On a Thursday in May three of us (Grant, Brian and Alan) set off to Plymouth for a long weekend’s diving. If the motorways behave (they did) this is a fairly straightforward trip taking around 4.5 hours plus stops. We checked into the Premier Inn by the harbour and then set of to the marina as we three had booked an extra dive that evening with Plymouth Diving.

By 6.00 p.m. we were on their rib heading out to dive the James Eagan Layne (22m). The viz wasn’t the best and failing light meant we have had better dives, but it was my first dry suit dive for a while so it washed the cobwebs away ready for the main event. Back at the Premier Inn we met with the rest of the group (Tony, Debbie and Trevor ably led by Andy Frith) and, marooned that night by heavy rain, ate there with the odd beer thrown down.

Next day saw us back at the marina to meet with the Richard, skipper of Cee King, our boat for the rest of the trip. Once loaded we set off to dive the Scylla (17-24m) and, you guessed it, the James Eagan Layne! We were able to circumnavigate the Scylla, but again viz wasn’t the best, no temptation to even think about penetrating this purpose sunk, but slightly deteriorating wreck. The dive on the James Eagan Layne was more successful with the sun shining a welcome light on proceedings.

Plymouth harbour

The marine life was varied and looked very healthy. We were able to follow the wreck from the bow, through the broken section and just beyond to the remains of the stern. A decent day’s diving followed by an evening in Plymouth’s Barbican area, most acceptable even if our meal did take over 2 hours to arrive (well done Debbie for negotiating our much reduced bill)!

Plymouth life 1

Plymouth life 2

Saturday was cloudy with a cooler wind as we steamed to an offshore site. Hands Deep is a pinnacle with the sea floor at over 40m; our dive between 15m and 25m was a really impressive with better viz away from the shore and an enormous amount of marine life including nudibranchs, soft corals and multiple species of fish.

Unfortunately the choppy sea made kitting up and exiting the water a little more exciting than we would have liked so we headed nearer shore for the second dive of the day on the Glen Strathallan wreck (15m). My group decided to practice separation on this dive so I didn’t actually see the wreck, but I was assured there were at least three conger eels living in the boilers and eyeing up divers!

Our evening was spent in the Rock Fish restaurant which served up a wide range of very well cooked fish, good chips and even some cask beer. What’s not to like?

Plymouth life 3

Sunday saw the sun return and a lighter, warmer wind. We returned to our offshore site for another dive on Hands Deep, which was just as impressive. For the final dive of the trip, with an early finish in mind prior to the journey home we went back to, yes, the James Eagan Layne! With the sun still shining this was a good dive and a solid end to a very enjoyable weekend.

I would really recommend giving Plymouth a try. The marine life is as healthy as St Abbs but more varied, there are a range of excellent dive sites, a good boat and skipper and Plymouth is a great place to spend a weekend. Thanks to Andy and the rest of the NH team for the organisation.

Plymouth Party

Report provided by Mr Alan Gellion.

All photography: Copyright Mr Anthony Gilbert. Reproduced with kind permission.