The Basker Weekend  
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With huge anticipation we headed off to St Ives for the second bank holiday weekend of May, ever hopeful of sunshine, good water, seals, a few dolphins and, hope of hopes, even a Basking shark or two, who knows..

We made it to St Ives for ten o’clock and settled in the Sloop for a swift half, watching Dan texting like there was no tomorrow and waiting on Rob; little did we know that his gay three cylinder VW Polo couldn’t top fifty mph. He couldn’t make it for last orders so we retired, somewhat the worse for wear. Keith sensibly left the bedside lamp on so there’d be no chance of Rob climbing into the wrong bed. Rob, never having met Keith, was thus a little surprised to arrive and find Keith reclined in bed, wearing just a bowl of strawberries. Don’t ask.


The RIB ride out to the St Chamond was bouncy but we arrived in one piece and after a bit of hunting about with the depth finder and a chart he’d bought off a bloke in a pub, our skipper found the buoy and dropped us in.

For those of you who don't know the St Chamond, it is also known as the Train Wreck and is the nerdiest of all underwater destinations: a freighter torpedoed in 1918 with a compliment of five railway engines.

It’s always a good dive and today was no exception. She lies on sand in 22m so the light is very good and you can spend plenty of time nosing around. In contrast to other UK wrecks she hasn’t been battered to bits and there are still large parts of her standing proud of the sea bed, including those steam engines!

A fine figure of a man

The resident shoal of bib hung around the shot and, as always their minder, a big daddy Pollack cruised on over and checked us out. There was very good life on the wreck, everything from cuckoo wrasse, goldsinny and even a cod to spider crabs and Bloody Henry’s. Returning to the line we caught sight of a substantial conger shimmying down into the decking; he was six feet long if he was an inch and because he was exposed outside the wreck he took on a beautiful dark blue colour. When we got back to the surface the clouds had completely lifted and the sun was just screaming down, it couldn’t have been better.

I wish I’d put on some sun screen at this point.


The second dive was on the Barge in 21m and, if possible, was an even nicer dive than the Chamond. The viz was out to 15m and there was more life on the wreck than you could fit into a large sautéing pan. We spotted a few dogfish making their way past the tip of the wreck and were even lucky enough to find the resident conger out and about. He popped out from beneath the decking and nosed around out in the open for a spell before crunching a shell between his not insubstantial jaws and coming over to take a closer look at the thing making all the bubble noise.

As he got to within a foot or two, that thing started making panicked bubble noise and he decided to leave it be before it had a heart attack, swimming back under the deck plating and disappearing.


A good bit of diving done, we pastie’d up and spend some quality time sitting on the end of the pier overlooking the beach, soaking up the hot sunshine and wondering if there was any truth to the rumours that Porthkerris Beach was topless.

Well, there was only one way to find out, so we went off to the Blue Fish for some dinner and a great deal of white wine and tequila to give us a touch of Surface Narcosis, if you know what I mean.

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