West Bay trip report – April 2022

Our trip to West Bay started for me with a road trip Friday afternoon with Nathan Piper in the club Land Rover to pick up the RIB boat from the depot. Leaving London around lunchtime and arriving in West Bay late afternoon. 

West Bay is a quaint little British fishing village with a modern dose of tourism. Consisting of a beach, a harbour, a bakery, a pub, and likely more fish n chip shops than lampposts. It comprises approximately ⅔ caravan park, providing perfectly comfortable accommodation for the crew.

We set out Saturday at 8:30 towards High Ground. A perfect place for those of us who are new to diving in the sea. At less than 10 meters in depth and relatively flat with a slight wall to follow, it was easy to navigate with plenty of light. 

An undocumented side-effect of steering a RIB: If John Wayne wore shades, he’d have looked half this cool.

The main attraction of the trip was the Baygitano. An old steam-powered ship whose big boilers are still sitting on the ocean floor. The numerous pipes in the boilers and the remaining deck of the ship housed a number of fish. Plenty of congers and shellfish lurking in the crevices. At a distance, the Baygitano gives the impression of being brown from rust. On approach, it soon became clear that what looked like a brown fuzzy mass at a distance was really a plethora of sea squirts, sea slugs, anemones and coral in a colourful speckle. The inclination for divers to bring cameras down suddenly seemed quite sensible.

Friday’s hot weather and the smell of barbecue spurred some thoughts among the crew of summertime delicacies, leading to frequent talks over the weekend about fresh lobster.

Monday was the last day of the trip and so was the chance to gather a bit of “fruit of the sea”.

Scallops mostly, but after all that talking of lobster, the hype had reached critical levels.

We added 2 dives extra to the Baygitano. Some started on the wreck and drifted with the current, collecting as they went. Others stayed around the wreck, trying their luck with bigger prey.

It is still not known whether it was due to some optical illusions related to size perception underwater, nitrogen narcosis or just poor understanding of sealife anatomy, but when the first pair surfaced with their goody-bag, claiming they had caught, not one, but two decently sized lobsters, there was none to be found!

There were, however, other sea creatures which were hopefully not what they confused for being lobsters. Additionally, if they indeed had caught lobsters and they had escaped out the webbing in the bag, perhaps it was time to talk about minimum allowable size to catch?

All of this was very worrying and Nathan Piper, as the training officer of the club, saw a need to teach by example. So in between his scalloping he took the time to procure a specimen and brought it up for the rest of the crew to see.

Nathan showing the camera what a lobster looks like.
Crew learning what a lobster looks like. 

With shellfish in the goodie bag and 6 more dives under the belt, the West Bay trip concluded with great success.