Did you know, ‘Meteorological Spring’ commences the first day of March every year? This maybe the case, but it certainly didn’t feel like it at Stoney Cove on Saturday morning 11th March 2023, the outdoor temperature was -2C when we arrived and the ground was still signs of snow which fell a few days earlier.

Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Dawn Holliday, Ian King, Jamie Vaughan, Martin Maple and Mike Waddington who were determined to ease themselves into a pre-season scuba dive at Stoney Cove… the favoured destination for Marlin Sub-Aqua Club to conduct their open water training and essential kit testing.

Everyone had different objectives on the day, Dawn was trying out a new Santi dry-suit and making necessary adjustments to her weight belt to compensate any changes to her buoyancy. Mike had invested in new dry gloves for the first time and cheap lycra leggings to complement his under-suit. Martin was trying out his new rebreather whilst Jamie and Ian were simply enjoying being back in the water after the winter break.

For the first dive, Jamie and Martin headed down the 35m pit, onto the pirate run to the hydrobox and then the 20m self to the Stanegarth, Belinda, Defiant and armoured personel carrier (APC) before heading back. Meanwhile Dawn, Ian and Mike carried out various checks and went for a leisurely bimble around the 6m shelf to the Gresham and back. The water was a chilly 6C and visibility was only 2m on the 6m shelf but improved to 4m once you got down to 20m but was quite dark due to the reduced winter sunlight. Once we returned to land and compared notes on our experiences Dawn treated us all to bacon butty’s and a hot cuppa during the surface interval to help everyone warm up before the next dive.

On the second dive, Ian was acting as shore support, Dawn made some amendments to her weight belt on the 6m shelf and Martin, Jamie and Mike headed off past the Viscount Cockpit to the Stanegarth where they spent a short time venturing in and out of the wreck before heading slowly back to the 6m shelf and back on land. Before long all the kit was repacked, the team were back in warm clothes and enjoying Nemo’s Bar with hot food and a tasty pint.

Everyone seemed pleased with the days dive, Dawn was happy with her new dry suit, Martin more practiced with his rebreather and Mike with his (not so dry) gloves. But most of all, it was great to be back in the water again and looking forward to warmer days dives for the season ahead.