Sunday, 7 July 2013

Ansteys Cove, Torquay

Date: Sunday 7th July 2013            Dive Number: 169
Place: Ansteys Cove, Torquay       Buddy: Keith S 
Time Down: 0930                           Dive Time: 00:57
Time Up: 1030                               Max Depth: 5.3m
Visibility: 6-8m                             Water Speed: 0kn
Weather: Warm and sunny           Entry: Shore

The weather is stunning. The jet stream has gone for a holiday over Iceland and has left us with hot sunny weather for the beginning of July at least. What better way to enjoy this warm sunshine than from under the water! Today my wife and sons also decided to come along to watch us, and take photos of us all through the morning.

The plan was for a shore dive from Ansteys Cove in Torquay, a mere hop along from Babbacombe Bay on the other side of the cliffs. It's quite a steep drive from the top gate and after dropping diving equipment off at the quayside we returned our vehicles to the car park at the top. At least parking was free which was a welcome bonus and made the trek seem worth it!

I paired with Keith who was doing his first dive of the season. It was such a hot morning especially under all our layers that all we wanted to do was get into the cold water! I decided to take my surface marker buoy in on this dive. Although it was six years old I had never used it until today, I had always used delayed SMBs, the variety you inflate deploy from depth. We descended down to the shore and waded in, the cool water providing a blissful relief as we donned our fins and masks. We decided to swim out to the right of the bay, along the cliffs for one third of our air supply (assuming no currents) and then turn around. It was an exploratory dive as neither of us had shore dived from Anstey before.

We surface swam from the shore out to a reasonable sinking depth, whereupon we descended to three meters. We skimmed across the seaweed and kept our eyes open for life, which had reportedly been scarce on the last dive. The plankton bloom had since moved on and visibility was fair to good, I estimated around 6-8m, possibly up to 10m in places when looking towards the cliff. The first lifeform I spotted was a dazzling bioluminescent comb jellyfish, which was zapping all sorts of colourful lights down itself. I pointed it out to Keith, but he didn't seem too impressed. Judging by the fact we saw dozens more of them on the dive, I guess he'd seen plenty before!

There were plenty of wrasse, including one very big pregnant one which was lazing amongst the seaweed. There were also some other jellyfish, and fish identification being a weakness of mine I will resign myself to refer to them as 'classic' jellyfish. The ones with a hollow dome shaped body and tentacles coming down out from the middle. It was difficult to get any depth below three meters, so I directed us slightly away from the cliff wall, hoping to find a drop-off which would give the dive a bit of variety. It did eventually drop off to about five meters, but the visibility was very poor, reminiscent of the last dive we did in Babbacombe where visibility was only 1-2m. We retreated back to the clear waters of the shelf and continued to weave our way between the outcrops of rock and seaweed.

Nursehound. Photo by David Dooley.
After half an hour we turned back, I also had to briefly ascend (stand up) to get my bearings just in case we had drifted further than anticipated and thankfully we had gone where I though we had gone, which is a moderate achievement without a compass as it can be very disorientating underwater. We didn't see much else in the way of flora and fauna, but Keith did spot a sizeable dogfish or nursehound which swam towards us to investigate before turning tail and scarpering! I was able to identify points that we had passed on the way, a rock outcrop which had a trianglur peak sticking out of the water, three clear patches in a line and a long transverse ridge of seaweed which required circumnavigation. We hit the bay dead on return, with a dive time of 57 minutes and a maximum depth of 5.3m.

After debriefing, dekitting and rehydrating I gathered the family up and went for a slap up meal in a restaurant in Newton Abbott, then returned home to wash off the kit, which I delegated to someone else...

Accumulated time underwater: 3 days, 11 hours and 5 minutes.

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