Will it rain, will it be cold? Which hat/gloves/undersuit/thermals do I take? Once again the weather dominated the final dive kit configurations as forecasts varied from sun/rain/wind/cold. Twelve dedicated divers met at 8.00am at the North Shields jetty on a surprisingly sunny morning and loaded Spellbinder II. We headed north past Newcastle to Blyth to catch the slack water and to dive the wreck of the Pandora.
As a club we’ve this wreck several times before and experienced visibility from 2m to 20m. Today we had a disappointing 4 metres which made navigation from stern to bow a little difficult. However, when the bow section was finally located the vis was good enough to see the plethora of bib, pollack and wrasse populating this safe haven. At 23 metres the temperature was a disappointing 8 degrees C, and one or two of us were wishing we’d put on that extra thermal.
We stayed near to Blyth for the surface interval with the intention of diving the wreck of the Hans at a similar depth. Our skipper, the enigmatic Allan Lopez cooked us all spaghetti and meatballs whilst his lugubrious sidekick Eric kept us awash with tea, coffee and chocolate. Everyone was ready to dive except Julie and Stacey who were either asleep/honking/asleep/puking. It must have been something they ate for breakfast or a bad pint last night.
The Hans was an excellent dive with the vis being slightly better at around 6m. More wreck’age’ than wreck, but still a good dive. No deco time elapsed quickly and most divers were back on the boat within 45 mins.
Back at base which was the North Shields Premier Inn, cylinders were loaded for filling and were taken to Aquanorth in Newcastle by Tim, Liz, Terry, Stapers, Julie & Stacey (who by now had woken up). A quick shower and spray of deoderant saw us all meeting in the bar next door with the first pint of er, several. Taxis took us to Newcastle’s infamous Bigg Market, the home of many a Hen & Stag do. And there were loads, showing too much flesh as they crammed oversized bodies into tiny little outfits. And the girls were just as bad.
We had quick pint in the Beehive pub where our feet stuck to the carpet and could only be removed by a slow rocking motion to break the suction, before heading next door to Rupali’s, home of the world’s hottest curry, aptly named ‘Curry Hell’. Special mention must be made of Rupali Virgins Stacey, Matthew, Peter and Phil who all had a taste. And suffered. Oh how they suffered. Oh how we laughed. All except Terry who refused point blank to eat any the wimp (it was of course the right decision). A couple of drinks later in the City Vaults and we were all tucked up in bed by midnight (ish).
Sunday saw a slightly later start which was appreciated, and this time we headed south of the Tyne to dive the wreck of the Illious which lies in 27m, again pretty much broken up. Another good dive if not a little dark with vis being around 6m. We finished up the weekend with a shallow dive to 13m on the Eugenia Chandris/Oslo Fjoord where several of us found intact wartime .303 rounds and Neil finding a silver spoon. No doubt the Receiver of Wrecks will be interested in your find Neil.
Allan cooked us Chicken Curry which was well appreciated, cos we hadn’t had curry for a while. It wasn’t too popular with the 3 vegetarians amongst us. So they had tomatoes.
An excellent wekend enjoyed by all, hardly any rain and smiles all round. The intrepid explorers were Steve Stapleton (Trip Sec), Terry Manton (Trip Wimp) Tim & Liz Saville (hardy souls and all round good eggs), Stacey (Pukey) Wall, Julie (Sleepy) Price, Geoff (Ciggy) Gelsthorpe, Nigel (300 bar) Troth, Matthew (Floaty) Kirk, Peter (Where’s Matthew) Kirk, Neil (Innertube) Battersby and Phil (Disco Boy) Barber.