Holborn news and trip reports

Latest news from Holborn scuba dive


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January 2019

Holborn Diver gets a go-faster engine for the new season.

After over 12 years of service (and a very hard life) the old 150HP engine on the RIB as finally been upgraded. In it’s place is a brand new, shiny 175HP Suzuki, which has all the cox’ns smiling.

12 years of service is a very long time for an outboard engine, especially when it has to move a boat load of divers and their kit, so it’s no surprise it’s performance fell off a little over the last few years. But now we can look forward to getting to and from dive sites much quicker and with much greater fuel economy. It’s also going to be lots of fun going faster, let’s face it.

There will be a familiarisation session on 9th February down at Littlehampton for any cox’ns and boat handlers who would like to attend. Now that’s how to get a season off to a flying start!.


Portland

After a successful 2018 the club has decided to return to Portland for the 2019 season.

Portland has proven to be one of the best sites at which to base the club RIB over the years. Portland Marina boasts excellent facilities, including plenty of parking, several cafes, top notch showers and changing rooms and not one, but two dive shops with an excellent range of equipment to hire. And with hundreds of great dive sites to explore you can’t go wrong.

January 2019


Ellie

The 2019 dive calendar was released back at the AGM and it’s already got people buzzing. The RIB is due out almost every weekend to explore all of the sites Portland has to offer. She’ll also be making her usual trip down to Plymouth on the August bank holiday in what has become a fine Holborn tradition.

There is plenty of training on offer, and even a few free weekends if anyone wants to run their own trip. View the 2019 Dive Calendar here.

January 2019


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Ever wanted to dive with seals? Well, now is your chance.

In years gone by Holborn regularly visited the Farne Islands in Northumberland where the you can find one of the largest colonies of Grey Seals in the UK.

This season the club is returning with a week-long trip. Interested? Find details on our 2019 Dive Calendar here.

January 2019

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Diving

Korčula, Croatia
22-30 September 2018
Dave Thorne


Holborn Divers were so impressed with Croatia in 2017 that they decided to go back. And it was just as good the second time around.


The Dalmation coast has, purportedly, some of the clearest waters in the Mediterranean. Croatia has some of the most picturesque island towns in Europe. Nestled in the intersection of the two is the beautiful island of Korčula.

A couple of hours out of Dubrovnik, surrounded by clear blue water, and dominated by an ancient walled city, Korčula is one of those hidden holiday-making gems we all try to keep quiet about. It is also the home of the only BSAC dive centre in Croatia: Dupin Dive.

After a successful first trip the year before, and making good use of club knowledge, this September saw us repeating our expedition to dive everything Korčula has to offer. Nine divers, taking part in thirteen dives over six days and nights, had the pleasure of visiting reefs, walls, wrecks, a cavern, and even a vertical cave.


We were blessed by free-swimming night-time hunting octopuses, unabashed moray eels, nudibranchs abound, spiny lobsters, spawning sponge crabs (right in front of our eyes), a giant sea snail, a sea hare the size of a rugby ball, and all the usual fishy wildlife one would expect from the Mediterranean.

Above water we were fortunate to have access to some seriously great food and drink, beautiful surroundings, and even witnessed firefighting airplanes doing their thing.

After a week of all that, it seemed only sensible to spend our final 24-hour surface interval in the world-renowned Dubrovnik Old Town. The perfect way to end a perfect trip!




The Y40 deep pool near Venice, Italy

Y40 deep pool, Venice, Italy
16-18 March 2018
Nic Weeks


Diving in the deepest pool in the world and experiencing the wonders of Venice. What more could you ask for? Aperol Spritz anyone?


Venice isn’t the first place you think of when it comes to diving in Europe, but when Holborn discovered that it was just a few miles from there to the Y40, the deepest pool in the world, well, it was just too good an opportunity to pass up wasn’t it? The perfect venue for an early season dive for sure.

So it was that a group of Holborn’s finest landed at Marco Polo Airport and set off on the water taxi to one of the most unusual, and spectacular, cities in the whole of Europe. Being early season accommodation was easy to fnd and we benefitted from far fewer tourists than you would expect just a few months, or even weeks, later.

Venice really is a magical city, and after just a few hours I, for one, wondered why I had never visited before. First stop was a small, cozy and relaxed restaurant just opposite where some of the group were staying and an introduction to the delights of Venitian bar culture and, of course, Aperol Spritz. Later, with the help of some local knowledge from a club member who used to live in the city, we found some delightful tapas bars in which to while away the hours.


The next day we caught the train over to Montegrotto Terme, home of the Y40 – The Deep Joy (according to their bizarre tagline). After a brief briefing we heading into the pool area and then all rushed to grab the best hire kit, none of which I would trust in open water if I’m honest. The pool is full of passages and swim-throughs and, of course, the deep section which reaches just over 40m if my computer is to be trusted.

As much fun as the dive was (and it was) the real star of the trip was the wonderful city itself. There is so much to see in such a small space. The canals are magical, the architecture is stunning, the people are relaxed and friendly and the food is delicious.

The evening and following day was spent exploring the myriad winding streets and canals, shops, museums and galleries. A few of the group even succumbed to the inevitable and took a ride in a gondola. Undeniably expensive but quite a unique experience, they said. All too soon we were heading back to the airport and waving our sad farewells to Venice, all of us vowing to return just as soon as we could.




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Iceland, Silfra and Kleifarvatn
27-30 May 2017
Nic 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.




Easter dive at Littlehampton

Littlehampton Easter bank holiday
14-17 April 2017
Nic 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!




Diving in Plymouth 2016

Plymouth bank holiday weekend
27-29 August 2016
Dave 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.




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Portland, Luxury weekend
30-31 July 2016
Zoe 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!




BBQ at White Nothe beach

Portland, BBQ dive
28-30 May 2016
Nic 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, Austria

Grüner See, Austria
23-25 May 2015
Nic 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.




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Red Sea, Egypt – Simply the best
October 2014
Gary 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.




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Pico, Azores, Portugal
5-13 September 2014
Nic 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.




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Plymouth, Devon
22-25 August 2013
Gemma 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.




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Portland, Dorset
27-28 July 2013
Angelo 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!




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Penzance, Cornwall
25-29 June 2013
Nic 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.