Divernet

When some people get in, on or under water, their brains seize up and part company with their body. In recognition of this truth, our club rewards acts of sheer lunacy with the annual presentation of the Flange. This unique and insubstantial piece of bronze was salvaged from the type of wreck you walk around at low water.
Funnily enough it was for diving the James Grey, perched as it is on Tusker Rock, that the Flange was first awarded.
I remember that dive well. We had just taken proud possession of our new RIB with its 140hp engine, and decided to venture a little further afield than usual.
Josh, our diving officer, was away on holiday, and we seized the opportunity to take the RIB out on a long trip, piling it full of gear and 10 divers.
Simon, our leader, knew of some superb dives he hadnt done recently and had the transits for the Tusker Rock. We were led to believe that there was a wreck off it in around 30m.
We were vaguely aware that something was wrong when we spotted the Tusker Rock rearing proudly out of the sea in about 2m of water, with bits of wreckage perched at awkward angles all over the place.
By the time we were kitted up there was no water left at all, so we dumped our dive gear and slopped in and out of the rock pools finding bits of brass and stray wreckage. We took countless photos and rechristened the James Grey the 60 Mile Viz Wreck. One bright spark wanted a signature in her logbook, until it was gently pointed out that diving usually takes place under water, not walking round rocks!

The following year the Flange was awarded for an act of breath-taking idiocy. Belonging to a coastal dive club, many of our divers are members of the local lifeboat crew. Keen swimmers, divers and fishermen, they are trained to respond with speed and accuracy to any emergency.
Our hero thought to test their response to a genuine emergency at sea. Out on a practice run as the lifeboat rounded Mumbles Head, he slipped quietly into the water, confident that little time would pass before his sharp-eyed colleagues spotted his absence.
So much for his optimism! The lifeboat had travelled 10 miles up the coast and entered Oxwich Bay before anyone missed him and raised the alarm. Unfortunately all attempts to find out whether Oxwich Bay was also the scene of the next years award. Exceptionally, it was awarded not to a member of the host club but to a neighbouring club.
After a long, happy dive on the Oxwich wreck, two divers signalled to their inflatable that they wanted to be picked up. Up steamed the boat, its occupants blissfully unaware that the divers had brought up a 2m conger eel for a laugh.
As the boat came alongside, they heaved the unhappy eel on board. Amid the screams and panic of the divers, the eel got the last laugh as it bit deeply into one of the tubes, totally deflating it before leaping for freedom back into the sea.
The boat was seen limping ashore with all the divers perched nervously on one side on the one remaining tube.

The Lucy sank on St Valentines Day, 1967, and sits upright in 40m, having struck a submerged rock in Jack Sound, just off Skomer Island. The tide floated her off the rock and the wreck is buoyed and a target for hundreds of divers every year. It is an impressive, exciting dive, but not one to be undertaken lightly.
We had a new diver guesting with our club one summer who flashed lots of impressive PADI credentials around.
Im an Advanced diver, been to 40, of course, he boasted. Buddied up with one of our most experienced divers, down the line he went, straight into the dark, black waters that often greet you en route to the deck of the Lucy.
Panic-stricken, our guest clawed at his buddy, gasping for breath, Up, up, he signalled.
The buddy calmly helped him back to the RIB. What went wrong, mate he asked.
You never said it was 40 metres, spluttered our deflated, chastened guest diver. Ive only ever been to 40 feet. We had to award the Flange to the buddy, and as a club we shamefacedly decided that we must check the small print on all guest divers qualifications after that.
A star mention must be made of the club trip to the island of Grassholm. The group set off following the compass route, and there on the horizon reared Grassholm. Curiously, however, the RIB never seemed to get any closer as it ate up the miles towards the elusive island.
I didnt know Grassholm had a radio mast, ventured one brave soul, after a rather taut, silent trip.
It doesnt. They had been following a supertanker well on its way to Ireland!

Finally, where would divers be without the club van Packed full of dive kit, laden with bottles, weightbelts, assorted divers, and well down on its axles, sometimes it even has to tow the club RIB!
We were on our way to west Wales in Joshs van to dive out of Dale, as we often did in the blissful days of endless viz and constant sunshine of the early Ô90s. Remember those days when central locking was an expensive luxury and only the seriously wealthy had mobile phones Well, Josh had both central locking and a mobile phone.
The club pulled up at services en route for the coast. The entire crew piled out and headed for the loos. Josh leapt down, keys in the ignition, slammed the door shut and whipped out his trendy mobile phone to call his wife. He pressed a button on his mobile. Click and click went all the van doors, electronically locking the keys inside, still in the ignition.
Josh had his mobile to hand and knew a man who could help - he called the AA. Up rolled the bright yellow van.
What seems to be the trouble asked the AA man, alighting from his vehicle.
Well, all I did was press this button on my mobile, began Josh, demonstrating just how he had done it.
Click went the locks on the AA van, keys still in the ignition. When the second AA van finally rolled up some time later, Joshs mobile was taken into protective custody before his van and the hapless AA man were freed.
A worthy recipient of the Flange was Josh, and he hadnt even made it to the dive site at that point.

There is lunacy, stupidity and sheer bad luck, but whatever your problem, the club is standing by ready to immortalise all those moments we would rather forget. Bear in mind that if you jump in minus your fins, forget to switch your air on, miss the wreck, navigate into the wrong bay or, heaven forbid, fill the club van with diesel instead of petrol, all will be revealed at the AGM as you become a contender for the dreaded Flange!
GRIT WINS THE NUT
The Flange is not the only annual award made by our club, writes fellow-member Maggie Cainen. Our AGM falls every November, after Wednesday-night diving has finished for the year but not too soon after our new intake in late September. We wouldnt want to deter the novices too early on, would we

At the AGM the newly elected officers read out edited highlights of their reports and the secretary reads the previous years minutes, unless she has been bribed to lose them. Then, before the Flange, comes the award of the Nut.

The Nut goes to the clubs most determined diver. Past winners have struggled with claustrophobia, tinnitis, burst eardrums and panic, or shown nerve or sheer guts. The closely-guarded decision is made by select committee members before the AGM.

What is special, too, is how the club obtained the Nut. Back when Jacques Cousteau was a boy, a hand-picked team of 12 set off to dive Ireland, led by our fearless diver Dirk. Over a Guinness someone whispered in his ear about a fishing vessel that had lately sunk in 30m. It seemed a crying shame to leave its fine bronze prop at the bottom.

All other projects were put on hold, and there followed the toughest week of their lives. Wave after wave of divers toiled at that prop. They had only to unscrew the large brass nut and it would be theirs, but nothing would budge it.

They took down hacksaws and wore out blade after blade. After a week the tough nut was almost sliced in half. Most of the divers were nursing blisters and sore hands.

On the very last dive, Dirk braced himself for the final assault, but something stayed his hand. What if the nut turned the other way Hardly daring to breathe, he gently twisted it to the left. Sweet as a nut, it yielded up the prop.

A left-hand screw - why hadnt they thought of it before In memory of a weeks wasted diving but as an example of true grit, the Nut became an award for determination.