Sun, calm sea, serene blue sky, dolphins in the distance, jelly fish just under the surface: all was just as George, Reg, Fariborz, Adam and I had ordered for a day of diving in Portland on Saturday, 17 July.
The first dive was a gentle drift, which caught us a bit by surprise as we arrived at the end of the shot line-and hung on to it until we could temporarily cling to a bolder. This was a first for Adam. Drift dives are just not something one can train for at Wraysbury, they always present a steep learning curve at sea. More surprising was that, upon our return on the RIB, we noticed that our buoy had magically vanished. George assumed it had been swallowed by the tide, but we stumbled upon it on our return. Yes, we had drifted that far away.
The second easy and pleasant dive was on the Spaniard. With the visibility less than social distancing recommendations, it was still enough for us to enjoy it's ghostly shapes and it's crabby inhabitants.
For a few practical tips: If anybody else ever has the urge /necessity to get to Portland by train or coach, you catch the number 1 bus (to Portland /Southwell) at the blingy Kings' statue (stop K4) past the obligatory sea-side arcades on the Esplanade in Weymouth, the bus stops for the marina are in front of the Portland National Sailing Academy.
If you are looking for a quiet picnic area after a day of diving or as an alternative, look for Cheyne Weares, on the cliff, off Southwell road. It also leads to a coastal trail (mind the crevasses). Stunning view!
And, if you want to experience freedom of movement whilst diving, for these shallow summer dives, a good semi-dry suit does the job. My sparkly new Beuchat Focea Comfort 5 proved to do exactly what it said on the tin. Go on, ditch the dry-suit, get wet.