Thanks to the generous grant from Aviva Insurnce, we have been able to purchase our clubs first safety boat.
We wanted something which would be easy to use, simple to maintain, last many years but be powerful enough to allow us to develop with it.
After much investigation and consideration, we chose a Zodiac Futura Mkii with an Evinrude 30hp outboard engine. This was the perfect choice for us. It didnt require a large storage space as it folded up. It was big enough to carry a number of students and staff, but at the same time small enough to be able to get in close and shallow. Ideal for snorkelling expeditions…
The design is very modern and stable, and zodiac and renowned for their build quality. We weren’t disappaointed.
It was up to Dive Officer, Nick Stevens, and Fundraising & Boat Officer, Adam Curtis, to put our new boat through its paces on its first sea trials. So a trip to Dorset was in order.
KEJSC primarily snorkels arond the Jurassic Coatline at Lulworth, Kimmeridge and srrounding areas. As luck would have it, Kimmeridge has a free slipway, ideally suited for lanching small boats, with access to the open sea and within easy reach of our favourite dive sites at Lulworth.
It was an ideal day, slightly overcast but very calm. Almost no wind, and what wind there was, was blowing on to shore, which made for almost a mill pond like sea state.
For this reason, we set of to Kimmeridge on Friday 17th May 2019 to put the boat through her paces.
We set up on a grassy patch next to the slip way to build the boat. We had purchased all the safety equipment to go with it, and very handily, and excellent electric pump which worked off the engine battery. This was an amazing bit of kit, blowing up the boats sponsons in under twenty minutes!
Once the boat was built, we ensured everything was loaded onboard, tied down and secure, before using the launching wheels (Fastened to the transom of the boat), to slowly launch her onto the water.
Once afloat the launch wheels were removed, everything we weren’t taking afloat was stowed back in the van and we set off to test this amazing bit of kit!
For those of you astute enough to notice, I havent yet mentioned our boats name (Other than in the title)… Every ship must have a name, its bad luck to go afloat without one, and for our first boat, we wanted it to be something to remember.
It was felt that we should have a name for our boat that was not only connected to our history, but at the same time, honouring a former student and family who gave so much to the club. So it was decided that we would call her Milly.
This was in honour of one of our former members at the club, Milly Dowler. Many of you may know the name, as she was sadly taken from us after being murdered by a horrible criminal, who I wont even deem to name on here. Her case made national news. She was an amazing girl, a wonderful student, and a loving sister and daughter to two other members of our club, Sally and Gemma. . So Milly it was and we had her name affixed to the hull ready to go.
So off we headed out to sea. Luckily the Lulworth Ranges had closed just before we launched, so we were able to head around to Lulworth, without fear of being blown up by the Army Tank Training excercises usually held mid week there. As we headed out, we got up a good rate of speed, but all of a sudden the engine conked out!
Confused and concerned, we set about figuring out what had gone wrong. We had fuel, the egine power was there, and everything seemed fine… Then suddenly we reaslised! Nick had in his excitement to get afloat, attached the fuel line on back to front! DOH! A quick readjustment of the line, had fuel running into the engine without delay, and we were back on track for an amazing adventure…
We were amazed at how fast this little boat could go! At one point we calculated we were doing approx 23 knots! Admittedly, we were unlaiden on flat calm waters, but it was still a brilliant result. The boat itself was roomy for two people, and she felt strong and rigid in the water. The engine was quiet too, and gave off very little engine fumes, which for an outboard is amazing! One of the things we deliverately chose about the engine was its environmental resilience. It is in fact the same engine Greenpeace use on their boats, so if they’re happy with it we were too.
We headed around to Lulworth Cove, along the beatutiful cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. It was an amazing view and a wonderful journey. It only took us twenty minutes to get from Kimmerdige to Lulworth Cove. Much faster than we had expected.
After Lulworth Cove we headed around to Stair Hole, and had a look under the archway in the cliffs into the small bay there. Its rare for us to ever be outside the cliffs as the tides here are quite strong for snorkelling, so it was great to see if from an alternative viewpoint, as well as knowing that know, we could snorkel out here safely with safety cover in future dives.
Next we went around to Man O War Bay and Durdle Door. These are two fantastic dive sites, within easy reach of Lulworth, and access from the sea is so much better than a very long hilly walk from the car park above the sites… The boat was worth its weight in gold if this made access to this site easier!
We then decided to investigate some other locations along the coast which we had only heard of for snorkelling and diving, which we as a club had never tried before as there is no road access. The main one of these was Mupe Rocks just outside of Kimmeridge. So we headed over there for a look around.
The site was actually not too bad, very secluded with a simple pebbled beach. The Rocks of Mupe jutted out of the sea a short way out and looked enticing for investigation, but on this occasion we hadnt brought our snorkel kit with us to take a dip. So it will have to be saved for next time.
At the end of the day we headed back to Kimmeridge to disassemble the boat and load back up for our trip home. The day had been a resounding success! We had proven that a boat of this size was easily capable of providing the safety and protection the club needed, and opened opportunities for futher development. It was the perfect purchase and we will cherrish it for many years to come.
We had learnt a few things too, to help us on our journey with Milly too. Whilst it can easily be launched with two people, carrying her down the slip way needed better hand holds. So an idea was developed to add a small rolling dolly to the nose to make it easier to launch. We also learnt the hardway (or at least Nick did…) to make sure the fuel line was on the right way round…. To this end, we have added painted arrows onto the host to point it in the right direction. Not only will this help Nick out, but will become a valuable training point in future use.
This boat has really made things so much more exciting for the club, and we hope that you will all in time get to make use of her in the future.