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  • Will Appleyard

Dorset Dives : nearly 5 years on

"Dorset Dives" was a labour of love for me and two years in the making. Together with my supportive diving pals we spent weekend after weekend back then on the seabed or on wrecks across 90 miles of Dorset coastline - the "Jurassic Coast" and possibly one or two nights in the pub...

Published in 2014, Dorset Dives was my second book and produced four years after my first - "Discover UK Diving", which is now nearly out of print. Books are a funny thing to produce - a testament to not only what you're attempting to document but also at testament to your life when written and frozen on the bookshelf in printed time.

Creating books is an all consuming and highly addictive creative venture to embark on and definitely not a "get rich quick" scheme - indeed quite the opposite. Once you've lit the touch paper, there is no stopping it and with the end never in sight, like a false summit on an Alpine peak. In the same sense, writing a book is indeed a lot like climbing a mountain - it's never a good idea to ponder the summit when you've only just stepped off the valley floor, but simply consider only manageable chunks of the mountain and enjoy the view as you gain height.

I rarely pick the book up these days, but when I do I can't help but criticise my nearly five year old piece of printed work. However, I have learnt to harness this self-criticism which can only be healthy and positive behaviour, because if a photographers work hasn't improved in five years, then he or she isn't continuing to scale the endless, upward learning curve . There are of course many sections of the book that I still remain pleased with - John Liddard's maps of the various wrecks that feature within its pages which were then cleverly digitally rendered by designer Meurig Rees - who was responsible for the rest of the book's design also. I still stand by many of the topside photographs I took alongside stunning work licensed from underwater photographer Stuart Philpott. Bryan Jones' maps have also stood the test of time.

Our diving expeditions during the making of the book saw us working in everything visibility wise from conditions that your average Red Sea diver would be happy with, right the way through to pitch black and cold pea soup. Scorching sun, flat calm seas, chop, swell and lashing rain all played their part in making this both a labour of love and occasionally one of hate.

There are still plenty of highlights fresh in my mind from "the making of", one being the wreck of a barge we documented near Worbarrow Tout, almost right between Portland and Swanage geographically. It's a very shallow, semi intact wreck and the scenery above the waves is just spectacular. Deeper diving highlights include the wreck of HMS M2, a completely intact British submarine that lays in 35m of water, sunk by mistake in the January of 1932. The WW1 German U Boat wreck UB74, also laying at 35m made for an exciting dive too and a challenging piece of history to photograph, being that we rather stupidly chose to dive it on 21% air rather than Nitrox, which would have given us a far longer bottom time. Diving with smooth hound, a member of the shark family off Old Harry Rocks was other worldly and we managed to capture a photograph of one for that section of the book.

Explorer Paul Rose wrote the foreword, Paul is most well known among the diving community for his role as presenter come expedition leader in the fabulous BBC series "Oceans" and "Britain's Secret Seas". He was also the base commander for the British Antarctic Survey for many years and more recently his presenting work on the BBC's Lakeland, Pennine and Wolds Way programmes have all been hits.

My continuing relationship with Dorset based O'Three custom dry suits (and wet suits) began with the birth of Dorset Dives and now as one of their brand ambassadors, O'Three have continued to support my diving adventures ever since.

I'm currently playing with a few more book ideas and I think I have nailed the title for my next publication. For me, apart from an initial idea of course, a book has to start with a cover, because once the cover comes alive, then the book has a face - it exists!

Christmas is fast approaching and so here's a link below to said attractive stocking filler.

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