RIP Malcolm Brewer

A long-standing friend and great diving buddy 

I was very sad to hear of the passing of my friend and dive buddy of many years.

Malcolm joined Luton BSAC in the mid 1980’s. Since that time I believe he has held most committee positions except treasurer. I was chairman twice and for one of those times Malc was diving officer, in the early 2000’s. It was a difficult time for the club due to personality conflicts, but Malc managed to keep friendly with both sides. As a diving officer he was one of the best, striking the right balance between laying down the BSAC law and allowing some flexibility in people’s diving.

I first dived with Malc (later known as “Talc” due his over use of talcum powder) on 2nd May 1992, on the Coroni Rivers wreck off the south coast of Cornwall. On the second dive with Malc – a drift dive off Maenporth – I discovered his amazing talent for spotting scallops. He came up with a goody bag full and I had a couple. The following August Bank holiday, the 1993 Dartmouth trip, was the first sea outing for our new RIB Red Leader. And guess what: we ran out of fuel not once but twice in one day. Malc negotiated the purchase of some petrol from a fisherman and this got us back to just outside Dartmouth harbour where we got towed in by the harbour master.

The next year (1994) was the club trip to Oban and the sound of Mull. We were very lucky with the visibility and I dived the Thesis (before it broke up) with Malcolm, and the Hispania. Here he took a photo of me lying in the captain’s bath (sadly some hooligans later smashed it up). I had camera envy as he had a Nikonos V with a wide-angle lens and I had a Motormarine II camera with a home-made flash. The next day we dived the Rondo which is the most bizarre wreck I ever dived. It’s stern is in 6m and the bow is 50m, so it is practically vertical.

In 1995 we dived Stoney Cove and then later back to the south coast of Cornwall where dived the Manacles (a popular reef). Back to Stoney again in October when I did my Advanced Diver lift with Malcolm.

1996 the club had another trip to Oban but we did not dive together. In1997 I went on the famous Dawn Louise live-aboard. Unfortunately I do not have good memories of that trip. On one dive I fell over before getting into the water and then fell off climbing the ladder. Needless to say the weather was rough and a few of us were seasick. On another dive the viz was poor and I accidently dived with Pete and Malc, only finding my true buddies later in the dive.

In 1998 the club had its first trip to Cavalaire-sur-Mer in the South of France. My log book recalls diving the wreck of the Espagnol and taking a picture of Malc, but it did not come out well. We were very lucky with the weather that year and it was one of the best trips. Later that year I went to Ireland with Malc and Pete. We did a couple of dives on the East Coast near Wexford and I buddied with Mark Robertson who had a hard boat. The dives were average but I remember fishing for mackerel and having them barbequed when we got back to Mark’s farm.

1999 I only did a couple of dives in Stoney with Malc and Pete. 

2000 the club went back again to Cavalaire-sur-Mer unfortunately the weather was not as good as the previous year. The most memorable dive was on the submarine the “Rubis”. Malc suggested that we had a group photo on the bow. My buddy was Kevin Henman and he took a packet of frankfurters with the intention of feeding the conger eels. Sadly, the conger eels were not interested, but a small fish decided to steal a frankfurter. I was laughing so much the photos did not come out. When we returned to the hard boat the captain called out “Monsieur Saucisson”. One of the local dive guides had told him what we had done.

In July, three of us went to back to Ireland, this time to Baltimore on the south west coast. The visibility was superb and we dived the largest wrecks, the Kowloon Bridge. It is over 300m long and broken in two. We dived the bow and swam up the hawser tube, which was massive. The other famous wreck is a WWII German submarine U260 at about 42m. The skipper stated that he would only take us to it if there were four of us or more. In a local pub Malc and I persuaded this Irish guy Colm to come diving with us. I leant him my 3ltr pony as he only had a 12ltr and the skipper put another cylinder of 50% nitrox on the shot line. It was an excellent dive. The highlight is the radio mast and periscope with the lens still intact. The final dive was the Fastnet lighthouse, which is the most southerly point of Ireland.

In 2003 we returned to Baltimore in Ireland, this time with a minibus full of divers. We stayed in Ralf’s hostel, a sort of upmarket YHA but still with dormitories. We were on a hard boat this time. The funniest event was when Terry returning from a dive and realised he had a leak in suit. He then produced a diving knife and stabbed himself – he has an artificial leg but the skipper didn’t know this!. I think this was the first time Malc and Pete had been away with their new Inspiration rebreathers. For me the U260 dive was a disaster. I lost my Motormarine camera, strobe and wide-angle lens.

Our diving diverged after that, with his rebreather diving going to a technical trimix level. However, we did go on several trips to the Scilly Isles together. One funny incident was when he tried to put on someone else’s dry suit which resulted in him winning the duck award.

The last diving we did together was in 2019 in the Maldives, which is the final picture seen here.

The first two are from Baltimore in Ireland in 2002 and the third picture is from Malta in 2009.

Mike Batham

April 2020