By Mark Lewis

By Mark Lewis

21st May 2021

It was Mark Hampshire and Steve Marchant who first had the idea to dive this Friday to check some new kit. Then joined by Craig Ardrey and Ben Horton, which made up a foursome for the morning session. However, with John Orr’s Pembrokeshire trip being called off due to adverse weather on Wednesday, Mark Lewis together with Tom and Mandy Bryer were to join in the activities. The new plan was that Mark Lewis would work with Craig with some DSMB deployment in preparation for the Plymouth weekend in a fortnight, Tom would play with his lift bag, Mandy her camera and Mark Hampshire, Ben and Steve on kit fettling.

On The Day

With Mark Hampshire not able to dive as hit twinset had not arrived back from service and Mandy Bryer deciding the comfort of her bed was a wet and windy Vobster, the remaining contingent was Ben and Steve as one buddy pair, then Tom, Craig and Mark as a threesome team.

The Day Unfolded

Before we could say boo to a ghost, Steve and Ben were already in the water, while Tom, Mark and Craig were still figuring out their plan. Once cylinders were filled and kit setup, Steve and Ben were back out of the water. A general bimble and kit fettling along the way. For the threesome, it was agreed a dive down to the Jacquin, off to the big dark hole under thee freediving platform, back up to the Jacquin where Craig would launch his DSMB while Mark would launch his backup on a spool rather than a reel.

Dive One for Mark, Tom and Craig

Once in the water, it was down to the 5 metres platform. Craig was initially struggling with getting below the surface, but once down, the three were off to the platform and Jaquine. Mark was diver one, Craig diver two and Tom diver three. Down the rope and into the black hole and it was remarkably clear visibility. Very clear, a good four metres and as Mark said, he’s never seen it that clear before and could see the walls from the platform base. Sticking his finger in the silt and with his dive computer showing an NDL of four minutes and a whopping 35 metres depth, it was back up the rope towards the Jaquine again.
DSMB time was here. Craig signalling he had 100bar left, it was time for him to play. The plan was that Craig would launch from his drysuit inflator and Mark is secondary crack bottle DSMB with finger spool. Once launched, Craig signalled he was on 60 bar and Tom signalling he had a 12 metre stop. So, up to 12 metres and no Tom, with Mark and Graig spinning around each other with line entanglement a possible hazard. Up to 6 metres for a stop and then the surface. Where’s Tom? Looking below, he’s happily making his way towards shore some 5 metres below, assuming completing his stop.
Back on dry land. Well rather, wet land as it was chucking it down by now and a hoolie of a wind, what did we learn?
Steve and Ben with DSMB - Vobster
First, Mark needs to practice more on secondary DSMB deployment with spool as he felt it was all cumbersome. Second and as Craig dropped his low pressure hose on deployment and could not find it to re-attach to his drysuit, we need to find a solution. Third, we need to find a way to stop Craig finning on the ascent as this forward motion keeps him turning around.
Dive time 43 minutes, a new bar set of depth 35 metres and a low of 6 degrees centgrade.

Dive Two for Tom, Craig and Mark

Ben and Steve were back out from their second dive and had best plans laid for lunch at The Talbot Inn in Mells. Craig, Tom and Mark were taking a some warm drinks while filling gas for dive two. All were cold, but Craig and Ben especially with their hands, Tom, Steve and Mark gesticulating warmth with their dry gloves.
So Craig could do some more DSMB work and that the three could work on ascents, the plan was five minutes or so on the platform, then down into the pit with the white Vauxhall. At depth, Craig would deploy his DSMB but with a simulated puncture and failed deployment. Mark would then send his secondary DSMB up the same reel line for Craig with his crack bottle. However, we would simulate that the crack bottle was empty and that Mark would inflate with his bailout whip. The threesome would ascend as a team and up the wall from 23 metres to 18, 15, 12, 9 and a 6 metres stop for three minutes. All agreed that as it was cold, run time no longer than 30 minutes and ideally 20. All good stuff, but what went wrong?
With everyone confident with buoyancy and trim on the platform, it was a drop into the pit. Graig came down and like a Kamikaze, shot straight past Mark and into the slit. By the time we got to the Vauxhall, there was plumes of silt everywhere. So if anyone wants to try a silt out skill, you know were to go.
It was that silty. So silty that you could only make out another diver through a vague glimmer of torch light. Time for Craig to launch his DSMB, but he has lost his reel somewhere from the platform to the pit and with the now poor visibility, there is no way we can find it. With Tom having only his spool and Mark leaving his reel topside, that part of the plan was scuttled. Nonetheless, the three amigos made a great ascent up (Danny Dyer accent on) The Wall (Danny Dyer accent off), with Mark simulating a NOTOX switch at 12 metres, to a little fun and banter while back on the surface.

Dive time 42 minutes, a little longer than the agreed 30 minutes. Maximum depth 25 metres and 8 degrees centigrade.


Mark and Craig at Vobster

Off To The Pub

Steve and Ben had left site by the time the intrepid three returned, so with a quick kit disassemble, they two scurried off to The Talbot for a pint or two and morning’s debrief. In all, a good fun morning with lots of skills practised and lessons learned. Tom and Mark have suggested Craig invests in a new crack bottle style DSMB and either a MGE ratchet reel or Kent Tooling  reel.

And A New Bar

And in closing, not only was a new bar set in the depth attained at Vobster, there is one too, drilled into the concrete to aid diver exit at the slipway.


A New Bar