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

June, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Stephen Elves, Stockport, GB (2 reports)
Report Number 5861
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Gozo (Malta), Croatia, Holland, Scotland, Wales
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
15   to 18    Celsius  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
2   to 20    Meters  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
None, dive to Cert. Level, unguided diving  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
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  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
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 (,
alternatively there is the Royal Breakwater (
) or The Green Shutters ( which are a bit cheaper,
less than 20 yards away.
Across the road is Underwater Explorers (
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
( 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
( and and
through Millennium Divers the Underwater Explorers club

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
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