Sometimes......just sometimes

That's right its the end of January and it was time to get all salty again, but was it worth it?

Strangely yes, it was great!

The driver is always vis, what was the vis, well this afternoon in Knacker Hole I had between 5m and 6m which is bloody good!

I had however been monitoring conditions with everything crossed, the conditions had been good for four days or so, although that said they were big tides, so I was hopeful and with that in mind timed the dive to go in from maybe a third of the tide up and just as conditions were starting to to cause white stuff bashing at the end of the skeers.

So yes there was quite a large ground swell running but it was forecast and restricted me to the aforementioned site, it would have been nice to grub around the North Side of the Point around the wreckage there, looking for any 'trinkets' that winter storms had uncovered, however I didn't really feel like trying to clamber out with a bit of surge.....so old faithful that is Knacker Hole it was.

And just as well, it was a long old dive for the time of year at just over an hour but there were reasons and by christ was I sore at the end of it, not my old back but calves, arms and hamstrings. A bit odd as I did the usual walk to black-top rocks to mean that I only swam back, I fear that I will need to get some serious exercise picked up or accept that my days of two shore dips per session are over. Now I know my days of four plus are well gone but if I am limited to a single shore dive per day I will be pretty racked off.

Ok the whys first, why lots of weights? Obvious really, the winter storms had shifted huge and I mean huge quantities of sand and areas that I have never seen before were bare rock, this meant that dive trash of ages were visible and I'll be damned if I can leave behind a weight belt, or two, or more so just as well I had decided to bring along a 50kg lift bag. As well as the dive trash there were also loads of lost weights exposed and whilst I had a 'good go' at them its a right bugger about with wing and suit puffed up to counteract the weight of lead picked up.

I have picked up more, or should I say I have picked up more without a lift-bag and that dive ended up with my neck seal blowing out air so I resigned myself to walking out 'siebe gorman hard-hat style' at Babbacombe may moons ago!

Right so that was the scrap diving, a nice start to the year, but the scenery?

The first thing that I noticed was that the kelp has been absolutely smashed, the boulders directly in-front of black top-rocks were 'bald' on top, maybe a few strands but very few fronds swinging about in the swell. I am sure it will quickly grow back but this 'deforested' area plus the sea-bed in the middle of the site, which had also been ripped about were also weed free.

The rocky area to the North of the jump in point had been largely 'de-sanded' but there wasn't much evidence of rocks being overturned with kelp sandwiched 'tween rock and floor. This was probably why there were still quite a few smaller lobsters in residence and with the water being quite clear they were all hanging about, rather than being tucked away to keep out of the way of silt and suspended particles.

Looking back I can't remember seeing any velvet swimming crabs, which is quite odd as they are usually very common, maybe living in less secure cracks and crevices that the blue fiends they were washed away and smashed about. I am sure that there will be enough about come the summer but like I thought, odd.

The other 'really' animal spotted were loads of brine shrimp, which form the basis of the food chain for so many larger animals, oh and there were a few about with quite a few larger flatfish, mainly flounder, dotted all around the site. It wasn't surprising that I couldn't see any round-fish of any species, it's too early for the invasion of smaller saithe and codling tend to disappear when they sense a diver about.

Into the shallower area of the site, this was where it was 'wow' with large areas of bedrock exposed with no weed or coralline algae growth, you can always look at the rock and see the line where the life stops and then gauge that below this has been sand-covered for quite some-time and its in these areas that you can and do find lost weight belts. Sometimes there are only a few dull grey weights piled together but when they are all still fastened to a webbing belt then its easy, and there are few scrounge-dive things more pleasurable than getting hold of a bit of webbing plus weight and pulling it free of the remaining sand and seeing that it is a 'training' belt with 16kg of lead nailed on, lovely!

My only problem, well my main one, when getting in so early is that we are due a few more storms this year which may very well totally change the topography again, so great I sacked up today with lead weights but maybe conditions will conspire to mess things up until March and when I get back it the sea-bed will once again contain huge swathes of sand where I know there are more bits of lead.

Oh and on the surface of the sand, I find it damn strange that you will get a new lump of sand dumped and within a short time period you start getting big sand casts from lugworms, can they really stay alive when sand is being shifted around in big storms or maybe can enough stay alive should be the question?!?

Last unrelated jotting is that areas around Holy Island and the Outer Farnes are being considered as no fishing zones which on one hand is great for divers and it will mean much fewer pots tangled around some of the Northern Wrecks but how long until diving comes under scrutiny? I can live with 'no take' zones, both regulated and voluntary and have dived both, and it was noticeable that the dive trips to Lundy where there is a no-take zone with 'teeth' included a dive to the free for all area to scrag a lobster, crayfish, crab or multiples thereof!

Dive safe


Weight this dive - Lots!

Weight this year - 75.1 kg

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