Meridian Divers Skiving Branch
I always find mid week diving far better than the weekends due to a number of reasons:-
- dive sites far less crowded
- less traffic, and
- it's just great to be off from work when the sun is shining and everyone else is stuck in the office !
So it was that 3 Meridian Divers found themselves booked onto Blockade Buster Steve Johnson's Channel Diver based in Eastbourne for a few days to dive the wreck of the P&O liner Oceana which is a firm favourite of mine. A reasonably civilised start time saw Ernie, Simon and myself at the Sovereign Harbour along with a contingent of the Kent Traffic Police Skiving Society who only just made it due to being held up by an accident on the M20.
Clear blue skies and a flat sea made the trip out to the wreck site a real pleasure and made the kkive more enjoyable. As always kitting up on Steve's boat is a doddle with plenty of room and with kit racks just at the right height its almost a pleasure to struggle with your kit. As always Steve placed the shot with a precision that's almost spooky 'cos its exactly on the part of the wreck he says it will be. After a brief wait for slack tide to kick-in we began the descent to the wreck. A lot of plankton in the water meant that the viz was not as good as hoped but a respectable 3m and plenty of light meant that dive was still enjoyable enough but not as classic as previous 12m+ viz dives of the past.
For those of you who haven't dived the Oceana your missing a treat of a dive, in good conditions this wreck is one of the prettiest dives off our coast. As an old P&O passenger liner there is still plenty to see and find on this old girl with plates, cutlery and perfume bottles still being regularly being brought up, and the possibility of some remaining silver ingots the ship was carrying at the time of its sinking, makes the dive even more exciting for those with a sense of adventure and the correct training to venture inside.
For those who just like to look you will not be disappointed with plenty of marine life and the hull still reasonably intact there is plenty to keep you interested during the dive. This dive benefits from use of Nitrox. I had taken the video camera down to film the wreck, but with all the snot in the water and my own clumsiness I only managed to get about a couple of minutes worth of usable footage which isn't even worth worrying about. Never mind every time I take it I learn something new and theres always next time. As with all dives it was soon time to head back up to the surface and with the luxury of the diver lift getting back on board is a breeze.
The wind had picked up whilst we had been down on the wreck and the surface was pretty choppy but not enough to prevent a second dive a drift on the Sovereign Shoals. Good buddy contact soon became very apparent as DSMBs were popping up all over the place and divers were soon separated by the fast current and 1m viz as we found out trying to dive as a team of three. I had a bit of trouble equalizing and soon lost Simon, Ernie and I re-surfaced and got back on board and waited for Simon to pop up. We were not alone, with out fail every team that went in got separated. Ernie popped back in with Simon and one of the Kent guys I elected to sit it out due to the ear problem and watch the fun from deck. With DSMB's spread out across the channel it became a game of guess who was who and eventually every diver surfaced on their own !
With all back safely back on board it was time to head back and everyone had a little tale to tell.
Skive diving is a lot of fun, go on be a devil throw a sickie.
Skiving Skipper Steve