Trip reports on the BCD trips to Lundy in 2007 and 2008
Lundy. June 2007.
Unfortunately my strobe went haywire on this trip so no decent underwater shots. However got some interesting clips on video mode...
The Pride of Bristol is an ex-Royal Navy vessel. It was used in the past to ferry Marines around the fleet and then later as a training vessel for officers to learn navigation. It is now owned by a charitable trust and is used to provide character building trips for local youth.
At weekends it can be hired for cruises, clay pigeon shooting and, obviously, diving. As well as Lundy it can do trips to the Scilly Isles too and it is usually moored along Hotwells Road in Bristol. Current 2007 charter rate is around £1860 for the weekend, Friday night to Sunday night, including food… and that’s exactly what my club did.
There are two main guest bunk rooms taking 5 passengers each. There are more bunks in the fore of the ship and as we had 7 men and 3 ladies we had to make use of the forward bunks so we got boys and girls separated.
There are 3 toilets (proper flushing ones not marine toilets!) and a shower room which still was spewing out plenty of hot water even for the last one in.
If I was being very picky, the space below can be a little cramped if you’re a big chap or chap-ess and the food is normal person portions not hungry diver portions. Next time I’ll bring myself a packet of cuppa-soup and that should sort me out! However this was my first UK liveaboard and I am more used to the likes of the modern Red Sea liveaboards of the floating gin palace variety.
Meals are served in separate rooms for crew and guests and we are the favourite staples including pasties, soup, pasta bolognese and roast pork chops. Breakfast is the divers choice of bacon, sausage, eggs and beans with plenty of toast and served after the first dive.
You are welcome to bring booze onboard and in fact some might say it is encouraged! We left what we didn’t drink for the crew which is most appreciated by them!
The crew appear not to be affected by the curse of GOCBSS (grumpy old charter boat skipper syndrome) and were constantly happy and helpful. The ship was very professionally run and the crew are actually volunteers who give up their free time to crew the ship for the charitable trust.
As a dive platform, the Pride is very stable and allows divers to giant stride off the side with only a metre drop. A small rib is used when the dive site does not allow the Pride to get in close and to recover divers at the end of the dive. Only a small gripe is that there are no benches on the deck of the Pride so getting your kit on is a two-man job if like me you have a 15l cylinder plus pony.
After loading up in Cumberland Basin we steamed out under two swing bridges and through a lock into the River Avon for the 7:30pm high tide. A very scenic route with lots of bird life (herons, unusual ducks!) and of course the Clifton Suspension bridge.
After a light meal and a few beers it was off to bed to be woken at 4am with the anchor being lowered. Thankfully the crossing was very smooth and the engine noise not too bad so we all could roll over and go to sleep before Martin came in for the wake up call at 7am.
We tried to get to Jenny's Cove on the east side of the island but the strong tidal current along with a light breeze soon ruled that site (or any site on that side of the island) out. But that’s the great thing about Lundy. If one site is too exposed then the other will be fine. So we moved around to the western side of the island and spotted a feeding Basking Shark on the surface as we did.
1st Dive – The Jetty
We dived around the landing jetty and bay area which is a scenic reef dive in about 10m. It is a mixture of sand, shingle and rock with lots of life. During the dive we saw a HUGE lobster just walking along the sea bed. Obviously he was so big he felt it was safe to be out in broad daylight and had a “come and have a go if you think your hard enough” attitude. There were several decent sized Ballan Wrasse about with the odd blenny and goby.
2nd Dive – The Robert
This small coaster is laying on its port side in about 16-30m of water. It does need slack water so precise timing is needed. Thankfully we got it and it was a very enjoyable dive. The ship is very much intact and festooned with plumrose anemones along its starboard side.
The deck which is at 90 degrees has a range of lobster, edible and spider crabs and congers living in the nooks and cannies. After a couple of years diving in the UK, I finally got to see my first (and second) congers! The first was a monster and nearly filled the wide pipe it has calling home.
Along the top of the boat there was a halo of small fry and down near the bottom big pairs of Ballan Wrasse. I’ve never seen Ballan Wrasse paired up like that before, maybe it’s the time of the year.
3rd Dive – Bay South of Gannett Rock (Seal Bay?)
The 3rd dive of the day was a shallow bay immediately south of Gannett Rock. The crew called it Seal Bay as a number of seals were known to hang around there. During the surface interval we had seen several hanging about and lazing in the sun from a distance.
It was a bit of a surface swim from the Pride but as soon as my buddy and I got close to the buoy marking the dive site we saw a head bobbing at the surface. We hit the bottom at about 6m and headed west towards the cliff face. Following the flashes of movement we came to a large cone shaped rock coming up from about 6m to just under the surface. We settled down on a rock and watched the seals swimming around us, however they were keeping their distance.
After about 5 minutes of checking us out they started to come closer…. and closer……. and closer….
Best Seal Video Clip Another Seal Video Clip
What a fantastic dive! When one seal was checking out the dome port of my camera, another was nibbling the reflective patch on my dry suit. Turning round I could see another sneaking up behind my buddy and was checking if his cylinder was edible or not.
They were extremely playful and were spinning, rolling and zooming around like 3 hyperactive kids on a sugar rush! They played around us for a good 20 minutes before deciding we were boring and the kelp tug-o-war wasn’t that great a game and vanished.
Along with the Oceanic Whitetips of Elphinstone and the Mantas of the Baa Atoll this has got to be one of my top 3 dives ever.
On land - Lundy Island
On the Saturday night the Pride dropped us off on the pier and we walked to the top of Lundy. Now that was a hell of a walk! It’s up the side of the cliffs and is very scenic. You overlook some dramatic rocky cliffs and the sea below is gin clear.
We saw wild dear sharing the track and had a couple of refreshing pints in the tavern at the top of the island. After the climb to the top of Lundy that first pint is mana from heaven!
1st Dive – The Robert
It was decided to do the Robert again given that the current shouldn’t have been too bad. Unfortunately it was and it was a crawl down the shot line to get into the cover of the ship. Once down it was fine and the current was blasting over the top of the Robert and allowed us to dive along the sheltered deck. Again we saw lobster, conger, crabs and some pretty sea slugs. Its funny how divers can call slugs pretty!
Surfacing was interesting with the ripping current especially as my buddy had gone into deco and had an 8min ascent time. Interesting point here showing the difference Nitrox makes. We were both using the same computers (Suunto Vyper’s) and whilst he had his on default mine was set on 1 step conservative (unfit pie eater setting) but I was on Nitrox 32. At the end of the dive he had 8 mins deco, I had substantial NDT remaining.
After the dive we set sail for Bristol. After breakfast a few of us went back to bed for a few hours and were woken up for Sunday lunch.
We got back to Bristol for about 7:30pm, 48 hours after we left with 4 cracking dives under our belt.
Congratulations to Martin for not only organising the trip but by doing so completed his Dive Leader training. Well done Martin, I need to crack on with mine!
All in all around £186 per person which included all food, accommodation and dives for the full weekend. Excellent value, an excellent crew and a great weekend. Roll on Lundy 2008!
Lundy, September 2008
OK what is it with Lundy Island and my strobe? Was working fine on last dive, back to Lundy and it won't sync with the camera! Oh well, back to video mode!
As per 2007 we boarded the PoB in Bristol harbour and steamed overnight on the Friday night to Lundy. As you can see from the photos there is plenty of room in the rest area on the Pride, even more room at the pub on Lundy, and loads of deck space (after the ribs have been lowered into the water). The bunk areas are a tad cramped being Navy style, however you only sleep in there! There are 3 bunk rooms so if like us you have a considerable lady diver contingent there is no problem.
In last years report I said the food portions were for normal people, not hairy-arse hungry divers. This time we had mountains of food and there was even too much for me at times!
Up for 7am on the Saturday for the first dive.
1st Dive - Jetty Bay
The first dive was in the bay near the harbour. Max depth about 10m with lots of various plant and marine life.
2nd Dive - MV Robert
The second dive was the MV Robert. Fantastic wreck in 18-30m of water. Top of the wreck is covered in various plumbrose and snake lock anemones. On top there were also a few big Ballen wrasse. One of my favourite bits of the wreck is the hand railing along the port side of the wreck. Its festooned with life, however been on your guard. Towards to accommodation block there is a pipe sticking out with a resident conger. You can find yourself slowly drifting along admiring the life only to come face to face with him! Plenty of life on the wreck and some of the areas of the accommodation block are fish soup.
3rd Dive - Bay south of Gannet Rock.
Many day boats moor here for lunch as its a nice sheltered bay with lots of seals. It makes the best last dive of the day you can get.
Generally 10-5m deep its full of huge boulders and kelp/seaweeds. Go to the right spot and sit and wait in about 3.6m of water. Then you'll see them circling in the distance. Just wait and don't approach them...
Saturday night we docked on the island and walked up to the pub for a few refreshing beverages.
1st Dive - North of Knoll Pins
This was a speculative dive that worked out for some. We were dropped on a muddy bottom in a slight current. Lots of huge scallops (damn no take zone!!!) and anemones. We then drifted onto rocks and boulders harbouring a huge amount of life. Large cuckoo and ballan wrasse, plenty of crabs and lots more fish.
After the dive it was breakfast followed by dekitting and then back to Bristol. Left Lundy around 10am and back to Bristol for 18:30
In all it was less than £200 for the travelling, food (evening meal Friday, full English, lunch and roast dinner Saturday with full English and pasta bake lunch Sunday), accommodation, diving and as much tea and coffee as you can drink!
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