I KAYAKED FROM OUTER HOPE at Hope Cove in the hope of getting into the cave where HMS Ramillies lies – it’s only a 1.5 nautical-mile paddle each way – but there was a big-ass old swell rolling in, so the caves were off-limits.” So said photographer Dan Bolt, after winning the British Underwater Photography Championship.
“Instead I decided to visit the wreck of the Jebba, which I have only been to once before, two years ago in rubbish vis, and battled that old swell for over an hour to get this shot in 8m of water.
“The swell was so bad I needed to use my weightbelt to anchor the tripod down – obviously that affected things massively for my personal buoyancy.
“I definitely feel the old 300ft liner Jebba was having fun with me, but she’s been there for 106 years, so perhaps she’s a bit bored!”
Summer was splash-in time for Britain’s keenest underwater photographers, and hot on the heels of the Lundy Summer Splash! event reported in last month’s divEr came
the British Championship.
This popular annual contest, which is organised by the British Society of Underwater Photographers, takes place off the southern coast of Devon, from Mount Batten in Plymouth.
It was a Saturday in early July and the weather turned out to be the hottest the competition had seen for many years. With a light breeze, the sea conditions were relatively calm.
The 25 entrants potentially had 18 hours (from midnight until 6pm) to capture images under water before selecting one to enter in each of the three main categories: “Marine Life”, “Mankind in the Sea” and the 2013 theme, “Reflections”.
A further option was to enter one image in the Humorous category. Compact camera users were also eligible for the Best Compact Shot.
Entries were projected at the Mount Batten Centre in the evening for judging by photo-journalists Charles Hood and Jane Morgan. Judges of the “Humorous” category were the audience.
The man of the day was Dan Bolt, who won both the “Mankind in the Sea” and “Reflections” categories and was runner-up in “Marine Life”.
His winning image in the first of these categories, showing himself inside the wreck of the Jebba, was what also earned him the title of Overall Winner.
His “Reflections” winner was taken at about 2 o’clock in the morning in the shallows at Babbacombe: “I had a torch on a tripod about 10m away from my camera, which was on another tripod.
“Using my camera’s custom-timer function, I had 15 seconds to get into position, and then the camera took a photo every 0.5 seconds for 10 exposures. I’d like to say it was an easy thing to do, but I ended up taking over 200 photos in the two hours I was playing with this idea, so I need to tighten things up a bit!

THE THIRD MAIN CATEGORY, “Marine Life”, was won by Alex Tattersall with a macro image of a nudibranch on kelp.
He ended up effectively giving himself an award, as his company had supplied the Underwater Visions/Nauticam UK Trophy and £250 voucher!
Even here, Dan Bolt managed runner-up place, with an image of a snakelocks anemone. “This was a completely made-up shot,” he said.
“At 2.30 on Saturday afternoon I wanted to swim out from Thurlestone beach to a reef called the Book. It’s about a half-mile swim, but abut 200m in
I suffered cramp in both calf muscles and decided enough was enough – I had been up for 32 hours at this point.
“I looked around the reef for a subject I could shoot with my fisheye prime lens. In 8m of water there are lots of snakelocks anemones on the reef, so
I tried some sunburst shots with a single snooted strobe.
“Given the circumstances, I’m chuffed with the outcome!”