The Infamous Portland Trip
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Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
It all began one Tuesday morning (September the 17th to be precise), when my phone (conveniently placed in my shirt pocket) started vibrating (way-hey). It was announcing the arrival of a text message from Scary Paul. The message simply said "Fancy diving this weekend". Well I didn't really have time and was a little short of the old "folding green ones", but I couldn't have Scary doing any more sneaky dives and catching up with me, so I said "yes".
He had sent the same message by e-mail to the rest of the diving club, but nobody else was up for it. Not even Nick and Max were, but then they were diving in the Scillies. Maybe it was the fact that it was the "mother of all springs", maybe there was a party that we hadn't been invited to, or maybe it was Scary's e-mail that said "you don't need a buddy, Billy and I will look after you".
Anyway, with just Scary and me up for it, we had to find spaces on a charter boat. Fortunately, Uncle Reg had space on his boat, so it was "all systems go".
Thursday evening found me at Slough Scuba picking up a 2nd hand dry suit to try out over the weekend (some of us have to buy dry suits, instead of blagging one for nothing). It was fairly normal, except the inflate button was on the hose itself and not on the suit.
The Journey Down
Early on Saturday morning, both Scary and I left at around 10 o'clock for our journeys to Weymouth. We were leaving early so that we had plenty of gimmering time in Weymouth. Well, I got caught in the Southampton Boat Show traffic and Scary got caught in the Yeovil Air Show traffic. Fortunately, we had the delights of British radio broadcasting to keep us entertained. I was listening to Radio 2 and had Jonathon Ross taking about the Australian Sheep Counting Championships and hosting the Radio 2 pop quiz. Scary had BBC Solent with all those useful gardening tips. Now we all know what song was a number one hit for Paper Lace in 1974, but who can tell me the best way to store runner beans and to move conifer trees? Answers on the back of a postcard or stuck down envelope to the usual address. Anyway, we both met up at Castletown and we both managed to park for free on the road.
The First Dive
After a couple of cups of tea and, of course, egg and chips, we were ready to go diving. The plan was to dive The Hood. I was a little bid worried 'cos Reg's boat doesn't go outside the harbour, but there was another boat around just in case we drifted off. After dropping a shot the size of Cat's tits, we went diving. The Hood was still in the same place and still with lots of dark nooks and crannies. We knew they were dark because Scary had left his torch in the car - good job I had my reserve torch, which I keep with my net cutter in my stab pocket. After about 5 minutes, we managed to get it out of my pocket. The best torch in the world!! A pretty non-eventful dive, but Reg's hot chocolate did the job afterwards. I had put an hour as estimated dive time down on the slate, but we surfaced after about 30 minutes.
The Dry-Suit Dive
Then it was off to Chesil Cove to try out my dry-suit. No running around the car park naked for me - I had to keep my shorts and T-shirt on. There was a fair bit of totty around who were dying to see me naked - sorry girls! The neck seal was about an inch too big, so scary tied me up (ooh-err missus). We then had a quick guven into the sea. I did an inversion guvna, an ascent and a 3m stop. It's a piece of cake - what was I worried about? Saw a spiky fish guvna with an extra eye - John Rommey or something. The dry suit leeked slightly, so I ended up getting naked anyway - lucky girls! Then it was off the Bagwell Farm for food and Stella. By the way, for those of you who are going to tell us off for diving without shore cover, there were dozens of other divers around and we phoned MarkE before and after our dive and told him what we were doing.
While booking in, I asked what time they started doing breakfasts and was informed that they had stopped doing breakfasts because it was out of season. Worse was still to come, but the bar was still open. After putting up the tent (sober this time) and stopping Scary from breaking the showers, we went in for some food. SHOCK HORROR! It was the last night that the bar was open and the Stella had run out on Friday. We had to drink Heineken! Still, the food was good. Not as much totty as there had been earlier on in the year. After a pint or two Scary admitted that he'd never tried the dry suit inversion guvna before!
Sunday - Dive 1
After a "how to mount the pavement" driving lesson and a knots lesson from Scary, we were "egged-up" and ready to dive. We were booked to do the Landing Craft in the morning and then The Spaniard in the afternoon. On the way out to the Landing Craft, we were in for a treat - Reg turned on Wessex FM; we were on the Techno Boat. A few years ago, Reg had told me that it was worth swimming away from the Landing Craft towards the Bombardon Unit. I had forgotten about this, but he reminded us again today. I managed to piss one bloke off by answering "Yeah, think so" whenever he asked "Have you dived....?". Still, it kept me entertained. Scary told me that there was totty on board another boat, so I had to move super-quick to get my glasses back on.
Well, I use compasses less often that I use SMBs, so Scary took a compass bearing towards the Bombardon Unit, but we ended up just following a cloud of silt. It was a "dive and a half". Loads of swim throughs, squeeze throughs and swim intos. Found loads of dead crabs and moulted crab shells. I didn't know it was possible to have this much fun inside Portland Harbour. I also practised some more dry-suit inversions and recovered every time, but then I was wearing a wetsuit. After about 45 minutes, Scary suggested that we surface. I was up for staying down for an hour, but Scary had put 45 minutes on Reg's slate. So we put up the SMB using my dry-suit inflator to inflate the SMB. Scary reeled it in, of course. Another round of hot chocolates on the Techno boat. It's worth remembering to watch out for the ghost of the Bombardon unit; it follows divers around and covers their kit in silt.
Sunday - Dive 2
Had a nice bit of blonde totty on board this time, you should have seen Scary move to be the one to help her onto the boat with her kit! On the way out to The Spaniard, I discussed with Reg the possibility of dropping us on the Landing Craft again while the others dived The Spaniard. When I told him that we might be down for an hour and a half, he reckoned that would be fine. He suddenly changed course and said "right, you two in first". Good god, I hadn't even got my weight-belt on. I kitted up in super quick time (super quick for me, Scary was kitted up before I'd even got my weight-belt on).
Well, yet again, the Bombardon Unit didn't disappoint, we clocked up a bottom time of 69 minutes and a total dive time of 75 minutes. At one point, we got down to 13 minutes of no-stop time and we found some crop-guvnas. When we surfaced, the others had finished their dives and their hot chocolates and were waiting around on the boat looking cold and pissed off. On the way back, we had to move the totty into Reg's cabin, while Scary took a leak over the side.
I also found out a brilliant use for my dry-suit inflator - it's something to attack the crab with that Scary was pushing towards my mask. Scary found a rather phallic shaped white thing, but we won't go into that!
Thanks Due to:
Scary - for organising the diving.
Reg - for the hot chocolate and the transport
Wessex FM - for putting the Techno into Techno Boat.
The Aqua Sport Hotel - for air fills and fried eggs.
Radio2 and BBC Solent - for a load of old toss.
The Totty - for not slapping us.
Bagwell Farm - for still just about being open.
Scary - if I've missed anything out of this report.
The Totty - for having to put up with us.
Those who wanted to dive The Spaniard - for being big girls' blouses.
Reg and those who wanted to dive The Spaniard - for having to put up with Scary and me dancing to Wessex FM while we were kitting up.
"Those who can - guven. Those who can't - gimmer.".
PS: For those who don't know, Paper Lace's 1974 hit was Billy don't be a hero.
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Created on: 22 Sep 2002. Modified on: 22 Sep 2002.
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