30 September 2008

Devon Coast, 28/09/08

My single tank kit is in a state of flux bits all over the spare room floor, so it was with little bit of shame that I rocked at up at Newhaven to do a 22M dive with twin 12s. Still it's all good practice and with my SAC rate and our dive time it actually worked out for the best.
There was a pretty thick layer of green soup between 12 and 15 metres which blocked out the sunlight and meant the lights went out and our torches went on after 18 metres. Ernie and I had a good old tour around the wreck but in the poor viz it was pretty difficult to get more than a series of mental snapshots; boilers, ribs, cement sacks, plates, more boilers? Luckily there was loads of life. Fish closed in to the edge of visibility practically brushing up against my shoulder. I couldn't help feeling they were an eager crowd jostling me, "Give us a look then" Congers lurked under plates and in the gloom the many legged were out and about in droves. Velvet swimmers, edible crabs (they should change their name, they're just asking for it) and lobsters. All in a range of sizes from tiny to monstrous. Highlight of the dive for me was spotting a small lobster taking exception to Ernie's torch and jetting off backwards. I thought it would land on my head so tried to emulate it with my wonky back kick. It gave me a pitying sneer as it shot up into the gloom. Amazing how fast it curved up out of harms way. Loads of mussels agape feeding in the current. Wrasse, tompot blennies, bib and pollack all the usual suspects without the hiding in holes shyness either they'd been drinking or in the dark they felt safer wandering about.
After an hour it was back to the boat for tea and scones in the sunshine.
A great dive salvaged from not so great viz.
Not much luck (skill) with the camera. You can click below to see more dark and bespattered pictures.


Plymouth 2 days to go!

Here we go with only a couple of day`s to go the weather turns pants after the first couple of weeks of settled weather for ages.
At the mo all is good with reports of great vis last weekend,IF the trip is called it will be thursday night but Steve said he has only had to call 2 trips this year,lets hope we won`t be the third.
The plan is to leave friday lunchtime arrive friday dinnertime get settled then out for dinner,any probs please contact me asap i will call all to sort out travel but i think most will be a Ocean view wed`s night so will speak then
this should wet your appetite`s

29 September 2008

Meridian Divers

Hi to all , just joined and booked on a dive

28 September 2008

The Westburn ~ News from Tenerife

Back in April , Tad posted a message about the look-a-like wreck of the Westburn, see:-


We have now had the pleasure of contact from Pepe Foronda who has dived the Westburn. See the original post for Pepe's comments reproduced here for convenience:-

"Great dive!! We do it normally and it´s amazing!!... moreover.. this Saturday we will go to dive this historic ship wreck. Congratulations for your blog and.. Best regards fromn Tenerife!

Pepe Foronda

Thanks Pepe for your kind comments and we'd love to see any pictures of the Westburn that you might have! With some good fortune we may even get to dive it with you! Pepe's own blog is :- http://divingtenerife.blogspot.com/


Recompression Chamber Visit Cheques ~ 9th November

Thank you to all of you who have sent me your cheques. I am still waiting for some cheques, it's now the cheques that I receive that will take the remaining places! The cost is £40 for the Dry Dive and Chamber Visit, or £58 with the PADI Recompression Chamber Awareness Specialty Certification. That's a very good value Certification!

Diving in Croatia

Just back from a week in Dubrovnik , Croatia. For me there are usually two types of holidays, diving holidays or holidays with diving! Croatia was very much the latter (and possibly should always be). Of course the coastal water is called the Adriatic Sea (so I can add another 'sea' to the dive list) but we all know it's part of the Med and that generally means clean warm water with good vis and plenty of rocky formations as the 'top-of-the-bill' rather than a great deal of visible marine life. The coast is quite beautiful with myriads of islands and islets running for a couple of hundreds of miles or so and the walled city of Dubrovnik with it's ancient port is a world heritage site. Of course it's not twenty years since the area was a war zone, and whilst it is truly amazing how the city has been restored you have to wonder how more advanced as a tourist location Dubrovnik would have been but for the impact of the war on both people and places.

Not being a diving holiday I only conducted three dives over two days from a small but pleasant hotel based PADI diving resort. All the dives took place from the shore to sites in the Lapad Bay. Everyone used 15 Litre Steel tanks (I think this made the life of the staff more bearable as it gave the more novice divers a lot more air to play with, that said, on two of my three dives it was necessary for divers to use the alternate air supply (Octopus) of others!!

The first dive briefing seemed to describe a fairly adventurous dive , not least given the fact that two divers had about 25 dives under their belts. We would enter the water , swim over the shallows in to the 'blue' then descend to 15 metres and swim 200m further, there we would descend to 35m to enter what was described as a tight entrance to a 20m long tunnel that exited at 40m. From there we would ascend to 15m swim back 200m and then explore the shallows. None of the divers apart from the Instructor and I had computers and I'm not sure if they even had watches. As it happened the dive was more relaxing than the briefing! The tunnel was more swim-through like and not a squeeze at all. My computer showed we were inside no-decompression limits for the whole dive (just!) The 'tunnel' was quite attractive with two lobsters and quite a healthy amount of red coral. The dive was 49 minutes long, water temperature was 19 Deg C and we wore 5mm full suits with hoods & gloves.

The second dive took us to a maximum of 22m for a total dive time of 66minutes, the highlight of the second dive was meeting-up with a couple of octopus, one making it's home in a large and otherwise vacant shell! Not a stunning dive (that was never going to be on the cards ) but a relaxed bimble! The third dive made 24m for a total of 59minutes. That dive started with a 100m surface swim and the highlights were a couple of small moray eels.

The dive centre staff were all very pleasant as were the surrounding hotel facilities. The best dive was the 'tunnel' or swim-through dive as the coral added some colour to the usual rock & grass bottom of this part of the world. On the list of dive sites was a wreck , the Taranto, which depending on which day you asked was 40m or 45m to the top! I'll leave that to the daft or the technically trained & equipped !

I was touched by the local Instructor's theory on minimising nitrogen narcosis at depth, his strategy was to spend more time breathing out than in. It's a new one on me! Is Croatia a place for a diving holiday - not in my view but it's always going to be a holiday in which a dive or two can be tucked in!

Nautical Archaeology Society ~ Annual Conference 2008

The NAS 2008 Annual Conference, to be held on Friday 7th & Saturday 8th November at "Action Stations" , Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth promises to be an exciting event for all those involved in the NAS Adopt-A-Wreck Project .

Meridian Divers official adoptees of the T R Thompson wreck have a particular interest in the 2008 Conference as , sadly, this is the last year of the AAW project. Meridian Divers have submitted an applicaton to the NAS for an AAW Award which will be judged by a panel including dive agencies (inc PADI) and the NAS.

We hope that you are all rooting for the Meridian Divers application, we think we have done justice to the application. Any NAS recognition would be something of a triumph for a network such as ours.

The Conference will also provide an opportunity to discuss research, review the archaeological activities of members, exchange ideas on managing our maritime heritage and catch up with friends and colleagues from both the UK and abroad.

It's high time Meridian Divers made an appearance at the Annual Conference and may be this year we will pull out all the stops to get there! Add a comment if you are interested in attending .

Wreck Dive ~ Fortuna ~ 11th October

There is one space available for diving the Fortuna on Saturday 11th October 2008. Already booked are, Ernie, Jim, Therese. Diving with Seazones. Meet time 06:15, ropes of 07:00. High water slack 09:20.

If interested please put comment on the blog.

[Update 29/9: Add 'Prometheus']

27 September 2008

Skive Dive Society ~ Blanefield Wreck 29th October

Divers booked on Channel Diver, diving the Blanefield are:

1. Ernie
2. Simon

Spaces still available. Don't be shy we need more slackers.

If interested please post a comment


Wreck Dive City of Waterford ~ 2nd November

List of Divers booked on this dive are:-

1. Ernie
2. Tad
3. Jim
4. Mac

Boat is now full.


25 September 2008

Good Luck to Ocean View's New Owners

Meridian Divers would like to wish Good luck to Graham and Sue who are taking over from Den at Ocean View and offer our support for their new venture. Also good luck to Den & Co with whatever their future plans maybe.

Meridian Divers Meeting ~ 24th September

Fun and frolics at the Berwick Inn last night saw a Husband and wife Meridian Divers intimate married life details laid bare. It seems that they book appointments for a bonk and communicate by email, perhaps it is adding something extra to their already colourful and well travelled lives it certainly raised a few eyebrows amongst the other more conservative MD'ers who attended a lively meeting at the Berwick Inn last night. To spare their blushes their names are not published.

The packed agenda saw planning for the remainder of the year with dive boats being booked and socials arranged.

Next years diaries are already filling up with the red sea trip and various weekends away being confirmed. Exciting plans to keep divers in the water throughout the winter months were also discussed so watch this space for further details.

Block bookings with local hard boats for to keep us in the water are being made to capitalise on local dive opportunities next season.

Menus for the Xmas dinner are now available with the Tudor House Restaurant in Alfriston booked for the meal after the impressive spread they laid on for the Thompson meal. If you
haven't received a copy please let Sheila know or post a comment.

Congratulations were conveyed to Jim who is the first Trimix qualified member of the group so along with us that already have our DSAT tec rec qualifications some adventurous dives with significantly extended bottom times are on the cards for next year. With costs of diving rising it makes more sense to be able to extend your dives especially on the types of dives we already do.

Plans are also in the pipeline for some joint Dives/events with other Dive clubs over the next year

With Chris Live on the phone from Croatia briefing on the dive he had done during the day rounded of a very enjoyable evening.

Minutes of the meeting will be forwarded by email.


24 September 2008

Red Sea Trip Update ~ 2009

Sorry Guys and Gals, forgot to say that if you want 15 litre tanks can you order them at the time of booking just to make sure. Nitrox is paid for locally and will be £80.00 for 15 litre and £60.00 for 12 litre.

Sorry Steve and Simon that I did not let you know before you paid.

23 September 2008

Red Sea Trip Update ~ 4th April 2009

The time has come. We need to get our £200.00 deposits paid to Tony Backhurst by 9th October 2008 to secure our booking.
Payment can be made by Credit Card, Debit Card or Cheque. Credit Cards will incur a 2% charge.
For Credit and Debit Cards please ring Tony Backhurst on 0800 0728221 and quote Reference No. TRP-10668-27587.
If you wish to pay by cheque please make cheque made payable to Tony Backhurst Scuba Ltd. Cheques will need to be sent to me as I have to forward them all together.
Please note that Tony Backhurst is ATOL bonded so our payments are protected.

16 September 2008

Plymouth trip~4-5th October~Nearly here

Hi all,
with just over 2 weeks to go before we set off for our weekend trip with Steve & Sue aboard EXPLORER in Plymouth for some top quality wreck diving(weather god`s PLEASE have a weekend off!!!)i would just like to go over some bit`s and pieces before we set off.
Please don`t forget you need 2 tank`s onboard as we won`t be returning to get a fill,there is a centre 'indeep dive centre' to get fills or if you need anything(wing,twinset etc etc)5 mins from guesthouse details below
Don`t forget cert`s
Kit can be left onboard overnight
If we can car sharing would be easier for all on cost,i`ll call everyone soon about travel,i`m looking to leave @12.00 on friday if poss
At the mo Steve has booked us into a local pub for meals on fri/sat
Don`t forget balance need`s paying when we turn up
Only death cert`s will be accepted if backing out of this trip now
Anything i`ve forgotten?
divers below;
have a look on the site below as it`s been updated

Meridian Divers Meeting ~ Wednesday 24th September

Doh, Doh and thrice Doh! The Agenda for the meeting was circulated a few days ago with the WRONG date on it! The correct date is (as above) Wed 24th Sept. The meeting will be held at The Berwick Inn at 7.30pm.

The date corrected Agenda will be recirculated!

14 September 2008

Local Firm Raises Marina HSE Failures Concern

Two Meridian Divers contacted me today to say that a local Newhaven dive company has published its fears that there have been breaches of the HSE requirements at Brighton Marina. Any debate on diving safety is a healthy one.

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 the Secretary of State approved the Code of Practice entitled "Recreational Diving Projects" . The Code , known as the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) is an HSC publication and is itslef made under the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.

The ACOP applies to 'diving at work' . The application of that term has always been one that has been argued by dive businesses, but broadly speaking if you are involved in a diving project where someone is getting paid to provide dive training it will apply to you. So being involved in a dive project and going diving with your buddy are two distinct things.

Where there is an 'at work' situation , there has to be a dive contractor , a dive supervisor a diving project plan & risk assessment and more besides. The dive contractor is responsible for all of that. The risk assessment would need to take account of the type of student divers involved.

The company fears that HSE regulations are being breached in Brighton Marina by their own members in as much that they aren't following a "stipulation" that the Marina entrance be buoyed-off. Neither the Regulations nor the ACOP refers to Brighton Marina or indeed buoying but a risk assessment produced by a Dive Contractor may use buoying as a control measure. This is undoubtedly, in the case of Brighton Marina a good idea. But then I would say that because I have previously written risk assessments for Dive Contractors using Brighton Marina that have said exactly that. But such risk assessements were written for 'at work' situations in a place where 'first-time' open water divers were often in the Marina. That said it IS a good idea to buoy-off a dive area in Brighton Marina whether 'at work' or not at work.

Having been in Brighton Marina only yesterday I very much support the idea of buoying-off an area (whilst there is always a practical problem of divers not being able to see the buoys from under the water, it at least keeps the rare boat movement away from the entry & exit points). Once upon a time there were such buoys across the area used by divers (with permission) in Brighton Marina. I haven't seen them there for a very long time.

So WHO should provide the buoys ? That's a good question - but not a new one! The HSE publication "Managing health & safety at Recreational Dive Sites" (how many have read that?) gives guidance primarily to site owners / operators. The Local Authority (Brighton & Hove City Council ) is the enforcing authority for managed dive sites. The guidance puts lots of responsibilities on owners / operators including providing information on hazards , it specifically covers shared use sites (ie divers & boats!) It's a 47 page document so I won't try to summarise it here. But the question is 'who is responsible'? for the safety of the site itself? Is it the Brighton Marina Management or the dive centres that 'operate' diving from there? Whose insurance covers the safety divers using the site itself - after all (as we did yesterday) divers have to pay to use the site . As paying customers we should know who is taking care of the safety issues. If you visit Stoney Cove it's very clear who manages safety there , is it so clear at Brighton Marina?

Breaches of Healthy & Safety law are a serious business they can result in fines, imprisonment or both.

The question of 'permission' to use Brighton Marina has also been highlighted. There is a clear sign at the Marina saying "Diving by permission only". Who gives this permission it doesn't say. It seems that several dive businesses use this shallow water for providing recreational diving instruction whist 'at work'. At one time only a single dive business used it, but, as was predicted on this blog , it is now used by other buisnesses. Do each of the businesses have the authority to give permission? I am sure the business we paid for the priviledge of using the water had that authority. If a business gives permission in exchange for money I think we get a clearer picture of who is responsible for the site.

At the very least I would hope that the various commercial concerns involved in diving at the Marina, ie the Marina itself and the several businesses with a fintip-in-the-water are clear on their joint responsibilities. The local firm's concern seems to suggest that all are not as clued-up as you might hope for. One thing I learnt when I completed my HSE Approved Diving Contractors Course is that there is a lot to think about and that is without even getting in to the realms of PADI Standards which of course are not law. PADI standards say there should be a minimum of 6meters water for an open water dive but you won't find that in written in anything by HSE.

A healthy debate indeed, one that should benefit all divers and one fully supported by Meridian Divers.

13 September 2008

All change !

Looks as though we will be seeing some more changes in dive service providers in the Meridian area. As predicted some while ago the dive market is changing , ever faster. I don't suppose we will see it stabilising for sometime to come. More details in due course!

Marina Misery! 13th September

Well , when we set off , good and early , for the Brighton Marina , little did we know what a pain the dive was going to be! Setting-up the kit on the pontoon before the arrival of open water students was a good idea, good because we discovered Phil's kit had a leak in the High Pressure hose. The fact that it had only used once (in a pool) since its last service didn't make feel any better either! Fortunately there was time to get a spare set of regs brought to the Marina.

With the new regs fitted we don our suits ! Hah! My left cuff seal just gives up and tears ! Oh great this is just fine, I have no wet suit back-up with me! Luckily Saint Alan comes to my rescue and lends me his dry suit. Remarkably it fitted me well and was comfortable (that's a bd sign for you Alan.... you don't want to be my size!)

So after , shall we say a little delay, Phil & I were in the depths of the Marina , well we actually get under the water which was jut under 3m deep adjacent to the pontoon and a massive 5.8m deep in the 'pit' (if you held your computer on the bottom - still this little trick meant my computer showed a greater depth than Phils! I win!)

After a 25 minute bimble amid loads of lost kit I thought I had better hand the dry suit back and exit. Water temperature was 17 Deg C. Then it was look big as Phil & I arranged to have our own kit serviced / repaired (again!).

Who Needs Diving?

Another drama filled holiday in Egypt has ended and it's back to reality. If anything can go wrong, it's bound to go wrong for me! Bags packed & with a headache to end all headaches off to Gatwick only to be held up on the A23 due to idiots playing bumper cars. Hour late boarding, a further hour sitting on a plane with no air conditioning & still nursing a bad head, & then moved back to the gate. Half hour at gate & sent back to departure lounge. 7 Hours later, sat on plane for further hour (still no air con) before finally taking off & eventually arriving in Sharm in the early hours of the morning. Still, things could only get better - ha ha.

The average temperature for the next few days was 45 degrees, even pushing up to 47/8 on somedays, so what better way to cool off (& try & shift the headache) than jumping in the water to admire the life below the waves. - Then the pain hit! I couldn't go down more than a couple of feet! The agony was indescribable - all this life and I could only view with my mask & snorkel!! The need for a bcd & tank had never been so bad! Still, I had another 9 days to convince my daughter to entertain herself so I could go off & dive.

Unfortunately, the headache continued & after 5 days (including 1 1/2 days bedridden) I had to give in & go to the hotel Dr - whereby I ended up on a drip and with pri**s in my backside! A lot of hassle later (which ended up with the male nurse being sacked & my nerves shredded - I am not going into detail so PLEASE DONT ASK!) I actually started feeling better & arranged to meet fellow diver Tad & co for a drink & spot of dinner.

Whether it was the lack of diving, shopping (not something I do unless it involves dive equipment) or seeing Tad's boot tan lines I do not know, but I began to feel ill & after telling Nicky I needed to sit down, I promptly turned a indescribable shade of green & passed out.
The Egyptians must have been so happy - someone they could drag into their shop without getting rebuffed! But oooh! I felt like Queen Cleopatra when I came to - being fed lemon & sugared water by one male, fanned by another, iced down by a third, head massaged by a 4th, legs held up by a 5th (by this time I lost count) & Tad asking any of them if they spoke Egyptian (Doh!) as he was trying to get me transport back to my hotel!

Still, the last few days passed by without incident - other than the 6 hour delay back & 2 hours waiting for luggage. I did manage to get a few pics snorkelling - and was amazed with the amount of life so shallow & close to the shore.

With life like this a couple feet down who needs diving?


Roll on April!

12 September 2008

Xmas Dinner ~ 17th December (Update)

We have now received the menus for the Meridian Divers Christmas Dinner at The Tudor House Restuarant , Alfriston. I will circulate the details by email today. If you wish to attend please let me know your choices and send in your cheques! The Tudor House Restaurant is where we held the Mr Jack Commemorative Dive Dinner.

Brighton Marina ~ January 2006

About 300 dives back in my log book was the last time I dived in Brighton Marina in January 2006, so it's going to be bit of a trip down memory lane to be going back there tomorrow. It might be a bit of a trip but there won't be a lot of 'down' as the Marina is not famed for deep diving though, extraordinarily enough, it has been host to some drift dives - don't ask me how!

Phil and I will be taking the plunge tomorrow to allow Phil to get his kit wet before he goes on a far more exciting dive trip to the Galapagos Islands! OK Phil , you win , that beats my trips to Vobster & Chepstow!

It will be interesting (I hope!) to see what if anything has changed in the Marina, Phil & I won't have time to survey the place but we'll take a few temperature and depth readings to see how it compares to dives of yesteryear. I think we'll spice-up the day with a competition to see who can get the greatest depth on their guage/computer. The deepest diver WON'T be buying the coffees!

10 September 2008

08 September 2008

Plymouth Trip ~ 4th & 5th October

There are 3 space`s on the forthcoming Plymouth trip booked for the above dates anyone intrested please leave a post cost is £130 for 4 dives (SCYLLA,J.E.L etc)+ 2 nights b/b if the spaces aren`t filled i`ll try a advertise them on YD forum


Pembrokeshire June 2009

I have provisionally booked dive boat Wanderin' Star with Celtic Diving for 13/14th June 2009 (Saturday/Sunday). Apparently this June was the best months diving they have had.

If we pay before 1st January 2009 the cost will be £80.00 per person for 2 days diving which is at this years price. It will be going up next year.

We need to fill the whole boat before we can confirm dates and price.

You will be responsible for booking your own accommodation. I am awaiting brochures and information from suitable hotels/guest houses.

You can check out Celtic Diving on http://www.celticdiving.co.uk/ . Some good video clips on their site.

As usual please post a comment if you are interested and when we have 12 names I will be asking for full payment of the £80.00 to secure our booking.

1. Ernie
2. Sheila
3. Chris-P
4. Tad
5. Therese
6. Steve L
7. Tracey


Red Sea Trip Update

Following Matt's enquiry regarding pony bottles etc., I have spoken to Tony Backhurst and the hire prices are as follows:-

Pony Bottle £20.00 or £25.00 with bag per week. (You will need your own regulator)

12 Litre manifolded twinset £80.00 per week (again you will need your own regulators)

Also, if you want single 15 Litre tanks it is an additional £25.00 per week. These must be ordered when you pay your deposit.

The list for interested divers is now as follows:-
1. Ernie
2. Sheila
3. Chris
4. Matt
5. Gary
6. Sean
7. Mandy
8. Paul
9. Therese
10. Tracey
11. Steve L
12. Simon
13. Linda
14. Terry B

If you want to join us can you please post a comment (go on you know you want to !). It's only a £200.00 deposit.

I will soon be letting you know the details for payment of your deposit which will be direct to Tony Backhurst.

07 September 2008

Chamber Course Confirmed ~ Sunday 9th November

For the record ! The visit /course is now confirmed for Sunday 9th November. Click on the label below to view linked posts on the subject.

The posting of 11th July 2008 holds the 'official' expressions of interest list.

I will contact those on the list to confirm attendance by the usual MD means (cheques!) . Places will go to those on the list first, any remaining places will be first-come-first-served.

If there is more (new) demand a further date will be organised!

City of Waterford on Channel Diver ~ 2nd November

Channel Diver on Sunday 2nd November is free to book leaving from Brighton diving City of Waterford & Drift. Anyone interested please post a comment.

1. Ernie
2. Jim
3. Mac

Only one space left as of 11/9/08

Blanefield (Skive Dive Society) ~ 29th October

Channel Diver - Wednesday 29th October 2008. Leaving from Brighton at 08:00 diving the Blanfield & drift. Anyone interested in skiving please post a comment.

1. Ernie

Wreck Dive on Seazones ~ 11th October 2008

Seazones is available on Saturday 11th October 2008. Cost is £30.00 for wreck & drift.
Anyone interested please make a comment and I will contact Mick and book the places.

1. Ernie
2. Jim
3. Therese
4. Mac


Fortuna on Seazones ~ 4th October 2008

There are 3 spaces available on Saturday 4th October diving the Fortuna and a drift.
Anyone interested contact Mick Luff on 0772 9277615.

UPDATE: All Spaces Now Filled.


02 September 2008

BBQ ~ Sunday 7th September ....Cancelled !!!

In keeping with almost all 2008 plans so far the weather for next Sunday is not going to be up to the job!. The Met Office forecast is:-

Mostly cloudy with showers or longer outbreaks of rain Sunday. Sunny spells and just a few showers on Monday. More cloudy again Tuesday with further outbreaks of rain likely.

The BBQ is Cancelled!

As a suggestion I think it is worth abandonning this plan ...but maybe ... putting a Plan B in immediately ? May be a lunch meet-up somewhere ? Brighton Marina / Eastbourne Marina?

Any thoughts? Please add comments

500th Post!

There is absolutley NO POINT in this post , except to note that this is the 500th post on the Meridian Divers blog (the original and best scuba diving blog as voted by our readers!)

Keep up the good work , the 2009 diary is already filling-up well with good diving opportunities & good company!