I ENJOY A NICE LAZY START, not having to get up in the small hours of the morning and set off before dawn. 12.30pm at Poole Quay is just about right. I can spend the night at home, roll out of bed at the usual hour, enjoy a bowl of Coco Pops, set off with time to spare and make a stop or two on the way.
You couldnt pick a better departure time to keep my lazy gene happy.
Midweek and outside the school holidays, there are no milling flocks of grockles blocking the quayside. I pull up right next to Sha-King, transfer dive kit from van to boat, and park in the Thistle Hotel car park opposite. A bargain at £4 a day, and much better value than the rip-off prices many local authorities charge for parking.
Over the next 15 minutes or so the last few divers arrive, and skipper Richard Styles sets off at a leisurely pace.
The sea is calm. As forecast, slack water is not until 2.30 and we have less than an hours journey to the wreck of the Venezuela, about halfway between Poole and the Needles.
The speed is considerably slower than the big 13m Interceptor hulls maximum, but in these days of high fuel prices an easy journey at economical speed is something most skippers will favour if time permits.
Besides, its a nice comfortable ride for enjoying the lunch I had bought from a supermarket on my way, my other stop being to fill up with oxygen at Forward Diving Services new premises on the way into Poole.
The Venezuela was carrying coal from Swansea to Rouen when she was torpedoed by UB39 on 14 March, 1918. Flames lit the night sky as a secondary explosion of coal dust from the cargo sank the Venezuela almost immediately, leaving no survivors. I have been looking forward to diving this wreck for a while.
Richard remarks that it is very close to the Borgny (Wreck Tour 43, September 2002) and that the two wrecks have often been mixed up.
Concerned that I could be diving the Borgny under another name, I check with Richard that we have the wrecks straight between us, that the Borgny is the one thats upside-down and the Venezuela the right way up.

WRECK CONFIRMED, the only thing not on our side is a light rain. We can see the ripples spreading, the sea is so calm.
Before Richard fitted Sha-King out for diving, the hull was built as a motor yacht, with extended cabin and fly bridge. The cabin offers luxurious space, with seating for all who want it.
Ran and cloud have reduced surface visibility, and a ship is showing on the radar only a mile or so from the dive site. As we arrive, binoculars come out. The ship turns out to be a dredger from Southampton, dumping spoil.
The good news is that we are on the high-water slack, so the spoil should have been carried away from us by the incoming tide, but I wouldnt fancy diving the Borgny today.
With a neap tide, slack water has arrived early. We can kit up and jump in as and when we feel like it.
The 27m descent is easy, except for an interruption at the start to untangle another divers manifold from the short trail line and buoy attached to the shot.
With still water it doesnt matter, but on a rough day he could have pulled the shot off the wreck.
Richard has the shot nicely alongside the starboard boiler, which sits slightly askew from its mounts. Other divers are heading aft, so I head forwards, past the bunker bulkhead towards the bow.
As I cross the forward two holds, the wreckage begins to thin out. The bow is marked by a pair of anchor hawse pipes, a broken winch and a big pile of chain, but almost none of the hull structure remains. Perhaps the secondary explosion was in the forward hold.
Heading aft again, I soon come to the most interesting feature. Unusually for a ship this small, the Venezuela was fitted with two triple-expansion engines. Both are still standing, though there is damage to the low-pressure cylinders.
Behind these engines, the propshafts are buried beneath the sand as I cross the single aft hold.
The stern is more intact but flat to the seabed, with just deck and steering gear clear of the sand. The gun has been recovered by Swindon BSAC, which discovered and owns the wreck.
With maximum depth of 27m and a rebreather on optimal nitrox mix,
a 50-minute dive gives me only a few minutes of decompression; plenty of time to see the whole wreck in one dive.
Our second dive is a regular evening booking from Dorset Diving Services. Some of its divers had been with us on the Venezuela, and now Sha-King fills with everything from recently qualified divers gaining experience to experienced divers out for an easy midweek bimble on Poole Rocks, a shallow reef just out into the bay.
Trevor Small, skipper of Rocket, who will be hosting my next day of diving, meets us at the quayside. He
The morning before I travelled to Poole, the forecast had been excellent - four days of easy diving weather and the wind rising to about Force 4 towards the end. That evening the forecast changed to gales picking up two days in.
Then, on the morning of the trip, Richard called to say that today looked good, tomorrow looked doubtful and the next two days looked very doubtful. We had decided to go for it anyway.
Trevor had scheduled an equally lazy start, but the latest forecast suggests that we dont want to be at sea tomorrow afternoon. However, it looks as if we can get out on the early slack to dive Baron Garioch ahead of the incoming weather.

ROPES OFF AT 7AM isnt really that early, especially as I had the luxury of a bed at Trevors house and some excellent sausages for breakfast. Rocket is an 11m South Boats catamaran, a hull design increasingly popular with diving-charter skippers for, among other things, the big deck space and stable platform.
The space is excessive for the few of us on board, who include yesterdays skipper Richard Styles, taking the opportunity to dive a wreck he has visited many times, but never dived.
The Baron Garioch is new to me, but the Baron Line ships owned by the Hogarths of Ardrossan are old favourites. I can remember diving at least three, including the Baron Carnegie off Pembrokeshire (Wreck Tour 112, May 2008).
The Hogarth family owned one of the largest merchant fleets through both world wars, so suffered some of the highest losses. At the start of the last century the line was nicknamed the Hungry Hogarths for its reputation for stinginess when feeding the crew.
The 1834-ton Baron Garioch was in ballast from Calais to Liverpool when torpedoed by UC63 on 28 October, 1917. All but two of the crew escaped in the starboard lifeboat as the Baron Garioch settled by the stern and sank in 38m, about five miles south-east of Anvil Point.
Visibility is good enough to see more than halfway across the wreck, so orientation from the shotline dropped across the bow is easy. I follow the port side aft, zig-zagging across the wreck to catch features such as winches and masts. A shot at the bow is ideal for me to do the length of the ship and back.
Just behind the bow, standing from a deck-plate that has fallen to the seabed, a short cone-shaped structure intrigues me. It takes a while to realise that it was once the lower part of a marine toilet.
Amidships is an upright water tank, with a fine example of a big geared helm resting just forward of it. The gearing is necessary to enable a single man at the wheel to pull the cables that turned the quadrant and rudder at the stern without the assistance of steam power.
Two intact boilers are followed by a tall triple-expansion steam engine.
The propeller shaft is broken at a flange, perhaps from the explosion of the torpedo striking the no 3 hold, or from the stern hitting the seabed first.
In the area of no 4 hold, the wreck disappears into a sandbank. I am in two minds as to whether to continue aft. Suppose I lose the wreck Should I finish the forward part, then look aft later in my dive
In the end, the good visibility convinces me to keep going. I can see small sprigs of wreckage protruding from the sand, and connecting them together I am soon rewarded by the stern rising above me.

I HAD EXPECTED TO HAVE TO SEARCH HARD for a gun just off the stern, as reported in Dave Wendes book South Coast Shipwrecks Off East Dorset And Wight, but it really is just off the stern.
The gun stands on the seabed less than a metre from where the port side of the deck slopes into the sand.
Finding my way back across the sandbank covering no 4 hold is much easier than anticipated. I am soon following the starboard side of the wreck to the bow. Richard has already sent the shot up on a lifting bag, so there was no need to return, but it is a good spot to follow the wreck up a few metres before popping my delayed SMB.
I surface to find a sea considerably rougher than when I jumped in. Trevor has to throw a line from the stern of Rocket to pull me in to the diver lift.
When he stops the engines, the light catamaran hull is blown away faster than I can swim after it. The wind picked up quickly about 20 minutes into our dive.
The weather is worsening. The small amount of shelter the coast offers as we get closer to home is most welcome.
I know the answer, but I phone Pete Gough anyway. Pete skippers Beowulf, a 12m Pepe aluminium catamaran with the novelty of twin diver-lifts. I would have been diving with him over the next couple of days, going to the Aeolian Sky and Kyarra for first dives (Wreck Tours 27, May 2001 and 47, January 2003).
Both are excellent wrecks, but my main interest was one of the planned second dives, the bow section of the Liberty ship Black Hawk. This is a wreck I have not dived since I was a beginner, though I have dived the stern section in 48m off Portland more recently.
As expected, Pete confirms that he is not going to sea, but at least the cancelled days are not in the middle of the trip. I can get home in time to treat my lazy gene to a siesta, and I did see two good wrecks that were new to me.
While the weather was about 50% successful, I would rate the trip as being 66% successful from my point of view. Two out of three aint bad.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE: Follow the A350 into the town and turn left onto Poole Quay
DIVING: Sha-King, 01202 708847, www.divingstyles.co.uk. Rocket, 01202 887101, www.rocket.eu.com. Beowulf, 01202 697844, www.beowulfpoole.co.uk
ACCOMMODATION: www.pooletourism.com
GAS: Forward Diving Services, 01202 677128, www.forwarddiving.com. Dorset Diving Services, 01202 580065, www.dorsetdiving.co.uk
FURTHER INFORMATION: Admiralty Chart 2615, Bill of Portland to The Needles. Ordnance Survey Map 195, Bournemouth, Purbeck and Surrounding Area. Dive Dorset, by John & Vicki Hinchcliffe. South Coast Shipwrecks of East Dorset and Wight, by Dave Wendes. World War 1 Channel Wrecks by Neil Maw.