The Meldon & Fish Trap – South of Mull

Steve and I had been planning to do the Meldon for several months now and the opportunity came up.

So Paul, Steve, Gary, Izzy, Mark and Taylor headed out at 9am on Deep Dancer, our Club Rhib, from Puffin Dive Centre near Oban. The trip in good seas takes about 40 minutes and is 15.4 NM, in the morning we had calm seas although we were aware of the Rain and Cloud Forecast for the rest of the day.

Route from Puffin Divers Oban to Meldon15.4 Nautical Miles
Route from Puffin Divers Oban to Meldon – 15.4 Nautical Miles

The Meldon is a great wreck for Novice / Ocean / PADI Open Water divers as there is little or no current on her and she is a relatively intact wreck. The Rudder post breaks the surface at low water and there is lots to see including the Cast Iron Propeller and Rudder, Boilers which are open on the Port Side and the Bow which has fallen over but is very scenic, surprising to see when you consider that she would be exposed to Winter storms from the South.

The Meldon Launched in 1902 at Newcastle is a 1572 Tonne 310 ft Long Steamship, Steel hull construction. On the 3rd of March 1917 while carrying a cargo of Coal from Wales she struck a mine in the Firth of Lorn laid by a German U Boat. The Captain headed for the south Coast of Mull where the Crew got off the boat, she sank with the Stern near the shore, perhaps the Captain thought he could save the ship and was making repairs before a pump failed?

 

Diving the wreck there is broken shell coarse sand around the wreck with plenty of Sugar and Forest Kelp covering her, on the Stern section she has Elegant Anemones and Dead Mans fingers. The Visibility was about 6-8 metres and you could see she is home to Ballan Wrasse and Pollack, this wreck is 300 ft long and towards the bows section she is more broken up. Definitely a pretty and enjoyable wreck, easily covered in one dive and if we’d have had bright sunlight the wreck would have been a lot more colourful too.

We headed further along the coast to Carsaig Quay for a picnic stop, the clouds were low and a steady drizzle coupled with Midges didn’t make this an ideal stop.

Meldon and Fish Trap Dive Sites Marked with Blue Pins
Meldon and Fish Trap Dive Sites Marked with Blue Pins

Although in better weather we would have a chance of spotting Eagles hunting on the Southern Slopes of Mull. We Dived the Fish Trap Just South of Carsaig Quay as a second dive which was a gently sloping reef dropping to sand at 20 metres.  Gary and Izzy found an Octopus on their dive. With the Tide and Swell changing Deep Dancer was slower on the return run to Oban taking about 1.15 minutes. It’s great to get out and find new dive sites.

 

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Isle of Skye – Chadwick, Waterstein Point and Port Napier

I was looking forward to diving the Northern tip of Skye, we had picked a neaps weekend as the tides in the Sea of the Hebrides are strong, in particular the Chadwick and Doris wrecks are tide dependent.  On the Saturday morning we headed across to the community Pier at Meanish to launch Deep Dancer our Club Rib.

The Slack on the Chadwick was either too early in the morning ( 4.15 hours Before HW Ullapool ) or about 3:30pm in the Afternoon ( 2 Hrs 10 mins after HW Ullapool ) So we headed south to Neist Point for an alternative dive site.  To get out of the current we headed across to Waterstein Head, there are several reefs, walls and Gullies to explore, as Gary and Izzy were kitting up for their dive, we looked at the swarm of jelly fish mostly Moon jellyfish and few Lions Main jellyfish moving around under the floating seaweed looking for small fry and zoo plankton to feed on.

Steve, Bethan and I dropped onto the southern tip of the reefs which gave us a nice wall covered with Dead mans fingers with boulder slope at its base dropping down to 22 metres to a sandy plain.  Swimming around the rocks large Pollack and Cod hunt for Crabs and Prawns to feed on, hidden in the rocks we found male and female Cuckoo Wrasse.

After heading 5 or so metres along the rock face we came to a gap and another Short Wall before turning south west onto a gentle slope with a current taking us on a nice drift dive. My air was starting to run low so we headed up towards the Kelp starting at about 15 metres depth.  After a few minutes looking under kelp for Craw fish we headed to the surface.

The Chadwick Wreck Dive – After lunch we headed out to the dive site on the Northern Tip of Osgill Bay

The Chadwick didn’t disappoint we dropped onto the wreck next to the main boiler hidden under the hull plates a swim through past the companion boiler, and out through a gap in the hull we find the second boiler standing on its edge with a Ballan Wrasse swimming down the side of it, we headed across the plates  and beams of the mid section covered in Dead Mans Fingers, We come across the Stern and find the Rudder and the Propeller.  On reaching the stern section moving out from the wreck we could feel the strong current pushing us North and we tucked back into the protection of the wreck to swim back up to the midships along the starboard side of the hull plates before returning to the surface.

We headed back to the Slip at Meanish to have just missed recovering the boat due to low tides, point for future reference recovery only after 2 hours either side of low water.  With the Rain coming in we headed off for dinner in Dunvegan at the Bistro in the Petrol Station a good little restaurant that has home baking and a good mix of comfort food!

On the Sunday we packed up and headed to Kyleakin on the East of the Island to Dive the Port Napier a Converted Minelayer which caught on fire in kyle of Lochalsh during the Second World War and was towed away from the Port before blowing up and sinking. It now lies on its side with the Port Side upwards  and drops away to 20 metres depth on the sandy bottom.

The hull plates on the Port side were removed by the Royal Navy who removed all the unexploded mines in 1955.  The Wreck was darker this time with poor viz possibly from the Fish Farm nearby.  The Wreck was buoyed on the Forward Mast and we dropped down here before moving to the Bows, the sheer size of the wreck which is still very much intact in shallow waters makes it such an attraction to divers.

Night dive on the Primrose Wreck – Isle of May

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.

Vroom Vroom! – Track Evening at Knockhill May 2013

Colin Robertson kindly invited members of the club to have a ride in his MG ZR at a track evening up at Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife Near Kelty. It was great fun flying round the track at reaching speeds of around 100 MPH.  All of us had a great time and look forward to coming back again and perhaps have a go at driving myself!  Thanks Colin!

See a video of this on the Facebook page

Loch Alsh and Isle of Skye

HMS Port Napier and Loch Alsh 4th-6th May 2012

Loch Alsh and Isle of Skye

We were lucky to have blue skies (Mostly) with a gentle NW Breeze.

After getting the boat in the water at 10am mid tide we decided to run three waves with cox’s which gave everybody more space on the boat and total wave times were dropped to 1.5 hours from the usual 2.5 – 3 hours.

The HMS Port Napier is a huge wreck Maximum depth 21 metres (mostly 14 metres)  with which can easily accommodate 3-4 dives. Diving at the bottom and at 6 metres gives you very different perspectives and there is lots of life on the wreck including, Conger Eels, Scorpion Fish, Pollock, Pipe Fish, large Edible Crabs and Pipe Fish.

On the Sunday the other divers (I took the day off to explore Sleat Point)  headed off to the Balmacara area for the first dive then headed back across to the Port Napier for a dive on the hull side of the wreck, with a successful excursion to a scallop bed 50 metres from the wreck on the shore side.

All in all a successful weekend and less than £17 per head for a day’s boat diving.

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The Divernet wreck tour guide can be found here

and in pdf format here