BSAC AED SDC, Sunday 9th September

On Sunday, Fyne Divers ran a BSAC Automated External Defibrillator course as a train the trainers event for divers and a very good course it was to.

Currently there are now three BSAC registered AED trainers in Scotland. From the course perspective there were four very good theory lectures covering physiology, equipment and legal issues and I got a chance to update and practice my CPR skills as well as handling and using a training AED module on a real live diving manikin.

What was my opinion ? Well the course was good fun and informative and I’d certainly do it again. Without question these units save lives but the practicality of using one in a real diving emergency has me struggling a bit. That said, the same arguments were made (by you? – ed) when O2 admin kits and computers first became available to divers.

So if we can get a training unit this is now another course we can run inhouse should anyone be interested. (talk to the TO -ed)

Harris and the Rebel Alliance diving off the ‘Peregrine’ 29-31 July 2012

We spotted an opportunity for some quality diving when Chris received an e-mail from Jan Love, a key mover and shaker in the Rebel Alliance divers group, advising of spaces available on their ‘Peregrine’ hard boat week 29 July to 3 August 2012 sailing from Scalpay, an island joined by a bridge to the Isle of Harris, focusing on sites in the Minch and the eastern shores of Harris.
Unfortunately, Chris was unable to get the time off, but Bethan took little persuading to join me, then found that her best friend, Kay, a Dive Leader from the Manchester University branch of BSAC, could also manage to join us for a trip based on traveling to Tarbert on Harris on Saturday 28 July 2012, diving 3 days Sunday to Tuesday, then heading back to Perth on Wednesday 1 August 2012 arriving in time for Kay to jump on a train back to Manchester later that afternoon.
Conveniently, the 2 remaining rooms at Dunard House in Tarbert were a twin & a single so we were all set for the trip.
As ever, we marvelled at the spectacular Highland scenery on the drive from Perth across to Skye and Uig where we met most of the Rebel Alliance team enjoying a pint at the nearest pub to the embarkation slip for the trusty CalMac ferry to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. A quick trip to the Hebrides Hotel for a sun downer finished the day!

Following a comfortable night and a full Scottish breakfast, revived and raring to get in the water, we headed to the harbor at Scalpay where all the gear was quickly loaded aboard ‘Peregrine’. We re-acquainted ourselves with Malcolm, our skipper, who we had previously had the pleasure of meeting on our Club Sound of Mull trip back in March of this year.

We headed off for the shakedown dive to start the holiday, a nearly intact wreck of a fish farm supply vessel (no one knew her name) which stood all square on the bottom at 24m not far from the shore of Loch Trollamarig. This was a beautiful site with shoals of small fish, the vessel itself being covered in Plumose Anemones with even the wheelhouse still being place. Kay, our expedition underwater photographer, warmed to her task with relish and we all had a cracking dive, being in a threesome no hardship in such clear visibility!

For our second dive, we headed south along the shore of Harris to Holm Island where the plan was to dive the Holm Island Wall, Bethan taking the lead this time to help her finish the few remaining tasks still to be signed off for her Dive Leader. A lovely dive down a boulder slope to the wall which had an impressive overhang, under which Kay spotted a small conger eel while Bethan was battling with a particularly large edible crab (the crab won!) and I admired a beautiful cuckoo wrasse.

Since the ‘Peregrine’ has an on board compressor we were able to complete 3 dives per day on this trip while only bringing one set each. In between dives we took the opportunity to get to know our hosts from the Rebel Alliance and to enjoy their warm hospitality which on the first day included a seriously yummy carrot cake prepared by Jenny, clearly their very skilful team baker!
Third dive of day one was a shallow bimble through and around the kelpie site of the wreck of the ‘Gulf Star’ of which there’s only a few remaining plates of the hull remaining in about 8m of water on a rocky reef not far from Scalpay. There were plenty of shoals of small fish around and I spotted a couple of decent sized Pollock towards the end of the dive.
We then headed back to Tarbert and freshened up prior to enjoying a tasty dinner at the Hebrides Hotel and an early night eagerly anticipating diving for Monday!

After a long steam, almost back to Skye, we enjoyed a cracking dive at Thon Cleats, a series of rocky islets, the dive being past kelp down a boulder slope to a really pretty reef where Kay and Phil (Jan’s buddy – vis was so good we could see all the divers on this reef!) broke open a couple of sea urchins to give some cuckoo wrasse a late breakfast. Phil almost had one eating from his hand while Kay maneuvered around for some photo opportunities and Bethan led us along most expertly again!
After the dive, the fishing rods were brought out to occupy some of the deco time and lots of Pollock rushed to take the bait, Kay catching her first ever fish and Phil bagging a particularly impressive specimen! Jan and Jenny skilfully gutted and filleted them having the fresh fish sealed in plastic bags and ready for the kitchen well before our second dive of the day at Sgeir Graidaigh, a reef in the middle of the Minch which we enjoyed in calm seas and warm sunshine.
We descended down a shot line then headed east to this beautiful reef, again in vis well over 10m. This site teems with life including Jan’s favourite, the jewel anemones coating the reef walls, plenty of nudibranchs, more cuckoo wrasse, Pollock, plumose anemones and a particularly large lobster spotted by Kay who moved swiftly back into his hiding place to avoid the pot!
Following a steam back to the Harris shoreline we enjoyed a very pleasant third dive around a rocky reef at Scoravick. Bethan was about to give my dive leading the thumbs down, since the first part of this dive was shallow and kelpie, but luck was on our side and about half way through the dive I came across a pretty wall dropping down to around 19m so smiles all round amongst more plumose anemones, shoals of small fish and more photo opportunities for Kay!

Our final day dawned warm, sunny and flat calm so we could hardly wait to get in the water though it was a fair steam south to the large and impressive wreck of the ‘S.S. Stassa’, a Panamanian vessel which struck the rocks on a clear, calm day in July 1966 – seems they were missing a lookout somewhere!
She is intact and lies on her starboard side and makes a stunning dive! There were large winches still located on deck with some teak decking still in place towards the stern. She had a cargo of timber, though apart from some lying alongside, we didn’t see much in the open holds we had a look in. This was, however, really atmospheric, and would warrant further exploration.
We then steamed back to visit Sgeir Graidaigh reef again in the middle of the Minch, having to take care to avoid being sunburnt on this glorious summer’s day! Kay led us around on the second visit to this isolated reef which was as beautiful as our first visit in equally good vis! More pretty cuckoo wrasse, sea urchin bashing for their benefit (and for our photographer!!), jewel anemones, Pollock, plumose anemones, nudibranchs etc., etc.!
More Pollock then jumped on board via the fishing rods, Jan and Jenny did more skilful gutting and fileting, Phil cooked these in the galley & we all enjoyed a five star fresh fish feast prior to our final dive back near Scalpay again, Bethan leading us along a wall with loads of life to enjoy (including humping crabs which we decided to leave well alone!) and more photo opportunities which Kay made the most of.
Then, just after we’d got on board and dropped off our tanks & weights, Jan suddenly appeared with a couple of bottles of Asti Spumante and cups for all to thank us for joining the Rebels!

The holiday was rounded off with us and the Rebels enjoying a lively farewell dinner at the Hebrides Hotel followed by some excellent shots of Mat’s Lagavulin whisky as night caps!

Many thanks are due to Jan Love for organising the trip and enabling us to join the Rebels for one of their main dive trips for this year.
Cheers to Jan, Phil, Jenny, Howie, Richard, Matt, Nick and Jane (and to Kay for kindly supplying the pictures).

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Many thanks to Steve, Bethan and Kay for the contribution (ed)

BSAC Advanced Decompression Procedures SDC, Aberdeen 28-19th July 2012

In the absences of other reports I thought I’d mention this SDC run by Malcolm Gauld for BSAC North Scotland Region, up in the Aberdeen area.

It was touch and go whether this course would actually run and only three like minded inquiries from members of Dundee SAC ensured it would go ahead. Luckily for me I knew a couple of the Dundee guys and was able to share lifts which meant not having to stops over in a B’n’B or travel up at the crack of dawn on my own.

So there we were, four divers driving up to Malcolm’s place for a good half days theory lectures which covered the physics and physiology, equipment and configuration that we would be using during the practical sessions and then off to Boddam quarry to put it all into practice.

The first practical session was all about buddy checks, weight checks and buoyancy control demonstrating the ‘Gold’ level standard that we were supposed to have achieved as a course prerequisite. In addition the new task of accessing and turning on stage cylinders was included. The evenings homework was to plan the next days diving and complete a dive runtime slate to familiarise ourselves with using the new BSAC Ox-Stop tables

Day two saw us having two dives, a practical session deploying DSMB from the bottom and from mid-water, a bit of energetic swimming to up our breathing rates and more buoyancy control exercises as we switched onto deco gas. All exercises that were directly applicable to the sorts of diving that would benefit from the decompression techniques we were learning. The second dive saw a final demonstration of these techniques and involved an additional exercise of ‘handing off’ of a deco cylinder. This particular exercise was very interesting. Apart form wrestling with clips, the difference in buoyancy as a result of receiving or donating a cylinder was quite noticeable and food for thought. Finally we all swapped onto our deco gas and performed our planned stops before surfacing.

This is a really good course as although the theory and techniques taught wouldn’t stretch most competent divers, the practical sessions really test your ability to perform standard activities while under a certain degree of task loading. It also clearly demonstrates that kit configuration that err on the side of simplicity are eminently preferable to stuff cobbled together for the course. By that I mean that a twin set ends up being far simpler than a single cylinder plus bails out with the added deco stage.

A great big thanks you goes to Malcolm Gauld for giving up his weekend to run this SDC and to the Guys from Dundee (Nick, David and Andrew) for making it such fun. In discussion, this course will be run again soon and I’ll probably go up to assist, it is well worth while and I’d recommend it to everyone who has the prereqs, both of which we can do inhouse (Nitrox and BTW). One thing I came away with is that these techniques only deliver a benefit when we consider what would be long decompression stop times on air, for short stops there are little if any (time based) advantages.

From a diving perspective, Boddam quarry is a long way away but I really enjoyed the dive and there was a few bits and bobs to see including a wrecked motorbike and even a freshwater sponge.

No pictures again, well we were training! (If the author now starts using any technical jargon, I think he’s due a good slap – Ed!)

Wrecks of the Tay Estuary, Sunday 15th July, 2012

Another attempt at the Bell Rock saw us assemble in high spirits at Arbroath harbour on a trip Izzy had been trying to arrange for what seemed like forever. This time, were we going to be lucky ? To be fair the fact that we were actually gathered at Arbroath was a great improvement and when Neil Pattison, the skipper arrived and we started loading the dive gear aboard the ‘Tern’, things were looking up indeed.

We headed out of Arbroath harbor into rather rough conditions, perhaps Force 3-4 with white caps dotted around and a short swell coming up from the SW that was locally over 2 meters. We all settled down as best we could as we motored across the mouth of the Tay Estuary towards St Andrews bay. With the Bell Rock lighthouse remaining tantalizingly close yet distant on the Eastern horizon we yet again were not going to make it, so we motored instead for our first site across the estuary.

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SM UC-41 was 160 feet long and the wikipedia entry makes for interesting reading , this describes the sub as a mine layer that came to grief on one of it’s own mines breaking in two with the loss of all hands. Salvage started almost immediately to recover the deck gun. quote: “on the 21st August 1917 HMT JACINTH and HMT THOMAS YOUNG sweeping the Tay estuary found a German mine and found their sweep snagged on an underwater object. JACINTH dropped depth charges, oil and air bubbles rose to the surface. HMT CHIKARA then dropped more D/C’s. Two days later after oil was seen to be rising a diver was sent down. UC41 was located resting on the surface. Salvage work started and the boats 3.5 inch (88mm) gun was recovered on 21st September.”

From a dive perspective given the poor visibility encountered due to both the state of the sea and the number of divers on the wreck some of us didn’t see very much! Only small parts of the wreck were identifiable, conning tower, torpedo tubes and a hydro-plane. Not a dive for large parties in poor weather, however having said that it was a very atmospheric dive and although all the plumose anemonies were closed tight, in better conditions it must be spectacular. Colin and I spend ten minutes in zero vis, laying a line which we followed in circles before seeing something ‘upstream’ of the our companions. From observations, the sub had settled in a scour trench with max 2m height in places though most plates were less than 1m. From the more intact parts of the submarine the outer casing had eroded leaving ribs and the inner casing. Peering into the hull, where it had been opened was a very eerie sensation as the dark swirling sediment rose to greet you. Not for the faint of heart. That was it for us, conscious of both remaining air and the bottom time we set off to find the shot which we missed! Some divers did however find it to ascend in style while others, like Colin and I, sent up a DSMB and took the ‘bluewater’ ascent.

Back on board, the waves had got a little larger and had started to take their toll, various people had acquired a somewhat grey pallor. Not good and not much to be done about it! There was some discussion about calling the day, a quick poll was taken and we set a course for the next site, the wreck of HMT Sophron.

The story of the Sophron is linked to UC-41, she was apparently involved in the subs sinking to come to grief four days later on one of UC-41’s mines. She sits upright and is covered in life and usually enjoys better visibility than the sub. With amazing accuracy the shot landed just inside the gunwales providing a perfect descent and an easy reference for the ascent. The stern of the wreck, beautifully scalloped into the sandy bottom was covered in anemonies of cream and pink, these unlike the ones of the mornings dive were out. Moving aft over the deck, we swam over plates and poked our noses into one of the small hatches which was almost entirely silted up before moving on to the sharp bow, encrusted by anemonies. From here we swam around the port side enjoying the marine life that covered everything before returning to the shot and making a slow ascent and a brief deco stop. A very enjoyable dive, certainly the first East coast wreck I’ve done that is recognizable as a ship.

A few fun and games on the pickup before we bounced back to Arbroath. Unloading the boat saw a pony cylinder fall into the harbour which gave another opportunity for a dive. Luckily a short finger tip search found the errant cylinder.

That was it save for the fish super that was enjoyed on the harbour overlooking the marina.

Thanks are due to Izzy for organising this trip, it’s been a long time coming, due to the vagrancies of the East Coast weather but now we have tried it once, the next trip, in hopefully better weather, will be easier and we may yet get out to the Bell Rock!

Diving at Lossiemouth ? Well almost !

Where is Lossiemouth you may well ask and the answer is three and a quarter hours from Perth. Up the A9 and turn right at Aviemore and keep right on until you reach the sea or to be precise the Moray Firth.

Today’s trip was all about training and practicing some of those drills we talk about a lot but never quite seem to get around to doing. Indeed why should we as they take up valuable diving time! However having embarked on the journey of being an instructor I thought it pertinent to be sure that my skills were up to date and to take the opportunity to give them a polish before trying to impart them to new trainees or other club instructors and so it was that I joined an SDC run by the BSAC North Scotland Region to get put through the my paces on a diver rescue course and hopefully come away with the BSAC Lifesaver Award.

Firstly I have to say that Lossiemouth is a long way north, I have driven to Ullapool as quickly but as it is a part of the country I have not visited since my school days the scenery was intoxicating, literally with all the now familiar distilleries passing by as if on an honor roll. I arrived at Lossiemouth a little late, due in part to the terrible weather and the amount of surface water on the roads and tentatively peaking over the marina sea wall I was greeted by large dirty brown waves, whose viscous curling lips dashed against the concrete, thundering spray across the car park. This is going to be interesting, though I, considering the subject of today’s course.

Venturing out into the open sea was not on and having gained permission from the harbor master we had to resort to using parts of the marina itself for our in-water practical sessions. These provided a refresher on BLS, O2 administration, snorkel rescues, victim recovery using ropes and buoyant aids, in water rescue breath during snorkel rescue and then again in full scuba equipment before putting it all together and including a CBL.

Was it worth while, an emphatic yes it was. Why ? Because while we think we know what we are doing it is only with practice that we can get it right under stress. For me several areas for improvement were identified and I’ll be practicing my basic skills with renewed enthusiasm. What was interesting in reflection was that what we do by instinct is different from what we do when remembering our training. The difference is a question of how often we practice.

If diving safety disciples can be considered in three parts, preventing accidents happening, secondly, reacting to events and rescuing divers when an accident has or is about to happen and then finally managing the situation to achieve the best possible outcome, this course covered the second element.

What did I take away ? Unfortunately rather too many things to admit to ! I will share the pain that not having prepared the O2 kit prior to an incident occurring proved to be and that for the tow and blow exercises I was lamentably far too unfit for comfort !

Oh the diving ! Yes, no well almost !

Plan C , Sunday 17th June 2012

With the Bell rock being blow out for the second year running despondency crashed into the weekends diving plans as miserable weather got the better of diving on the East coast.

Steve, Colin and I, determined to get out and dive somewhere, drove across to “the Lochs” where all being in one car , we took advantage of the limited parking above the Caves just past Arrochar on Loch Long. I don’t think Colin believed us that this was the first site of the day but soon we were kitted up and abseiling down the culvert to enter the loch just before high tide.

Today saw everyone using Nitrox and while we were not intending to extend bottom times we were hoping to feel less fatigued on the way home. Having done our buddy checks at the car and then a bubble check at 3m we continued down the initial horse muscle shell bed before reaching our MOD in a field of sea loch anemones where there was still some ambient light reaching us from the surface. Here we started on the first of the days objectives, a close encounter with the fireworks anemone. Initially our search was unproductive and it wasn’t until we had started to ascend that Steve found the first of these fantastic animals.

Moving up the slope Steve took the lead and we cruised across to the boulders where forests of Peacock worms snapped back into their tubes as we disturbed them. Finally having reached the pinnacles area we turned to come back at around 10m to satisfy the 5 minutes decompression penalty that we had accrued. From a life perspective there was a great variety on show at this depth. Not only the famous plumose anemones, but a very good variety of fish life with one spot shinnies, saithe, pollock and wrasse (both corkwing and ballan). Unfortunately we also came across the fishing line and witnessed the damage it can do picking up a crab so well wound in line that it couldn’t move its legs and was caught as a fly in a web of monofilament. Steve produced his keep bag and we popped it in, taking it back to shore where we did our best to remove the line before releasing it back into the loch.

That was it for the morning session save for the midges which were particularly fierce, chivvying us along and away down the road to the A-frames site where we though that a slight breeze might keep them at bay. As it turned out, the A-frames proved to be a very popular site with two Glasgow based dive schools and several independent divers all splashing about doing various exercises and drill and with just over a two hour surface interval we joined them.

With his recent knowledge of the site Steve had the honor of leading this dive and took us on a fascinating tour of the remnants of the pier stoops that were covered in squidgy life. Of note was the gas mantle sea squirt (Corella Parallelograma). Having explored the bottom of the A-frame and reaching the MOD of one of the gas mixes we slowly turned and made our way back up the slope coming across two fireworks anemones and an enormous and solitary Dahlia anemone. Taking a few extra minutes in the kelp we saw butter fish and various crabs covered in camouflage before surfacing just about were we went in after a much better dive than expected.

Before dekitting we washed down taking advantage of Colin’s in car fresh water spray a superb idea! Steve reported a major leak in his left arm and decided to sit out any further diving until he had identified and fixed the cause. Back to Splashsport I think!

Pulling over in the first layby on the North shore of Loch Earn just past the fish farm on the way to Perth we had our final adventure of the day and washed the kit off again in fresh water. The dive followed a steep slope festooned with angling lures which gave way to mud where a single solitary trout was seen sleeping on the bottom. Large golf balls were dotted around but clearly had been there a while. As we crept us the slope we came across little life though these fresh water porifera were of interest as were minute hydroids in the shallowest rocks which were covered by an algal mat. Overall the dive was dark and the bottom silty with an interesting current that moved both ourselves and the silt that we disturbed. Colin has loaded some really good atmospheric shots of this dive and the Loch Long sites, on his website

The short ride back to Burnbrae didn’t take long and Steve got a quick demonstration of Gas blending before enjoying a coffee and setting off home to arrive at a reasonably early time after a varied and interesting day.

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Loch Fyne Tea Rooms 27th May 2012

A day spent in sheltered water for training purposes was well attended with 8 divers arriving at the Loch Fyne tea Rooms. Having seen the sun tan that one of the party now sports I can only imagine the fantastic weather that was enjoyed by all.

Notable achievements. First open water dive for Braigha and first post-retirement splash for Fred. Well done to you both.

I’ll put a full report here when the details come in.

Thanks go to Steve for organising both the trip and the training.

Sat 26th saw Chris diving at the Three Villages Community center at Arrochar again as part of the BSAC OWI PIE course. It was quite frustrating swimming out in exceptionally clear water to do a lesson and then stir up the bottom and spend the rest of the dive in less than a meters visibility. Still it is reported that a wreck of a small wooden fishing trawler resides here so I may venture back with a large cylinder and do some exploring.

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.

Loch Creran and Bonawe Quarry, Sunday 29th April 2012

A small team of Izzy, Gary and Chris, met at Colin’s and were joined by Frank, a guest for a trip across to the West coast to explore a couple of sites, that as a club we don’t dive that often.

After a short detour to Puffin Dive Center to pick up a set of regulators we headed North to a site know as “the Steps” on the south shore on Inner Loch Creran and arrived to find blue skies, a flat calm loch and temperature soaring into the 20s. Was this the start of summer we asked ourselves as we kitted up and then sweated profusely awaiting our turns to dive. Today’s plan was to dive in waves with the shore cover also minding Hamish (the dog) who on arrival had immediately found a grass snake so was keen to explore the brambles and under growth for other exciting residents.

On entering we were met by a swarm of Moon Jellyfish which distracted us for a minute or two before we pressed on. Once out of the little bay, the bottom shelves steeply over a bed of Horse muscle shells and then over a set of little steps before flattening where mixed sand and rocks and ultimately sand or gravel takes over. A small wall or reef to the left of the bay provides a good substrate for squidgy life and at its base large numbers of queen scallops had gathered that flew off as we disturbed them.

Not much fish life around today apart from the ubiquitous Gobbies. Having descended to the foot of the wall in what can be described as superb visibility, we took a clockwise circuit across the mouth of the bay where a field of sea cucumbers and small rocky slabs covered in Green urchins and a solitary fireworks anenome provided interested before we eventually ascended to the base of a boulder slope.

It was here that we found the beastie that we had come to see, the Sepulid worm that forms rare biogenic reefs. We found them, but you have to be a cunning photographer to get a good snap, if they detect any movement or noise from your exhaust bubbles, they snap back into their tubes. Needless to say I took several excellent photos …. of the worm tubes….

To make the most of the sunshine the barbecue was lit and a few sausages burnt before we moved sites stopping off at a very pleasant cafe at Columba Bay where we sat outside enjoying the sun.

The second dive site was the Bonawe Quarry site on the North shore of Loch Etive, here we were going to look for the little wreck of the fishing boat, sometimes know as the ‘Kingfisher’. This proved to be a bad choice as the breeze was blowing directly into the harbor and the visibility proved appalling. The first wave went in and very quickly came up again to inform us they were changing their dive plan to investigate the rocks of the causeway. They surfaced to report finding the old car wrecks but visibility of less than a meter. Not good! The second wave went in and were somewhat luckier, finding the running line that links the shore to the derrick and then the wreck. The derrick was found, with someone’s head, before moving on to the wreck where a slow clockwise circuit was made being very careful not to stir up the bottom. Unfortunately we weren’t careful enough and having got around the A frame at the stern of the wreck we re-entered our silt trail and decided to take a compass bearing to the causeway and work our way back via the cars to the entrance point.

All in all a very dark, low vis but atmospheric dive but certainly not the worst one I have ever done.

As everyone was getting rather hungry we decided to stop at the Crianlarich Hotel on the way back for a spot of supper. This is proving to be a regular stop, being about half way home and providing a friendly and convivial atmosphere. Salmon, venison and Cumberland sausages were ordered and the stalkers dispatched while we waited non to patiently for our tea. After some lively banter all fell silent as the important business of food was resolved, a process that didn’t take too long. With dinner finished all that was left was the remainder of the trip home and washing the gear off.

Certainly a day of two very different dives and hopefully the start of some long overdue Summer weather. Thanks are due to all who came along and made this trip possible.

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Diver training Loch Linnhe, Balnagowan Island. 22nd April 2012

With the East coast at Eyemouth reporting a 2 meter swell, Paul towed ‘Deep Dancer’ across to the West where we had an easy launch from the Loch Linnhe marina slip and easy access to some sheltered diving.

Steve was Dive managing today and the plan was for some open water training and experience building for Liz and Kim, while Hamish had the opportunity to put Paul through his paces. Bethan had decided to join us as a non diver to gain further boat handling experience and manage the slate, while I was relegated to the ‘grumpy old git at the back’.

Finding a sheltered site was a delightful challenge today in the Spring sunshine and Eilean Balnagowan, the small rocky island just south of Cuil bay was selected. Having been driven out there by Bethan we explored the edge of the West side of the Island, the theory (and the chart) indicating that the bottom was sandy and less likely to be easily stirred up and if we could find a flat bit, suitable for training.

We found what looked to be an excellent site at the little bay on the North West tip of the Island, a small bay with a sandy bottom which progressed to a steep slope. Bethan duly drop in wave 1 and then practiced MOB drills and diver retrieval while keeping a close eye on the bubble trails and stood by while an errant fin was reattached. When the divers surfaced a perfect pickup was delivered, so a great well done ! Steve and Liz reported a good fun dive, practicing buoyancy drills and then enjoying a gentle drift southwards on the ebbing tide. Hamish and Paul surfaced on the dot according to the plan having explored the slope. Neither group reported exceptionally good life but the vis was excellent.

Wave 2 was dropped in at the bay and performed drills before moving Northwards around the little shoulder of the bay. Shingle sand led to a small slabby wall which while short on life gave a good perspective to the dive. No problems reported other than a leaking mask that needed clearing continuously, but hey that was one of the drills ! Another expert recovery by the helm before zooming back to the marina through a stinging hail to tie up on the pontoons.

We thought we would move the boat back to the slip to swap the tanks over but the engine decided it did not want to start. No amount of cajoling would get it going so we decided to have lunch and give it a rest while we had a chat and reviewed the days activities. Returning to the boat, it still refused to start so being mindful of the time we decided to return to Perth at a reasonable hour.

Stopping at The Green Welly for fuel, Kim was spotted by Izzy who was returning from Oban with Gary and Alan who reported a couple of terrific dives off the South tip of Lismore and a picnic at the lighthouse. The next stop was the Crianlarich hotel for coffee and cake before driving back to the club hut to wash the boat down and put it to bed.

Another very pleasant day with hopefully some useful skills imparted and further experienced of Scottish diving gained. Thanks go to Steve and Paul for organising.

Site: OSGB
N56 38’8″ W5 20’10” “Camas na dobhran”

No camera with me today, but you know who had one !

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