Browsing articles from "July, 2014"
Jul 13, 2014

Secret Dive Spot – Cornwall, UK 30-06-2014

Last day of a great weekend with Elli and as I was now the guide had decided to take her to one secret dive spot that has been fun to dive in the past with some nice critters. We were both absolutely knackered and I had pain in muscles I had forgotten were there, planning on doing 7 dives over the weekend turned out to be 5, not because we weren’t willing but because we were both a little un-use to it and the dives we had done over the last couple of days had all been shallow gentle dives, so far.

The train was at 2.45PM so we did have enough time to do 2 dives if we had been up early enough, wasn’t going to happen though and I knocked for Elli at about 8.30 with breakfast cooking away downstairs. By the time we had eaten and loaded the car it was about 10.30am, I had spent some of the evening before sorting out the photos and video from the day before and I showed Elli, even though we were both tired I was looking forward to this dive as I knew cuttlefish were in the bay on previous dives, but what we did find surprised me a lot more.

As most times we have been there this secret dive spot was quiet when we arrived, the sea was mirror like with a gentle breeze blowing onshore, we kitted up and took our BC’s to the wall at the head of the beach, as I was sorting my camera out Elli suddenly turned into a penguin.

 

Penguin Elli from Diving Junkie on Vimeo.

 Helping each other with our BC’s I told Elli about the dive and that we would follow the reef out of the bay, go to the right to follow the reef at about 3-4m while the tide was out and turn around when one of us was at 100bar, and off down the beach we went.

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A young flounder was hiding, hoping the big black burly things hovering over him wouldn’t see him, must have had a ‘PHEW!’ moment as we left him in peace and Elli was sticking her head into holes again and came out of one with an excitement in her eyes, as she looked at me and pointed into the hole I carefully stuck my head in to see what had her gleaming so much to find these little critters hiding there.

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There was a lot of them scurrying up toward the back of the small cave to hide from my light.

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We carried on looking around, there was a lot of critters about, mostly small shrimps and fry darting in and out of the seaweed, crabs and a few wrasse but then Elli was pointing at something with her finger and I couldn’t make it out as it was suspended in the water column, then I realised it was a baby jellyfish, it is the blur on her glove by her thumb, I think it was a moon jelly.

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In the past diving at this site it had always been sandy around the base of the reef but this time there was a lot of seaweed, like a carpet across the seabed as far as the eye could see (about 4-5m vis)

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After seeing the baby jelly I started looking a little more closely at the things floating above the seafloor, there were hundreds of baby jellies, and I think they are called water fleas, I took this one on seaweed but there were hundreds of these in the water column as well.

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By now the wind must have picked up as the swell was starting to get a little much, I noticed we were finding it harder and harder to keep away from the gullies and signaled Elli to turn around as I thought it was best to start heading back but then Elli had that look in her eyes again, and she was pointing at something in the water column again, I watched it fall to the seaweed and saw it was a nudibranch, it was my first proper sighting and it even got me excited as I looked around on the weed and saw they were everywhere. Being aware of how I was feeling and knowing Elli must have been a bit more tired I took a couple of shots to try and capture it and was even more pleased when I got home to find this.

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I cropped it slightly to bring it more into frame, with the wide angle lens on it wasn’t the best thing to crop though with the loss of detail.

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We then started to head back, Elli looked at me and I saw she was really tired, I signaled to go up so I could tow her back around the bay to the beach and we had a pleasant chat about the prawns and nudibranchs we had seen as I was towing her. I hadn’t realised how far we had come out from the bay though and made a sweeping curve back to get away from the tidal surges at shallower water.

Getting to the beach I helped Elli out of her fins and got her to drop her weights at the tide line to make it easier for her to walk back up the beach, we de-kitted chatting about the dive (and I collected her weights for her), and me apologising for the sudden pick up of of the swell even though the wind was to blame and headed to a superstore in town so she could get a container for her collection of malted crab claws and shells, then I treated her to her first Cornish pasty, a proper Cornish pasty made here and not some fake mock up in a store in London.

We washed the kit back at mine and I took her to the train station in time for her train, it had been a great weekend of diving and seeing Elli pick it back up so easily after learning on the Great Barrier reef in Australia 2 years ago was a real pleasure. I arranged to drop her kit back the following morning as I could hardly keep my eyes open on the way home and thought a drive to Falmouth was a bit stupid in the state I was in, especially after towing her back over 100m in slightly choppy surface conditions earlier and went to sleep watching an episode of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau on octopus.

I am really looking forward to Elli coming down again and hope she will, we may not have as much life around Cornwall, or it be as warm as where she learnt but being with another diver who is relaxed in the water and getting excited about the things they are seeing is worth it.

Jul 10, 2014

Castle Beach U-Boat Wreck Dive 29-06-2014

After such a nice lunch it was hard to get back into the water but taking Elli to see UB128, the wreck dive off of Castle beach was going to be worth it for the second dive of the day. I had forgotten to tell her we had a surface swim to the U-Boat, well how far it was as I am sure I said ‘we follow the transects till we find the wreck after a little swim’.

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Funny thing about those transects though, after the storms the cafe on the beach was knocked down, leaving only foundations and they had put one of those orange plastic chicken wire type fences around them, everyone was trying to tell me we wouldn’t find the wreck with one of the transects gone but after a small swim we dropped down right on the bow.

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Elli looked as though she was laughing when I signaled OK and she back as she pointed down to see this young lady right underneath me, Elli couldn’t help but wanting to pose with her.

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As I was descending I saw a couple of small things move about on the floor but will get to them shortly as this was a dive to remember and there are some beautiful photos to follow at just over 5m depth.

Flounders made an appearance, this was the nicest shot, and from right at the bow as well but these still weren’t the small things hugging the sandy seabed.

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From the front of the U-Boat the profile could be clearly seen heading South(ish) straight out from the beach and there were views into the skeleton frame of the U-Boat that proved an easy and interesting place to photograph, was thinking to myself how handy it would be to have a strobe but my cheap torch and holder gave just enough light to make for some interesting shots.

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This poor crab looked like he had been in the wars, maybe with another crab, or maybe with the small things outside the wreck, either way it looked to be fairing well despite the injuries.

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There were a few anemones hiding in and under the wreck but as most of the last dive I had here was at the stern I couldn’t help but stick my head in holes.

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This critter was hiding away from all the commotion and the second tompot blenny in as many days, but I didn’t expect to see him hiding in the torpedo room (OK inside the front of the U-Boat, close enough).

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After bimbling around the wreck for a while, and keeping an eye out over my shoulder for the little camouflaged critters on the sand I signaled to Elli to follow me and we both went cuttlefish (squeeee! as a friend of mine would say) watching.

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They were always about 1 1/2 -2m away and I have learnt to stay still the hard way because cropping images on the Olympus doesn’t bear very good results.

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I was lucky enough to get a little footage of this cuttlefish (squeeee), now this is my first underwater video and attempt with windows movie maker to put it together and it is short because I wanted to try it out before I made my feature length Cornish cuttlefish film.

Cuttlefish from Diving Junkie on Vimeo.

I signaled Elli to find out how much air she had and we bimbled around in between the weed a little longer, then when I was on 100bar pointed in the direction of the shore and off we went, we stopped to do a selfie but I forgot I had the wide angle lens on in the excitement and only got my mug in the shot.

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So I span round and snapped Elli before she had a chance to blink.

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We surfaced and swam the last 20 or 30m back to the shore, both excited about the things we saw and how great a dive it had been, I had learnt a lot taking some video and trying to get clear pictures inside the hull yet I had a feeling I would have a few nice pictures to share.

When we got out of the water we were both extremely tired and looking at each other decided on the spot we couldn’t do another dive today and one tomorrow morning. It was sad that the cafe wasn’t there yet after the storms knocked it down, nothing like a cuppa and chips after a dive while going through the photos.

We headed home and stopped at a major fast food outlet for dinner as it was hard keeping my eyes open, let alone cooking something. After we rinsed the kit out and hung it up we both tried to get some sleep for the next morning.

 

Pendennis – Silver Steps Wreck Dive 29-06-2014

Pendennis is famous for its WW1 U-boat wreck dive, even though in total there are believed to be the remains of 5 U-boats along the point there is no information on which wreck is which and they are scattered amongst the gullies; some of them are so broken up they just look like parts of the reef covered in kelp. We had Paul as our guide again and Steve as our shore cover, and after a straight forward dive brief we were off.

 

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Elli and I were both feeling a bit tired after the previous days diving but it was great to see Elli hadn’t lost her enthusiasm in looking in the smallest of nooks in the reef. It was also impressive to see her confidence in the water and she had definitely remembered her training, almost as if she had a secret mermaid hidden away inside.

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Again as we were on low tide there wasn’t as much to see, but we did have a great dive with some very pretty wrasse, lots of snakelock anemones again, along with the stunning seascape with its huge variety of colours and common spiney starfish, lots of them.

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Because of the amount of light at 4-5m, the further round the reef we went revealed more beautiful seascapes.

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After the storms earlier this year it was great to see so much plant life back on the reef and I was even pleased to see the eggs of some busy little critter.

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Elli was darting from one outcrop to the next and with Paul there her confidence was growing by the minute.

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We found a few things that seemed out of place, this huge coil of rope being one of them.

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Lots of these, a type of Dragonet I believe from its basic shape and colouring.

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Being Sunday Elli and I had discussed going to get a roast somewhere between dives and Paul suggested his mum’s place, The Log Cabin Cafe just outside of Mylor, there was a nice area outside to relax on the grass and it had a petting zoo with geese, turkeys, a couple of young calfs and a friendly sheep.

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It was a well tasty lunch, with roast pork, beef or lamb to choose from and roast tatties and veg, definitely a little find just outside Falmouth for the hungry diver. We headed over to Atlantic Scuba about 5 mins by car to get the 2 tanks filled and had to wait a bit for Mark while he came back from a boat dive.

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Met a young lady who had done a photography degree and got some advice on macro for nudi hunting, this was a test shot in the housing with the macro wet lens I have, the stone was only about 2-3mm across.

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It was also here that I found out my tan line was worse than it had been earlier (on a sunny day, DOH!).

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