Over the Weekend Perth-BSAC in the guise of Paul our DO ran the BSAC Chartwork and Position Fixing SDC. Securing the expertise of Pete, a BSAC National Instructor and Rob (Thistle Divers), the new South Scotland Regional Coach, it was opened up to the South Scotland Region. And so it was that the Perth crew, consisting of Steve, Hamish, Maureen, Fred and Chris , were joined by Anne from Thistle Divers and Alex from Stirling. So with Paul, who was getting his instructor assist there were, in total, ten of us.
The course is a two day event, the first, and by consensus, very long day, covered theory and was held in the Moncrieff Arms. Steve arrange for Duncan to provide a sandwich lunch (with vegetarian option) at a very modest cost and tea and coffee was provided throughout the day to keep both instructors and students alive! We covered some interesting ground both on the more formal side of things and then taking the opportunity to scour some charts and plan a route for the following day. By 19:30 we were all done in and ready for some sleep.
Sunday dawned cold and clear though Perth basin was covered in fog and we shivered as we hitched Deep Dancer to Paul’s car for the short tow down to South Queensferry. A stunning sunrise over Kirkcaldy with hues of vermilion shortening to vivid aquamarine. A suitable start to a day bobbing around on the Forth.
We arrived just about on time and set about launching Deep Dancer from the RNLI slip under the rail bridge and were joined by Pete and Alex who were launching their inflatable to provide the additional boat seats needed for the course. Deep Dancer was her usual reluctant self requiring Paul’s magic touch
Launching from the slip we crossed under the rail bridge and made for the east end of Inchgarvie where we used transects to locate a small cliff which we had identified as a potential dive site. This was an invaluable lesson as some of the points we had chosen from the chart were not obvious and the others were not visible!
From Inchgarvie we crossed the channel to Saint David’s light off North Queensferry before heading off to Inchcolm Island to identify the leading lights and navigate into the landing to warm up while we had lunch. The island is home to a priory originally founded by King David 1, it became an abbey in 1235. After the dissolutionment of the monasteries it fell out of use and is now managed by Historic Scotland. The island itself is an important bird and seal sanctuary and a popular tourist attraction with a lot to offer.
After lunch we headed off to find a wreck marked on the chart and using various techniques found some plausible fish finder scans that would merit a shot if the vis was ever good enough to enable diving, which in this part of the Forth happens…..never! (for those interested in Forth wrecks the charted position of the wreck was 3°18’23″N 56°1’54″W and is denoted as a dangerous wreck swept to a depth of 22m. This wreck is most likely that of the steamship Skula built in 1882 and sank after collision in 1906 and not The Blessing of Burnt Island as some of us were hoping- Ed.)
We repeated the exercise to locate a wall off Haystack island, a small skerry to the west of Inchcolm before discovering what the channel markers were really used for and then made our way back to South Queensferry to recover the boats, passing a group of sea kayaker exploring under the rail bridge.
To finish the day Paul had arranged a visit to the RNLI station where we were shown around their premises including their crew room and their remarkable RHIB which came with an astounding price tag (so keep those donations coming in – Ed), before debriefing the SDC in their training room.
An enormous thank you to Paul for organising this course. We all had a very enjoyable time and had a grand day out on the Forth in what can only be called very good weather for January. Thanks are due to Pete and Rob for coming along to lead the instruction and keep us on the straight and narrow. As ever thanks to those that towed the boats. I think a special mention for Duncan and Raymond at the Moncrieff Arms for laying on sandwiches and coffee which were very much appreciated. Thanks to the RNLI for showing us the Lifeboat station and allowing us use of their lecture room instead of freezing outside being debriefed on the Pier and finally a thank you to everyone who came along and participated, we learnt loads, had fun, got a tour of the bridges and Islands of the inner forth and got to meet other divers from the region which is always a pleasure.