A small team joined Alan on his boat on Sunday bound for Inch Island just north of Easdale where after a laboured passage on a choppy sea we arrived to improving weather and the promise of some cracking dives.
The first dive was the North East tip of Inch Island off the little skerry that is fast becoming a favourite of mine. This time with an ebb tide we dropped in at the norther point and descended steep sand to find the base of the cliff just below the 30m mark and then followed this down into the land of scallops. Viz improved with depth and even at the bottom of the wall sufficient light made a torch unnecessary to find the odd scallop. As bottom time ran out, we made our ascent up the wall past a large overhang before sending up a bag of scallops up on a DSMB, Mid way up the wall the encrusting life changed from soft corals to sponges and highly coloured jewel anenomies and looking up, large pollack patrolled the edge of the kelp. All too rapidly the dive come to an end and after a decompression stop hanging off a DSMB we were all too soon back in the boat. All three groups started at the same point but reported somewhat different dives with a variety of life including a large scorpion fish and enormous clusters of colonial anenomies being reported.
Lunch was taken at Easdale where shelter and facilities made for a pleasant couple of hours and we degassed, chatting about diving and life and Saturday where we had spent time at the Gala day at Errol. I took the opportunity to check out Easdale Quarry as a dive site but the sewage pipes emanating from the little houses above does not make it look that appealing.
The second dive was the skerry just north of Inch Island, Sgeir Dubh, were we dropped into 12m onto rock with shingle and gravel and went for a scallop hunt, soon the odd snack was being put in the basket.
The journey back was again a slow affair by rhib standards as the chop had not abated but a rapid retrieval at the Puffin slip and hose down saw us heading home at a very reasonable time having had another superb days diving off Alan’s boat.
A warm breeze, bright sun, bar-b-que by the beach what more could you possibly ask for and with a good turn out from both diving and non-diver this Wednesday evening’s splash at Elie , that was organised by Steve was a success, with OD training and recreational dives being completed without incident.
Initial reports of 38m and 41.3m were however probably exaggerate thought I am prepared to accept the first was an error with the decimal point and the second referenced the distance off shore that one particular pair had to travel to reach the 4m mark at low tide.
Shallow east coast shore diving is not for the faint hearted generally there is a swell that stirs everything up creating low viz, but when you are lucky and we were lucky on Wednesday evening, you can get calm conditions and reasonable vis of over 3m+ !
The interest of diving always lies in what you see and shallow diving provides its own challenges as generally the life is small, hiding in the kelp or encrusted on small reef systems. The trick is to take time and look for it.
People started to gather over Friday and by evening a lively party spirit was evident at the caravans by Puffin boding well for the weekend.
On Saturday morning with perhaps an eye open for the Garvellachs, the boats were towed down to Cuan where Spike’s boat and Deep Dancer were launched from the ferry slip. Deep Dancer decided to play tricks on us and refused to start opting instead to remain silent until Tony performed his Lazarus act, laying his hands upon the errant deadman’s switch and bringing the engine roaring to life.
The boats motored south to Shuna where Deep Dancer’s team went in under Shuna House near the slip at Port an t-Salainn reporting a mud slope and a forest of phosphorescent sea pens. Spikes boat went exploring around the corner on the west side of the island. For lunch the boats were anchored in a sandy bay on the south-west tip below Shuna Cottage where we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours in the sun, watching sea kayakers paddling past.
Second dives of the day was a lucky dip affair off the West side of Shuna. We found a steep sand and bolder slope which provided some interesting life including slender sea pens and some vintage scallops. All divers retrieved without incident and an enjoyable boat ride back up to Cuan where we had the opportunity to take Deep Dancer into the tidal race for a bit of boat handling practice.
The evening activities had started by the time we got back and a couple of enthusiastic divers opted for a night dive off Puffin dive centre. Numerous flat fish , poor cod , butterfish and bleneys being more inquisitive than usual were seen.
On Sunday morning the boats were in the water early and the day trippers arrived from Perth. With the weather looking fair Deep Dancer and Am Fheoladaire set off up Kerrera Sound and towards Lismore taking advantage of calm seas. Identifying interesting sites off the SW tip of Lismore interesting, gentle drifts were enjoyed along a “pick your own depth” – slabs/wall. As part of the entertainment for the day a small lesser spotted dogfish caused delight in Alan’s boat before it was released. Due to visibility closing in we motored back towards Oban taking lunch on Kerrera. Spike’s boat headed south to South Kerrera Sound light for shake down dives.
The afternoon dive was off Maiden Island where a good bag of scallops was collected. One bag which was sent up,caused a hazard to shipping as the Calmac ferry steamed over it. Chris and Paul reported a little skate Dipturus Batis off the south tip which is an unusual site these days as they are threatened with extinction through over fishing. Fred and Maureen providing boat cover and Fred subsequently brought Deep Dancer home with a display of impressive boat handling skills.
During the evening Neil took his boat out to charge the battery and some of us enjoyed a tremendous cruise up and down Kerrera sound. On return two keen divers were waiting for it to get dark for a night dive off the Puffin dive centre where a similar array of life to the previous evening was reported as they provided a light show spectacle for those watching from the pier.
Monday saw Am Feoladaire and Deep Dancer heading the 8 miles south to Insh Island in glorious weather and calm seas. The wall of the NE tip was dived and good life reported with colonial sea squirt and soft corals in abundance. Lunch was taken on Easdale Island in sunshine.
The afternoons dive was a pot luck affair and a reasonable site was found off Rubha Lagain Aillidh on the mainland just north of the Easdale cliffs.
Dive sites: OSGB
SaturdayDive site 1: N56°13’26” W5°35’23” E Shuna Island, S Sgeir Chreagag below Shuna House, Port an t-Salainn
Dive site 2: A secret clam bed somewhere in Shuna Sound
Dive site 3 N56°13’20” W5°36’49” West side of Shuna: S Port na Cro, Port nan Sea-ramhach
Dive site 4 N56°12’35” W5°37’5” West side of Shuna: N Rubh’an Trilleachain Sunday
Dive site 1: N56°28’48” W5°34’45” W Lismore, Bagh Clach an Dobhrain
Dive site 2: N56°27’51” W5°35’46” W Lismore, Rubha Cloinn Mhic Leoid
Dive site 3: N56°22’53” W5°32’7” Kerrera Sound , Sgeirean Dubha Light
Dive site 4: N56°25’54” W5°29’28” Oban ,E Side Maiden Island
Dive site 5: N56°25’47” W5°29’24” Oban ,SE Point Maiden Island
Dive site 6: Puffin Dive centre pontoons Monday:
Dive site 1: N56°18’54” W5°39’32” Sgeir Beul na h-Uamhaidh
Dive site 2: N56°19’10” W5°37’31” Rubha Lagain Aillidh
Thanks you to Steve for the following contribution.
Had a good day over at Puffin yesterday with thanks due to Alan & Sue (for boat & boat handling) & Dave who took Neil in for his 2nd day of open water diving.
There was a brisk south westerly blowing which restricted our options so we headed to Maiden Island in the morning (where a good haul of scallops was collected!), then Alan, Izzy, Gary & I did the wall on the outside of Heather Island for the afternoon while Dave took Neil in for a shore dive at Puffin (Sarah & Karen Dobbie acted as shore cover for them) to work on buoyancy & finning skills.
A swiftly executed & successful day with diving completed & the boat recovered by about 3pm, so back in Perth around 5.30pm!