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UKRS #92, Plymouth, October 2003.

Dive 1: Persier.
Max depth 30.4m, runtime 54 mins. Viz 6m, EAN32, buddy Steve.

The initial suggestion to kick off the weekend was the Maine, and I would certainly like to do it again in better viz than the 'slightly more than your arm' murk I we had back in May. The chill Easterly wind isn't co-operating, so plan B we head for the Persier. It is a bit shake and boom on the ride out, but on arrival on site the shore provides some shelter, and kitting up isn't too uncomfortable.

Steve and I go in first, Steve, a bit faster down the shot than me with my weighting trimmed right down, checks the grapple is in securely. The viz is good, making for plenty of natural light on the bottom, we wander along pointing out congers as we go.

The flat sections of hull are covered in red Sea Fans, swarming between them, Poor Cod like a numberless herd of mini fishy Wildebeeste crossing rusty veldt. Several very large Pollack cruise about almost protectively above the smaller fish, and near the stern my first couple of John Dory. There is a long section of substantial propshaft housing stirring with fish to swim through.

We leave the bottom after about 31 minutes, Steve is on 26 percent, so we hang around an extra while for him to clear. I started with a not-particularly good fill, and could probably just and so complete the dive on backgas, but opt to leave a bit more in the back and breathe off my stage for the last 10 mins of stops. Methinks I have arrived at the limit of what is possible with my current rig...

Dive 2: James Eagan Layne.
Max depth 21.5m for 62 minutes, Nitrox 36. Viz 6m, buddy Steve(ish)

My first time on this well-dived wreck. After a few minutes in the forward hold, I decide Steve needs to spend some time on his own if he is going to keep his reputation intact, so sneak off while he isn't looking. This is pretty easy. ;-) I have a fine old time looping along through the framework of the holds, admiring the pretty swim throughs and the silhouettes of the ribs above covered in Dead Mens Fingers and Anemones. Lots of Bib, more Poor Cod, Cuckoo and Ballan Wrasse, little gobies dancing on the sand.

Others comment on how much has collapsed in the last few years, but for my first time I am impressed. Something about it reminds me of a skeletal coldwater Thistlegorm, maybe the overall size and the holds crammed with war material.

I go to the break - there is a stern section out there over the sand somewhere, but not within sight - then back to the front, out round the bow, over the remains of the deck, into the bow castle, then up to the top of the bow itself at 6m. Very pleasant having something interesting to look at during a relaxing safety stop. Just as I am about to wind it up, pretty cold from nearly two hours in 15 degree water today, who should turn up but my buddy! I wait for him just for good form and we surface together.

Dive 3: Rosehill.
Max depth 31.8m for 44 minutes, Nitrox 32. Viz 6m, buddy Steve.

Day two, and the Easterly is even stiffer and chiller than yesterday, However the Rosehill is again more or less in the lee of the shore.

Steve and me are in first again (what -do- the others spend all their kitting up time doing? :-)). The grapple is right by the boilers, after a poke around there we zigzag back towards the stern, through more schools of Poor Cod and Bib, over more Sea Fan savannah. Still plenty of light on the bottom, though flat and grey from the dull weather.

At the back is a big four blade prop, upright and half buried in debris, a big section of propshaft and the remains of the rudder. There is also the barrel of the stern gun, I see it but don't recognise it at the time for what it is. More big congers, and, just at the end of my bottom time, a massive and battle scarred Lobster.

I bag off at 25 minutes, wave goodbye to Steve and do an ascent much slower than strictly necessary (1 at 21. 1 at 18, 1 at 15, 1 at 12, 2 at 9, 3 at 6, 3 at 3) in an attempt to be more or less awake for the long drive home.

It's been a good weekend, and a good season...

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