Report (abridged) by Reg S.
On 7th July a group of intrepid divers (Fee, Sam, Martin, Agnieszka, Thanos and yours truly, together with Marjolein as shore cover and my wife, Jayne, as driver) met at 11am in Newhaven. The parking spot was easy to find. The weather was sunny and fine. The pier was fine. Blocked off by serious-looking steel gates, but fine.
Anyway, it didn't matter, we would be diving on the beach side of the pier because the bay side was just sand anyway. Marjolein had sweets and biscuits. She was happy to share. There were smiles and chuckling.
The far side of the pier, though, that was beach. Pebble beach. Maybe 300 (thousand) metres of pebbly lunarscape after a meteor shower. No problem. We made plans. Some of us kitted up at the cars. Others decided to carry half the kit down to the water. We trudged along the side of the pier with our gear like fishing-line dodging Trojans. Not quite as photoshopped as in 300, but you get the idea.
The last 10 or so metres of beach dropped down to the water at a 30 degree gradient. At least. Pete, a local diver we'd met there, helped us get our last pieces of gear in place.
Sam and Fee hit the water. They seemed to be taking a while to get going, but no matter. Thanos and I followed them in. The wind seemed to have picked up a bit. It wasn't exactly The Kamikaze, but it wasn't the calm, clear day it had been at the beginning of the Pebbly Trek either. No matter. We splashed through the waves, got our SMBs sorted and Thanos and I were off with me dive leading.
Down, down we went. One metre, two metres. The wave effect disappeared. Three metres. We were diving! The viz... not so good, but that's what torches are for, right?
And we found crabs - crabs like dinner plates - that hopped up and tried to catch me when my torchlight hovered over them. Maybe they didn't get their whole 15 seconds of spotlight? At one point we found a hole in the concrete of the pier foundation that was just stacked full of the biggest crabs I've ever seen. Thanos kept making 'That looks like good eating' gestures - 'I want to take these all back for dinner'. But, I suspect that it was more likely that we'd be the ones on the menu if we'd tried.
It was a good dive. We hit nearly 7 meters at one point before we got near the end of the pier where it shallowed up so much that we had to dodge through the concrete/rocky pier foundations blocks and had to turn back before we were mistaken for mermaids lounging on the rocks.
After 40 minutes and only getting separated once (along the very straight wall) we were back at the beach. Only the surf was a bit stronger. And a little further up the beach. 30 degrees, remember? Thanos and I flopped about in the waves like drunk walruses while Martin and the local diver Pete helped us get our fins off and out of the water.
Special thanks to Sam for organizing – and congratulations on getting her Dive Leader Dive Management exercise signed off.