I joined Dream Divers Dive Club at the start of this year and this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to go on an excursion with them. It was a three-day dive in Plymouth. Since it was the first time I’d been to Plymouth, this was a cultural experience as well as an adventurous one.
My first dive ever was in June 2009, when I was a member of another club. Since then, I dived in the seas around the north of England and Scotland, as well as some foreign countries such as the Dominican Republic and Malta. Despite this, I’d been wanting to dive in the sea around the south of England, so when Dream Divers offered me the opportunity to go with them to Plymouth, I could not refuse!
Therefore, on the 2nd of April, we set off on a 4 and a half hour journey to our destination. Yeah it’s a long drive, but definitely worth it in the end. The experience of diving underwater down south is different to up north – both have their allure, but it was nice to see something different to what I had been used to. You will see from the pictures the different creatures we encountered, namely Spider Crabs, Spiney Spider Crabs, Jewel Anemones and southern softies drinking lager and lime!! We thought we would encounter basking sharks but we didn’t, and to be honest, I can’t say I wasn’t relieved not to see such a massive creature face to face, even though they’re not man eaters!
The first time we went out on the boat, we couldn’t actually dive, due to the terrible weather and the massive swells. We had to go back to shore and attempt a later dive. Should this happen to you, if you need to go to the supermarket and you’re still wearing your dry suit (since it was still raining), be prepared for comments such as “I knew the weather was bad, but not that bad!” Too bad we don’t have a photo of it and of the locals’ faces when they saw us walking in!
The first dive was on the wreck of the Elk, which had to be aborted due to insanely strong currents and no visibility, so we then went to Breakwater Fort, a.k.a Fort Boyard, but unfortunately without Melinda Messenger… The visibility at Breakwater Fort however, was no better than at the wreck of the Elk – we carried on until we got to a clearing where the visibility improved and we got to see things such as Pink Sea Fans, Dragonet Fish, Spiny Squat Lobster, Starfish, Spiney Starfish and Shrimp.
The next day, Cliff the Skipper on Fintan (the name of the boat we were on), took us out about 12 miles to a place called Hands Deep, which is a reef about 15 metres at the shallow end and around 55 metres at the deep end. This dive was excellent, with good visibility and loads to see, such as Sea Toad (or Great Spider Crab), Spiney Spider Crab, Seven Armed Starfish, Jewel Anemones, Boring Sponge, Elephant’s Hide Sponge, Sea Urchin, Cotton Spinner, Cuckoo Wrasse and Dead Men’s Fingers, amongst other things. On the way back we stopped at Hillsea Point. Once again, we had visibility problems, but we were still able to see plenty of marine life already mentioned above, as well as some other sponges such as Axinella Dissinilis.
Apart from the diving – Plymouth is great for a night out, good restaurants, lively nightlife and friendly locals. There are also loads of things to do for accompanying spouses / friends / relatives, who might not be into diving as such.
On the whole, despite the bad visibility on a few of the dives, it was a brilliant weekend and I got to see loads of marine life that I hadn’t seen elsewhere (the most impressive being the Spiny Spider Crabs). I am definitely looking forward to my next trip with Dream Divers!