11th June “Two minutes earlier and you would have seen me giving Dave a hand job”.
Rising early again I head out of the B&B at 0545 for a walk in the summer sun. Dartmouth is a bit on the hilly side so I had a trog up the closest one before wandering up to the Higher Ferry for a bit and then back to the B&B to wake Dave S up for breakfast. A couple of sausages and bacon slices later we head down to the pontoon again to meet the boat. Flossie had to work today, so I was the only OC diver on the boat. Ken was another non diver through reasons of Ear.
The Murree is a dive I have wanted to do since I first saw it in Diver. She is a huge ship that sank in the late ‘80’s in 80m ish, but the top of the bridge is in 37m. She is also a 2 ½ hour steam out of Dartmouth and in the middle of a major shipping lane, so hitting the shot on the way up is a requirement.
The drive out gave us time to relax and as the weather had turned a bit the cold blooded ones left me outside on my own. Ian came up trumps with the hot drinks again and we waited for the sun to appear, as the mist lifted so we could see the haze. As there were only three of us hitting the water there was loads of room for me to spread my 44 litres of OC tanks about.
Phil was in the barrel again on the Murree dive, much to Ian’s pleasure.
Ian put a 50m line with a large grapple on it in the sea and we all looked at the length of rope that was visible, hopefully indicating a good dive. Then it started to move as it came off the wreck. Ian grabbed the rope and re set the wreck, this time bang on. Like Ken, Phil also had sticky ears, so Dave and I were first in. For some reason the 6m stop seemed to be forgotten and we plummeted downwards to 18m when Dave stopped and waved at his zip. He has a front entry suit and his outer zip was undone. I did it up to be greeted with some excited shouting. What was that Dave? Oh, it was your main zip that was open. We were still descending slowly as I tried to get the zip sorted. Dave undid his weights and held them clear so I could have a stab at his zip, but with only a rope in a current to hang on to I couldn’t close the zip. By now we were passing 25m with me givig the appearance of fiddling with Dave’s tackle. At least Phil wasn’t down and looking at us yet. I told Dave I couldn’t get a grip as we passed 30m, to which he shrugged and then headed up. Right, so I am off to the wreck on my own then, these bloody RB divers can faff about all they want, but on OC I am on limited time.
At 45m a fish appeared, a dead one. Bugger, the wreck was netted on the side we were descending on. The monofilament net was marked by small floats, but the shot rope was laying over a single line. We were shotted on the rear starboard side of the wreck, near a crows nest type structure. Trying to remember the diagram in the Diver report was fruitless as the wreck is huge, and the diagram was small. I had a look around to get my bearings and headed off for an explore. When diving the Murree it is absolutely essential to get back to the shot. For a start you are about 28 miles out of Dartmouth in the middle of a shipping channel, and secondly you will be in the Channel Islands by the time you finish your deco. With the faffing about on the descent it took me 5 minutes to reach the 48m part of the wreck, with a planned bottom time of 22 minutes.
I attempt to look nonchalant while trying to remember if I untied my twinset.
I swam over the swimming pool and to the port side of the ship, looking in the holes that lead inside. With twin 12’s and a pair of 10L stages I’m not going inside anything smaller than an aircraft hanger though. I also manage to find a covered deck to swim through admiring all the life. After the swim through the deck I dropped to 60m to have a look at the lower section of the wreck before heading back to the shot, seeing a crab with an anemone growing on it’s shell. I had planned to be back at the shot after 16 min and then to head off for another look at a different part of the wreck. I followed the ‘out’ route back, seeing the dead fish and keeping an eye out for the monofilament line. Back at the crows nest I look for the shot.
The shot has gone. Right, lets have a look around for the shot. I’m in the right place, but the shot isn’t there. Oh, poo. I look up for the monofilament line that the rope was wrapped over. No line either. So there must be two dead fish and an identical set of floats then? Nope. Time is ticking by and blobbing up is not an option. Rather than panic too much I think to myself ‘I can breathe, so all else is secondary’ and look around again. I’m definitely in the right place, so the shot must have moved. Has it come off the wreck? If it has we are screwed and will have to do a free ascent.
The mono line has gone, so the rope must have broken it, so where is the shot? Looking up as well as around I see a rope leading up from the crows nest. I have a swim over to it and it looks promising. Looking down, the rope has moved about 4m from where I hit the wreck. Taking a deep breath to stop my arse doing “five pence, fifty pence” I look around to see Phil below me. I pop down to him to tell him the shot has moved and then head off to see what is around. A quick look in the open doorway at a corridor I would be in like a shot if I had time and felt like dropping off my stages, but there wasn’t time, and solo on a wreck at 50+m for the first time probably isn’t the best time to start fooling about.
I show the others the effect of losing the shot had on my bowels.
Just over 20 minutes has passed now, so I get the jon line out of my waist pouch and clip it onto my slate as I head back to the shot. Dave S is on his way down and I signal that I am off to deco as he is off to explore. At 21 min 40 seconds I leave the wreck and start heading back up the line. If I hadn’t seen Dave coming down the line I would have wondered if was on the right one. Heading up rapidly to 40m for the first bubble stop and then to 31m. Passing 30m I plug in the 40% mix ready for the first deco stop at 24m. From 21m up the stops come every 3m, with another gas swap at 9m to get onto the 80%. The jon line was deployed and I start the first of the longer hangs. Dave and then Phil come past as I am decompressing. An age later I take 5 min to get to the surface and then sit there for 10 minutes breathing the rich mix.
The highly trained and experienced technical diver is ready for action at the drop of a hat.
Once back on board Dave tells me that he lost his weightbelt, which is why he ascended. After zipping himself up he ponced Ken’s weights and jumped back in. Ian asks for my version of events on the way down, so I had to cough that it would have looked like I was pleasuring Dave on the descent. Had anyone seen. Once Ian had recovered the shot we steamed off into port with hot drinks as I stripped my kit. Once back in we emptied the boat of kit, which let it ride about a foot higher in the water we packed up and headed off.