South Scotland Region Diver Training Program, Loch Fyne, 9th March 2013

This month we had another good turn out for the Diver Training Program run by Fyne Divers across at the Team Rooms.

Driving across, Loch Earn looked rough with sizable waves rolling into St Fillans and white caps on the loch at Inveraray so we were not expecting to much from the day. At the Tea rooms the sea was grey and ‘disturbed’, with waves precluding the use of the outer reef but luckily the inner reef and bay area were relatively calm.

Frank took Kim in who reported a very pleasant dive with no ear problems, this was excellent news. (Not sure which if any lesson there was here ?).

Paul had been asked to take Kenny, a student from Fyne Divers for a OS5 lesson and reported no issues, Kenny taking everything in his stride.

Chris took Neil and Kim in to do the OS3 lesson and have fun using a reel to line off from a shot line and simulate a decompression dive. “For the purposes of the exercise we had decided that we were logically at 36m, 20m deeper than we actually were but this meant that the theoretical depth would add a bit realism to our planning (depth,time gas management) and therefore the execution. Having set the shot line up everyone descended and traversed the reef to find a good point to tie off from before venturing out into the bay as we simulated ‘lining off’. Neil lined off, out and back and then Kim repeated the drill. Both sessions encountered low vis and the task loading when monitoring depth, time, gas, bearing, and manipulating a reel and tying knots proved a valuable learning experience. After 45 minutes and the lesson completed we were starting to get a bit cool so debriefed and made good use of the cafe where cake and hot tea were called for.” The ten minutes before getting wet was well spent practicing the drills that were to be used. Ironically conditions were ideal today for this drill, with vis stirred up by the number of divers using the inner reef for training making for somewhat realistic conditions.

Usually we would have done a pleasure dive for the afternoon session giving trainees the chance to practice skills and Paul took Kenny and his shinny new camera in to have some more fun. Kim and Neil were keen to complete SO4 and Chris agreed to take them in to complete another lesson. Once again the dry session was useful, new kit played with and the concepts of distance, time and accuracy while navigating and how to use reciprocal bearings discussed. All seemed simple really. This time the lesson started in the bay and initially surface snorkeled on a bearing before repeating this exercise submerged where, with incredible precision we found the reef! After a short swim, DSMB deployments were followed by a simulated deco stop and then a slow swim back to exit in the corner of the reef.

That was it, apart from a rather nice hot chocolate with marsh mallows and extra cream that had someone smiling, we warmed up in the cafe, had a final social chat before making our way home.

From a club perspective, we had two instructors out , three club trainees and five lessons signed off putting some folk very close to the completion of their next diver grade. Well done everyone. I’d also like to share some feedback from one of the instructors who was highly complimentary about the skills demonstrated by one of our members. It is always nice to receive comments like this as it reflects well on the Perth BSAC club.

No pictures today as I was instructing. Paul may append a few later.

…… Here you go 🙂  Paul

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BSAC Diver Training Program. Tea Rooms, Loch Fyne, 9th February 2013

A small team went across to assist with February’s BSAC Diver Training Program at the Loch Fyne Tea Rooms. Steve, Paul and Chris were met there by Kim who was visiting in the area.

Grey overcast but not raining, result! Having got the administration out of the way we set off to deliver our lessons while Kim managed the slate.
Interesting as we were coming off high tide a little rip was apparent in the shallows on the outside of the reef. Once down a few meters is provided a pleasant drift and clearer the water during my lesson.

Today I did DO6 for Claire who turned out to be a confident and proficient trainee from Neptune SAC who demonstrated the achievement criteria with consummate ease. As with all lessons at this venue I always feel I learn as much as the students and today was no exception, what did I learn ? Well don’t make assumptions ! What we do and take for granted, is not necessarily what everyone else is taught and possibly for good reasons as there can be a spill over of technical or professional requirements into what for me is a recreational pastime. Example ? Well my student is required by HSE to always carried a yellow emergency DSMB but would not consider deployment during any training exercise.

Interestingly I once again I had to consider equipment configuration and question what a standard config is for training purposes and why it is important. Left cuff or right cuff dump valves, suit or jacket buoyancy and buckle and clip location as well as cross clipping “Alternate Air Supply” and pony regs into the chest or A-zone. We all do it but do we consider our buddies perspective ?

With the lesson over, Claire and I circumnavigated the reef as part of the exploratory dive part of the exercise. Several large female and berried crabs, some beautifully clean sealoch anemones and several species of blennies and gobbies, not to mention the two small dogfish that we annoyed while putting in our safety stop. Not a bad dive.

That was it for Claire who got rather wet from a cuff leak. After a debrief and a coffee I paired up for a second dive with Alistair from Dundee. This was a recreational dive with Alistair experimenting with the design of a device to encourage birds to swim near him so he could take some photos. Sort of an underwater bird feeder. Regardless of the efficacy of the device it was certainly a bit of fun and well worth the laugh.
umbrella

strawberry wormYou can only have some much fun so while Alistair was fine tuning some of the engineering points I started rummaging in the rocks, collecting balls of fishing line. I came across this Strawberry worm looking rather pink and exposed. Food for the wrasse !

Having done thirty minutes of tinkering, Alistair decided his prototyping had achieved what was desired and we were able to continue with the dive.
But what to do ? We didn’t have enough air to complete the circumnavigation of the reef so we opted to swim North East towards the fish farm boom and spend a little time on relatively unexplored terrain. We were lucky enough to come across a swimming nudibranch and then a veritable stampede amongst the rocks

which is an upside down one of these:

nudi

Regional diver training program at Loch Fyne, 8th December 2012

Doris pseudoargus
Doris pseudoargus

A rather grey and gloomy day at the Regional diver training program at Loch Fyne today. It was pleasing to see though, that even with the bad weather there was a good turn out of both trainees and divers who had come along for a recreational dive.

I had the pleasure of putting a trainee through the full drysuit course which apart from getting rather cold on the first dive was rather successful, but there again teaching fish to swim is always easy. As part of this session we swam onto the reef in rather poor vis and then up and down the slope to tune these drysuit buoyancy skills. A rather beautiful ballan wrasse interrupted the lesson for a while as it swam up to us and was only too pleased to be fed. Almost but not quite eating out of our hands!

The afternoon session was a clockwise circuit of the reef checking buoyancy control and ensuring a well controlled ascent. No problems. Again some very large fish, cod and pollack with a few small flatties as well as the usual squidgy life peppered the reef but it was very dark making a torch a necessity which is unusual for this site.

That was it, after a quick natter and signing of books in the coffee shop, people started to drift away and I drove home in the dark after another rewarding day helping out in the instructor team. I can report that the chocolate cake was exceptional good today.

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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Diving the Tea Rooms with Fyne Divers on the BSAC Regional training day, 12th May 2012

No milk, 6:30am staring at the coffee and cereal and no milk. What a start to the day. It must have been habit but for some reason I checked my phone messages and there it was, a call from Colin asking if there was any diving on offer. So texting back so as not to disturb the entire Robertson household, I picked him up at Burnbrae and we were off to Loch Fyne and a visit to Fyne divers who were holding the monthly BSAC regional training day at the Tea Rooms.

Loch Earn was calm and there was a little snow left on the hills so it wasn’t a day for speeding especially with all the weight in the boot of the car causing it to feel light on the corners. Didn’t take long though and soon we were enjoying a bacon roll and coffee waiting while all the administration was completed for what turned out to be quite a large gathering.

The morning dive saw Colin having a recreational dive and paired with someone who had not been in the water for a few months so had the opportunity to put his dive leader hat on and lead an unknown buddy around the reef. No problems reported and an enjoyable dive was had by both parties. I was on instructor duties but clearly having heard this the student didn’t show and so I was asked to take Ian, who had also not been in the water for a while around the reef. I thoroughly enjoyed this dive, doing the clockwise circuit from the boom and finding some interesting life including rather long bootlace worms and wrasse of various sorts as well as a shoal of small ‘haddies’ cruising along the top of the reef.

can you see it ?
For the first time ever at this site I came across this little chap, which of course was left as we don’t encourage foraging here. Rather leaving the life for students to enjoy on their initial dives.

Soup and crusty bread for lunch and some good chat with the students and instructors.

The afternoon session saw Colin repeating his dive of the morning again seeing a good variety of life and having a pleasant dive while I had the pleasure of diving with Trin, a student from Edinburgh who completed the OS3 practical session. Because of the numbers today, the afternoon session dragged on a bit as we accommodated everyone getting their dives in and we waited until everyone was out of the water before heading off home just before 17:00.

Driving back past the Glen Orchy road we decided to go and have a look at the lower pools under the bridge and took the opportunity to wash the kit in the fresh if somewhat peaty water. The entrance below the bridge over slippery rocks required care but once in the water the topography was impressive if somewhat dark especially as the gorge narrowed under the bridge itself.

There is very little life in fresh water in comparison to the sea and today we didn’t see any fish life at all. These toads took a moment to recognize before we moved on. Having got as far as we dared we let go and drifted gently back to our entry/exit point, being washed around large boulders in the steam after what can only be described as a very pleasant and esoteric dive.

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thanks to Colin for the use of some of his photos.

Dogfish Reef, Loch Fyne, Furnace. 30th December 2011

 

Somebody had been eating too much Christmas turkey and was needing some exercise or perhaps new toys were to be proudly shown off to other club members, the phone started ringing, incessantly. Christmas pudding lassitude made finding the phone difficult but Paul’s enthusiasm soon saw an eager group assembling at the club hut at the socially acceptable time of 08:00am having been promised a Sunseeker charter boat, with heated cabins, diver lift and a most importantly, a full Christmas lunch. I should have seen it as a sales pitch but those mince pies had done a number on me and the reality, a rain drenched car park somewhere on the West coast hit home hard. Still we had bought the bill of goods and were now committed so might as well make the best of it.

Opportunistic diving with a short weather window is a skill that requires careful planning if you are to get it right. Phone calls to the Coastguard, weather and tide reports all suggested that bright weather in the morning would be followed by afternoon showers so the idea was to dive in the morning and then find somewhere with a real fire to enjoy a couple of hours socially before returning home at a reasonable hour. The site today was the outer reef at Furnace Quarry, sometimes called Dog Fish Reef and always an enjoyable dive, suitably close to The George‘ at Inveraray

All very logical but the rain came through early as we walked the site, agreed a plan and changed in rain, heavy rain that had left a film of water on my inner suit before I had it zipped away. Paul and Spike were paired and were waiting at the water edge as Steve and I joined them. Buddy checks all round saw us entering the water together with surface cover being provided by Angus, Mollie, Hamish and Tara, the water was surprisingly warm. The plan was that Paul would check out his ears having recently recovered from a ear infection and while he was doing this Steve and I would stay close by so that if he had to bail out, Spike would join us and we would dive as a threesome. As it turned out all proved to be OK and Paul and Spike moved South where they reported good life on a sand and gravel slope including Snakelock anemonies and then the usual inhabitants of a sand/mud loch bed.

 

Steve and I descended the sunken concrete pontoon and briefly headed out onto the sand where numerous juvenile flat fish and a large scorpion fish were found as well as squat lobsters and hermit crabs. The interesting life on this site is however on the reef itself so we turned round and made our way back discovering dogfish city with over a dozen dogfish concentrated in one location in the bottom rocks.

This site is excellent for trying to photograph Sealoch anemonies and as Steve was poking his torch into nooks and crannies I spent a little time trying to capture one of these beautiful creatures.

 

 

Traversing the reef we came across a cushion star that due to the light conditions and when hit by the torch beam, appeared to actually glow red and orange. Clearly this was a case of festive narcosis.

 

 

Another unusual echinoderm drew our attention. This multi-armed sun star is the first I’ve seen on this site.

 

 

One the of the characteristic beasties of this type of topography in the lochs is this worm. These tubes grow quite long and the beasties tend to be nocturnal so the best time to see them is on a night dive. As we neared the end of the dive we came across the large Ballan wrasse that lives under the concrete pontoon but he was having none of it today and swam off quite briskly as Steve and I slowly ascended from our safety stop though cold oily water to surface a couple of minutes after Paul and Spike.

A cracking dive and having quickly packed up (it was a longish rain shower), toasted the last dive of the year and the task of finding somewhere to warm up and have lunch was at hand. Luckily the George where Beef stew and Fish and Chips was the order of the day, solved the problem and indeed had they not shouted last orders (afternoon closing !) we would have been there still.

All that was left was for the designated drivers to drive home safely with heavy rain turning to snow with roads covered in slush over Glen Ogle. Another great day out with the club, thanks to Paul for organising it.

Last Dive of 2011 – Furnace Village Loch Fyne

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Five of us and Three Scottie dogs headed across to Loch Fyne for a final dive of the year and an excuse for lunch at the George Hotel in Inverary to celebrate the end of 2011.

After leaving Perth at just after 8am and viewing an amazing sunrise (mixture of purples oranges and reds)  in the rear view mirror  we arrived at Furnace Village Loch Fyne  for 10:20 just as the rain started.  Four of us kitted up and headed down to the rocky shoreline for buddy checks.  With the warm winter the water was still a hot 9 degrees Celsius on the surface and 11 degrees Celsius below the halocline ( Where Salt water / Fresh Water meet) Typically the fresh water sits on top of the Sea water in the Sea lochs where tidal currents are minimal.

Spike and I headed right while Chris and Steve headed left and they came across Dogfish City all grouped around one area. We descended to 26m to the bottom of the rock slope instead of sand and silt the bottom was covered in bark and plant material which had attracted quite a few Squat lobsters, Hermit Crabs  and on the rocks several species of anenomes, we headed right to see if we could find a snake lock anenome Spike had seen here in the past we came across a Bootlace worm and Hermit Crabs (With Cloak Anenomes on the shells), after reaching the sandy slope we turned back heading up the rocky slope.

On several rocks we could see egg clumps being laid by large whelks approximately 8cm in length, we came across lots of Sea squirts and Black gobies and Leopard-spotted gobies quite happily living together with Squat lobsters.  Several of us noticed as you got close to the rocks at 11 meters upwards with all the rain on the surface the fresh water was leaching through the land out of the rocks and you could feel a difference in temperature.

It was still raining when we got back to the cars and Spike provided wee dram to warm us all up and we headed across to the George Hotel for a pint and Lunch some of us had the Beef Stew and the Fish and Chips before heading home.  The rain had fallen as snow in the hills from  Tyndrum to Crieff during the day enjoyed driving back in the snow.

Chris provided the following report:

 

Somebody had been eating too much Christmas turkey and was needing some exercise or new toys were to be proudly shown off to other members as the phone started ringing incessantly on Wednesday afternoon. Christmas pudding lassitude made finding the phone difficult but Paul’s enthusiasm soon saw an eager group assembling at the club hut at the socially acceptable time of 08:00am having been promised a sunseeker charter boat, with heated cabins, diver lift and a full Christmas lunch. I should have seen it as a sales pitch but those mince pies had done a number on me and the reality, a rain drenched car park somewhere on the West coast hit home hard. Still we’d bought the bill of goods and were now committed so might as well make the best of it.

Opportunistic diving with a short weather window is a skill that requires careful planning if you are to get it right. Phone calls to the Coastguard, weather and tide reports all suggested that bright weather in the morning would be followed by afternoon showers so the idea was to dive in the morning and then find somewhere with a real fire to enjoy a couple of hours socially before returning home at a reasonable hour. The site today was the outer reef at Furnace Quarry, sometimes called Dog Fish Reef and always an enjoyable dive, suitably close to The George‘ at Invararay

All very logical but the rain came through early as we walked the site, agreed a plan and changed in rain, heavy rain that had left a film of water on my inner suit before I had it zipped away. Paul and Spike were paired and were waiting at the water edge as Steve and I joined them. Buddy checks all round saw us entering the water with surface cover being provided by Fergus, Mollie, Hector and Tara, the water was surprisingly warm. The plan was that Paul would check out his ears having recently recovered from a ear infection and while he was doing this Steve and I would stay close by so that if he had to bail out, Spike would join us and we would dive as a threesome. As it turned out all proved to be OK and Paul and Spike moved south where they reported good life on a rock,sand and gravel slope including snakelock anemones and then the usual inhabitants of a sand/mud/detritus loch bed.

 

Steve and I descended the sunken concrete pontoon and briefly headed out onto the sand where numerous juvenile flat fish and a large scorpion fish were found as well as the usual squat lobsters and hermit crabs. The interesting life on this site is on the rocks themselves so we turned round and made our way back to the reef discovering dogfish city with over a dozen dogfish concentrated in one location in the bottom rocks.

This site is excellent for trying to photograph Sealoch anenomes and as Steve was poking his torch into nooks and crannies I spent a little time trying to capture one of these beautiful creatures.

 

 

Traversing the reef we came across a cushion star that due to the light conditions and when hit by the torch beam, appeared to actually glow red and orange. Clearly this was a case of festive narcosis.

 

 

Another unusual echinoderm drew our attention. This multi-armed common sun star, although widely distributed, is the first I’ve seen on this site.

 

 

One the of the characteristic beasties of this type of topography in the lochs is this worm. These tubes grow quite long and the beasties tend to be nocturnal so the best time to see them is on a night dive. As we neared the end of the dive we came across the large Ballan wrasse that lives under the concrete pontoon but he was having none of it today and swam off quite briskly as Steve and I slowly ascended from our safety stop though cold oily water just a couple of minutes after Paul and Spike had surfaced.

A cracking dive and having quickly packed up (it was a longish rain shower) and toasted the last dive of the year, the task of finding somewhere to warm up and have lunch was at hand. Luckily the George , Beef stew and Fish and Chips was the order of the day and solved the problem and indeed had they not shouted last orders (afternoon closing !) we would have been there still.

All that was left was for the designated drivers to drive home which saw heavy rain turning to snow with roads covered in slush over Glen Ogle. Another great day out with the club, thanks to Paul for organising it.