For once the forecast was correct, and the winds had dropped as promised. Team Stone arrived early, and met Julian at the café. Always good to be part of the advanced party when food is involved. Stuart, Bob and Malcolm arrived at the scheduled time, and after all sustenance was taken care of we wandered to the marina, wondering where the rest of our crew were. Turns out Simon had backed out, and Dave and Kirsten arrived a short while later, only to share a picnic in the car park. How twee.
After a brief panic that the entire jubilee flotilla was in the queue to launch before us, we finally made it into the water and headed towards the Ramsgarth, some 9 nautical miles away. The journey out was trouble free. For the first two miles. Then we hit fog. Having at first been told I was imagining it, the rest of the crew (except for Julian, happily asleep at the back) finally agreed that yes, it was rather foggy. This was confirmed when a sail boat appeared from nowhere about 50 metres ahead of us. Whilst we were somewhat surprised, I think the fishing boat next to us gets that prize, judging by his sharp turn to avoid a collision with the ghost boat.
As we continued we discussed the practical aspects of diving n such conditions, but as the fog was clearing we decided to continue to the dive site where a final decision would be made. Upon arrival, we felt a safe dive could be made, and after a bit of pottering about the shot was expertly placed between the two boilers.
Julian, Malcolm and Bob were the first three in, with Dave and Kirsten to follow. We should have known that Kirsten’s ‘oh, look how clear it is’ as the first group descended the line was a bad omen….
The first three arrived at the surface together, more or less, at the designated time, and myself and Stuart prepared for our dive. Some discussion took place between ourselves and Julian about sending up the shot, not sending up the shot, putting air in the lifting bag, there being enough air in the lifting back already, and clearing the anchor from the wreck. We got the last bit.
Upon arriving at the wreck we noticed a) Kirsten’s initial observations about the viz were not entirely correct, with 2-3m max b) my shot placement was spot on, and c) Kirsten had neatly stowed her delayed and reel at the bottom of the shot line. Being bright pink if felt pretty certain it was hers and nobody else would own up to it anyway. Reel collected, and anchor safely stowed, we headed off.
A pleasant swim around the wreck followed, enjoying the vast quantities of fish, plus the occasional crab, lobster and even conga or two. All went well until Stuart found a fish with hook in mouth, firmly caught on the wreck. Both Stuart and myself tried unsuccessfully to remove the hook, and at this point I found out that having a line cutter on your stab jacket is only useful if you know where it is, and Stuart kindly donated his knife to the wreck as part of the ‘Knives for Fish’ campaign. We eventually gave up on our efforts to save the poor might, and continued on our journey, humiliated in defeat. Luckily no-one could see us.
We eventually ended up back at the boilers, and found the shot line. At this point it’s clear that we might not have all followed the details of our earlier discussion on shot recovery. As I started my ascent of the line, Stuart promptly filled the lifting back with air. OK, we’ll use my delayed then, and ignore the nice shot line…………….
After a safe ascent and recovery to the boat, Kirsten was re-united with her reel, upon which we were told she only realised that she lost it when going to deploy it after Dave let his go due to a jam……..
Julian took us back to the marina, and we washed kit and stowed the boat just as they were locking up. It was 5:00pm after all, on a nice sunny summer afternoon. Can’t stay open too late…….. (BS)