The June DTP at Loch Fyne

It’s a fact of life that the more you put in to something, the more you get out and this was very obvious at this months DTP at Loch Fyne. With the holiday season upon us and with other folk washing their hair Perth_BSAC provided the lion’s share of the instructor and people prepared to muck in and help out. Only fair really as we also took most trainees!

On what can only be described as a fantastic west-coast day with a flat calm sea, warm water and good vis the Perth club had three sessions running. Firstly a drysuit and buoyancy familiarization being led by Chirs and an Ocean diver completing his dive Leader lesson under Steve’s watchful gaze with another buddy pair practicing their navigation and buoyancy within the confines of the bay. One other pair from Dundee were undertaking Sports diver training under Edward Haynes’ watchful gaze.

Leading_a_dive_training

All the hard work was today rewarded with firstly a good session being completed covering drysuits and buoyancy culminating in two exploratory dives where the new skills were put into practice. Steve was set a hard task and asked to teach dive leading to a team consisting of an Ocean Diver and a Dive Leader trainee. By running the Dive leader sessions as examples of best practice our Ocean diver had some of the most comprehensive training for his grade possible. Well done to Steve for his innovative approach, clearly an Advanced Instructor in waiting ! Edward reported varying levels of success with his trainees who struggled with deco stops partly due in part to a poorly fitting drysuit and using skills no longer part of the BSAC syllabus and seldom practiced (never a good idea on an assessment). A greater emphasis will be seen here in upcoming months as BSAC reviews buoyancy skills in training.

completed
All in all a very good event with some good diving and with a diver competing his Ocean Diver practical sessions, a very good result.

thanks to Maureen and Fred for the photos

A tail of two wrecks

Sunday diving and there was weather, Scotland at it’s most glorious. Showers and cloud, resting on an invisible partitions, grass lush, wet and green. Loch Leven was mirror calm and a small shell boat rested at it’s mooring with ducks creating wakes as they crossed the bay. The site we had chosen today was Cemetery One on the North shore of Loch Leven just past the Loch Leven seafood cafe. A quick look at the slope down from the car park saw a revolt and an alternative approach sort so we moved the cars around to the small private pier just to the West.

Today was a day for checkouts and drills. One checkout for someone who had not been in the water for a few months, a weight and buoyancy check for a twin set and post drills. So we were not after great depth, just good vis and a bottom that would not stir up and make things difficult.

First order of the day was to ensure that the new twin set diver was properly weighted so we kitted him up and got him in the water to check he could sink and float, easy enough and we left him bobbing in the shallows as the rest of us got our tanks on. A straightforward plan of bubble checks, buoyancy and trim checks and post drills before we swam East along the base of the boulder slope at the junction of the mud. Good vis and some interesting life with numerous pink sea cucumbers and piddock shlls, horse muscle as well as burrowing and sealoch anemones. Little fish life save the ubiquitous blennies and gobbies but generally some good colorful life. Reaching the turn around point we made our way up the slope and returned to find the clinker built wreck that this site is noted for, swam around it a couple of times and the returned to the pier to exit on 45 minutes

After a short surface interval we were back in again. This time we swam straight out from the pier trying to find 20 m. As it was low tide we struggled. At 14m we started finding rubbish dumped from the moorings as the bottom flattened. A computer and TV, pots and pans provided interest before looking up to see the white fiberglass hull of a pleasure boat, sitting upright and covered in peacock worms. Swimming around this a couple of times we then moved off to the East swimming over more rubbish which supported various squiggly forms of life and fields of phosphorescent sea pens. Turning back to the shore we found ourselves on scallop shells discarded from the working boats that led to the pier to surface on 32 minutes after a very pleasant little dive.

So that was it, two wrecks in two dives. Speaking to the local owner of the boats and pier we pieced together a history of the wrecks. The clinker built wooden wreck was a gentleman’s launch, powered by a 3 cylinder Lister Petter engine. It was already 70 years old when it was acquired from the Collonsay Estate by the pier owners family who used it in 80’s as a dive boat for scalloping. When the engine needed replacing it was sold on to be refurbished but the project faltered and it was hauled up onto the beach where it started to decay. Eventually it was burnt and the hull towed out and sunk. A sad end to a piece of Victorian history. The fiberglass hull was another local project, another project that was going to take three weeks and ended up taking three years before the eyesore was removed to its present ‘moorings’.

We had a good natter with this very pleasant chap, learning a little about commercial shell fishing before taking our leave , packing the cars and ending the day in the cafe before making our way to the Crianlariach hotel where the Collonsay Ale was back on tap. All in all a good result.

No photos today.

Conger@Conger 13th November 2012

I had the opportunity to steal either a short hillwalk or a quick dip on the West coast today as a result of visiting offices in Glasgow. So with the kit in the boot off I went, picked up a piece of equipment and then sat waiting in the designated car park for my buddy who duly arrived from Kilmarnock, wound down his window and shook his head somewhat dejectedly. 20 – 25 mile an hour winds and good sized waves were crashing into an exposed shore, the SS Kintyre was definitely sunk ! Plan B, Loch Long. You can always get into Loch Long and so we agreed to drive up and have lunch in the Arrochar Pit Stop and then try our luck at Conger Alley.

Wet was something of an understatement as rivers pouring down the Lomandside hills flooding across the roads, but we arrived safely, enjoyed a bacon sandwich and then changed into drysuits at the rain soaked car lay-by as lorries and speeding cars sprayed us in passing. The original plan, exploring a deep wreck, surprisingly lends itself to a different kit configuration than that required for loch shore diving and carrying a twin set along the 300 yards of pavement to get access to the water took a little resolve but we made it and were quickly in the water.

Down, along, down a bit further, out across the mud and then slowly up the reef was the plan. It turned out to be a good dive too. Poor surface vis led to 5m+ lower down and apart from rather colorful sea squirts, and sealoch anemones, starfish, urchins, crabs and blennies, we saw a shoal of coppery codling, several small dragonettes, numerous corkwing wrasse, an enormous ballan wrasse and of course we can’t forget the rather impressive conger that came partly out of it’s lair to inspect the bright shiny thing that was being waved about in front of him.

A layer of fresh water, fed by streams peculating into the loch from the gravel gave some rather chilly conditions as we reached the shallows and did a short stop, while just before surfacing, a rain shower came in which was audible, quite amazing. That was it, apart from the oh so long, 300 yards back to the cars where once again we changed in the rain before decamping to the pub for a beer and chat and finally making our separate ways home after a surprisingly good dive.

No photo’s today. I didn’t take my camera as is not rated for what we had initially planned to do. (– excuses – Ed!)

Diver Training Program, Loch Fyne Tea Rooms, Saturday 10th Nov

Saturday saw a good turn out for the monthly diver training program run by Fyne Divers at the Loch Fyne Tea Rooms at Crarae. The weather was somewhat mixed ranging from cold wintry showers to grey and overcast with epic cloudscapes that even Turner would have appreciated. The water however was relatively warm (still above 11 degrees) and the visability was good for the site.

With the trainees all managing to complete at least one open water skill everyone came away well pleased with what they had achieved. Indeed a few compliment were passed back from the resident instructors about the level of skills displayed which reflects well on both the individuals concerned and the club as a whole.

These events are really useful for some of the skills we teach as they set aside the day to dedicated training. Rather than fitting in a lesson after a dive, this concentrated approach, akin to an SDC, allows us to provide the focus necessary to achieve progression and assure the standards that BSAC deliver. It’s not just the trainees that benefit, instructors have the opportunity to hone their teaching skills, planning and condensing lessons into the available time and delivering to a new audience every month, quite challenging and fun !

Well done to all !

No photo’s today as I don’t carry a camera when teaching. However the life on the reef was quite good, with numerous enormous female crabs, dug into the boulders and incubating large orange egg masses. A few very large ballan wrasse patrolling the inner reef and the odd pollack as well as a myriad of blennies and smaller fish . All very colourful.

2003: Perth BSAC is 20 years old

In 2003 Perth BSAC celebrated it’s 20th year as a BSAC diving club. That year as part of the celebrations a club trip to Gozo and Comino was organised. Spike has kindly provided the news article and attached picture from the Perthshire Advertiser which shows the members who attended (Ali was behind the camera I believe).

Perth club members returning from a trip to Malta in 2003

the article text from the PA is here (you will have to ‘click’ it to get the full text).

We are lucky that we still have several of these guys around actively participating in diving trips and continuing to guide the club, providing a wealth of experience to draw on.

(And yes, they were journalistic typos concerning the boats – ed).

Stallion Rock and The Minard Islands, Loch Fyne. 21st October

On Sunday we had a superb turn out for a boat trip, taking the Club rhib across to Loch Fyne and being joined by David with his new boat. A 6:30am start was called due to low tide, coming off springs and the shallow slip at the Argyll Caravan park. By ca 09:00 everyone had arrived and the boats had been launched before a quick briefing from Bethan on the day and we were off down the loch on a flat calm surface making excellent progress.

Stallion Rock was exposed at low water and we dropped the pathfinders off, rolling in at intervals off Deep Dancer, while Dave’s boat dived in waves. Considering we had five pairs of divers in the water it was surprising that we didn’t actually bump into each other but it’s a big wall. Bethan and Chris jumped in on the exposed rock itself and went to explore the bottom of the wall before coming up to the 20m mark and gently drifting along the wall with the ebbing tide. An impressive amount of squidgy life with sealoch anenomies, sea squirts, encrusting and cup sponges and squat lobsters in every available crevice you could shine a torch into. Half way through this dive we come across the overhangs at about 23m which would have merited exploration (next time!). Finally with NST reaching zero we slowly ascended finding sand at ca 10m, a solitary scallop and a large berried crab. A couple of minutes watching a sea gooseberry was spent as we paused for a safety stop. Finally up with the SMB and a perfect pickup from the coxswain to find all divers from Deep Dancer returned and the second wave from David’s boat in the water about to surface.

A little colder than people had come to expect recently but everyone reported a good dive. Having retrieved the final diver pair we set off down to the Tea Rooms at Furnace where we landed for a coffee and cake and a short break before the short hop over to the Minard Islands.

Most divers explored the SW tip, taking advantage of the incoming tide and exploring either side as they drifted over broken rocks and past walls. There are some excellent walls on this dive with a good covering of plumose and an enormous dahlia anemone. Bethan spotted a pipefish which I carefully caught and to see if it was carrying brood, (which it wasn’t). before returning unharmed. A small butterfish wriggled across muddy slabs leaving a silt trail that gave away it’s movements and numerous juvenile flatfish, iridescent green and with protruding eyes lay still until panic caused them to flee. Cold set in and I signaled that it was time to go up so we again found shallow sand and shell beds before putting up the SMB and being retrieved by the boat. Again people were reporting good but cold dives with a bag of scallops having been retrieved from over 70m somewhere nearby at a secret location…… Waiting for the second wave from David’s boat we stowed the gear and enjoyed the mild weather as the sun started to shine.

Divers up and then a quick trip back to the caravan park to recover the boats, debrief and set off back to the club hut to wash everything down after a very successful days diving.

I am happy to report that in consultation with the DO and TO, Bethan successfully completed her Dive Management skills module which should allow her to complete her Dive Leader grade training once the committee endorse it. Well done to Bethan for organising such a successful day , thanks to David for bringing along his boat, and to Tony for towing Deep Dancer. With so many experienced divers, these trips are always a pleasure. With people helping out and sorting things before being asked, so thanks to all of you who mucked in.

I was very lazy and didn’t take a camera but the usual paparazzi were present so photos will be added as they come in.

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BSAC South Scotland Regional Training, Loch Fyne.13th October 2012

The South Scotland Regional training day held by Fyne Divers at the Loch Fyne Tea rooms was held on Saturday. Lack of pictures today.

Kim, Neil and John had a marathon session working on the Sports diver rescue drills benefiting from a fresh training perspective and being put through their paces by Edward. They reported a long, challenging lesson from which they took away numerous ideas and techniques. Luckily the water was still warm enough to prevent them getting cold though I would suggest the amount of energy expended would have kept them warm. This particular lesson covered the rescue and BLS elements one of the most important parts of our diving skills. Always worth updating these skills, even just practicing them in an open water environment where encumbered by equipment things never go smoothly.

Maureen was working with Robert, practicing her buoyancy control, again benefiting from a fresh approach from a highly experienced instructor. Mo reported progress and has a few drills to practice to get even better.

Steve was working with Andrew, a mature student from Glasgow University on buoyancy and trim, providing two very successful lessons that resulted in the removal of 4kg from Andrew’s belt. That, in my book, is a result!

Fred was working with Chris on buoyancy and trim, practicing a few drills and exercises and repeating at different depths before successfully deploying an SMB in mid water.

That was it, another enjoyable training day run by Edward and Robert at the Tea Rooms. Always good to catch up with old friends and it was a pleasure to see Nick, James and Callum, who we knew from Dundee attending as wells as regulars like James and Paul. Looking forward to the November session already.

Deep South Red Sea trip, September 2012

How do you organise a highly successful diving holiday for a bunch of demanding club divers ? Well you don’t, you join a trip that has already been organised !

At three o’clock in the morning I stood staring at an expectant sky studded with stars, bright and iridescent, an intensity that relayed the anticipation that the morning held. Black coffee, aromatic and bitter highlighting the instant. There is no traffic at this time of day so when an engine sounded, deep and muffled, amplified by the cold shortly followed by the arc of headlamps swinging into the cul-de-sac the holiday, for me, had begun.

Colin and Jim were waiting, the doors to the service bay open spilling a pool of warmth on the forecourt. With everyone present and correct, the luggage loaded we boarded and quietness descended as we left Colin to his task and drifted off to an intermittent sleep disturbed by hills and bends as we motored South. A short early morning stop at Killington services and on to Manchester airport where we bayed farewell to Jim and wished him well on his long solo home. (right that’s enough of that – Ed)

The airport was comparatively quiet and we were through checkin and passport control before we knew it and having breakfasted walked the duty free and settled waiting for the flight to board which we did without fuss. Three hours later and not without a little discomfort we took off after an engineer has fixed a problem with the wing ! Takeoff, food, drink, boredom, landing and nearly 6 hrs later we were there, the heat of Egypt greeting us as we transferred to Hurghada air conditioned airport and the joys of a bureaucratic system that probably owes more than a little to Empire.

Once outside our Regal dive company rep found us and walked us to the bus that would transfer us to the boat. Bags were tossed onto the roof, tips given and we settled down as best we could for another journey in the dark, watching sand, illuminated by the headlights, pass us by. A stop at a small kahwas, a welcomed break and we had the opportunity to try the local coffee which was superb but unfortunately kept me awake for the rest of the trip to Marsa Abu Dahab near Marsa Ghaleb. An hour later and nearly 22 hrs since leaving home we were standing on the dock in front of MY Infintity, a truly welcomed sight. We loaded our bags. Then off with the shoes to congregate in the saloon to meet our dive guides Paul and Ahmed and complete admin before a nightcap and much needed sleep. We had arrived and so have David who had traveled via Gatwick and arrived about a quarter bottle of rum before hand.

The following morning the hook to get us up was that we could not depart until the Port authority had physically seen us and checked us off against the boats manifesto, so 10 rather bleary eyed travelers from Scotland and another crew for various parts of England mustered in the saloon to be eyeballed by an Egyptian official and then we were off.

Motoring south we took in the two reef systems of Ras Shona and Sharb Marsa Alam falling into the routine of dive briefing and dive effortlessly. The further south we motored the bluer the water became and by the time we got to the St John’s shoal, the furthest south we could go, the water was crystal clear and deep deep blue with visibility too great to accurately estimate.

The boat stayed in the St John’s area for two days where we enjoyed the delights of corals and fish , walls and caves, night dives and pinnacles and even a small wreck, before starting to motor northwards to Mekawa Island and Fury’s shoal. Fury’s shoal provided some interesting diving and we spent two days enjoying excellent drop offs and the special Red Sea life including turtles as well as an adventure snorkeling with a large pod of dolphin. But two days was all we could spend and we motored north again towards Marsa Alam where more reefs provided excellent sport.

The last days diving was on Elphinstone, a reef between Marsa Ghaleb and Marsa Alam which had fantastic drop offs enjoyed while drifting along a vertical wall. This was a terrific experience and we did both sides of the reef just to make sure ! Some lucky party members reported sharks and barracudas, but most of us had to settle of a conveyor belt of life with an 80m drop into the blue below our feet. An awesome dive !

That was it, the boat motored North overnight and arrived at Hurghada which saved us the bus trip from Marsa Alam and we spent a hour walking around Hurghada before decamping into the Marriott to savor the pool, bar and air conditioning prior to another marathon journey back to Perth.

Thanks are due to the organiser of this trip, it would not have happened without all the hard work that was put in but we must not forget both Colin and Jim’s effort in the minibus which made the airport transfer so easy. A very enjoyable trip thanks all.

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BSAC AED SDC, Sunday 9th September

On Sunday, Fyne Divers ran a BSAC Automated External Defibrillator course as a train the trainers event for divers and a very good course it was to.

Currently there are now three BSAC registered AED trainers in Scotland. From the course perspective there were four very good theory lectures covering physiology, equipment and legal issues and I got a chance to update and practice my CPR skills as well as handling and using a training AED module on a real live diving manikin.

What was my opinion ? Well the course was good fun and informative and I’d certainly do it again. Without question these units save lives but the practicality of using one in a real diving emergency has me struggling a bit. That said, the same arguments were made (by you? – ed) when O2 admin kits and computers first became available to divers.

So if we can get a training unit this is now another course we can run inhouse should anyone be interested. (talk to the TO -ed)