Another awesome summer trip with DLL! Cornwall was the stage for July’s excursion, with its unique combination of river, wrecks, reefs, pasties, prosecco and peacocks. On-site accommodation, two dive boats, permanently sunny weather (this may not be entirely true) and an exceptional food shack on the beach, make Porthkerris Divers in St Keverne a venue with little room for improvement.
Travelling down on the Thursday were the advance party of Doris & Darren, Di, Fernando (first DLL trip!), Charlotte and Phil, who quickly dumped their bags and made for the nearest pub. Unfortunately Suse couldn’t attend – don’t you hate it when work gets in the way of fun stuff? Erin and Hannah, meanwhile, were left to navigate the tiny Cornish roads in the dark with excellent night-time navigation tips such as “look for the apartment with the lights on” while Sevar made the dubious choice of travelling by motorbike. Approaching midnight we were becoming a little concerned, but on the walk back we were greeted with the growl of the SV650 engine and a very relieved rider. But all’s well that ends well, even if this was just the start.
The first day’s diving was a double-header off the Celtic Cat. First up was a drift dive along the mouth of the Helston River, 5-6 m deep with plenty of life and the ebb tide whisked you along with no effort at all. A spotted ray within the first few minutes was a welcome sight. Homemade lunch on the boat went down a treat although the choppy sea was almost too much for at least one diver. The second decent was on the Manacles, infamous for cruelly destroying ships when they thought they were home and dry. The Spyridion Vagliano was a Greek steamer which met its fate there back in 1890, and not to miss out on an opportunity for a bit of historical exploration, we had a good look around. Back at the shore, we alighted with most of our kit and a face full of leftover cake ready for the evening.
The beach barbecue was fired up for dinner with Porthkerris’ Jo providing the feast and chef Erin cooking it to perfection. A wander along the beach, stone-throwing at a variety of targets and exploration of a creepy cave followed, each with its own unique photo opportunity.
The second day’s dives were off the smaller Celtic Kitten, starting on the huge Volnay wreck with its hidden stash of shells and detonators. Back ashore for the obligatory Cornish pasty, then in the afternoon a magnificent drift dive along a reef with a huge wall and many gullies to explore. The current was so strong it really felt like you were flying along. A phosphorescent disco jellyfish added a bit more colour to the dive and a new dive sign/dance was born – must inform PADI.
A Saturday night means everyone and their dog piles in to the nearby Five Pilchards pub, where we kicked back with some fine food and a pint or three of Devon Dumpling. The calamari was amazing.
A review of the trip would not be complete without mentioning the resident peacocks, especially the fearless white peahen which allegedly goes by the name of Morris. A selection of other names were ascribed to this inquisitive creature but are all unsuitable for print. The fact that we all came away with our feet in tact is testament to our nimble footwork in avoiding the friendly pecks, and our bravely hiding inside the apartment until they’d all gone away.
It was a trip of firsts for many people: Fernando’s first foray into UK diving after leaving behind the Argentinian lakes; Hannah perfected the ninja hover, almost prompting her buddy to check for a pulse at the safety stop; Erin had a dry drysuit for possibly the first time; and it’s definitely the first time I’ve told a peacock to f**k off.