21 June 2017
Better protection for Dorset Seahorses says Seahorse Trust.
The club RIB will be moving to Poole at the end of June as news comes in of a dramatic increase in seahorse numbers in the area.
About 50 short-snouted seahorses were discovered recently off Bournemouth, a big increase on the 20 sighted in the whole of Dorset last year. But while the news is encouraging, the Trust is concerned that work to install eco friendly moorings in Studland Bay last year had stalled due to opposition from the sailing community. The Trust is calling for work to resume as soon as possible.
Hopefully work on installing these moorings will begin again soon. And who knows? Perhaps Holborn members will get lucky and spot a few of these delightful creatures this season.
Yes, it’s that time of year again (actually it’s earlier than usual, but who’s complaining?).
Gailfest 2017 will take place on Saturday 8th July down in Rye. Featuring a BBQ, BYOD, swimming pool, boating lake, pool table and a performance by Triggerfish, all set in beautiful surroundings and overlooking Romney Marshes. There is room to stay over (if you’re quick, they go fast) plus plenty of space to pitch a tent. Watch out for details on the one-list.
19 June 2017
The Sea Watch Foundation needs your help! From 29th July – 6th August, the UK marine environmental charity need volunteers to host/take part in watches for the 16th National Whale and Dolphin Watch.
Last year there were over 1400 sightings and even more watch hours completed than in previous years, but more help is needed. If you think you could help either host or take part in a watch, go to their website here.
22 June 2017
Tickets for the next big dive show, at Birmingham’s NEC, are now on sale.
Featuring scuba-related stands, talks, presentations and the ever popular try-dive pool, this year’s show promises to be bigger than ever.
The show focuses on great dive holiday deals so it’s a great place to find a getaway over the winter. Fancy going along? Then for more information take a look here.
18 June 2017
Iceland, Silfra and Kleifarvatn27-30 May 2017Nic Weeks
The fissure at Silfra, set between two continental plates, is legendary for it’s amazing visibility. Holborn divers see it for themselves, and also get up close to some geo-thermal activity.
Silfra is a destination that is on many a diver’s bucket list, and with good reason. Like Grunersee in Austria, Silfra is truly unique. Not only can you touch two continents at the same time (probably) but the pure, glacial water offers vizibilty in excess of 100m, and even as much as 150m at times (depending on which guide you speak to).
After a short flight from the UK (only 3 hours) a small group of Holbornauts arrived in Reykjavik, the delightful, if expensive, capital city. A thousand pounds worth of beer later (10 pints) and a wonderful fish and chip supper (don’t ask), we all retired to bed looking forward to the following days dive.
First on the agenda was Kleifarvatn, a lake just 45 minutes away from the capital that hides geothermal activity. Find the right spot and it can be like diving in a jacuzzi. Getting into the lake was made more difficult owing to the fact that the water level had risen by 10 feet recently, so we couldn’t get to the usual entry point.
But we persevered and, after a long walk along the beach and an exhausting swim, were rewarded with the unique experience – bubbles everywhere! As we packed up the heavens opened but, luckily (or perhaps with some foresight by the DM) we were booked into The Blue Lagoon spa afterwards, so we could all warm up in the lovely 38 degree water – bliss!
The following day featured the main event – Silfra. Even the fact that it rained all day couldn’t dampen our spirits. The water is crazy cold (2-4 degrees) but the view is extraordinary. The water is a beautiful, deep blue and the scenery is quite breathtaking. Dives don’t last that long (unless you take a wrong turn) but are completely unforgettable, which is lucky considering the effect the cold often has on camera batteries – dammit!.
There is much more diving to be had in Iceland, and the landscape itself is worthy of a visit in it’s own right. We will be back soon.
Littlehampton BBQ/SD training27-30 May 2017Rekha Bhalla
Bad weather can’t stop Holborn from diving, and dining, over the bank holiday weekend.
On the first morning of Sports Diver, within minutes of the RIB leaving Littlehamption marina, enormous waves drenched everyone aboard. Shaking salt water off the the dive plans Zoe and Mark decided to switch to plan B – food and alcohol. Back in our huge rental house, a few glasses of wine later over a BBQ – life seemed better, a lot better. Our menu consisted of marinated tofu and seasonal vegetable kebabs followed by a cheese selection and pudding – lovingly prepared by Mark and Zoe.
A supplementary menu was supplied by Pawel who exhaustively searched the supermarkets in Littlehampton to source Polish sausages and sweets – which he served with amaretto and coca-cola cocktails.
Full and happy and with a massive sugar and alcohol rush – off we went to our comfortable beds – (happily there was an extra long bed for Ben). The night was uneventful except for Mary creeping around in the small hours scaring innocent sleeping room mates half to death – thanks Mary!.
The next day after a little breakfast argument about brioche burger buns and bathroom cleaner we set off for the Marina. It was a great day on the RIB, with short atmospheric storms broken by beautiful calm weather. It was the perfect day for drift dives. Mary and Pawel decided to up the ante and drift dive their SMB in a rock garden. Zoe payed the price of having to watch their navigation skills by slamming her cheek into a large rock in the process – who’d be a dive instructor eh?
We went home to a menu of crispy gnocchi in a rich tomato sauce with artichoke, aubergine and pine nut salad. Cheeses and wine followed and for those who could manage, dessert.
On our final day, Bank Holiday Monday, Littlehampton was battered with further storms so we said goodbye to the cosy rental house and went to Wraysbury. We almost had the place to ourselves. Without the mass of learner divers churning up the silt and with the staff chilling out in the bar it was difficult to believe that this was really our usual training lake. In the unusually good diving conditions everyone made great progress with their sports diver skills.
There was one person though that really excelled over the weekend. Separated for 3 days from a new love he countered his pain by eating cheese with plum jam for breakfast (europeans!) and whistling out of tune whilst checking his phone and then gazing out into the distance. In-between these complex behaviours he managed to dive to a consistently excellent standard! Many congratulations to Ben who only a couple of months into the SD course managed to flawlessly pass every assessment and dive with such skill that Zoe and Mark awarded him the title of Sports Diver forthwith. We think that this is fastest time that anyone has managed to complete this part of their dive training.
To conclude the Sports Diver weekend was a great success, it didn’t follow the plans Mark and Zoe had painstakingly mapped out for us but with good will and improvisation we had a wonderful time and a new Holborn record was set!
Littlehampton Easter bank holiday14-17 April 2017Nic Weeks
The seahorses stayed hidden but Holborn discovers the delights of the Inner Mulberry.
After nearly nine years away, Holborn Diver returned to Littlehampton to discover the delights of this particular stretch of coast. The plan was to hunt for the seahorses that are rumoured to live off Selsey Bill and investigate some of the Mulberry wrecks the club had not visited before.
Alas, the seahorses proved to be elusive (we’ll be back) but the wreck of the Inner Mulberry turned out to be a great find.
Smaller than the better known Far Mulberry, the Inner Mulberry benefits from being only 6-7m deep with a large section that it is possible to swim into. With viz of up to 10m the bright sunshine streamed into the interior giving the wreck a catherdral-like quality. Curious ballen wrasse followed us around, while tompot blennies peered out from underneath broken supports. Swimming up to the top of the structure there are pockets of trapped air where you can listen to strange underwater sounds.
Leaving the wreck divers can then enjoy a drift encountering rays, dog-cat-shark-fish (!?!), sea hares and a surprising number of brightly coloured nudibranchs.
Pulling in to Selsey between dives to get fills proved to be ‘interesting’, to say the least, but at least we were then able to do our next dive, a ‘Selsey Drift’, on the lookout for seahorses. Unfortunately none were seen, but since they are so well camoflauged that you could stare one in the face and still not see it, it was not too much of a surprise.
A lovely AirB&B, friendly dive shop and some great restaurants in Worthing helped to make the trip a resounding success. The water was as cold as you would expect this early in the season, as Rekha, who turned quite blue at times, would testify. But the sunshine and beautiful viz made up for the cold, as did the proliferation of marine life. If only we could find those seahorses!
Plymouth bank holiday weekend27-29 August 2016Dave Thorne
The Eddystone Lighthouse is reported to be one of the best scenic dives in the UK. After this weekend few Holborn members would disagree.
The weather forecast leading up to the clubs traditional bank holiday trip to Plymouth was mixed to say the least. Saturday looked relatively calm but a front was moving in and threatened to put a dampner on things the following day. Pretty typical of a UK bank holiday really.
Luckily for us the front did hold off on the Saturday and so we were able to get out to one of the best scenic dives in the UK; the Eddystone Lighthouse.
Many on the trip had not dived the ‘Eddy’ before and so they could finally see what the rest of us were always banging on about. The viz was about 10-12m and the sunlight penetrated easily down to 30m, lighting up the white sand on the seabed. Beautiful jewell anemones covered every available rocky surface, crabs hid in every crevice and curious and hungry cuckoo wrasse followed us throughout the dive. This was definitely one of those dives you did not want to finish!
But finish it did and so we headed back to Mountbatten from where we did further dives at Penlee Point and, that other classic of UK diving, the James Eagan Layne. Still a lovely dive the JEL is starting to show it’s age and is collapsing in on itself. Make sure you dive this site whenever you can, all too soon it will be gone!
The next day’s diving was indeed blown out, although Monday looked slightly more hopeful. We managed to get our underwater ‘fix’ by going to see ‘Finding Dory’ at the local cinema, so the day wasn’t a total loss.
The next day we made the brave, and slightly daft decision, to try to beat the weather with an early start – 06:00 ropes off to be exact! Our target was Hilsea Point Rocks, another of the area’s lovely scenic dives. Poor viz stirred up by the bad weather meant the dive didn’t live up to our lofty expectations (it can be amazing) but at least we did get to see a beautiful sunrise.
Portland, Luxury weekend30-31 July 2016Zoe Diderich
This is the life! Holborn sets new standards with champagne, strawberries and cream!
Following on from the BBQ weekend and in keeping with the Holborn tradition of fine diving on club trips, Zoe decided to go one step further promising a ‘luxury dive weekend’. Strangely enough, it booked up in minutes!
Deliberately planning to do just one dive per day allowed for a relaxing late start on the Saturday and so we headed out to a new dive site; Worbarrow Tout and the Barge wreck, plucked from the pages of the recently published Dorset Dives by Will Appleyard.
It is difficult to believe that the club, having frequented the Portland area so much, had never dived this lovely site before. Perfect for Ocean Divers, this shallow wreck stands 3m proud of the seabed and is covered in life. Swimming away from the wreck you discover the delights of the nearby rocky reef – a charming little dive.
Upon return to the RIB we were treated to champagne, strawberries and cream and a host of other delights – we all agreed that we could definitely get used to this.
Finishing the day’s diving early we were able to head back to the delightfully art deco hotel, The Riviera, for a spot of lounging by the pool before heading out to the Nautico Lounge for some pre-dinner drinks and then dinner at Il Porto, one of the many upmarket restaurants that are appearing all over Weymouth – very civilised!
Following another late start on Sunday the glorious weather allowed us to go around the Bill and finally dive the wreck of the Gertrude. We had attempted to do so many times before but, with inaccurate marks, had never been able to. And what a lovely dive it is… and followed by cocktails on the RIB. Definitely a luxury weekend!
Portland, BBQ dive28-30 May 2016Nic Weeks
An isolated beach that can only be reached by sea makes the perfect site for Holborn’s annual beach BBQ (and a spot of sunbathing).
Having dived the reef at White Nothe/Bat’s Head for several years now, there had long been an idea that it might be nice to catch some scallops at nearby Lulworth Banks and then go onto the beach, only reachable by sea, to enjoy a BBQ.
So we decided the time had come to give it a go and what better weekend than the late May bank holiday. Setting out in the morning several divers hunted the seabed for scallops with Mark and Zoe (as usual) bringing up the biggest haul. Dinner secured we headed to the beach.
Landing at White Nothe beach is easier said than done due to the reef which runs along the shore and exposes at low tide. But with some careful planning we made it, much to the surprise of a couple of local swimmers who were probably looking forward to a quiet, relaxing sunbathe. We gave them some beer as a peace offering and that seemed to do the trick.
Mark and Zoe set to work cooking up a storm and soon we were all enjoying a real feast including the afore-mentioned, very fresh scallops, all washed down with some refreshing beer (zero alcohol for the cox’n obviously).
While most people settled for a relaxing after dinner nap the youngsters in the group, (Charlotte, Mary and Ellie) decided to go for a frolic and a swim off the beach. Everyone was having a great time, notwithstanding the appearance of a nude sunbather (male… and fat) further down the beach. Happily he kept his distance and didn’t need rescuing!
Although the viz was poor over the weekend due to an unseasonal and late plankton bloom, the focus of the trip was always the beach BBQ and it was everything we expected it to be. We will definitely be back, but this time probably with a sound system and some deck chairs!
Grüner See, Austria23-25 May 2015Nic Weeks
Having missed finding any submerged park benches last year we were determined to this time around… and we did…
In May 2014 the club made it’s first visit to the unique Grüner See (Green Lake) in Austria. So enjoyable was the experience that we decided to repeat the trip again this year. And just as it did the year before, the lake provided another truly memorable experience.
To recap, Grüner See is a lake within a country park in the Austrian mountains. Normally only a few metres deep but once a year in the spring the snows on nearby mountains melt, flooding the lake and increasing the depth to anywhere between 7-12m.
This makes it possible to dive through a park, over trails and grass, around trees and even along submerged park benches and a small bridge. Being melt water the visibility can be anywhere between 20-40m!
Arriving at the lake from our nearby accommodation the heavy rain from the previous day relented and, as the day wore on, the sun began to make an appearance.
Having several of last years’ group along meant we had a better idea of the layout of the lake and so we were able to explore it more throughly than the year before.
This led to us finding the previously elusive park bench (cue many photos of divers reclining on said bench) and then, on the last dive of the day, the small bridge in the far north east corner of the lake.
A return drive through the stunning Austrian countryside and some fine, traditional food made for a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
Red Sea, Egypt – Simply the bestOctober 2014Gary Sedgwick
The itinerary was “Simply the Best”… and the trip well and truly lived up to the name…
With the justification of a significant birthday to celebrate, three of us headed to the Red Sea in October for a liveaboard trip aboard MV
Hurricane. The itinerary was “Simply the Best”. After a night moored in Port Ghalib, we headed off towards the Brothers (with a day’s diving, including a night dive, en route) for a day each on Little Brother and Big Brother (taking in the wrecks of the Aida and Numidia), followed by two days at Daedalus, and a return journey taking in Elphinstone.
We benefited from having two excellent dive guides, and we managed an encounter with something special virtually every day of the trip: oceanic white tips, grey reef sharks, a thresher shark, manta rays, a school of hammerheads… and we were especially lucky to have an inquisitive whale shark early one morning that
was happily playing around under the moored boats, seemingly enjoying the jacuzzi generated by the divers from all the liveaboards as they piled into the water after us. My decision to purchase a new GoPro really paid off with footage that looks like it was taken from a BBC wildlife documentary!
Even the less eventful dives were still excellent, with exceptional visibility, colourful coral reefs that are full of life, and the usual
array of tropical fish, turtles, rays etc. Out of the sites we dived, Daedalus has to be my favourite (the whale shark, hammerheads and
mantas may have something to do with that), with the Brothers close behind. In conclusion, this was a superb trip, and the itinerary, boat, crew, dive guides and tour operator (Scuba Travel) all come highly recommended.
Pico, Azores, Portugal5-13 September 2014Nic Weeks
Poor weather severly limited the diving we could do, but we still did some great dives and got up close and personal with blue sharks and octopus…
Years in the planning, the eagerly-awaited Azores trip finally came to pass early in September. A group of nine islands in the mid-Atlantic, the Azores offer the chance to dive with whales, sharks and manta rays.
Unfortunately for us our arrival coincided with unusually strong winds that would limit us to the south of the island and make it unlikely for us to get to the best offshore sites, but that wouldn’t stop us getting some great dives in.
The island’s volcanic origins are very much in evidence underwater with dramatic walls, drop-offs, gullies, swim throughs and arches surrounded by an abundance of marine life in crystal clear water. Visibility was at least 15m, often more, and the water temperature was around 22 degrees.
On the second day a few of us were lucky enough to take advantage of a break in the weather and head out for a blue shark dive. Hours of waiting in increasingly big seas were rewarded with a short but thrilling encounter with a couple of blue sharks, surely one of the most graceful fish in the sea.
Later in the week several members enjoyed a close encounter with a friendly octopus. Undaunted at being surrounded by a dozen divers the curious cephalopod repeatedly probed any divers hand that came close.
The islands themselves are quite beautiful and dramatic and well worth investigating in there own right. Knowing that we didn’t get to the best sites almost every diver said they would return one day – we’ll be back.
Plymouth, Devon22-25 August 2013Gemma March
A great weekend’s diving followed by some close encounters with penguins…
The weather forecast for the club’s regular annual bank holiday weekend in Plymouth was rather mixed this year. Light winds and sunshine to begin with, but some ominous storm clouds were threatening to strike later.
But we decided to disregard this and take advantage of the fact that we had fewer divers than usual to plan an ambitious itinerary, including dives at the Eddystone, Hilsea Point Rocks and, fingers crossed, Hatt Rock – a site never before visited by Holborn.
The first day went to plan with excellent dives at the JEL, Hilsea Point (and yes, some of us found ‘The Arch’) and Penlee Point. The day was notable for the fact that several club members, who had been away from diving for a while, got back into the sea for the first time… so welcome
back Angela, Ben, Susie, Jax and Dave.We hope you had a good time.
Day two began with a dive on the Mewstone, but later in the day the dive to Hatt Rock had to be abandoned due to problems with the engine. We did manage a dive on the Scylla instead, but a damaged gear box brought the diving to a premature end.
Despite this everyone had several enjoyable dives. But the weekend wasn’t over for Nic and I. On our way home, towing the RIB as we went, we stopped of at the Living Coast in Torquay to enjoy the ‘Penguin Experience’. Diving in the penguin pool, surrounded by lightening fast African and Macaroni penguins has to be experienced to be believed. A perfect end to a great weekend.
Portland, Dorset27-28 July 2013Angelo Carazo Gormley
When the weather gods smile, it’s time to go diving…
There is nothing worse than spending a day doing training exercises when the weather is perfect for diving. Which is exactly why a small band of instructors and Advanced Diver students decided to skip the training and head out to the M2 when an unusually good weather forecast presented itself.
Arriving at the site our intrepid divers waited their turn while two boat loads of divers from Scimitar were dropped in. Moments later Mark and Zoe dropped over the side to enjoy one of the rare recreational dives of their year.
Lucky for them, as seconds later the heavens opened and stinging torrential rain came down. Many thanks must go to Smudge from Scimitar for taking pity on the damp boat crew and providing us with hot beverages.
The M2 was, as ever, a great dive, which was good considering the RIB ride back to the marina was, shall we say, interesting. Rain like bullets and poor viz!
The next day we returned to the schedule and began the Advanced Diver exercises inside Portland Harbour. AS ascents were performed and ropes were thrown to the satisfaction of the instructors – well done Angela and Emma.
Unfortunately the nice, shiny blue line recently purchased was a casualty, flying overboard and disappearing into the depths – sorry Mike.
So, a rewarding weekend for all, especially since we discovered the Tart au Citron served with lemon sorbet and popping candy in The Boat That Rocks – definitely not to be missed!
Penzance, Cornwall25-29 June 2013Nic Weeks
Plenty of life, great viz and great big sharks…
Every year Advanced Diver students are required to take the club on a dive to a relatively unknown location. So it was that Emma Elliott and crew towed Holborn Diver down to Penzance in Cornwall for what promised to be a great week of diving off the South Cornish coast.
After a pretty poor start to the year weather-wise everyone had their fingers crossed that the trip would be a turning point in the season. It did not disappoint. Although the weather wasn’t quite perfect, the winds were much lighter than before and, even when they were stronger, they were favourable northerlies which meant the south coast was afforded some protection. In short, we were able to dive most of the sites we had planned.
And what great sites they were: starting the week with Low Lee Ledges and the SS Primrose, then the HMS Conquerer, Seghy Rock (Basking shark sighting), Cudden Point (Smoothound shark sighting), Alice Marie (splendid), St Clements Isle (seals), Outer Bucks (like a little Hand Deeps) and the Ansgir (Cuttlefish).
Despite unfavourable tides making life a little difficult Emma planned well and enlisted the aid of the local Harbour Master and the ever-reliable Bill Bowen, a long time friend of Holborn BSAC.
But it is the diving in this part of the world that makes the area so special and everyone had a great trip, all thanks to Emma and Rich. We’ll return to Penzance soon.