When writing trip reports I have always struggled with where to begin. To write my latest piece I really had to dig into the ‘why’ of trip reports to answer this. There are many questions in life that will always go unanswered; “why did the chicken cross the road?”, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it have we found the perfect place for a Nickelback concert?”. However, as we shall see, “why do we write trip reports?” is not one of them.
So I asked myself exactly this; are we just puppets on the stage, who write to amuse and entertain? Or do we serve a greater purpose? I believe where my previous works have been the former, my latest work aspires to greater things. The answer to the question then, as to why? This is clear! We write trip reports to accurately document the trials, tribulations, and indeed the exultations, of those who partake in the diving in order to fortify the great society that is UBUC by embedding an intrinsic wisdom into its very core.
Part 1 – A not unexpected journey
After a restless night’s sleep it was to a cool but bright spring morning that I awoke. As I cleared the sleep from my weary mind I had to concede that the gin was an error (though a joyful one at the time). Today was the day on which hundreds of man hours of preparation would come to a head, today we would once again brave the undersea world to go where no member of the club had been before. With all due care and precision I lobbed all my kit into a sack and reinvigorated myself with a caffeinated beverage (it is left to the reader to choose a caffeinated beverage of their preference for this part of the story as this will help the reader to identify with the protagonist).
To stores I then travelled with my accomplice Rory, it was there, under the fresh, bright and speckled light of the union car park where I found myself glad to have done the pre-faff of the previous evening. This meant that instead of the gentle sound of the rise and fall of the pistons of Taylor, we were instead bathed on the majestic background ambiance of the unions other plant equipment. This set the scene for the arrival of the rest of our gallant team as we requisitioned from the horde what it was that was needed to undertake our voyage.
The team was then divided into two distinct parties; the scouting team and the reconnaissance team. While the scouting team made their way through the wilderness of the A37 to the site of the fabled bacon butty, the reconnaissance team sought out a delicatessen from which to acquire all of the apparatus for our highly proclaimed chef to work his wonders on the beach.
Onwards we went, in convoy along the road lesser trodden. We kept in close radio contact to ensure that all the members of our party remained accounted for on this perilous traverse of the south of the continent. Eventually we were split asunder by our divergent goals – as the distance between us grew we fell out of radio contact, leaving each of the teams on their own in the great expanse. When we would once again be reunited again we did not know, and so we soldiered on.
It was at long last that Chris and I in the scouting vehicle laid our eyes on the coast. It had not been easy, with some disagreements about whose satellite navigation system was the most reliable our journey had been fraught with dangers of a major fall out between the team (which would have of course resulted in death, as in the style of any true epic).
Having the awe of our destination in sight, it was with mild trepidation that we navigated our way the final few miles to the area which we knew to contain the final resting place of the Abbotsbury bomber. Having paid the master of the car park the prerequisite fee to use the facilities we were quick to equip ourselves with a kingly snack; from the beachside kitchenette that had clearly been prepared for our glorious arrival we were able to obtain a bacon butty of adequate quality. This gave us the necessary strength of mind to put behind us the misery of the drive such that we could then overlook the path that lay before us (which, as it turns out, led just over the rise and onto the beach).
As we made our way onto the beach, we made sure to keep a sharp eye out for signs of transits. My accomplice, Chris, is experienced in this and had warned me of the possible dangers with these fickle beasts. (For those who do not know, the wild transit can take on almost any form, and even with prior information as to where to expect them to be, it is often still difficult to identify the creatures.) We were somewhat spooked to find that the large dragon’s teeth that had been foretold to exist in these parts were nowhere to be seen. In light of the theft of these ancient scars on the landscape we retreated to seek the knowledge of the local populace.
It was in the light of new intelligence that we realised that both the dragon’s teeth and the wreck of the bomber had both been covered by the sand and silt, buried too deep to be rediscovered. We rapidly had to reassess our situation and communicate it to the other half of our party… wherever they were…
Part 2 – Plan B
Later, we found ourselves on the way to hive beach – the backup plan. We had communicated this to the reconnaissance party by way of the hi-tech cellular based radio transceivers we had brought with us. Now the entire party was heading for the car park on what turned out to be a site of outstanding natural beauty. Just moments after our scouting team arrived, the reconnaissance team drove in, triumphant in their successful finding of several disposable barbeques and a small mountain of meaty goodness.
Once a little bit of faffing with the parking had been accomplished, all 7 of our party reassembled to overlook the beach. What a site this was! The calm blue-green ocean was framed with clay cliffs to the left and sandstone cliffs to the right. The briefing of our valent crew was then delivered, outlining a plan to follow a fault in the rock along west that would then lead us to a reef. This was to be the target of our best diving.
We then once again turned our attention to the classic UBUC past time of faffing about. This time this took on the form of unloading the kit from the cars onto the beach. After a time of hard labour we began to suit up for the first of what would undoubtedly be some of the world’s very finest diving. Most of us then in our exposure suits, we then decided that it would be nicer to locate our kit a bit further down the beach. This warmed us all up nicely such that by the time we had moved everything we were exhausted.
We entered the water at around half past noon with the tide relatively slack. We grouped our divers into a two and a three with those in dry suits in one group and semi-dry suits in the other. We swam out from the shore by just a few meters before making our decent into the deep. Signalling our intent we descended down and down until we reached the dizzying depth of just over 6m. By the time we reached the bottom of the deep it was about all we could do to remain within sight of the rest of our divers. The sea was like a soup from a school dinner, thin, murky and full of disappointment. Visibility was barely in excess of 1m and at times it was significantly less.
Re-establishing our bearings we then left to explore the sub aqua realm, what we would find still an unbounded curiosity. Within minutes I was shocked to see that one of my buddy’s hands had mutated on exposure to the elements into what looked like a spidery crustacean. Of course this was just their little jape, as they had instead picked up a small wonder of the ocean – the wiley spider crab. This legendary creature can often be spotted in the deep ocean around the coasts of middle earth and is commonly known as the servants of the gates keepers to the underworld. On their days off though they enjoy perambulating around the local delicatessens nibbling on the fruits of the ocean. Returning this creature to its musings we ventured onwards.
Through our explorations, navigating this way and that we saw many more of these creatures, but it was by chance that I had the fortune of spotting a dogfish deep in slumber. We spent some time marvelling and performing the traditional dance to appease the breatherand of dogfish. At no point did he wake from his slumber, which means that our dance was to the brethren’s satisfaction. Onwards we journeyed.
After around 40 minutes in the undersea world we found that our capacity for discovery began to dwindle (though we were wrongly accused for running out of interest in the bleak diving, which could of course not have been further from the truth). We began the transition back to the surface leaving this place behind until next time. On our arrival at the surface we found that our navigation had kept us close to the entry point. We did not find the fault at any point and as such the reef remained beyond reach. We would return later to attempt to discover the reef.
As we dragged ourselves up the beach it was with the overwhelming excitement and joy of a small child who had been returned to their loving parents after a long period of isolation that Chris announced that he had the barbeque well under way. Shedding our weight we assessed the culinary delights that were in preparation on the temporary mobile cooking station. To our elation there were the BBQ classics of pork cylinders and beef pancakes with carbohydrate sponges to wrap it all in. After a period of lounging in our sweet excellence, we turned our eyes once again to the ocean to find where our other divers had gotten to. Looking out to sea in the direction of the entry point and turning our sights west, we suddenly saw a distant speck. Clearly this was them, they had travelled an incredible distance and on establishing that they were happy we decided to bravely leave them to their long walk back to base.
After gorging ourselves on the meat and the carbs we spent a few moments, neigh, hours settling into a state of trance on the beach. Gazing into the skies we looked upon the oscillation of the distant planets around galactic central point and realised how utterly dull the distant universe is in comparison with the bustling hive that is the deep of our more local, and yet inaccessible oceans. With this musing we once again began to discuss what we hoped to discover in our next crusade through the oceans so blue.
Once again donning our life support systems we slipped into the cool waters. On this occasion we had decided to follow the current to wherever it may take us, in the hope that the local gods would take us to new and yet undiscovered places (the names of the local gods have long since slipped into history in a bit of a subtle way, but we heard a rumour that once one of the local gods won the crossword competition on mount Olympus back at a rather ‘happening’ party making them a bit of a celebrity). We began our descent into the blue for the second time on this day and were not entirely unsurprised to see that we still couldn’t see anything. However this minor detail could not dampen our spirits as they were all tightly locked up inside our dry suits!
We ventured on, playing a game of ‘who can spot the biggest spider crab’. A game which it turns out both I and Hayley are quite good at, though I sit safe in the knowledge that as the overlord of the crustatiouse collection of crabs I can call into being a crab of any size at a whim. We scoured the seabed for another 40 minutes and once again found more life than I care to mention in this rather brief recollection of those events that unfolded. The most notable of the sightings made in this visit to the realm however was a spider crab of outstandingly typical proportions. This crab was rather aggressive though and we think it was likely because some cheeky dolphin had pinched his staff of enlightenment, robbing him of his telekinetic powers. This meant it took little antagonisation to get him to jump and try to pinch our fingers.
After leaving the crab to continue on his desperate search for his lost power we soon found that we were once again full to capacity with our tolerance for the discovery of the new and decided to return to the land. Ascending to the surface we found that we had moved some way west from our initial entry point and it was now time to paddle back to our base of operations.
On our rather triumphant return to base we set about having a nice rest. One of the major discoveries of the day was then made – in one of the shopping bags there was a pack of chocolate digestive biscuits! Fantastic! In honor of the ancestors we ate as many as we could before fully settling into a resting state. It was at this point that Hayley indicated that she was too warm. Chris and myself were quick to put our advanced rescue skills into practice and adeptly buried her in the sand. This is a somewhat lesser known technique, but she quickly stopped complaining of her temperature and instead the weight of sand. This is a sure fire indication that the problem had been resolved, and thus we rested.
Some ten minutes thereof a final dive was suggested to have a final look at the bottom of the deep for further life. This final expedition was once again going to include all of our diving party (apart from Hayley, she was inappropriately cynical about the chances of us finding and treasure on the last dive – but as the old adage goes; “third times the charm”). Once again we stepped forth into the breach, what wonders would unfold before us still a world of infinite possibilities.
Astoundingly, we made our most crucial discovery on this final dive. After accepting some slightly dubious directions from one of the local inhabitants (I think he said his name was Dave, nice chap) we swam forth, past the rock with the hole in it, left past the impending threat of failure, straight on past the feeling of existential doom, to the big rock of forgotten promises. Here it was that we made our startling discovery – a small carving in the rock face cautioning divers of the poor diving conditions at Hive beach after a week of Northerly winds.
Part 3 – The Awakening
A bump in the road awoke me from my dozing. I had found myself in the front seat of Chris’ majestic Volvo once again and a combination of the motion of the car and the exhaustion from packing all the kit into the chariots had sent me into a pleasant slumber.
Editor notes: Actually the Volvo has some of the comfiest suspension around, so I hope it was more of a crater in the road than a bump.
As the landscape rolled by in the distance I reflected on the triumph that was our latest quest. With a party of a mere 6 people we had managed to explore the lesser known world at Hive beach. Our discoveries beyond that which can be articulated through any tong, and our experience a characterful reminder of the insignificance of us in the patchwork that makes up our feeble society. As the world spins on, and the decades roll past, what will the UBUC of the distant future take of how we conduct ourselves now? They may perhaps come to exist in a world that we would see as completely devoid of sense and meaning, where the clubs diving is somehow entirely replaced with faff. Whatever the future holds, we must march forwards, through the passage of time, exploring as we do such that those who will come after us can understand the very existence that surrounds them.