The wrecks of Bonawe quarry, 4th September 2011

There was quite a lot going on this weekend. Hamish and Bethan went off down to Hawes to successfully complete a BSAC Regional PRM course under the watchful gaze of a National Instructor and other Advanced Instructors. This sets them both well on their way to completing their Dive Leader training. Worth noting comments that these events have been under subscribed and we should perhaps support these guys more as they invest a lot of their own personal time in providing this training.

Alan and family were across in Oban with a few divers and went exploring the Garvellachs where they found disappointing vis but exciting diving. Paul and I were planning on a quick shore dive.

For once the weather was kind and we had a glorious drive across to the West. Paul and I bimbled our way around to Bonawe quarry on the Northern shore of Loch Etive.

Paul parked up on the concrete standing close to the entry point and we kitted up for what was planned to be an extended exploration of the site with opportunities to play with photography lighting. As it turned out my new toy was being temperamental and had other ideas.

Entering the water we descended a steep slope picking up a cable that led us past mooring blocks and a derrick to the wreck of a small clinker built fishing boat in about 12m. The boat was sitting upright and had obviously been there a good while as it had been eaten away and was fragile to the touch. The wheel house provided some fun but I couldn’t get in with the tanks on. Having swam around the wreck and kicked up the silt we decided to explore elsewhere and continued the outward leg to look for some life, the floor of the quarry being bare save some worms, gobbies and a solitary gurnard.

Finding rocks at the mouth of the quarry we came across this little solitary jewel.

Eventually it was time to start the reverse leg and returning back to the entry point we diverted towards the western edge and came across an old car amongst the boulders. It looked a little like a A-series MG but covered in rusticles and brittle to the touch its days are numbered. No souvenirs to be found this time. Nearing the end of the dive we found a discarded net that gave an amazing spectacle, an underwater sculpture and the chance for a few more photos. I unfortunately picked up some fishing line here around my fins and Paul was able to demonstrate the value of a pair of shears as he set me free !

Hopefully Paul will add some on his photos

As it was a very pleasant afternoon and getting rather warm, we decided to follow the coast round past Castle Stalkers and try out luck on a new open water site opposite Balnogowan Island but first the surface interval. Paul had been planning and had brought a disposable barbecue and a couple of burgers so we settled down to enjoy a delightful hour or so in the sun overlooking Ardgour.

The second dive of the day was the Telephone Exchange site, neither of us had dived it before so we were both looking forward to something new. Parking through the gate at the telephone exchange on the old road, we lugged our kit across the main road, down a banking to a cobbled beach and a walk in entry. Sand with the occasional scallop gave way to mud and seapens at which time we turned and retraced our steps keeping an eye out for rays that frequent this site. None today though.

On the way back we had to rely on the compass as the tide changed and tried to push us along the beach across several confusing banks. Just below the kelp line we came across another delightful nudibrach busy laying eggs on its food source.

All that was left was to lug the gear back along the beach, up the slope, cross the road, through the gate to the car (pant, pant, pant!) and call it a day after a couple of really cracking dives.

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