Richard’s got a banging headache and in his own words admits to being a “woosy diver”.
Wow we’re really steaming on with this diving malarkey, it’s only just lunchtime and true to form our skipper Allan whips up a hot lunch of Chicken Tikka Masala to warm our cockles. It’s at this point that the Batley’s own up to having had curry the night before, “you do know we’re having curry tonight?” I ask. (Put the loo roll in the fridge).
We forgo the offer of a third dive in favour of a pint on harbour side in the Earl of Zetland followed by a snooze for some and cylinder filling for others. (By the way, the sun is still shining).
Cylinders filled, power naps done and glad rags on we’re “oot on the toon”, not quite but checking out Tynemouth for curry & beer. A great night out was had by all but the bravado may have gone a little too far for me & Keith as we foolishly take the chilli challenge, “waiter, more beer please”.
Day two arrives and after a mammoth Brewers Fayre breakfast, lots of water, headache tables and the odd case of IBS, we’re off diving again. Well, some of us at least, John & Richard bail out and poor Liz has the ‘flu aches’ and hasn’t the strength to lift her toothbrush. “Time to push off guys?”, hang on, were are the Batley’s off to? Apparently Bev’s full face mask is more useful on the boat than left in the hotel bathroom.
Dive one is a wreck called the Illius, a large amount of wreckage spread out over a big area but I can’t say that I took a lot of it in given that I had lost a weight pouch and spent half the dive looking for rocks to fill my pockets. Tim must have eyes like a hawk and found some fishing lead to help keep me down. Crisis averted we tentatively surface with some deep stops for good measure. Back on board it’s like a geology field trip.
Yet again Tim feels the need to go on a salvage mission (that man likes his deco). Not so lucky this time though, the unclipper fish has made off with my pouch an about 5kg of lead.
Dive two is a large dredger just of the coast of Sunderland. I bail out and keep Liz company (not that she needed any with her new camera to play with). All surface safely and today we’re treated with Chicken in White Wine Sauce and rice for lunch, I could get used to this hot lunch arrangement.
We kindly decline Allan’s offer of a third dive and that’s it, time to pack up and go home but not before a quick debrief in the Zetland.
All in all a great weekend, thanks to Allan and all who came and made it such a good one.