Portland – December 2016

Report by Steve Burgess

Clubs third trip in 2016 to Portland and this one did not disappoint.

Paul, Mark and I decided to have a splash at Vobster as a warm up dive for the weekend.

We set off at 9am got to Vobster around 12.

We hit the water at 13.20, viz 10+ meters, water temperature was 9 degrees. Mark the Bagel was in the mood to visit his beloved caravan at 20 meters from the wheelhouse so we all worked our way over there where we placed a little present inside the caravan for some lucky diver to find at Christmas. 

We then followed the wall to the left and had a very pleasant swim back to the quay for a hot drink. Bagel wanted chicken soup again but thankfully Vobster don’t do it so he had to settle for a cup of tea. 

We packed up and drove to Portland, Bagel was navigating, I’m in the back listening to his convincing directions he is relaying to Paul, somehow he put us down a farm track which was quite literally caked in cow shit in the middle of a Somerset field. Paul’s Landy was completely splattered and with windscreen wipers on overtime clearing the view we found our way back to a normal road. That’s what you get when people are let loose in Somerset from saff London! 

We arrive in Portland in a brown Land Rover, “I’m sure it was green when he picked me up”. We then unpacked our kit.

We met up with Tim, Jules, Jac and Simon and we went to the cove pub for a beer and a great dinner.

Got back to the bunker and after a coffee we all went to bed. Now I know diving with friends is one thing, but sleeping in a shared room is quite another. 21.33pm and I am greeted by a fellow member in Rupert the Bear pyjamas, my other room mate in bed cuddling a tin of chicken soup, unreal!  Divers bunkhouse? More like nut house I’m thinking!

After a night of heavy snoring and other nighttime noises, we get up for a great breakfast and head off to the harbour.  The weather is ok but the wind is coming hard from the East so we are confined to the harbour.

Day 1 

We meet Len & Maggie on board the skin deeper and we head out to the Landing Craft & Bombardon unit 50.34.419N  02.24.986W

Two sites are situated close together, and a rope links them both. Viz was around 4-5 meters water temp 9.

Tim & Jules, Jac & Simon then Me, Paul and Mark.

The Bombardon unit was a temporary pontoon and wave breaking system in WW2. Around 50 metres in length with the top section around 7 metres from the surface and bottom at 15, it is lying side up,there are remains of the wheelhouse and anchor which can be seen to the side of the unit. The wreck is covered in thick silt so you had to be careful not to kick up all the crap. Mark spotted a seal inside, and Jules had a face to face chat with it, so a real bonus that was.

We then go over to the landing craft which is really intact and great to see. You could make out the bow ramp, cargo deck , wheelhouse and all the which equipment and diesel engines, so for me this was a real gem and loved that.

We came up for a hot drink but I had a leak in my suit so had to bail out to get some repair kit from the local dive shop, so don’t know about second dive on the Countess of Erne.

We all get back to bunker but having trouble booking up dinner so Jules suggest we order fish n chips and pick it up after a hour or two down the pub. Great fish n chips and a pea bomb fritter thrown in by PC, a fun night was had by all.

Paul had moved out of our room and found the executive suite upstairs so it’s just me and Rupert left in room 6. 

Day 2

 We meet Len & Maggie unfortunately the wind was worse than yesterday so it’s the harbour again. We head off to a unknown wreck, it was so silty and the viz was very poor so not much to report on this one as it’ a bit of an unknown.

Second dive was back on the Countess of Erne as all enjoyed this the day before.

Countess of Erne 50 35. 160 N  002 25. 177 W

Depth 15 metres Viz 3-4 temp 9

The wreck is around 80 meters in length, it was originally a paddle steamer and then a coal hulk.

Sank in 1935 after moorings broke loose. The wreck is upright and the deck section sits around 8 metres . Lots of swim throughs and holes to look in made it a pleasant dive. A few sponges and some pollock inside gave some extra, but again it’s covered in silt so had to be really careful not to blast the place out . Had a bimble around the ship a couple of times and we came up after 40 minutes for a warm up. Nice dive!

We all head back after a group photo and get our kit to the car, say our goodbyes and head off home from what can only be described as a really  fun weekend with great people. A really big thank you to Mark for sorting out the trip and to the rest for making it such a laugh.

 I have to say the harbour diving exceeded all expectation and due to the weather I got to see a side of Portland I may never have seen.

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