Five go deep in Dorset!
Written by Josh Phillips
As the saying goes, 2nd time lucky and after the original diving trip to Weymouth earlier in the year was cancelled due to poor weather, last weekend saw our luck change!
Friday evening saw us packing all our dive gear into our cars and setting off for the 150 mile drive to Weymouth. With the satnav saying 3 hours, we were all hoping that the diving wouldn’t be cancelled this weekend as no one fancied 3 hours driving there and 3 hours driving back for nothing! The objective of the weekend was of course the M2. Need I say more! By late evening we had all arrived at the hotel, and were all in the bar eagerly looking at the weather forecasts for the weekend – all looking good!
Saturday morning came and we were glad to see clear sky, sunshine and minimal wind. The hotel provided an excellent full English breakfast which set us up well for the day. Ropes off wasn’t until midday, so we had plenty of time for a visit to Underwater Explorers (for air and Nitrox cylinder fills – excellent fills as well!) and then a quick stop to O’Three across the road. One new 5mm semi-dry, pair of gloves and pair of boots later we collected the cylinders and headed down to the marina to find our boat for the weekend.
Simitar dive boat is located at the first berth on the pontoon (prime spot) and we met Nick who was our skipper for the weekend. Boat safety briefing done and gear unloaded we were underway. Lady luck was definitely on our side today – glorious sunshine and water as calm as millpond, and with hot drinks and chocolate biscuits on tap as we sped out to the first dive site of the day – the M2.
Upon reaching the dive site, Nick gave an excellent dive brief and details about the M2 itself and then we were off into the water. Located at approx. 30 metres, we started our descent all hoping to something further than the end of our hand! Excellent drop line placement by Nick saw us arrive right on top of the M2 and we were treated to 8m+ viz! We couldn’t believe our luck and so spent the next 25 min exploring the amazing wreck. So many key sections were still in place along with lots of fish life that had made it their home. The hanger and launch rails were clear and the excellent viz allowed you to appreciate the overall scale of the M2. Sadly all good things have to end, and when it was time to ascend we slowly made our way to the surface. Skipper was there to pick us up and kept up the supply of hot drinks, chocolate biscuits and hot pasties for lunch. All the talk was about the M2, the previous trips cancelled due to weather and how it all came together on this glorious day in Sept.
The 2nd dive of the day was the James Fennel, a steam trawler sunk in 1920. After a good surface interval we arrived at the site, and again following a briefing from Nick we descended to ~20m for a dive around the wreck followed by a lazy drift dive exploring the sea bed and all the local wildlife. Surfacing at the end of the second dive we all boarded the boat for final trip of the day back to the marina. Onec again Nick supplied hot drinks and yet more chocolate biscuits!
Saturday night was dinner at the hotel (burgers followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard) and an early night ready for day of our diving weekend.
Sunday morning saw an overcast sky, but an early breakfast and quick stop to collect our tank refills from Skin Deep Diving saw us on the boat by 9.00 ready for day 2 of our diving weekend. Lulworth Banks and the Frogner were our 2 destinations for the day. A slight breeze saw plenty of spray across the back of the boat, but it didn’t dampen our desire for the 2 dives of the day.
Lulworth Banks provided an excellent location for catching scallops, and judging by the catch from some of the divers they will be eating them all week! With the wind picking up and grey skies we headed back to the marina to drop of some of the other divers and collect some others as Nick cooked us more hot pasties for lunch.
Our final dive of the weekend was the Frogner – a Norwegian steamer torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on April 29th, 1918. A very impressive wreck at 51m by 18m standing 5m high. A great way to round of a perfect weekend of diving.
Back on Simitar we had the wind behind us for a fast run back to the marina. Final round of hot drinks and chocolate biscuits saw the perfect end to a fantastic weekend of diving.
Big thanks to Nick at Simitar diving for being an excellent skipper for the weekend. Skindeep for refills, Underwater Explores for cylinder hires and O’Three for a bit of luxury shopping!