19/03/16 – by Ivan Horoshenkov
The first day of the renowned PK trip began with a couple of people going down to PK to scout out the conditions. Receiving news that it was too rough to launch the boats and conduct training, we set our sights on Mullion Cove, despite significant protest from Damian. Bourla and I were the first to arrive at the harbour, seeing that although the vis was far from perfect, it was relatively calm and the harbour provided an ideal location for the OD trainees.
Eventually, when most people had arrived (some went to PK to rent drysuits), we split into a group of OD trainees, who were matched up to instructors, and qualified divers, who were going to go out on the boats. Having done this, we quickly realised there was a shortage of oil for the boats. Just as Andy was preparing to embark on a drive to the PK petrol station to source more oil, the harbour master emerged and offered to source the oil for us at a reasonable price. Despite sorting this issue relatively quickly, the faffing continued, and we were only ready to go out on the boats at around 12:30.
The first boat dive of the day consisted of both boats going out around the back of Mullion Island, where it was somewhat more choppy. With no real dive objectives except for ‘seeing what we can see’, the dive was more about checking the boats are in order and getting our weights right. For Josh and I the dive was rather unsuccessful, as I was considerably under-weighted and we had to be picked up. The others reported that the bottom wasn’t much more exciting bar a couple of starfish and the odd crab. We returned to shore to find that training was going fairly well, and the sun came out to accompany lunch.
Following this, a few people went for some shore dives around the harbour, but boat diving was put off for a lack of cylinders which had to be filled at the end of a lengthy drive to PK. The cylinders were prioritised for trainees, which allowed the training to continue during this time. By the time enough cylinders had arrived for the boat divers, there was just enough time for a dive on the South side of the bay. Again, there was not much to be seen in the way of sea life, but the kelp forest and large boulders proved for a somewhat interesting dive nonetheless. This dive lasted about 35 minutes and we returned to the harbour for 17:30. We then loaded up the cars and headed back to the caravan park for a relaxing end to a good day of diving.
20/03/16 – by Sam Walder
On the second day of the great Porthkerris Expedition of early 2016 we found that unfavourable conditions forced us to once again dive at the site of Mullion Harbour. Having already rehearsed the process of getting the kit out of the cars and the boats onto the water we were expertly slick. We once again saw a fellow dive club on the site (the University of Warwick if I recall correctly).
The order of the day was frantic training for all of the trainees with a little bit of boat diving for some of the qualified divers. While some explored what fantastical marine life there was to be found around the bay (one claimed to have seen a starfish) some of us went on a hunt for a lessor know wreck around the corner. After 20 minutes of hunting we divided to cut our losses with the transits and dodgy GPS coordinates we had and jumped in at a promising looking rock.
One of the two buddy pairs on the dive unfortunately had a compass that did not point north, so they did not find the wreck. For myself and my buddy, we were rewarded for our navigational prowess with a sighting of a fish. We however did not find the wreck.
On return of the boats to the bay a second wave of divers was quick to get out on the boats to try their luck with some more accurate coordinates from a more experienced member of the club. They reported back that there are indeed a few bits of wreck to see, though they are not filled with life.
Once the excitement of the morning had subsided with the onset of the afternoon we saw some of the fabled Cornwall sun. This was a relief to all of the divers waiting for the cylinders to be filled. I was able to make the most of the time with the luxury of doing the practical for the sports diver rescue.
To give further excitement to the day before putting the boats away a little sightseeing voyage around the island was hastily put together. This was somewhat short lived as one of the boats broke down just outside the bay, resulting in a towing one of the boats back to the shore.
After this there was some further training with the freshly filled cylinders, but little else in terms of diving. And so, another day on this marvellous expedition was concluded with a few drinks back at base. With some sadness in my heart, this was the point where I had to leave the rest of the group to head back to Bristol.
21/03/16 – by Chris Coltman
By Monday the weather had cleared up and we could finally dive from PK! The sea was flat and It was a nice sunny day too. We got to the beach and the ocean divers continued to work through their lessons in and around the reef with Chris, Mike and Damian instructing.
The rest of us assembled the zodiacs and shortly after headed off in search of the Volnay, a WW1 wreck just a few minutes drive up the coast around Porthallow cove. We had coordinates and used the depth sounder to scan the area. It wasn’t long before we came across what we thought was the Volnay. Alex and Andy kitted up and went down with the shot, surfacing only a few minutes later. They had descended right between the two boilers. Acceptable precision I would say.
With the Volnay marked, the rest of us went down to have a look around. Vis was around 4-5m, so not too bad and the water temperature was a chilly 8°C so 34mins was enough for myself and Carla. An enjoyable dive it was. I heard rumours of there being lobsters around the boilers but never actually saw them myself. After everyone was back on board we headed back to the beach. Andy managed to keep his breakfast down despite the 0.1m swell – Good job 😀
After a bit of lunch, we headed back around to the Volnay so that the others could dive there. We finished up around 1700 and headed back to the caravan park, celebrating the successful days diving with a banquet of pizza and bevs.
22/03/16 – by Lily Pearson
Tuesday was our second day of diving on PK, and although it wasn’t nearly as sunny as the day before, the weather was still good and the sea not too rough. Most ocean divers had almost completed their training by now, and all that was left was doing a boat dive. The boats were driven back and forth, from the beach to the reef. Myself and Sophie were one of the last to go, and had Mark instructing us how to dive off the boat. Once in the water, we had a good look around the reef and it felt amazing to finally be qualified!
At this point, some of us went back on the boats for a last dive of the day at the Volnay! It was incredibly exciting for me to be doing such an amazing dive after being qualified for less than a day! I was buddy paid with Andy, there were two boats filled with other divers and we entered the water about 2.50PM. Once underwater, there was a noticeable difference in temperature due to the deeper waters (about 10 degrees), while the surface temperature was 11 degrees. We descended right onto the boilers, and had a little swim around the entire wreck, even finding a few of the old shots used. The vis was fairly good, and saw a few spider crabs and some fairly big fish. After a total dive time of 26 minutes, all of us surfaced and head back to the beach. Diving at the Volnay was a fantastic end to my trip at PK.
23/03/16 – by Emily Grout
On Wednesday I began my sports diver training; I was buddied with John, and Damien was our instructor. It was my first boat dive at PK which was really exciting! The journey to the site itself was very relaxing and we saw a lonely seal having a sunbath on the rocks. I have to admit the sun coming through the clouds made it much harder to face the icy water. But inevitably the boat stopped, the anchor was dropped and we ‘faffingly’ pulled all our gear on (doing this gracefully is a new level of diving). We descended down a shot line onto Raglan Reef in the Manacles, this was my first experience of pulling myself further into the unknown and as we reach 20 metres I started to become aware of the cold and sense of isolation in the water.
Damien guided us along the wall which was covered in beautiful anemones in all colours and sizes, it was like a hidden Eden. Damien then picked up a spider crab for us to hold -a slightly scary experience but nonetheless it was fun to play with. He also pointed out some nudibranch eggs and some big stripy fish – but sadly my identification skills aren’t the best, so ‘big stripy fish’ has to do for the log book. My computer was telling me the water was 7 degrees and I became more and more aware of my air consumption, after 20 minutes I was beginning to worry as my air was below 100 bar, so we began to slowly ascend. John wanted some practise deploying an SMB so we had a little bob about at 5m before surfacing, which is a great time for some buoyancy practise!
24/03/16 – by John Gilbert
On our penultimate day, we headed to the Volnay wreck, a sunken WW1 supply ship.
“She was on her way from Montreal to Plymouth via Barry. She carried a mixed cargo of butter, jam, tinned meat, coffee, cigarettes, potato crisps and peanuts and timber. In addition, she also carried anti-personnel shells.
On 14th December she was hit by a mine (laid by UC-64 commanded by Erich Hecht) 2 miles from Manacles Rock. The crew were lucky that the shells on board did not explode. The was taking on waters relatively fast and the crew tried to beach her on Porthallow Bay. However, she floundered and sank at her current location. According to a local fisherman, the cargo piled “6-foot high on the beach”, giving everyone an un-rationed Christmas.” -taken from http://www.scuba-diving-adviser.co.uk/DiveSites/UKCoastalSites/ScillyIslesCornwallDevonDiveSites/Volnay.aspx
The wreck offered 6m visibility, but was a pretty chilly experience for those of us not lucky enough to have dry suits. Chris once again carried out some training for Jos and myself, and we practiced the use of a distance line, tying it off at various points along the wreck. The Volnay wreck has an abundance of lead shot from the 18lb shrapnel bombs, and most of us surfaced with at least one round lead-pellet from the dive. The boiler is home to a conger eel, which Chris kindly coaxed out with his finger. There might have been other aquatic life to see, but I was too cold to notice it.
Later that afternoon, we dived off the beach on PK reef, Chris ever-so-kindly taking Jos and I for some training on SMB use and navigation. We saw a spider crab which was fantastic, and then got back to training, getting hopelessly lost and missing the reef several times due to strong currents.
25/03/16 – by Tom Sinclair
The final day of our PK adventure was on us and only an intrepid few remained. The boats were launched from Porthoustock into the crystal blue water under a pristine blue sky but with a decidedly chilly breeze.
The first dives of the day took place on the Helford river, a shallow 6 meter dive with all manor of crabs. At this shallow depth it was a long and enjoyable dive, but the rays the river is so well known for eluded Emily, Chris and I. To make matters worse we surfaced to Kai and Kerry’s tales of petting friendly rays on their dive!
Those of us who had dived the Helford now faced the chilly ocean breeze in our wet semi drys while Damian, Jos, John, Carla, Alex and Ollie dived the Volnay for the final time. The sun did its best to dry us out and not even a disappointing thermos of cold hot chocolate could dampen our spirits while we waited for the shot to be retrieved. After a lot of hauling the shot was back on board, the final dive was complete and it was time to head back to shore for the last time.
Ahead of us lay the task that no good dive trip is complete without – sorting, repacking and cleaning kit! But we took it in our stride, it was a small price to pay for a good week of diving and the knowledge of the gratitude we would receive from those who had left us earlier in the week meant we made light work of it. Finally we headed off back to Bristol, and our beds, with the sunsetting behind us.