Updated: Jul 11
After extensive refurbishment and servicing work we took the InDepth Dive Club RHIB, 'Deep Blue' down to the south coast for sea trials...
We headed down to West Bay, electing to launch from there as the harbour isn't affected as much by the tide as Lyme Regis is and the extensive work carried out means the new slipway is much easier to launch from than it used to be. The run down the motorway was uneventful and towing the RHIB was effortless. We had everything onboard that we needed and wanted to test.
The procedures for launching from West Bay are straightforward, however, the harbour master did ask for proof of insurance! Which could have easily caught anyone out. Fortunately we were able to prove that we had insurance with Westfield Sub-Aqua & Marine Insurance Services.
The launch fees and parking for both the trailer and the truck came in at around £30, so a considerable extra cost when compared to going to Plymouth and launching from Mount Batten, which is free!
With 'Deep Blue' in the water, the trailer stowed and the truck parked it was time to head out to sea. We had set out early, despite this it had taken us until 10am to get the boat in the water. It was a little overcast, but the forecast was hopeful for some sunshine later in the day. The sea was flat calm and there wasn't so much as a breeze!
Turning the key the Evinrude outboard sprang into life and purred away as we cast off the bow line, having taken note that we had no stern line! The whole point of today's sea trials was, afterall, to make a list of any problems, we had just found our first!
We gently pulled away from the pontoons and headed out of the harbour and into Lyme Bay and open ocean, once past the perimeter marker we pushed the throttle forward and she sprang into life as the engine screamed and tore the water beneath her into a frenzy.
Trimming the engine out as the hull lifted out of the water and came up onto the plane, the speed increasing, trimming the outboard back down a touch, she settled into her stride as she whipped across the water's surface and skipped, light-footedly, from left to right as she raced across Lyme Bay. Our destination, the wreck site of the SS Baygitano.
There was no intention to dive today, despite having full scuba on board. Today was just about testing everything and finding any issues, before we had divers on board! The dive kit gave us added weight, and the option to dive if wanted.
First and foremost though, we needed to see if the GPS was working correctly... it wasn't. It had, in fact, been configured back to front. So left was right and right was left... it was a nightmare to use and finding the 'Baggy' was a real challenge, to say the least!
We had another item to add to our snagging list... buy a decent GPS and depth finder, ideally an all-in-one modern unit that would make life a lot easier!
With the sun making an appearance, the next task was to get into the water with a camera and take some half decent photographers of her at sea.
This proved to be somewhat trickier than you might otherwise think... the camera, with all the strobes, and in it's underwater housing, is very heavy and bulky, underwater it is neutrally buoyant. But we were trying to take photographs at the surface and James had to lift the camera up and out of the water in order to get the desired angles. This gave his biceps a serious workout. That, combined with swimming around the RHIB on the surface, in a dry suit, gave him a little more exercise than he'd planned that day!
Photographs taken, he clambered back on board and stowed his camera safely in the bow.
It was time to continue with the sea trials and take her a little further afield. The next stop was Beer Regis, some 6 nautical miles away.
Once again we eased the throttle forward and let her rip... the coastline, Monmouth Beach and Haven Cliffs, on our starboard side was glorious as we sped along toward our destination. Approaching Seaton we slowed and ventured closer to shore as we neared Beer Regis; we chilled out and basked in the sunshine for a while before deciding to head back towards Lyme Regis, the call of ice cold drinks and cooling ice creams on the cobb wall too great a lure...
Equally great was the desire to let 'Deep Blue' stretch her 'sea-legs' and blow the rest of her cobwebs away, it almost felt that she too felt the need to escape the confines of having been in 'lockdown' for so long. Damn, it was good to back out at sea...
We screamed back along the shoreline towards Lyme Regis, taking a long sweeping arc out to sea and around towards the harbour entrance, the wind in our faces and the sun beating down, as the miles glided by on this glorious June day. Throttling off as we neared the harbour, the scream of the engine suddenly silencing as she fell off the plane and settled back into the water, her wake shallowing and the 'rooster tail' that was proudly on display waning as she slowed to a 'dead slow' in readiness to enter the harbour.
Finding a suitable spot on the cobb wall, we tied alongside and climbed up on to the top of the cobb and made our way to 'Herbies' for freshly caught cod, battered, and served with piping hot chips sprinkled with sea salt. As we say down south, 'Gert Lush'!
Suitably fed and watered we returned to 'Deep Blue' and ventured back out to sea. Once again heading across to the wreck site of the SS Baygitano and trying our hand again at the back to front GPS system and, once more, experiencing the same frustrations with it! Resolved to having to replace it for something more up-to-date and better suited to our needs we turned and headed back towards West Bay.
One final blast across Lyme Bay, and as the afternoon faded and gave way to the evening, we entered West Bay harbour and took stock of a successful trial and wonderful day down on the beautiful south coast. We pulled the RHIB out of the water and washed her down. We then went for a wander around the harbour, had a cold drink and relaxed by the sea as she whispered her serenade and bid us a farewell.
Adieu, until next time...