The first club dive of the year took place in early April when five club members David, John, Mark, Paul and Nigel ventured out to Loogate, a chalk reef located three miles to the west of Brighton Marina. It was what many call a shakedown dive – a chance to test equipment and make sure we could remember what all the buttons did!
Nigel got off to a shaky start but quickly rose to the challenge. As usual he had the essential Tesco’s carrier bags on each foot in order to climb into his dry suit but even with these, it was putting up a good fight. Then began the muttering when his weight belt was no where to be seen and finally the cursing when he realised his dive hood was stored securely in the same location as his weight belt – his garage. Not a man to be easily dissuaded he pinched someone else’s weight belt and decided to wear his woolly hat
Meanwhile Paul and Mark had two large yellow plastic boxes strapped to their backs; there was lots of heavy breathing going on and much talk about scrubbers and penetration. Their computers were wittering in a type of Morse code only familiar to the lunatics that don these large yellow boxes. Emerging like creatures from a Dr Who episode the rebreather boys were ready!
The location of Loogate proved a little troublesome for David our skipper who had forgotten his Specsaver bifocals! He was finding it difficult to distinguish between the echo sounder and his lunchbox and at one point pressed the gps goto button which turned out to be mini Jaffa cake. Priscilla our hard boat motored forward, to port, then starboard, stopped then moved again as though executing a well planned Viennese Waltz. With the instinct of a slightly aged but wise homing pigeon, David found the reef – the big yellow fisherman’s blob may have helped.
Whilst the sea temperature at nine degrees was a bit parky we were blessed with an amazing ten metres of visibility. The usual culprits turned up on the dive, starfish, wrasse, starfish, lobsters, starfish, crabs, starfish and then more fecking starfish.
Soon we were mesmerised by something that has not been seen on the reefs this early in the season and more typical of a Mediterranean habitat. On the top of the reef right next to a large overhang was an upright deckchair, canvas and metal with a smart little cup holder and in excellent condition. It was clearly calling to passing divers “come hither” and Paul feeling somewhat fatigued by the strenuous 25 metre drift and the weight of the large yellow box duly obliged with a short siesta.
Nigel’s woolly hat proved to be a revelation and performed wonderfully but the same cannot be said of his drysuit. The neck seal at only ten years old began to leak but not a man to be easily dissuaded he bravely carried on and thirty five minutes later climbed the ladder of Priscilla with two gallons of water down each leg.
The dive had gone well and no problems had been encountered that a bit of gaffer tape could not fix. The deckchair had opened up a world of opportunities for club diving – a new sport of extreme deck chairing had been born.