Report written by Adrian Dodds
We arrived in the new Portland Marina to a windy day with our dive plan changed. The strong south westerly rendered diving the costal area of Lulworth not an option. So we planned our dive in the shadow of the east side of Portland.
We meet up at the marina at 8.30am to load our kit onto the dive charter Waverider, which is a Blyth 33 catamaran and has a spacious diving platform with a modern dive lift. Our fist dive target was a 15m to 28m drift dive at Grove Point. We were dropped in at the 15m depth so each buddy pair could choose their preferred depth. Finding the current very light my buddy and I headed down to the 25m level and followed the shore around picking up scallops which were plentiful. This was a very interesting scenic dive to start the weekend.
Dive 2 of the day was a similar scenic dive in the shadow of the cliffs of Portland reaching a depth of 17m for most of the 36 minute dive. This dive was on an underwater mound on the approach to the first entrance into the vast space of Portland Harbour.
The evening was spent discussing the days diving in “The Boat that Rocks” restaurant in the Portland Marina. What would day two’s diving bring?
Day 2 diving started again at 8.30am loading our gear onto Waverider. Today the weather was perfect – scattered cloud offered us some cover form the sun but it was bright calm. We headed out to sea to dive the Alex van Opstal wreck in the middle of Lulworth Bay. This Belgian passenger liner was virtually the first ship sunk in the Second World War.
My buddy and I reached the wreck mid ship and after orientating ourselves we found the prop shaft tunnel. We followed this to the stern at a depth of 30m. We passed through several swim throughs on the way before turning back along the side of the ship passing openings, which gave glimpses of the internal areas. The wreck has been heavily salvaged and time has left what remains broken up and sometimes hard to identify.
On reaching the major break in the ship structure, just forward of the engine room, we reached the end of our time on the wreck. Deploying a DSMB we headed to the surface after a very enjoyable dive. Visibility was great at 10m so we were able to see much of the ship and enjoy the dive.
The 2nd dive of day two was at the Durdle Door Sea cave. This is a shallow sea cave set into the seaward facing side of the cliffs of Durdle Door. The entrance is found easily via a trench at 10m rising to the cave opening at 5m. After entering and viewing the cave you exit via the trench and follow the side cliff of Durdle Door at 10 to 15m passing fields of kelp and lush marine growth. My buddy and I finally surfaced after 30 minutes under the arch of Durdle Door towering above us. Sometimes I wish I carried a camera!
A great weekends diving in challenging weather conditions on the Saturday, but the weather on the Sunday made for excellent diving on interesting targets.