A gaggle of UBUCer’s headed on the long journey south to Seaview Holiday Park on the Lizard, where they would be taking up residence during the weeks diving at Porthkerris Diving cove. Various cars set off at various point throughout the day, but all arrived just in time for the first night’s caravan party.
Around 45 divers crammed themselves into the committee caravan for a night of drinking. Unlike the previous year’s party, the group had the caravan site to themselves, meaning no accidental waking up nearby families sleeping in their tents. While the mood was joyous, there was an underlying feeling of dread as the weather forecast predicted a terrible weekend of wind and rain, which may halt diving before it even started.
The group woke up early on a surprisingly sunny and clear Saturday morning, and headed down to Porthkerris cove to see a beautifully still sea and clear sky! They pushed through their hangovers to empty the van and arrange the kit, then huddled around Will who was managing today’s diving.
On shore, it was full steam ahead getting our OD’s qualified – Sam, Meg, Andy, Will, Edu and Ellie worked tirelessly to squeeze in as many waves of trainees in as possible. The previous night’s drinking had started to take effect on some of the trainees, who quickly learnt diving with a hangover is not fun. When not underwater, the rest of the group explored the PK cove, looked around the gift shop and sampled Bart’s amazing home cooking. There was a slight pause in diving after it was discovered Swansea had supplied us with some cylinders with a bad fill, but the quick action of the Dive Leaders resolved this issue and diving commenced shortly after.
Meanwhile, a whole different adventure was occurring on the boats. After the gang had launched the boats, myself, Lewis and Edu headed out on the (surprisingly well behaved) UBUC Chris and UBUC Walsh to the Volnay to place a shot line for the week’s diving. After a couple of circles around the dive site with the echo sounder, the trio took the plunge and released the shot onto where they hoped the boilers would be. The group then headed back to pick up the first wave of divers, before returning for the first wreck dive of the season. Just as everything seemed to be going well, the group received a text regarding the discovery of the spicy Swansea air fills. After some short deliberation, only Lewis and Matt decided to go ahead with their Volnay dive and proceed down the shot line. Roughly 30 minutes later they re-emerged, claiming incredible viz and a perfect shot onto the centre of the boilers! The group then headed back to the cove to join the rest of the divers and pack up.
The late-night parting, followed by a long day diving, and a short night ahead (thanks to the clocks going forward), meant most had an early night with their new caravan friends, before an early bedtime.
The group (and an innocent family… thanks Ben) woke early to another fantastic day of sun. Again, the group headed down to Porthkerris, where it was the turn of Tom “queen of faff” Marinko to lead this days’ diving.
Trainee diving was in full swing on shore once again, with qualified divers exploring the life-rich PK reef, looking for a range of marine life lurking within its craggy crevices and dense seaweed forests.
Meanwhile, the boats were busy delivering divers to the Volnay. This was known as a “happy wreck”, as no lives were lost during the sinking, which occurred the Christmas period in 1917. The ship released its cargo, mostly of munitions heading to France, onto the shore of the local village – the perfect Christmas present for those living through dreary WW1 winter. Once the final wave of divers had surfaced, the group headed back home for a Chilli non Carne meal.
This evening’s social was a fire on the nearby Kennick Sands, where the group enjoyed a boozy night on the beach, cooking marshmallows, making smores and juggling fire.
The group arose on Monday morning either joyous, that they were heading home, or solemn that they had to endure another relentless day of wet, salty diving faff at Porthkerris (or maybe that should be the other way around?).
This was the busiest day for the boats, where three waves of divers endured slightly choppier seas to see the Volnay wreck. Today was extra exciting, as it was the first day some of our fresh OD trainees tried their diving legs without the need of an instructor – and what better dive than a wreck at 18m!
The group returned home for another veggie meal and settled in early as three days’ worth of diving were starting to take their toll, with the potential for a lie in tomorrow morning on the cards.
That night there was a terrible storm, with heavy rain and strong winds. The caravans were rocking and the sound was unbearable – it felt like I was sharing a caravan with Alex and Becca. Fortunately, the group had a lie in, and awoke slightly less early in the day to a surprisingly clear sky.
Making the most of the relatively clear weather, a large chunk of the group headed down to Cornish Seal Sanctuary. Here they observed a range of species of seal, penguin, and livestock, as well as catching up with UBUC friend Ray the seal. After a couple hours moseying around the sanctuary, the group headed home with an array of Ray themed gifts from the gift shop.
After dinner, the group headed on the treacherous walk over the fields and along the rocky coastline towards the local seaside town of Cadgwith for some drinks at the local pub. Here, they were met by a surprise evening of sea shanties from the locals. Later, the group settled down for a UBUC pub quiz, which sported a range of unusual and unique rounds such as SCUBA, marine animals, general knowledge, songs, sport and biochemistry. The quiz finished off with a game of Guess Who?, where UBUCer’s had to guess the person’s identity based on something embarrassing they had done that week.
For those who were missed it, here were some of the questions:
- Who threw up in the car on the way to PK?
- Who lost their GoPro in PK reef?
- Who jumped off the a boat, with the anchor accidentally wrapped around their leg?
- Who spent half their 25-minute dive to the Volnay doing a safety stop?
- Who went out to the Volnay on the boats twice, but failed to dive it both times?
Just after close, the group headed home along the far less treacherous roads, and settled in for the night.
The group woke and gathered at PK on a dreary, Wednesday morning. The sky was cloudy, and the sea choppy – there would be no boat diving today. A couple of duos dived PK reef, where the viz was low and the surface swirly.
Alex and I dived around the in the protected central area of the reef, which (embarrassingly) was my first time ever diving PK reef. The viz was low, and the current was strong, so there was very little life about, but we still managed to spot some crabs and starfish among the many cracks in the sunken rocks. We arose after a short dive outside of the sheltered area, so had an exhausting swim back to shore. We dove again in the reef later in the day with Ben, where we attempted to explore the back of the reef, around the more exposed crack of life. We circled the back of the reef, looking into the various underwater gulleys and crevices for signs of life, before battling the waves and swimming back to shore.
Towards the end of the day the rain started to pour down, but the gang still gathered to take part in some Practical Rescue Management (PRM) scenarios for Dive Leader training. For those unaware, these are fake scenarios that acted out to test Dive Leader trainees responses to various problems that may arise while managing a dive site. These ranged from lost, unconscious, injured, and bent divers to the accidental discovery of an unexploded bomb! The non DL trainees acted out various characters within the scene, which could be anything from an injured diver, fellow club member, helpful passer-by, arrogant overconfident PADI diver, accident prone old lady, confused dog walker or annoying social media influencer. The Dive Leader trainee then had to manage the situation among the ensuing chaos. Fortunately, Harry, Ben, Ned and Sam all managed to keep a cool head and manage the situation, despite the poor weather conditions and over-dramatization by some of the actors.
The group then headed home for a relaxed night in after a wet and windy day diving.
In stark comparison to Wednesday, Thursday was a clear and calm day at sea. Due to this, the gang had big plans for three waves of boat dives, including a shot recovery and some diver leader experience dives, and of course shore diving on the reef.
Unfortunately for the gang made the fatal mistake of assuming the boat engines would work, which is never a wise thing to do. Shortly after heading towards the Volnay, Millie (who had been very well behaved all week) decided to cut out and not start. Despite the team’s attempts to revive her, she was well and truly dead. During her resuscitation period the boats had slowly drifted out to sea, and eventually the group called it quits and headed back to shore, with the other boat in tow.
After dropping off divers, myself, Harry, Alex and Lewis spent a few hours disassembling, cleaning and reassembling the engine, but with no results. Fortunately, Harry had some uncooked crumpets and chocolate spread on hand to keep us going, but I can’t say was the nicest lunch I’ve ever had. Refusing to go home without a dive in, Harry and Lewis decided on an “exciting” dive down the boat buoy’s line to its based, before heading back to shore. Alex and myself dragged the boats back to the beach, ready for to be packed up for the last time this trip.
Friday was an early start for Alex and myself, as we tasked with heading over Plymouth to pick up a diver who was being assessed at Plymouth DDRC. Fortunately, they we deemed fit and well, but this goes to show you should always err on the side of caution while diving, even if nothing comes of it. While we were there, we got a tour of the chamber by the friendly nurses and engineers who operated it. We hope to organise a trip to DDRC soon so keep your eyes out for that!
We then returned to PK where the rest of the group had been packing up the boats onto the trailers and sorting the van after out last day diving. Despite a minor hiccup where a car got stuck on the beach, the group headed back to the caravan site to get ready for a boozy evening back at the pub watching sea shanties. Sadly I missed out on this evening of fun, as I headed off on the 4 hour drive home.
As I was not around the rest of the trip, the rest of this report has been written by Lewis Hope.
Late Friday evening, we made the decision that if the weather looked bad in the morning, we would head home first thing. It was not looking hopeful! As we slept I swear you could feel the caravan moving in the wind and hear the drops rain smacking against the windows as if they were a bullets. As I emerged from my, not so deep (quite hungover), slumber there was a calmness was in the, the gods of PK had looked on us with pity and treated us to one last day of diving!
I excitedly ran to awake my fellow campers, not sure they wanted me to but they were used to it by then, and told them the good news. After much faff, we arrived for one last time at PK reef to see what she had to offer with one problem. Will, our trusty dive manager, was going to be in Falmouth all morning!!
All was not lost, the previous night we had unwittingly formed a secret alliance. By yet another miracle, Matt Stone’s (who you will know as next years equipment officer) brother was on a dive trip with the Cambridge and Oxford SACs. So a quick word with Will, in which we discussed the importance of making sure we looked like better divers, and a chat to their DM confirmed that we would dive with them. The only issue, in their infinite wisdom they had decided to dive on the beach and not on the reef that was 20 meters further down the beach.
Their first divers, coincidentally Matt’s brother, went in. And after surface swimming from one end of the beach to the other, had to abort their dive immediately due to a drysuit issue. It was looking promising for making our instructors proud. We entered the water, and as we had expected, it was utter garbage. I won’t bore you with details, just don’t dive on the beach when there is a reef right next to it!
Finally as Will returned, we ran perhaps to eagerly, for our final dive of PK on the reef. As Ben Kemp and I sat there on our safety stop we surfaced a good 40 meters further out than the reef where we had started our stop. It was a sign, PK was done with us, and it was time to head home.
Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s PK trip and made it so memorable. A massive thankyou to the committee, instructors, and boat handlers, as well as Kel at Seaview Holiday Park, Lee at PK, Boris the cook, and of course James, UBUC’s very own white van man.