After a slight hickup due to a loose wheel nut on the boat trailer we set off about two hours late to launch the boat from Loch Linnhe marina in Shuna Sound. Here a convenient slip, with all the necessary amenities including a very friendly owner, is usable in all but the lowest tides and made for a simple lauch and secure car parking.
The objective of the day was the artificial reef on the East side of Lismore. With a calm sea, Deep Dancer made short work of the trip down and we were soon using the echo sounder and searching for indications of the reef using transects. In the end Paul said “he had an App for that” which located the reef system for us. One party reported a sandy bottom and the other pair reported reef blocks to a height of two feet with numerous crustaceans lurking in the crevices. Interestingly the sandy bottom team reported little current while the reef team reported significant current eddies. Both parties reported cold water and low vis. The main reef complex consists of 30 units made up of 4000 concrete blocks, now that’s not very big and we were perhaps optimistic to try and dive these without first placing a shot.
“well I’m not diving that then, lets go over there” said captain pugwash indicating vaguely further down the sound. The west side of Eilean Dubh proved to be hopelessly shallow but a grey seal colony on the southern tip suggested there might be a decent site. Hamish and Chris dropped in on the Southern point finding terrible surface layer visibility before dropping onto sand and enjoying a delightful gentle drift on the incoming tide along sandy shelves, vertical 20′ walls and steep boulder slopes. One interesting artifacts that was found was a bit of bone china, a broken plate bearing the markings of Macbrayne. Now how did that get there !
Lunch time saw us landing on Eilean Dubh below nesting graylag geese who objected loudly to our presence, where we enjoyed lunch in the best weather of the year so far.
The afternoons dive saw the first wave go in on the South tip of Eilean Dubh again and reported a much warmer and more interesting dive than that of the morning. Cogniscent of the time Hamish and Chris elected to try pot luck closer to the launch site and found a site on the West side of Shuna Island where the above water topography and Paul’s App suggested there might be an interesting dive. Dropping into oily, dark tea and low vis thoughts of aborting the dive immediately sprang to mind but once through the surface layer visibility improved.
Diving a very steep sandy slope , Hamish spotted this cute little chap that we annoyed for a while taking it’s photograph. Certainly the highlight of the day for me ! With a 30 minute dive scheduled due to time constraints we had just enought time to collect a few scallops and deploy a SMB before being recovered by the boat.
A short trip back to the marina via the North of Shuna Island saw a quick recovery of the boat after the missing trailer roller had been replaced.
Dive site 1: N56°32’10” W5°27’10” Loch Linnhe artificial reef off Lismore
Dive site 2: N56°31’12” W5°27’32” Eilean Dubh, South tip
Dive site 3: N56°35’24” W5°24’10” Shuna Island, West side
Paul’s photos will be here wip
Some more photos here