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.

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