A nice late start of 9am saw 17 sleepy UBUC’ers congregating at stores (well, 16.. Meg was late so we had to pick her up). An uneventful drive down to Thurlestone, with the exception that all the cars bar ours went to the other beach (West side). Unfortunately we didn’t know the transits from there so everyone had to drive back round to the East side.
It’s a really good idea to drive the cars down to the bottom of the lane and unload / load them, saves a slog down and up (especially if you’ve got twin 12s…). After moving everything onto the beach, Alex and Neil swam out to find the wreck and put tie a DSMB to it, whilst I gave a brief of the site. Once the blob had surfaced, each buddy pair started the long swim out.
We took the opportunity of the first dive to do weight checks with the new divers (and some of our old ones!). Peter and I stayed on shore as shore cover, until Alex and Neil returned. By this time it was low tide (the Louis Shied sticks out of the water on low springs… so we weren’t expecting much depth!).
Thankfully, the dive went really well. Firstly, a nice slow swim out and then descending down the line to around 5 metres, right next to the boilers. There were a few buoyancy issues to sort out but we took our time and soon we were swimming along very nicely, looking through all the gaps and under all the plate. There’s lots of little critters living in the boilers so take your time to look for those. During the daytime, the Louis Shied is full of large wrasse and a few other species of fish. Not many crustaceans to report, though. Visibility was about 4-5 metres, temperature 14-15 degrees C. We swam all of the way down the east side of the prop shaft (sticking to the bottom of the wreck), and then all the way back along the west side, this time on top of the wreck so we could look into it. We finished off by completing OO4 – a CBL followed by a two, then a weightbelt drop in the shallows.
Nearly everyone decided they wanted to hang around to do a night dive, which was great! We headed back in at about 6:30pm, and immediately came across the small issue that the DSMB had no glowstick on it, and it was mostly deflated. We took my glowstick off my cylinder and tied it on (with difficulty). It turns out there’s definitely a hole in the DSMB, however, as even though we fully inflated it before we went under, by the time we came to collect it I managed to reel it all the way back in, even though I was 7m down.
The dive itself was a completely different beast to the first one. This time, there seemed to be so much more life – loads of edible crabs, hundred of shrimp, a few lobsters (including some really big ones), more goatfish-esque (not really sure what they’re called) fish, plus the opportunity to see all of the wrasse sleeping (remember not to shine your torch in their eyes and wake them!).
By the time we’d exited the water, dekitted, redressed and packed the cars it was around 9:00pm. We were going to go to a pub but in the end decided just to head back and grab food on the go. We made it back to stores by 11:30pm (although we did have to put the light on inside the car and turn the music up to keep Alex awake) and set about washing the kit and pumping cylinders for the IFCs.
All in all, a really great wreck, a good days diving and hopefully a nice introduction to UBUC and UK diving for our new members!