Scubafest Cornwall has been around for a few years now, originally as DiveFest and run by BSAC. The event is based at Pentewan Sands holiday camp, near Mevagissey in Cornwall. It is now organised by SITA, the Scuba Industries Trade Association.
The week before Scubafest Cornwall, the weather forecast kept changing, a week before it was light north westerlies, perfect. During the week it switched to light south easterlies, not so perfect, but, it would be fine if the winds stayed light.
Most of the commercial charter boats were to be kept in Mevagissey harbour, just a five minute trip from Pentewan. The boats running locally were the hard boats Maid Maggie from Plymouth and Woodpecker from Salcombe, who were going to be picking divers up from the harbour. With Atlantic Scuba’s the RIB ‘Stingray’ picking up from the campsite beach. Club RIBs were to be launched and recovered from the on site beach. Some other boats had been organised to run from various locations around Cornwall.
Evening entertainment would be in the Seahorse Club, the on site clubhouse. There was a live band on the Friday and Sunday evenings, with karaoke on the Saturday evening. A Yurt village would be where the trade stands would be, along with the dive coordinator.
During the Friday morning the yurts arrived and they started to fill as they were being erected. BSAC were there with A.P. Valves and Bite Back, all in one yurt, next was prawno.co.uk with Liquid Sports, PADI with Oonas, Suunto, Apeks, Mares/SSI, Sea & Sea, Typhoon and Atomic. Various things were on display and available for demo, from kayaks to drysuits. There was going to be one yurt short, so the dive coordinator would have to find a new home. Atlantic Scuba, who were running the RIB from the beach, had set up a stand in a caravan awning, opposite the yurt village.
By Friday afternoon the sea was flat and the camp site was filling up. According to site staff, there was going to be a thousand people on site, not all divers but a fair few of them would be. Various club RIBs started to arrived, the site was coming alive. Friday evening in the Seahorse was fairly quiet, perhaps the majority of people on site were tired after travelling so far.
The hard boats had two double dive trips booked per day, the RIB was running five single dive trips per day, for the Saturday and Sunday. There were also trips organised for the Monday morning. Nearly five hundred dives were planned. Saturday morning, the boat diving was starting. Atlantic Scuba looked at Pentewan, it was too rough to run the RIB off of the beach safely, the message went ashore for the divers to go to Mevagissey harbour. Saturday morning’s conditions were not as per the forecast, the waves were larger than expected. It was decided that it would be safe enough to go ahead. The two hard boats went off, shortly followed by the RIB, after it had loaded. The club RIBs were out running around as well. As Saturday progressed, the weather improved to the conditions that were forecasted, the waves dropped off. The boats visited various locations over the weekend including the Kantoeng Dredger arm near Fowey and Gwineas Reef near Mevagissey. The RIB also visited a reef they called Curran Vean, it doesn’t appear on any of the recognised dive sites for the area. Although it proved to be very popular with the divers, described by most as very pretty. Over the weekend divers were treated with a variety or life, from Grey Seals to Rhizostoma’s (Barrel jellyfish). Shore dives were also undertaken around Pentewan and Mevagissey, try dives were done in the pool as well as freediving tasters.
Saturday’s evening karaoke was a success, with several people dressed up in the selected fancy dress theme of computer game characters, although seeing one man dressed as Lara Croft was a concern.
Sunday’s diving continued as Saturday’s had finished, slightly choppy seas with some sunshine. The boats were busy, so were the yurts. Several locals popped in to see what it was all about, which boosted the numbers wandering around. By the end of the day on Sunday, Mondays weather forecast would put an end to diving around the area for a while, the hard boats went back to their home ports, after they dropped the divers off from their last dive on Sunday. That evenings entertainment was popular, the club house remained busy even after the band finished playing. A great end to a great weekend.
Altogether the three boats running from Mevagissey accounted for 268 dives over the two days, with around 80 try dives in the on site pool as well as numerous shore dives and club boat dives, a great weekend for British diving.
By Monday morning, the pitches were emptying, the yurts were emptying, Scubafest Cornwall was over.