A Typical RRSAC Weekend
Trip prep starts on the Tuesday before the trip at the “boat party” – everyone who’s diving comes along to the hut and helps prepare the boat for towing and collects any kit they need. Then the trip Marshall will distribute a trip note which will detail travel buddies, mobile numbers, directions to the accommodation/dive centre and general plan for the weekend. If you haven’t got an obvious travel buddy (e.g. family member or usual buddy) the Marshall generally tries to make travel pairs up out of people who work or live near each other or can leave work at roughly the same time on the Friday or some other such criteria.
I generally go shopping on a Thursday night to get food for the weekend and get my kit together (you will have a small mountain of stuff, don’t worry so will everyone else). On occasion we may stay in accommodation that provides breakfast but if not you will need to bring some breakfast with you (cereal, tea bags, milk, bacon etc.); you will also normally need a packed lunch for both days and a water bottle is essential for the boat and a flask for tea or coffee is up to you. Get your goody / string bag packed with fins, mask, computer, gloves, hood, reel, DSMB, torch, any other nik-naks and your water bottle so you can just grab it and throw it in the boat on the Saturday morning, rather than fiddling about trying to pack it when the Marshall’s hopping up and down. Take a warm hat onto the boat and sunglasses are handy to keep the spray out of your eyes. If you feel the cold an old waterproof coat that’ll go over your drysuit will help keep the wind off, likewise a sun hat and sun cream if it is warm, even on cloudy days you can get very sun burnt out at sea, you have been warned. Don’t put anything in the string bag that you’re not happy to get wet. Take a separate bag for the accommodation with your clothes, toiletries, battery chargers etc. and sleeping bag if needed. I'd also take cash to pay the trip fees and the accommodation as trying to sort out cheques is just a pain for the trip treasurer.
On the Friday there are normally two people to a car and you sort out between yourselves when to leave work etc. and everyone makes their own way to the accommodation on the Friday night. Make sure you take your phone in case the boat towers need help either on the motorway or in case they decide to launch on the Friday night. There’s often a loose arrangement to meet up in some local drinking establishment as and when people arrive. This is handy as it gives somewhere to aim for and again the boat towers know where to find people for help if required. It’s up to you to feed yourselves on Friday be it chips on arrival or a sandwich / burger at a service station en route, either way it’s bound to be suitably unhealthy.
A useful tip is to spend 10 minutes when you arrive on Friday evening before you go to the pub, getting your set rigged up (turn the air off before you leave it for the night!), your string bag packed if it’s not already; thus making you look like a super organized, born-to-be-here diver the following morning.
Saturday morning: As we are usually chasing the slack tide times we are normally in bit of a rush in the mornings so don’t expect a lie in. If the boat hasn’t been launched yet it will need to be prepared, often in the marina car park then it will be driven down to the slipway, everyone is expected to help – if it’s your first trip don’t worry someone is bound to give you a job or tell you what to do. Once the boat is launched you then need to change into your drysuit if you’ve not been asked to already and carry your kit to the boat where it’ll be stowed. Normally we try to come back for lunch in which case leave your lunch and your spare cylinder in the car and swap them over at lunch time. If you’re out all day you need to take both cylinders on the boat and take your lunch box but this is relatively rare.
On Saturday night we all troop to a local pub for some good stodgy pub grub, a beer (just the one) and hopefully some hot crumble and custard. Sunday is a repeat of Saturday usually with the added bonus that the boat is already in the water. We often aim to finish earlier than on Saturday; usually the Marshall plans the last dive to be close to the harbour. The boat needs to be recovered and prepared for the motorway; there is a club rule that you sort the boats out first, then yourselves and once the boat has left then you and your travel buddy are free to make your own way home.
If you live nearby please offer to pop down and help the towing drivers with the boat, because it’s nigh on impossible for just two people to get it back in the hut.
Be prepared to be a bit tired on Monday but an early night will sort you out and you’ll have had a great time.
The Tuesday after the trip you will be expected to turn up for the returning boat party. The boat needs to be unpacked and then taken round the back of the hut to be washed down in fresh water and the engine run through with fresh water. If plenty of people turn up it doesn’t take long at all. It’s a hosepipe and sponge job so old clothes and wellies are the order of the day. Then it’s to the bar to recount the stories and funny incidents of the weekend, because there will be some.