A group from the club, ably managed by Debbie as part of her Advanced Diver assessment, went to Cornwall to dive out of Penzance and Lamorna Cove.

Unfortunately the Bank Holiday weekend was a total washout. The rain lashed down and gale force winds rocked the caravan. On the Monday, Adrian and I looked at a few sites mentioned in the Dive South Cornwall (Diver Guide) book. Porth Curno (below Minack Point) - with a steep sandy beach - looked like it might be good for snorkelling in fine weather along the rocks to the south. As for Mill Bay, you need a tractor or a horse to get to it, otherwise, via a long walk along the coast path (so another snorkelling spot there perhaps). Conditions improved during the week and we had three days of comfortable diving weather.

Tuesday

Several dives were made (25-30m) on the Stannocks, a bouldery outcrop with interesting scenery. Visibility was 8-10 metres. There was lots of interesting wildlife: a variety of sponges, sea-firs, starfish, and urchins; widespread sea fans, sea cucumbers, several small candy-striped flatworms; also nudibranch eggs; spider, edible, and velvet fiddler crab. Fish included bib, pollack, dogfish and cuckoo wrasse. A bright metallic blue and orange (male) cuckoo wrasse appeared to follow as we pottered about, and towards the end of the dive a cuttlefish appeared.

At the start of the second dive, the shot weight - which had become lodged between rocks - was retrieved and returned to the surface with a lifting bag. Current was very slightly stronger and visibility slightly reduced to perhaps 6-8 metres. A very nice swim, decompressing on the return trip up around the rock. We were all very pleased to have got in the water at last!

Wednesday

A fantastic dive was had on the Hellopes (38m), a 97m long, 2,774 tonne coal-laden steamship. Incorporating planned decompression, it would also be my deepest dive. Chris led down the shot alongside the impressive up-standing stern (over on its side) and wreckage. We swam over the rudder and some other bits where I had trouble making out what was what, but it was all very interesting looking and picturesque. Plenty of wildlife around and about: large pollack and here and there amongst the metalwork, leopard-spotted gobies. There were dense clusters of plumose anemones and white/orange dead-mans-fingers. Various tangles of fishing gear on the wreck, clumps of line, rope etc. Near a bundle of straps and rope I found a pointed oval shaped object of lead which I suppose must be some sort of bullet but how it got there I have no idea.

The second shallow dive of the day was the Conqueror, a large fishing vessel wrecked on Boxing Day 1977. It lies in about 17m of water, below cliffs west of Mousehole. We found one of the three sections it is supposedly broken into (it looked like it'd been there 100 years), which is still a good size and stands 6m or so off the bottom. We didn't find any more of the wreck (in spite of reasonable ~8m vis) but enjoyed exploring the boulder strewn bottom finding several lobsters and dogfish, abundant sand-gobies, two-spot gobies, and various kinds of anemone in the shelly gravel.

Thursday

No diving took place on Thursday owing to strengthening (force 3-4) winds. The sea state within Lamorna Cove itself was choppy and it appeared rough further out. The poor conditions however didn't deter a threesome of divers (I don't know who they were) from attempting a shore dive. I watched them struggle in and after 10-15 minutes of surface swimming, and repeated separations (frequently disappearing from view behind the waves) eventually dived, a few times, for a few minutes. It didn't look very enjoyable to say the least; and keen as I am to dive, I wouldn't have wanted to be in their flippers.

Friday

We got up extra early today - and to our relief the wind had died off. It was misty on higher ground but arriving at Lamorna and sea-level the visibility was fair; and as the day went on it became brighter and by the afternoon it was warm and sunny. Our first dive was Lincoln (30m). A sailing-ship converted to steam, sunk in 1865, the Lincoln is flattened but very attractive. With good 10m+ visibility, the view across the ships frames was wonderful. Around the wreck I found a few crab, and there were some big bib, and an extremely large ling. Bizzarely I found a golf ball.

A breathtaking last dive took in the Outer Bucks. We went down the shot near the submerged peak and travelled west to find the sheer walls plastered with a colourful patchwork of jewel anemones. Lots of other critters and my first feather-star. The scenery was awesome with tremendous boulders and large drops to fly over. A brilliant dive.

Thanks to Debbie for organising and managing, and to Chris and Ted for all the towing and boat-handling.