Weymouth, the South of England
Friday 15th September
This was the last trip of the summer and we were coming from different parts of the UK. Consequently, we all struggled through different traffic jams, including the M5 and Inner London (although the latter was due to Will being confused as to whom he was picking up). When we arrived in Weymouth we met up at a pizza/pie restaurant which had an excellent selection of Cider and a dismal selection of Beer – their business model remains a mystery to me.
Saturday 16th September
After breakfast we met the skipper and were shortly heading out of the harbour. However, as we passed the Old Fort it became apparent that a disaster of unimaginable proportions had taken place. Nigel the skipper had forgotten the pies for lunch!
Following a quick trip back to pick up lunch we were underway and looking forward to our first dive, a drift over Lulworth banks. We saw loads of tiny Scallops which swam up to us as we passed them by. Back on the boat, we devoured hot drinks and pies. It had been a great first dive of the trip. As this was the first time many of us had seen each other for a long time we caught up amongst the surroundings of Weymouth Bay. Others simply tried to catch up on some sleep.
The second dive of the day was a wreck, the Alex van Opstal. This Belgian 5965-ton cargo and passenger liner was the first victim of a minefield laid by U-Boat in September 1939, fortunately there were no fatalities. The wreck is large but quite broken up, we could make out clear features such as winches and masts. There was plenty of life on the wreck; watching the Crabs and Lobsters as well as a Conger Eel made for a very enjoyable dive. For more information on the wreck see here.
Back on dry land we returned to the hotel. Some of us went out to explore the town and the fort we had seen from the boat, others went to explore Weymouth’s pubs. We had dinner in town which was full of an unusual and diverse mix of Hen nights and those supporting the Ironman Triathlon the next morning (we were the only people in the pub not in fancy dress).
Sunday 17th September
We had a very good breakfast at the hotel, then headed out for another day. Once on the boat we all took the astute (not at all mocking) step of reminding Nigel to bring pies for lunch. We headed out to Lulworth Banks to repeat the drift dive we had done on Saturday. The dive was good but we had dived it 24 hours earlier so my interest was greatly strained. A point my buddy noted as I was more interested in my computer than the scenery or him.
For lunch we anchored in Lulworth Cove, a beautiful spot on the South Coast where we devoured our pies, teas, coffees and hot chocolates. We had time to kill while we waited for the tides to turn. Amanda and Ross even went for a swim. Despite their insistence that the water was close to tropical I decided to stay on the boat.
The second dive was a wreck, the Binnendijk a Dutch cargo vessel that was sunk by the same minefield that claimed the Alex van Opstal. This was similar to Saturday’s dive. While the wreck is broken up, it has interesting aspects and lots of life on it. This dive had an additional aim as the Skipper had asked us to keep an eye out for a shot weight he had lost a couple of weeks earlier. This gave the dive a bit more focus and I was delighted when amongst the wreck I found the weight. I was very smug on the 6m stop. For more information on the wreck see here.
Back in the town we packed up and went for some Fish and Chips before travelling home. Weymouth is a very pretty town, with lots of interesting dive sites and it’s a pity we don’t come more often. Thanks to Maddie for organising a great trip; hopefully we’ll be returning soon.
Madelaine Shine Trip organiser
Trip Participants: Ross Brisk, Amanda Chang, Peter Dix, David Irwin, Martin Luck, Will Pimblett, Joe Rogers and Madelaine Shine. Skipper was Nigel from Old Harbour Dive Centre.
Photos and video have been shamelessly stolen from Amanda, Will and the Club’s Instagram accounts.