It all started a week and 12 hours before we left for Weymouth when Pete offered Steve and me a lift. With lots of planning and a couple of 50 hour weeks in 4 days from Pete and myself, (Steve had his usual 20 hour week) we left Steve’s around 11.30 after elevenses for the two and a half hour trip.
With Woody’s boat on its way back from Alderney, we parked up and settled in to the Old Rooms for a pint or two and a wander into town. We met Chris, Christopher, Frank and Bob with the customary ice cream from Old Harbour dive shop and waited for the return of RW TWO.
Some time later, we were still waiting, so while Chris’s gang went to book the Indian, we headed up to the bunk house and settled in. Soon after, Mick, Tony and Timmy arrived in Weymouth and deposited their dive gear and Tony on the boat which had finally turned up before unloading at the Bunk House. Then it was off to the Indian where Terry the tapeworm was exposed as my inner being.
A leisurely start to the morning with the usual Bunk House fry up and we all headed down to the boat to set up our gear. Slack water wasn’t until 15.00, so we still had time to avoid the Old Rooms and go to the coffee shop. At 12.30 on the dot, Woody fired up the engines, swore at the navigation instruments and then apologised to them. We were on our way to the Salsette.
With a 2 hour journey out in a relatively calm sea, there was plenty of time to chat about anything and everything diving. The key words were Terry, Gloop, Gaffa tape and “er er that’s mine”
The Salsette was a huge liner, 5,842 gross tons, 440 feet long and 53 feet wide. Built to run the express mail service between Aden and Bombay, she was torpedoed on 20th July 1917 and sank in 28 minutes. She now lies North to South on her Port side. Steve and I descended the shot line and Steve reeled off. We dropped down to the seabed and followed a mast out in 47 metres and 7 metres visibility. Back at the main wreckage, we found the bow and a slight current as we rounded it, so Steve reeled back in and we headed towards the stern along the slanted wooden deck that was broken in places and allowed us to see the deck below. All too soon, we had to return to the shot for our deco stops. 67 minutes of worry free diving, Fantastic.
With a late return, some of us had fish and chips while we waited for the cylinders to be pumped and the rest of the gang went back to the Bunk House to shower and change. By 21.00, we had the cylinders back just in time to meet the rest of the gang returning. We swapped places and after shower, change and coffee, Frank and I walked along Chesil beach and took some photos of the sunset before nipping in to the Cove Inn for a pint. We met Chris and Christopher as we were heading back and stopped in another local for a few games of pool and bumped in to a hen party. We later learned that the rest of the gang had found 3 hen parties!
Sunday was a much earlier start with another fry up. The ride out to the Sidon was a little bouncier with more talk of Gloop and Gaffa tape. The Sidon was an s class submarine and sank twice. Once in Portland harbour after an explosion in her torpedo bay in 1955 and after being raised and used as an ASDIC target in 1957. She now lies in 37 metres and stands 8 metres high. Once again, Steve and I were buddied up and I decided to take my camera as the vis was so good the day before. We followed the shotline to the conning tower and headed towards the stern as there seemed to be a lot of activity around the conning tower. We rounded the stern and headed along the port side to the bow passing the torpedo tubes and a conger. The Sub is standing upright, looks like a sub and can easily be covered in one dive. We ended up in the conning tower and the time seemed to fly by. Another 68 minutes of pure brilliance. The first time I’ve dived this sub and it wins hands down over the M2.
With a 2 hour interval, we kitted up once again for a scallop bash. There seemed to be plenty at the start and then there were slim pickings for a while before another good patch. Mick and Tony were doing well and sent 2 full bags up, but the lifting bag had a leak and the whole lot sadly returned to the seabed. Back on board, we piled up the days takings and divided them up amongst everyone, ending up with a dozen or so each.
We still managed to get ashore at a reasonable time and unloaded the boat in record time. 2 hours later, we were back where we started, drinking coffee at chez Willett. This weekend made up for all those earlier weekends that have been blown out. May there be many more.