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Home arrow Dive Reports arrow Four Have Fun in Cornwall - 1998: How much fun can four girls have in sub-zero temperatures of a Ban
Saturday, 21 September 2019
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Four Have Fun in Cornwall - 1998: How much fun can four girls have in sub-zero temperatures of a Ban Print

I and my friend, guest diver Rachel, arrived around midday on Friday. After settling into the caravan we headed out to try and find the rest of the club. One scenic tour of the Lizard later and we were back at the caravan where Emma and Louise greeted us and told us they had in fact been diving from Kennack Sands, just a few hundred yards away. Still, we'd enjoyed seeing the other possible dive sites the Lizard has to offer.

We had a minor panic on our hands when, twenty minutes before the hour long Eastenders Easter special was due to start, BBC 1 decided to pack up. Was this an omen? The shape of things to come?? Thankfully not; much button pressing and praying later, BBC 1 was fully restored with just two minutes to go. So, a good omen then. After a visit to the pub, shouting over the 'band', it was back to the caravan to sleep and prepare for the rest of the weekend. This was slightly hindered by the knock on our door about midnight, by a certain someone from next door but one, who, I quote "wants to borrow a cup of sugar". He shall remain nameless, enough people know who he is. We know he just wanted to see if we really did saunter about in negligees. Only he will tell you ... if he can remember.

Up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning, and we all set off for Porthoustock. Last year's novices, considerably more confident, but somehow still in semi-dry suits. Yes, the mind boggles, but foolishly we believe we can hack another weekend in near hypothermic conditions. Determined to show we can do the 'British divers are toughest' bit, we soldier on. Never have I been so cold; my toes were numb before my socks and boots were off. The hail was vertical; the snow was horizontal. At the same time, Joy. Changing into semi-dry's in this was a fresh experience. We sat in our cars, forlornly staring out at a grey view. no clear definition between sea and sky. As we stared wondering "Why?" the call came that we had been waiting for. No diving from here this morning due to rough seas. A small wave of relief floods over us, as we head back to Kennack Sands.

By the time we got there, in true British style the sun was out and the sky was blue. We set off down the beach and out towards the RIBs. Emma and Louise got onto theirs and Rachel and I were bringing up the rear. As we reached our boat, Dave, who was my buddy, realised there was no handler present and went back to the beach to find out where he was. There were four of us remaining at the boat and with no handler on board: we all stayed in the water to keep hold of it. Bearing in mind that two of us were in semi-dry suits, weight belts on, and in my case, air off, this got progressively harder to do. The sea had also decided it was going to get choppier still, and after holding the boat for about ten minutes with waves crashing over my head, I was too tired to hold on any longer. Perhaps I should have got into the boat, but at this stage, didn't feel that was necessary, and once I'd let go of the side, the boat was five metres away before I could do anything. Rachel's tank then came loose so she started to walk back to shallower waters. At this point, we were chest deep with the odd wave engulfing me - bobble hat and all. I should point out that I was still quite calm and unpanicked by the whole thing at this stage. I could see Rachel was being assisted by Gerry, sorting her tank out, so that left me and my bobble hat, up to my neck. Air off, weight belt on, the one boat with a handler on it the same distance from me as the shore. Unable to go out any further to the boat and going towards the shore proving impossible, I decided to stay put. Sooner or later, I hoped, either the boat would come for me or some dry-suited person would come from the shore.

Gerry, I understood from later, had been on his way to help me, but got waylaid by Rachel, which is fair enough. She was freaked out because she couldn't see me, but was reassured by Gerry, "No, there's her bobble hat, I think she's still under it."

A few minutes later, and the second boat, which was filled with divers who had all been watching this little fiasco, started to come over my way. Once they were in earshot I squeaked, "Can you come and get me please?"

When they were about five metres away, Warren very heroically threw himself overboard to rescue this sad, pathetic, cold thing in a bobble hat. Once he had turned my air on and inflated my BC, I realised how much better off I'd have been to do that in the first place. My lesson is learnt. Always wear a bobble hat.

Eventually, Rachel and I were back on the boat (OK, the wrong one, but a boat). Needless to say after twenty minutes in the water, I was freezing and couldn't see any pleasure in going for a dive, so I aborted. Rachel decided she was still going to dive (God, she's hard) so after a bit of skipping between boats I was back to shore to log my dive of twenty minutes at 1.5 metres - still with a full tank!

Talking about this incident later on, it seems I appeared to be in more trouble than I felt. However, I was very appreciative that the other boat came to my rescue and I've learnt the lesson about turning the air on. But what happened to Dave? And who was the boat handler?? Maybe I was so numbed with the cold I just didn't notice but I still don't know the answers!

On Saturday afternoon, we were back on dry land and all warm and toastie ... well, not quite, but warmer than in the sea. The four of us decided to kill some time and go to the Lizard Point for a bit of a clotted cream tea. We drove 15 miles to get to a point one mile away, in true Cornish fashion. The Lizard Point is such a fabulous spot, really rugged and weather beaten! Emma and I came over all 'at one with nature' and went off for a walk, while Louise and Rachel came over all 'at one with cake' and headed for the café (light weights). Walking along the cliff path was great. The weather wasn't an issue as we were wrapped up against the elements. The sea below us was really clear. Emma and I both felt it was great to be out and away from Surrey for a couple of days. not veg'ing in front of Bank Holiday TV. We found some 'secret' steps, which led down to nothing, so came to the obvious conclusion we had found a smugglers cove. We sat and waited for the contraband to arrive, until we decided we might get cut off by the tide and be on the next episode of 999. So we headed back for cream teas. On the way back we saw a seal down in the clear water. It was so big I was convinced it was something much more impressive (walrus, manatee, plesiosaur etc.) but no, it was just a big seal. Took a photo, which just makes it look like a pimple on an elephant but still, I thought it was "absolutely fantastic"; which I believe I did say a few times to a few people.

Arrived back at the café just in time to see the last splodge of clotted cream being devoured from Rachel's plate. We then ordered something for ourselves; we had Granny's Apple Slice with the biggest lump of clotted cream ever. And it was a pretty mean tasting piece of cake - take some advice - you have to have this cake. But don't; because I want it. And I'm not telling which café it was either!

Louise threw together some really good pasta for the four of us on Saturday evening. This was about as healthy as it got. The rest of the time it was Twiglets, humous and Easter eggs. After dinner we went to the pub; again. There was another band getting ready to play; this lot were reminiscent of the 'Good Ole Boys' from The Blues Brothers - all Stetsons and bootlace ties. If you like that sort of thing they were quite good, and if you like the dancing, for a £1.00 bet yours truly will get up and do a line dance: cheap at twice the price. Thankfully, only a small number of club members saw this spectacle - and I would like to point out this was done on just two pints of Guinness - who knows where a couple more may have led! And thanks to Dave for the extra 5p added to the original bet. Don't think that will make me do it again in a hurry. However, a very good night was had by all.

Sunday morning I was up bright and breezy and hangover free. That "fresh as a daisy" feeling was magnified when, upon drawing back the curtains we see that the cars are covered in snow! Not only that, but the wipers on Louise's car were sticking up in the air. "There must have been some pretty strong gales last night!!". I exclaimed to the others; then they pointed out who our next door-but-one neighbours were, and did I think they might have had anything to do with it? Doh! Gullible. (Not quite as gullible as Louise thinking we keep Semtex in the boat box though). In a state of shock and disbelief we hauled ourselves down to the beach. There were a few shocked faces that couldn't believe I had no hangover - or perhaps they couldn't believe I'd do a solo line dance after so few drinks. I can't believe it either.

Us four girlies all got kitted up together: all pleased to be going out on the same boat. We were all right at that crucial point where your kit is just being lifted onto your back, when I heard, "Are you Sue?". That sinking feeling was back again. "I'm afraid you're on the next wave, as your buddy is boat handling this wave." I don't know what happened and far be it from me to drop my buddy in it (suffice to say his initials also stand for a hardwearing boot, multiple holed, popular with skin-heads). The reason appeared to be we were out on the second wave, not the second boat. I'm never one to point the finger - it was a communication breakdown, I suppose, and all I can say is that he paid the price in the pub that night. I was on the brink, the absolute threshold of giving him the benefit of the doubt, when he submitted and accepted total blame, much to the amusement of the others around the table! Anyway, I should be grateful that I did finally get out to my first dive of the weekend, without a hitch and Dave (oops, dropped him in it) was still prepared to dive with me!

The vis wasn't as good as Cornwall last year, but I think last year was a blessing as far as the weather was concerned. The sea was quite silty and after I'd been pootling along for a bit, I decided that the vis was no more than three metres. Then I turned around to see Dave had all but vanished. I could just barely make out these two arms waving me back, so over three metres and I'd have been alone! Dave was getting me back as he'd found a pretty huge crab down under a rock. It wasn't coming out to play, so we sat and peered at it for a bit, then left it alone. It's the biggest one I've seen so far (and none of the usual Guildford BS-AC innuendo either, thank you). I enjoyed the rest of the dive, although I sometimes still feel a bit rusty. Dave let me use his torch, which I think probably hindered rather than helped: I was all fingers and thumbs! Well, nothing that a bit more practice and a dry suit can't cure!

The dive was over and we were back on shore before we knew it and this was definitely a one dive a day weekend. The four of us had the afternoon to kill before we had to be back to help with tine boats (yes. new and improved ex-novices that we are). We went back to the caravan and while I watched the Grand Prix and Emma read a magazine (yes, it was FHM. Deal with it: we do read men's mags). Rachel amid Louise shamelessly crashed out, almost as if they'd been out drinking the night before amid then got up at the crack of dawn or something

The evening was back in the pub again. We had dinner there. Louise and Rachel wished they hadn't when, after eating half their lemon sole, they flipped it over and discovered all the guts were still intact. It put me off my food and it wasn't even on my plate: pretty grim.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking, for a change. I don't know what people had been putting in our water supply, but the four of us laughed more than any of us could remember ever laughing before, on this weekend. This was further proved when we found ourselves folded up in hysterics, whilst eating Rice Krispies at 7.30 on Monday morning Don't ask me what it was about ( I probably shouldn't say even if I could remember) but it was the best feeling to be so happy even with the prospect of a freezing morning in semi-dries looming.

My second (and last) dive was on the first wave, Monday morning, with Matt. Although we had been dropped on to rocks at the start of the dive, we actually ended up in a car park after about five minutes. It is very frustrating when you lose the rocky bits so easily. We saw one crab scurrying away from us, but for the best part of twenty minutes we just finned about trying to get back to where there might be some life. Finally as I was beginning to get cold and thinking about ending the dive, we stumbled back on to some rocks which saved us from an otherwise non-eventful dive. We saw a Plaice, which was a first for me, We were able to watch it for a while until I couldn't resist prodding it and it swam away. Couldn't resist playing with a good old sea cucumber either, and got the evidence all over my gloves: great. It was time to surface all too soon. Back to the shore to pack up our kit until the next time and head back for the journey home. It was a shame to leave Kennack Sands on the sunniest day so far and sit in the car for the next seven hours.

I know' I speak for the four of us when I say we had the most enjoyable weekend, the best time we'd had in ages. Somehow Rachel decided to join tine club, on the strength of the Easter break alone! So thanks to everyone involved in organising it, giving us a great weekend.

We'll be back for more of the same next year. Let's hope the sun will shine, and a certain bloke in the caravan next door-but-one remembers his sugar.

by Sue Parsons

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