Loading images...

Archive for the ‘Oyster Diving’ Category

Oyster Dive Club, Porthkerris 2012

PADI Diving, Porthkerris, Oyster Divers, UKDivemaster

Attractive shore diving

At 490 57’ North the Lizard, Britain’s most southerly point, sticks a belligerent finger into the warm, nutrient rich waters of the gulf stream. The result is an explosion of marine life, from giant basking sharks to myriad coloured jewel anemones.

Porthkerris Divers run a very professional operation from a modern dive centre right on the coast. The shop is well stocked, air fills are turned around quickly and the standard of food from the beachside café is excellent: farm reared lamb burgers, local Cornish pasties and proper coffee.

The weekend kicked off with an early morning dive on the ‘Volnay’, a 4,000-ton merchant ship that struck a German mine in 1917. Volnay did not sink immediately but being denied entry to Falmouth (if she sank near the harbour entrance, it would effectively close the port), she dropped anchor just off Porthkerris Cove. That night a storm blew up, she started shipping water and sank. Thankfully no lives were lost.

The great thing about Volnay is that she can be dived at any tide. A shot was placed expertly between her boilers and Oyster divers made their way down the line to the wreck, some 21m below. For anyone who trained at Wraysbury, the vis was amazing: 8 – 10m and the water temperature a cool but refreshing 120C.

Working our way around boilers, covered with soft corals and headed aft across wooden decks, littered with artillery shells. Shoals of immature bib shimmied through the wreck. The deck was also home to a scallop bed. We watched in amazement, as seashells became weird animated castanets swimming ahead of us. Good dives always end too soon and with 60 Bar showing on our gauges we made a reluctant return to the surface.

PADI Diving, Porthkerris, Oyster Divers, UKDivemaster

Sponges on the Volnay

Celtic Kitten is a very stable power cat, with a top speed of 22 knots. Easy to board from the beach – simply walk up the gangplank. Entry to the water is giant stride and a powerful lift gets you back onto the boat quickly and easily when your dive is done. Our second dive was to be a drift around the inner manacles. These are pinnacles of rock seemingly designed to terrorise local shipping. Depending on the tide, the current either runs north (incoming tide) or south (outgoing tide). Six Oyster divers entered the water and made our way down to 14m. Here the rocks are covered in a thick kelp forest. Their fronds were waving violently in the 5-6 knot current. We swam east, towards deeper water and the kelp gave way to rocks covered in anemones, urchins and sea fans. We came across our first shark of the weekend: a 1.2m small spotted catshark. The current was fierce around the rock pinnacles and the group of six divers did well to keep together during a very exciting drift dive.

PADI Diving, Porthkerris, Oyster Divers, UKDivemaster, Rainbow Wrasse

Rainbow Wrasse

In total 26 dives were made during the weekend in visibility that ranged from a ‘good’ 5-6m to a ‘great’ 10-12m (apparently the locals though this was ‘poor’). Despite the Basking Sharks remaining elusive, we were treated to a fantastic variety of life. But the best dive was saved ‘till last. Wicked currents make it impossible to dive the ‘Vase’ in anything other than slack water. It is a single pinnacle of rock rising 40m from the seabed to within 4m of the surface. Its crown is topped with an unruly shock of kelp and the rock then descends in tiers – a bit like a wedding cake. The strong nutrient rich currents make it an ideal home for jewel anemones, which cover the rock. We made our way down to the 20m tier and were treated to an incredible display. Dappled mid-day light lit up amazing colours as rainbow wrasse skimmed around anemones of red, green, magenta and blue. The colours matched anything I have seen on tropical reefs and this was, quite simply, the best UK dive and possibly the best dive ever.

PADI Diving, Porthkerris, Oyster Divers, UKDivemaster, The Vase

Jewel Anemones and Urchin

We were made very welcome by the friendly staff at Porthkerris Divers. Accommodation at the Trengilly Wartha Inn was extremely comfortable and the food good. They even opened up the kitchen to give us a hearty breakfast before we set off for our early morning dives.

In all, one of the best weekends of diving at the warmest place on mainland Britain. We will return!

PADI Diving, Porthkerris, Oyster Divers, UKDivemaster

Common Starfish

PADI Diving, Porthkerris, Oyster Divers, UKDivemaster, Urchin, The Vase

Urchin on The Vase

Swanage Weekend

Wrecks, Reefs and Night Diving

Swanage is a bit of a Diving Mecca and boasts the UK’s oldest Dive Shop (despite looking its age, its surprisingly efficient). We will be conducting shore dives under the pier during the day and at night. We’ll also be checking out some of the UK’s signature wreck dives: the Kyarra and Valentine Tanks.

Divers of all levels are welcome, although Deep and Wreck Specialities will be needed for some of the boat dives (don’t worry – you can get these specialities during the weekend).

Dive the Mulberrys

Plenty to see in Sussex

Just off Selsey Bill and lying in 10m of water, two remnants of WWII provide a great environment for UK marine life.

Boat and Shore dives will be available for members of all skill and experience levels.

Take a look at the life you could be missing:


One of the many remains of the Mulberry Harbours which were constructed in this area. After more than 60 years under the water this is now a wonderful reef approximately 60ms longs by 17ms wide. The North end is the best preserved and is covered in white and orange dead men’s fingers, various anemones and two patches of jewel anemones. As you tour round the reef you can expect to see schools of pouting, pollack, bass, wrasse, poor cod and bid. There is normally a large school of fish at the bottom of the shot waiting to greet you. You can also find conger eels, tompot blennies, gobies, crabs and lobsters in addition to seasonal visitors like the cuttlefish and lumpsuckers. Only 2.5 miles from East Beach with an average depth 10m. As the Mulberry is made of reinforced concrete which is decaying watch out for sharp spikes.

Final Open Water

Five months, exams and fitting training in between work and family commitments and I am finally almost a Divemaster. It Read the rest of this entry »

Mapping Project

As far as Divemaster Qualification goes, the Bible is the Instructor manual. For the ‘Mapping Project’, the Bible is a bit vague. Certainly it tells you what to do but does not give any indication of scores or standard. The Divemaster Candidate Information and Evaluation Form isn’t much more help. To pass the standard is ‘verified adequate’. The result is wide variation on what is judged as ‘adequate’. I have seen every interpretation, from simple line drawings to charts that would put the UK’s Hydrographic Office to shame. Read the rest of this entry »

Barfield Rescue

PADI Rescue Diver

Image: Just Add Water

It had been over ten years since I’d set foot in Barfield (a thriving private junior school near Farnham). I’d been an acquaintance of the previous Headmaster who left some years earlier due to some ‘financial irregularities’. The School had prospered since I had last seen it: new buildings, an Arts centre and what looked like an assault course on the playing fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Discover Scuba Diving

What I like about the Divemaster course is the emphasis on introducing non-divers to the wonders of the underwater world. The Divemaster Internship programme is designed to give DM trainees plenty of ‘customer facing experience’. Read the rest of this entry »

First Divemaster

Oyster Diving, PADI Open Water Course

Mark Briefs the Open Water Course before their first dive

Wraysbury is convenient, has good conditions for Open Water training dives. But it is noisy.

Every 90 seconds an airliner loaded with passengers takes off from Heathrow. And this morning they were flying directly overhead. But that is the only complaint I have about an extremely good morning.

This was the first time I had acted as surface cover Divemaster, indeed the first time I’ve acted as Divemaster at all! (Although I had been a BSAC Dive Marshall once). Read the rest of this entry »

Oyster Diving

OK. I’ve chosen which organisation to ‘do’ the DM course with. And it was a close run thing. In the end proximity, professionalism and friendliness were the determining factors. Read the rest of this entry »

Your Shopping Cart
Your cart is empty
Follow UKDivemaster on Twitter