Mince pie dive 2018

Hardy members of Stratford Dive Club enjoyed our Christmas bash at Stoney Cove last Wednesday, December 19th. The weather was kind to us, dry, mild and sunny—eventually. As we all gathered in the car park to discuss dive plans, it soon became apparent that between us we had rather overdone the Festive Fodder element of the brief and I did hear calls to abandon the diving altogether and just sit round and stuff our faces.

However, we soldiered on and were well rewarded! The visibility was superb, easily 5m. I have not seen vis as good as that in Stoney for a couple of years.

We were 7 divers in all, divided into two groups. Alastair and Paul N dived as a buddy pair with Simon S and me (Sally). Our four elected to do a Grand Tour, taking in Helicopter, Defiant, Belinda, APC, Ejector Seat in the 21m area then back up onto 6m shelf to the Gresham, back through Blockhouse and pub arches to admire the underwater Christmas Tree complete with lights and music. The excellent vis meant that in most cases we could see one object from another and better see the topography of the quarry. The temperature was a toasty 8 degrees.

Meanwhile the other three, David W, Chris Bradbury and Chris Butterfield were having adventures of their own. David had decided that these two budding Sports Divers should not just have a Christmas sight-seeing trip but needed to knuckle down, practice some skills and learn some new ones. Quite right David. No slacking in the ranks. However, after their surface swim to the Stanegarth buoy he found sadly, that he was unable to descend the shot line beyond a few metres due to the effects of a recent cold. After trying all the usual methods he decided to abort his dive but communicated to the Chrises to carry on diving together. Having dived together in Stoney before and Chris Bradbury having been to The Stanegarth the previous week with Paul and me, they were more than capable. They didn’t abandon the skills part of their dive completely, both carrying out their first DSMB launch on the 6M shelf (after safety stop) successfully.

First dive done we were met with the welcome sight of our “shore party” sitting round a picnic table that was groaning with all the Christmas comestibles we had brought. It looked like The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Sausage rolls, stollen, mince pies, rocky road, Mrs W’s fruit cake etc. Our supporters were Hilary and Miles, Peter T, Peter N and a little later, Les and Dan R. They all looked really cosy in their coats, hats and gloves!

Most of us opted for a second dive. Alastair, Paul N and I visited the Helicopter, the Stanegarth inside and out, Bus then back up onto the shelf around the Bus Stop area to look for pike in the reeds. We spotted one, as we had done on the first dive—a different one! The Two Chrises went off to look at The Gresham and do some pike spotting allowing Chris Bradbury time to practice his underwater photography skills.

Diving done, we all gathered in Nemo’s to warm up and enjoy some liquid sustenance. It had been a splendid day with a convivial atmosphere. A great way to end another year of Club Diving. Thank you to all who took part.

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