Steve organised a Wednesday evening dive on the Mako with Steve Haddow to dive a World War two wreck the Arizona (Not the one in Pearl Harbour). the Arizona was a Merchantman carrying 600 tonnes of Coal from Methil, unfortunately she hit a mine and sunk with 5 of her 8 crew lost with her. What remains today are a flattened hull section with ribs sticking out of the sand and the main feature her Engine, I understand the Navy swept her with a wire to a depth of 11 meters to reduce the chance of a hazard to shipping now she is home to lots of marine life.
We were lucky enough to enjoy a sunny evening and 5 to 6 metres of visibility on the wreck. Photos below:
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.
Steve had organised a trip to dive the Primrose a wrecked Steam Powered Trawler that came aground on the Isle of May in 1902 and then slipped below the waters about 300 metres to the East of the Southern tip of the Island. The Weather was looking dark with clouds adding to the atmosphere the sea state was not too bad with a small swell from the south East. We were using Steve Haddow’s boat the Mako based at Anstruther which is a well equipped Catamaran with a Dive lift on the back of the Boat. Steve was planning to put a permanent shot on the wreck for ease in the future and after sorting out the shot we kitted up and jumped into the sea, we were the last in following eight divers descending 31 metres onto the wreck.
With shot on the boiler and the Steam engine a stern of it, with the wreck sitting on the bottom upright we worked our way over to over to the Starboard side and headed towards the Bow taking a few shots of the other divers that had headed up the port side a minute or so before us (Small wreck about 25-30 metres in length), the bow is now only about 60 cm proud of the sea bed covered in Brittle Stars on hull plating and and Dead Mans Fingers on the spars. Heading back along the port side the sea bed was covered in course sand and broken shells with Squat lobsters hiding in the debris on the sea bed, also just on the edge of our torch light we could see the Cod and Poor Cod swimming watchfully, these strange invaders of their territory with their bright and multicolored HID, Halogen and LED diving torches.
This is a lovely wreck with lots of life on it including Dahlia Anemones, Conger and Wrasse definitely worth looking under the spars and wreckage, we headed to the stern and found the propeller still intact rising 1.5 metres vertically from the sea bed and as we headed back towards the Engine and Boilers on the Starboard side the Mooring Bollards could be seen with several Urchins grazing on them. Colin and I had been using Nitrox 30 to give us more “no-deco” bottom time and the 20 minutes on the wreck was plenty of time to do a full tour of the wreck, we headed back up the shot which was tied off to the Engine, as we headed up to the 6 metre stop I noticed several Lions Mane Jellyfish floating by in the gentle neap current. What a fun dive and a totally different feel to diving it during the day! Thanks to Steve for organising the dive.
With a few days of calm weather and high water slack just two hours away eight divers arrived at the Dive Bunker just after 6pm after setting up our kit on Mark’s newest Boat (Every time I visit him he has a bigger Rib this one with a wheel house, music and heating! after walking across to the slip we jumped into the Boat and headed out to the Blae Rock which stretches for about 1 mile North to South between Inchkeith Island and Burntisland. the Top of the Rock is about 9 metres and slopes gently to the East and there are 50 metre walls to the west for the more adventurous.
I have dived the Blae rock several times over the years, the visibility can vary from 2 metres to 6 metres and I hoped the Works with the new Forth Road Bridge hadn’t impacted on the visibility, with the flood tide we hopefully would get clean water from the North Sea. After a briefing from Mark and dropping into the water just up from the shot we headed down to the Rock heading north west west Colin and I floated over the beds of Brittle Stars dispersed with the occasional Edible Crab hiding in a Patch of Sand or standing defiantly on the top of a rock. The shear density of the life on this rock is quite unique I haven’t seen anything similar, the main attraction is the variety and colours of Anemones is amazing I have included some photos below, as we were diving the current started to change and we found several 1-2 metre reefs which took us round to the scree Slope Mark had described and moving away from the rock the currents started to kick in and we started to drift onto the flat bottom. We decided to swim back to the rock and head back up from 20 metres to the top of the rock.
After deploying a delayed Surface Marker Buoy we head to the surface for a final surprise – Sunset over Burntisland – Awesome! After chatting on the the boat enjoying the last rays of the setting sun we head back to port. Thanks to Mark and his team for an enjoyable nights diving.
To be at the club hut at 07:30 after the summer clocks change is always hard but we all made it and after a few last minute hitches a small group of six divers were off to Anstruther to launch the club RHIB on the RNLI slip.
Todays trip gave us the chance to shake down “Deep Dancer” prior to the Oban weekend and we are happy to report that both boat and trailer were performing well.
First dive was on a reef just between Colm’s Hole and the Middens on the East side of the Island and north of the wreck of the “SS Island”.
Dropping into 12m and reasonable East coast vis, we traversed a small wall of dead man’s fingers before finning over boulders and bed rock. At a full degree colder than the West coast, the gauge read slightly less than 6 degrees and felt very chilly, especially when diving with an incorrectly fitted dump valve and the ensuing insidious trickle that eventually reached my feet!
One highlight was a shoal of fry dancing in a torch beam see here
Lunch time saw us land at the East or low water landing and take the opportunity to make a short pilgramage round the South of the island. The ruined Benedictine monastery, dating back from the 9th Century the key note of some interesting archeology.
Having ruled out Maiden Hairs rocks for a second dive due to the chop, we settled for the wreck of the Anlaby (or Ann Labbie) off the Altarstanes or Standing Head near the West or High Water landing where a few grey seals were popping up to see what we were doing. The gulls had started to claim teritorial sites on the cliffs but we didn’t see any gannets, guillemots or puffins today.
from RCAHMS site info: 23 August 1873, ANLABY, SS, of Hull, 717 tons, Master Thomas Martin, iron screw steamship, departed Leith Roads for Danzig, 23 crew, carrying coal, stranded on the west side of May Island.
In August 1880 divers were engaged in blowing up the hull of the steamer to salvage portions of the hull and machinery.
Within the bay we dropped into 5m and quickly came across rust, plates and spars
where we had a rummage, Gary and Izzy finding a few lobsters, then turned round and retraced our tracks back the way we came where I came across my very first East Coast scallop.
Site 1: Colm’s Hole N56 11′ 7″ W2 32′ 51″
Site 2: SS Anlaby N56 11.3167 W2 33.7
Map of the Isle of May and the wreck location from CANMORE