The first dive club trip of the season to Swanage took place on the 1st April. Five of us (Steve Groves, Jamie, Josh, Stephan and myself) began a 3-hour journey down to the south coast at the crack of dawn. Anticipating a busy day and previous experience queueing at the pier we were surprised to find we were the only ones. We had a bit of time to kill before we could gain access to the pier and get ready so it was a good chance for a chat a quick dive briefing and orientation of the days diving. Being April the air temperature was only 7 Degrees. We all anticipated a cold days scuba diving. Our main focus would be to keep ourselves as warm as possible, as only one of the group was in a drysuit.
Eventually, someone finally arrived to let us onto the pier. Time to get ready for our first scuba dive ‘Fleur de Lys’. We got our gear together, tanks filled and boarded the dive boat looking forward to a cold but good days scuba diving. The ‘Fleur de Lys’ was only a short dive boat ride, we kitted up ready to go. We buddied up and got into the water in pairs, straight down the shot line to the wreck. At first, the temperature of the water doesn’t seem to have an effect but with a bottom temperature of 7 degrees and scuba diving in a 5mm wetsuit you soon start to feel it.
This wasn’t too much a concern though for now and we descended to 10metres. At the wreck, the visibility was not great at <1m. Luckily we’d packed our torches which would assist us navigating the wreck. Even with torches, we had to stay close our buddies as the visibility was that bad and paired with a swirling undercurrent we were blown about quite a bit. We had to take control of our buoyancy and close contact at all times. After about 15mins in the water Jamie signaled to me he was cold I was the same. We agreed to continue the dive for a little while. Battling the current, cold and poor visibility we decided to end the scuba dive after 23mins. With the conditions, it was very easy to lose each other which is what happened. As Jamie was preparing to deploy his DSMB we were separated. So the thing for us to do would be to look for one minute then meet on the surface. That’s what we did, a slow ascent with a 3-minute safety stop. As happens I surfaced first a fair distance from the boat, no problem I just signaled to the boat and they picked me up. Getting out the water was easy as the boat is fitted with a lift. Once on the boat, it was time to warm up. After a minute I saw Jamie’s DSMB and he surfaced and boarded the boat. Followed closely by the other 3 scuba divers. We were all offered a selection of hot drinks to warm up and discussed the events of the dive we’d just done. Based on everyone’s responses it was clear we were all very cold. During the short trip back to shore Jamie decided that he did not want to do the second dive. This was quickly followed by the rest of us unanimously agreeing that was the sensible option based on the facts. We arrived at the pier quickly and it was time to get dry and warm as quickly as possible. We paid the captain and decided what we were going to do next. Once we were dressed some of the group decided to go get some food before the long journey home, while others got a head start on the journey home.