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Dive Review of Scimitar Diving/Aqua Hotel in
Other Locations/Portland nr Weymouth, Dorset

Scimitar Diving/Aqua Hotel, Jun, 2010,

by Stephen Elves, Stockport, GB ( 2 reports). Report 5861.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Gozo (Malta), Croatia, Holland, Scotland, Wales
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 15 to 18 Celsius Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 2 to 20 Meters

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None, dive to Cert. Level, unguided diving
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Setup

Scimitar runs 2 hard boats - Scimitar and Cutlass (both with diver lifts - luxury) and a RIB - Sabre from their base in Castletown, they have one of the best set-ups in the UK for Hard Boat diving, their gas room (Air, Nitrox, O2 and Trimix available, all very well priced) is a short walk across a small car park to the pontoon.
The gas room is attached to the Hotel Aqua (www.hotelaqua.co.uk/), alternatively there is the Royal Breakwater (www.royalbreakwaterhotel.com/ ) or The Green Shutters (thegreenshutters.com/) which are a bit cheaper, less than 20 yards away.
Across the road is Underwater Explorers (www.underwaterexplorers.co.uk/) not the cheapest but has all you could need to hire or buy from a Single tank setup all the way to twin-sets (doubles for you septics), stages and scooters. They can also arrange training from OW all the way through Trimix and a range of GUE qualifications.

The Diving

The Diving is pretty much wreck diving and there are a lot to chose from depending on you qualification, ranging from Paddle Steamers (Countess of Erne) through Submarines with their own aircraft launching catapult and hangers! (M2), large modern freighters (Aeolian Sky), P&O luxury liners (Salsette), parts of the Mulberry harbours intended for the Normandy landings and landing craft that likewise didn't get that far and that's just the a small selection.

The usual scheme is the "deep" wreck in the morning followed by a drift (often for food: scallops, etc.) in the afternoon.

The Boats

The boats are skippered by Smudge, Pete or the youngster Joe all with huge amounts of knowledge and experience of the waters and wrecks around Portland (just be wary if Smudge says he is going on the dive with you, he has thus far been a vis Jonah for me ;-) don't be fooled by Joe's youth he can hold is own, all 3 boats have plenty of emergency O2.

As I said before the hardboats have a diver tail lift with is a massive luxury especially with twinsets and stages, but still nice for single tanks, they also have drop bottles of 80% and run with another crewmember to assist with recovery of the divers kitting up/dekitting. The benches are wide enough that you can actually sit on the bench with the rig behind you no need to balance with only the tanks resting on the bench! The covered cabin is warm and comfy and the skippers are always happy to chat, whilst travelling to and from the site. Between dives tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits and choocy bars are always on hand and if the boat is chartered for the day Cornish pasties direct from the on-board oven.

Eating and Drinking

Portland has some great places to eat and drink in the evening whether you go across the road for good-value pub grub at the Breakwater (and usually a chat with all the other divers staying in and around there) or walk down the hill to some of the posher places, checkout the Cove Inn (www.thecovehouseinn.co.uk/) with it's stunning views down the world famous Chesil beach.

There is plenty of shore diving from Chesil Beach.

OK Bad Stuff
(Free) Parking can be tight in Castletown, the Aqua has a few spaces for guests and if you time it right you can usually park on the road, or there is a pay and display (which you actually walk across to get to the boats).

Equally parking for Chesil beach with kit can be a pain as can climbing up and down the pebbles with kit to the sea.

Need to book early for the "best" weekends although trips are regularly organised on some of the UK dive forums (www.yorkshire-divers.com/forums/forum.php and www.direxplorers.com/) and through Millennium Divers the Underwater Explorers club (millenniumdivers.org/vbuploadfiles/).

Weymouth at the moment is completely messed up by roadworks for the Olympic games (all the sailing events are due to be held there) so that can be a pain, it's also likely that during the Olympics very little diving will be taking place.

It's the UK Cold water diving so, whilst some use a semi-dry during the
summer most divers use a drysuit. In addition Vis can be somewhat of a
lottery, this is not helped by poor fining/trim. Currents can sometimes
be an issue.

Finally being able to use a SMB is essential and all divers must have
one, virtually all dives you send an SMB up as soon as you are off the
wreck so being able to send one up and ascend on it is an essential
skill.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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