Easter at Oban – Lismore, Insh and Kerrera

First thanks to Steve for organising the Easter Trip our traditional event to kick of the summer dive season.  On the Friday Chris and I did a couple of productive dives with  a first dive collecting a few Scallops for Tea and then a wall dive off Bach Island just to the South Of Kerrera, this wall tends to be hit by strong tides on the Ebb, but is protected during a Flood tide.  The wall was dark with lots of sediment / plankton in the water but worth it as it is covered in Elegant anemones, Dead Mans fingers, Colonial Sea Squirts, and we saw a few Flabellina pedata and other species of Colourful Nudibranch, nice and worth braving the 7 degrees Celsius water.

Sunday Diving –  John and Eddie two of our Ocean Diver Trainees enjoying lunch & the View of Mull on the Island of Kerrera.

Easter training weekend at Oban 6th to 10th April, 2012

This Easter, in traditional style, saw a cheery group of Club members gathering at Puffin Dive Centre, the majority of us at the 3 Anchorage caravans & B & B, but with Lynda, Tony, Lis & Stan in a caravan up at the Oban Caravan & Camping Park just along the road, John & Avril checking out the pleasures of “Glamping”,Neil & cousins moored in Puffin Harbour aboard “The Maestro”,  Izzy & Gary applying discretion by joining the party just for Easter Sunday, focusing on abandoned weight belt recovery operations. 

Kim & I plus friends Anne &Ian, formed an advanced guard arriving on Thursday evening to enjoy one of Anne’s 6 star Michelin Guide style dinners plus the odd glass of red wine …hic!!, hic!!, hic!!

Following a hearty breakfast & leaving Anne & Ian to check out the delights of a (slightly) damp Oban, Kim & I spent a busy morning working on buoyancy & trim in the harbour finishing just in time to see Tony & Lynda arrive with “Deep Dancer” and Lis & Stan too.

A quick launch for “Deep Dancer” & we were off to Gallanach Bay, where Kim & I had the luxury of Tony, Lynda & Lis to help us in & out of the water! Lis enjoyed her first drive of “Deep Dancer”, the day’s diving rounded off with Lis & I checking out the hermit crabs, starfish, sea urchins, squatties and other delights of the harbour reef.

Friday’s partygoers gathered at our caravan where we enjoyed some of Stan’s wide repertoire of music & brilliant banjo playing!

Saturday dawned dull but fair with only a light north westerly breeze to bring a slight ripple to the Sound of Kerrera.

Unfortunately, family health issues prevented David & Tam from joining us but Alan kindly allowed the Club to use “Am Feoladair” skillfully coxed by Tony & Lynda & joined by Maureen & Kim. Spike, Lis, Neil, Fred  & I manned “Deep Dancer”, both boats heading off in formation for a rather pretty dive at Ardmore Bay on the southern shores of the Isle of Kerrera.

After deco & a picnic lunch, Paul & Tara arrived, Paul joining the party for a wall dive at Ard-na-Cuille.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meantime, Karen had done a try dive with Puffin & returned grinning from ear to ear having observed more species in Puffin Harbour than ever get mentioned in a full programme by Monty Halls or Miranda Krestofnikof!! (sorry about the spelling, Miranda!)

Saturday evening Neil kindly brought his large BBQ which formed the focal point for our annual Easter BBQ party which I think it is safe to say, was enjoyed by all with lots to eat & even more to drink … hic, hic, hic…  !!

The party ended in Alan & Sue’s caravan, though I’m afraid I’d wilted by this time & hit the sack by midnight!

Following the lively Saturday evening (& it’s inevitable after effects!!) Sunday saw smaller groups out with Izzy & Gary joining Alan, Niel & I on “Am Feoladair” and Tony, Lynda, Spike, Maureen & Fred keeping “Deep Dancer” in action, first heading out to Maiden Island, then just “Am Feoladair” out to the wall at Heather Island after lunch.

In the absence of scallops, Izzy spotted something yellow sticking out of the sand, Gary applying his practical Royal Marine ingenuity by using his & Izzy’s DSMBs to raise a 32lb weight belt… Emma C., if you read this give us a shout!!

After a yummy Chinese takeaway for some of us Stan kicked off the music in our caravan before we moved to Spike & Carol’s … they’d been joined by retired Club stalwarts Charlie & Maureen Kennedy, Charlie having brought along his mandolin to work something of a joint act with Stan the banjo. Reports indicated the party there went on until after 4.00am!

A wild and stormy Sunday night followed by heavy rain on Monday morning had even the most enthusiastic divers sitting in Alan’s caravan drinking coffee & wondering whether construction of the Arc should begin …

However, in true west coast style the rain stopped by 11, the sun was shining out of a largely clear sky by 12, enabling Neil, Kim  I to enjoy a pleasant little dive around Maiden Island where we collected a few scallops & Alan kindly boat handled “Am Feoladair” in the (well, nearly!) flat calm conditions!

We all headed home tired but happy – Alan, Sue, Sarah & Karen being the last to leave after their fish suppers watching the setting sun on Easter Monday!

Thanks to all who made such a good weekend!

Alan’s reef, Kerrera Sound. Sunday 4th December 2011

It was Steve’s turn to drive today and I got to ride in his suped up Subaru, pre-warmed on the chilliest start of the year. That was the plan anyway but having dropped the exhaust just before Lix Toll and having to wait for the very nice RAC man to come and provide a running repair we found ourselves frantically trying to contact Alan whom we were due to meet at Puffin Dive center to advise him of our delay and suggest we would join him in the afternoon. Four and a half hours after leaving Perth, we rolled into Puffin as Alan, Dave and Tam were returning from their morning dive off Maiden Island.

Alan reported 1-2m vis and Tam reported a squall that had come through whipping the bay into wall to wall white horses. Dave and Alan had been blissfully unaware of this as they enjoyed a rather productive dive. Tam’s plight sounded only slightly more fun than watching the snow flurries at the Lix Toll garage.

Lunch in the Crew room saw everyone warm up as general diving banter was hurled around and all too quickly it was time to venture out and load Alan’s boat for the afternoon trip. The plan was to dive a reef that Alan had found previously where a broken wall reached 45m some 20m off the shore. Located on the southern of two little points just south of Ardantrive Bay, east of Mount Pleasant farm and identified by a metal spike sunk into the rocks, Steve and I rolled off the boat into a layer of cold, fresh water. Final OK’s and we quickly sank to find warmer water.

The dive was dark but some light penetrated down to 15m but beyond that a torch was essential. The broken wall was silty grey and had a scarce smattering of encrusting life but turned out not to be as dramatic as some of the walls in the area. At the bottom we found twisted wreckage, possibly a gantry and set about picking up the odd scallop. I managed to drop my torch head (it’s an umbilical) and everything went black for an instant as the head came to rest in mud. As an exercise it was quite interesting as I fumbled with a goody bag, feeling lucky I hadn’t grabbed a crab! Looking around we had about 4m vis as I watched Steve illuminated by his torch, scarring the wildlife.

Conscious of the depth I was keen to ascend to eke out the air in shallower water, so we slowly ascended steep sand and gravel where we came across a pipe fish that was determined to play dead. Further up we found an enormous concrete cube, artistic in it’s architectural rococo style, clearly a mooring block of sorts but unattached and age unknown. Possible associated with the flying boats but who knows.

 

 
Interesting life continued to find us as we climbed the slope, small scallops and flat fish and a large Scorpion fish that was determined to avoid being photographed as it deliberately stirred up sand around itself. Further up the slope we reached coarse sand and contoured back towards our start point trying to stay just below the halocline in the warmer water. Finding a few more pieces of wreckage, rusting iron and discarded bottles, we eventually surfaced as the cold fresh water took it’s toll. Tam expertly recovered us from the water and that was it, not a bad dive and much better than weather of late would have suggested. Alan and Dave surfaced shortly afterwards having completed a similar dive and recovering another bag of scallops for Christmas.
 

 

 
Retrieval of the boat followed a well worn procedure and having washed it off and secured it all that was left was to have a quick trip to the dive shop for a natter, square up and head for home.  A big thank you to Alan for the days diving and Steve for organising.

 
Steve and I decided to say hello to the Badger and have a quick chat with Andy at the Crianlarich hotel. I am pleased to report that the quality of the Colonsay Ale is still excellent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Easter at Oban, 23rd-25th April 2011

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.

Evening social

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.

Boats moored below Shuna Cottage

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.

Flat fish of Puffin

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.

Skate: Dipturus Batis

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.

Rubha Lagain Aillidh

Dive sites: OSGB
Saturday
Dive 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

Perth BSAC Trip to Oban Easter 2011

All in all a very worthwhile trip blessed by good weather. Thanks are due to Steve for his organisation and for everyone for mucking in.

Heather Island, Oban 3rd April

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!

Kerrera Sound, Oban, 20th March

Todays thank you go to Alan and Dave for arranging this Sunday’s splash which saw a relatively large team of 8 divers departing Puffin Dive centre just after 9 o’clock.

The days highlight for me was Neil’s first open water experience just off the shore in Gallanach Bay, South of Puffin. Neil coped admirably well, the weeks of pool training on Wednesday evenings having paid dividends and apart from a few issues with air migration within his suit, the dive was completed without incident. In fact we had a very interesting if rather cold dive, seeing a large and varied selection of life as we moved from a shelving shingle bottom onto the edge of a small boulder slope.

Neil on his first open water dive


Izzy and Alan went in close by at the point and reported good vis. Dave’s boat went off to slightly further down the sound to Aird na Cuile ably piloted by Sarah with Paul and Colin taking their cameras in while Gary and Dave enjoyed a scallop hunt. With the weather closing in and a few showers coming through we headed back to Puffin for lunch to take advantage of the Crew room and it’s stove which Sue litterally filled with wood to create a warm fuggy atmosphere that had everyone warmed up in no time.

Napier Uni was out on a trip and a hardy bunch they were too. Memories of student days diving in wet suits came flashing back as we shared the fire with shivering, wetsuit clad students who looked miserable until somebody said ‘Dive’, then it was all change as they charged back into the water. Here’s to you Ahab !

Lunched, warmed and ready to go again, the small flottila motored off down to the Sgerien Dubha light at the south of the sound where the plan was for the experienced divers to go off the Northern tip of the skerrie while Neil and I made our way along the inner reef. With grey seals in the water and getting ready to haul out to pup on the skerry we hoped to see some on the dive but it was not to be. Instead we descended onto a shingle bottom which gave way to small walls as we drifted northwards until we found silt at the point. This was the most interesting part of the dive with sea pens , scallops and Neil reporting a pipefish. Alan and Izzy were back in the boat by the time we surfaced as were Paul and Colin who reported a large wolf fish.

Scuba Diving Southern Sound of Kerrera

So with all in order we left ‘Plan B’ in Sarah’s able hands to pick up Gary and Dave and headed back to Puffin to haul out, hose down and clear the slip.

Hopefully photo’s from Colin will appear here wip

Diving the West side of Kerrera. 7th February

A challenging day
A big thank you to Alan for organising this Sunday’s trip to Oban.


After Fridays storms it was unlikely that the diving around Oban would be up to much and it was with a certain amount of amazement that Paul and I arrived at Puffin Dive Centre to find a calm sea. We were a little late and Alan’s boat was just about ready to be put in the water for the first time of the season and Alan, Dave and Phoebs waited ‘patiently’ as we quickly got ourselves changed and the kit ready for two dives off the SW tip of Kerrera.

Kerrera Island by Oban


A quick ride down to the area of Bach Island saw a tidal rip around Rubha na Feundain with fresh ‘clear’ water from the West pushing into the Sound of Kerrera. A reef, an extension of the point produced a small standing waves and promised a terrific drift dive.

Rubha na Feundain from the west
Rubha na Feundain from Alan's rhib


David and Phoebs went in first and reported very poor visibility with a layer of fresh water on the surface and an uncomfortably strong current and suggested that we went in around the corner towards Port Dubh. This we did, dropping onto kelp and found that the visibility improved with depth and the current encouraged us downwards onto sandy slopes, the land of scallops! Energetic finning had the contents gauge falling at an alarming rate so we clawed our way cross current up the slope with our bag of booty, it became clear after 20mins that an open water ascent would be required and the DSMB was deployed to lift the scallops and we soon followed it. Rather a challenging dive.

We had lunch at the pebble beach of Barr-nan-broc Bay and the weather remained clear, calm and mild.


The second dive was at Rubha na Lice on the Western side of the Island. Alan joined David and went in first followed shortly afterwards by Chris and Paul who found a shallow reef with a small 5m wall.

Good life on the sheltered reef

This wall gave shelter from the current and held a good assortment of life ranging from cup corals to deadman’s fingers and plumose anenomies and a good smattering of scallops that had gathered at the base of the wall. The visibility on this dive was much better and had good ambient light at 20m. Ascending to the top of the wall, slabs continued upwards into kelp and coarse sand where white burrowing anenomies were found. All in all a much better dive !

Paul has published his photos here

Second dive profile



Dive site 1: Rubha na Feundair , Kerrera Isle, Oban. 56°22’50N 5°35’19W
Dive site 2: Rubha na Lice , Kerrera Isle, Oban. 56°24’32N 5°33’45W


credits: all underwater photos taken by Paul