Being that the dive club is based in Kent its only right that we should at least give the local coast a fair chance and there are hundreds of wrecks off our coastline. I booked a boat charter aboard the Taurus a Blyth 33 catamaran out of Dover with a skipper who new what he was talking about. The idea of this the first day dive of the year was to orientate ourselves with the charter and the channel and get in a good wreck dive.
We all met in the marina car park at 9:00am, a number of people stayed overnight in the Greek taverna as recommended by the skipper. The marina car park is easy to get to and there is a slip way down to the water where the Taraus was waiting for us. Lugging all the gear down the slipway was a little bit of a chore as the tide was out and the slipway had turned into steps. But eventually we loaded the boat and were ready for the off.
With the weather being fine and dry we were in for a good days diving! We had a briefing about the wreck we were going to visit (the Loanda) and an overview of the boats facilities and etiquette. We left the harbour and headed out to the channel, the skipper Andy said that there had been a small swell during the night and that the vis might not be that great. After we had been on the go for 20 minutes Andy contacted a survey vessel in the local area and asked about the conditions.
Unfortunately for us the survey vessel came back with the bad news of vis of 10 inches (Arghh!!!!), Andy was not keen for us to dive in such bad vis so he made the decision to head back to port to wait for the turn in the tide and hopefully better vis. On arriving back at port everyone went off to find something to eat and have a look around as the tide would not be turning until 4:00pm. Lucky for us the weather was fine and we were all able to catch some rays on the deck and watch the RNLI exercise.
At 4:15pm we set off again but this time in the opposite direction as Andy assured us the vis would be better. We headed towards the wreck of the Lariston. After dropping a marker buoy we all kitted up and dropped into the drink and followed the line down. The vis was not too bad (approx 2 meters) until we hit 13 meters then the lights went out. Pitch black, darker than a night dive, Gary my buddy put his torch on and that was about all we could see.
We followed the line to the sea bed and then headed North along the sandy bottom. We did see a number of small crabs and star fish but that was about it. Ian and Tina found a dog fish, who was rather friendly but no one was able to locate the wreck we were supposed to be diving. After loosing out SMB we decided to surface and give up as a lost cause. Most of the group had about the same experience and although the diving was not the best I think everyone had a good time.
We have chartered the Taurus for another trip in June, which hopefully will be more successful as the weather will be good and so will the vis. The boat itself was good, large area for kitting up and sufficient space to store kit. There was a lack of places to sit but you can’t have everything.