Lyme Regis - June 2017

The forecast was good for the weekend. We travelled down to Lyme Regis on Thursday and planned to dive Friday, Saturday and Sunday, returning home on Sunday evening.

The weather was good on Friday with the sea virtually flat, and with very little wind. The first dive was The St Dunstan, a bucket dredger that hit a mine in 1917. It is reasonably intact and lies in 30m of water with the top of the wreck about 5m from the sea bed. Visibility was limited to a few metres but it was still possible to navigate the wreck and make out the main features, like the gears that hauled the buckets, and the boilers and engine. The second dive was on The Baygitano. This was hit by a torpedo from UC-77 in 1918 with the loss of two of the crew. The wreck is quite flat except for the two main boilers and a third donkey boiler just behind them. We had good vis and as it's only in about 20 metres of water it was quite bright and easy to see along the wreck. There were lots of conger eels, crabs and lobsters on this wreck.

Saturday started much the same as Friday with little wind and fairly flat seas. The first wreck was that of The M2, a submarine that sank in 1932, and a wreck that many of us wanted to dive on. The M2 was special as it was modified to carry a sea plane in a waterproof hanger. The idea was that the sub would surface, launch the plane and then dive. Unfortunately, during trials, it is believed the hanger doors were opened to early and water flooded in, sinking the sub and killing all of the crew. The visibility on the dive was good, allowing us a good view of the wreck, and bottom time with a bit of deco allowed us to see the whole wreck, including a look inside the hanger. Again, there were eels and lots of fish on the wreck. During the surface interval the wind got up and the sea started to get rough. We decided the second dive should be on the way back to port, and the skipper suggested a drift dive for some scallops on the saw tooth ledges. A few people decided to sit this one out, but four of us gave it a go. There was only a slight current but we managed to collect 27 scallops. The other buddy pair had a similar number. The trip back to port got even rougher and a few people wished they hadn't had quite so much for lunch. The scallops went down well at the B&B, with the owner cooking some for Barbara for breakfast.

Sunday the sea was still a bit rough and we opted for a fairly close wreck - The Gibel Hamam (originally christened the Bamburgh). She was sunk by a torpedo in 1918 and is split in two. In 30 to 35 metres, the visibility was very low and the wreck was almost in complete darkness. Add to that a fairly strong current and it made it a quite difficult dive. It was hard to see more than a metre with a torch, and once off the shot line it was easy to lose your orientation, as the wreck is broken up quite a bit. Once we hit our deco limit we decided to head for the surface via SMB, as finding the shot again was unlikely. Back on board and the weather was getting worse. Most people did not want to do another dive with the possibility of even worse weather on the way, so we decided to head back to port and leave for home by lunchtime.

Even with the bad weather on the last day, it was still a great trip and everyone enjoyed it. The diving was great, and the skipper, Rob, on the Blue Turtle, did a great job getting us on the wrecks. He also laid on lunch and hot drinks each day, which was unexpected but very nice.

Paul Hart

Photos from the June 2017 trip to Lyme Regis