Pendennis Shore dive – Silver Steps 28-06-2014

After the refresher course we drove to get some lunch and met back up at the silver steps on Pendennis headland for another shore dive in Falmouth bay. The sky was still clear with a few clouds passing by and from the surface the vis looked great even though we were going in as the tide started to come in. We left the car park and walked into the small wood, headed to the right and with some help got Elli down the rocks to the shoreline.
elli coates

It was great to get Elli in the water for her second dive as it was a much more relaxed dive, 40 odd minutes of just enjoying a bimble with Paul taking us along the reef to the boiler. Elli is another of those divers that can’t help but be inquisitive about a dark hole in front of her, am glad we haven’t really got anything over here that is dangerous, as she found small nooks and some interesting critters in them over the next couple of days. Following Paul we headed out through the gullies at a depth of about 5m and water temperature of a balmy 17C.


The colours as always were amazing, the huge variety of seaweeds gently swaying with the tide was just breathtaking and meant the hunt would be on for critters hiding in them.


It was great to bimble along the reef, finally saw a fish I think is one of the cutest critters in the sea and as I had my camera and he was posing couldn’t resist snapping him.


There were plenty of snakelock anemone as always, not so many crabs for a change but did find this edible hiding in a little crack.


Also saw something I can’t identify, didn’t get a great picture but it is there hidden away.


We made it out to the boiler and it was great to finally see it close up, when Paul pointed out the holes at the base of it Elli was straight in there to see what she could find.


It was surprising to see how big it actually was, sticking out of the sand like an obelisk covered in seaweed, the knees in the picture below are only about 1/2 of the height of the boiler under the kelp to the left.


We could have stayed in for another 20 or 30 mins with the air Elli had left but as it was my second dive on a 10l I was down to 80bar and after signalling Paul we started heading back. Paul’s knowledge of the site was great as he took us straight to the gully we would exit from, have been on dives before where we ended up going up the one before, when you see it can understand why it is a little confusing though. I did feel as if I should have been a priest at one point though as Elli and Paul posed for one of those shots.


As we were entering the gully Paul stopped and pointed ahead of us, there was a massive shoal of sand eels flashing in the distance, without thinking about changing the aperture I tried to take a couple of shots quickly and the best of the 2 shows how much care needs to be taken when using a camera and thinking about its settings.


So 2 dives down and a very tired Elli in the car on the way home, I agreed she shouldn’t do the last dive of the day which Kernow Divers had put on as a shore dive at Mevagissey. We had no way of getting in touch with them to let them know we wouldn’t be there till we got home and headed for a pleasant drive to a couple of North Cornwall’s beaches, stopping first at St Agnes and then Newquay Headland before heading home to rinse the kit off and get in touch with the dive club to apologise for not turning up.

After some indecision we decided to get our dinner from The Gurkha, a Nepalese and Indian restaurant/take-away in St Austell and it was a great dinner, we were both knackered and couldn’t finish it, but the 2 complimentary drinks when we picked it up went down well.

The end of day 1 shore diving Falmouth bay was welcomed to prepare for Sunday and 3 more dives to enjoy.

Gyllyngvase refresher dive with Elli 28-06-2014

I had invited Elli to come to Cornwall to dive over a year ago and finally work gave her some time off, and her first dive started on Gyllyngvase beach with a refresher dive with local Instructor Paul Allaway. The weekend began for Elli when she finished work and had to board a train at Paddington, London; for me it began at 11.30PM when I picked her up from the station. I first met Elli online through Google+ and it was because of her enthusiasm and passion for marine conservation that I invited her down for a weekend of diving.

As the rescue diver for her refresher course I had to have my hands free so didn’t take my camera, it was a pleasant dive with Elli successfully completing her training after a review of the questions in the book over a cuppa at the Gylly beach cafe. Paul was gently but thoroughly making sure Elli understood the things she learnt over 2 years ago when her original training took place on the Great Barrier reef in Australia, which had been her home for 14 years (Elli is 25 btw). I was of course listening to the things they were discussing as it is never a good thing to be over confident in the things you think you know when diving. Having met Paul through Kernow Divers I knew he was a friendly chap and a comfortable person to have in a group of divers, it was impressive that he had stored so much information about diving from his instructor training and I was looking forward to the next couple of days diving, with a guided dive in the afternoon, Mevagissey again in the evening, another guided dive on Sunday morning, 2 more in the afternoon and 1 more on Monday morning; that was the plan anyway.


Jun 18, 2014

Newquay Headland Evening Bimble.

So after 10 months and 3 bailed dives earlier this year for one reason or another (battery on my computer died, then on my buddy’s, visibility zero meters on another) I finally got to get in the water. Kurt and I went to Newquay Headland for a pleasant evening bimble and it was a thoroughly enjoyable dive.

We discussed going in at seal cove, swimming out to anemone rock and then back past the slipway to the main entry point below the toilets, but by the time we had got our kit on (which wasn’t long) we were both rather hot and decided we would go in at the entry below the toilets and swim to seal cove instead. As always I was snapping away, could probably heat an igloo in the middle of the arctic with the heat coming off my poor little camera when I am diving.


This was the first critter my lens fell in front of, and we saw a fair few of them like you do on all dives here, she calmly waited for me to finish taking the shot before she decided to find a bit of cover from the 2 bumbling big black monsters that had just invaded her space.

huge starfish

Then I spotted this common spiny starfish, it was huge, next to it is Kurt’s hand and apart from one I saw at Port Gaverne that looked like it could eat a whale, this was the biggest I had seen with my camera in hand.

Puzzled diver

Kurt was enjoying his dive, and fighting with the smb, boy am I glad I have an excuse not to tow it around anymore, as you can clearly see in the vis the reports of 10-15m vis on the headland had been greatly exaggerated and it was more like 3m clear, 5-8m dark shapes you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley and am so glad we don’t really have issues with sharks here in Cornwall.

We were casually bimbling along and I was enjoying being back in the water after such a long time (love the way it recharges your batteries and clears your head at the same time) when I realised I had blown through 50 bar of air just in getting myself settled in the first few minutes, I suppose for those that don’t know I should now tell you we were only at 9m, at high tide it is a constant 9m along most of the headland on the NE side making it an easy and safe dive, as long as you don’t go any further North than the female seals tiny cave.

No I didn’t get any shots of seals, they were obviously being fed in the harbour by the tourists, kinda sucks as need to start getting pics for the calender soon.

I did however see a new species for me, I thought it was a small, or female pipefish and got carried away taking pics as it had a strange glowing secretion coming out of it.



I brightened the second pic up post dive in ib (the Olympus RAW editing program) so I could see the fish clearer, I have since found out that it is a 15 spined stickleback or Spinachia spinachia and while fairly common by the sounds of it, being the first time I saw one, and a male about to build his nest, which was why he was secreting a bio-luminescent chain of pearls I was, and still am pumped about it and looking forward to diving it again soon to see if I can find the nest.

It was about this point that I was starting to get into that zen moment of enjoying the dive and it felt a bit like one of my first dives again, even though I have been diving at Newquay headland more than any other spot due to people knowing where it is and its access.


We found a crab pot and its captives sat in the sand, it looked more like a mosh pit than a crab pot, can’t help but feel sorry for them crammed in like that.


With the poor vis I couldn’t get a full shot but did manage to get Kurt holding the pot like a stone age hunter.


There was a lot of changes in the reef after the storms, some areas the sand had been cleared away from its base and it was amazing to see how fast it had been colonised, again due to the lighting and sediment in suspension it was hard to get a good distance shot but did manage to get a nice shot of one of the breaks in the reef where the sand was at least 12″ lower than it was last year as you can see on the lower right of the picture with the kink in the plant growth.


When we had been pottering around in the area past the break, where the male seal sometimes lies on the bottom in a small bowl he had carved out I saw a small jellyfish flaot past, I tried a few shots of it but the camera wouldn’t focus so had to put my hand behind it, it is on the left of my hand.


Then I saw a rather large fish swim into the weed and I followed it slowly hoping it would stick its head back out but I call it the ‘one that got away’


There were loads of juvenile dragonets as there are at most spots around Cornwall.

hide and seek

We had reached seal cove and I checked how much air Kurt had, if I recall it was around 150 bar and I was down to 80 bar, but it was my first dive in a long time and I expected to use a bit, just not that much so we turned and rushed back toward the lifeboat slipway, surfacing 30ft away to keep an eye on the approach. There were 3 youngsters snorkeling and Kurt and I waited patiently for them to get away from the bottom of the ramp, I think one of them may have swum under me and been caught by my fin as she apologised for catching me but I hadn’t noticed.

Kurt passed me the smb and I clipped the housing back onto its shorter leash so it wouldn’t bang on the rocks as we got out, he managed to get out on the slipway without any issues, I passed him the smb and his fins, took mine off and glanced up the slope to be hit with dread as my body had just noticed it was heavier than it should be, that was the worse short walk in a long time but after de-kitting and packing everything away it was great to end the dive with a coffee in the beautiful sunset.