The BSAC training day at the Loch Fyne Tea rooms was blessed with excellent weather and the bright sunshine really set the colours on the artificial reef giving another excellent dive. Loch Fyne was mirror calm as I passed Inverary and only a slight disturbance on the surface as I turned the corner into the Tea Rooms.
Very little was done in the way of drills today but everyone enjoyed some good diving with a good variety of life. A good sized lobster was found in the morning (returned berried!) and an even bigger one was found in the afternnon along with the biggest conger I have seen since I dived in Strangford Lough ! This monster’s picture has a sea urchin in it, for scale this was 2 inches across.
The vis was initially disappointing with a heavy bloom giving vis of less that 3m until we got below it where it improved to 7-8m. Interestingly today we were on neeps and as the tide turned at low water a good current was experienced at the point which probably explains why there is a scour trench there ! Never experienced it before though!
With a few people on holiday it seemed a good idea to try the commercialism of St Abbs for once and get a few people together to book individual spaces aboard one of the many hard boats that operate out of the harbour and enjoy some easy low hassle diving.
Ringing Paul Crowe from Rock House and DiveStabbs, it was easy enough to arrange a couple of dives and with ropes off at 09:00am, five of us made an early start and arrived in plenty of time to find Paul, join a group from Sunderland and help with the task of loading tanks and bags aboard “Tiger Lilly” before the short trip out to the dive sites.
Regardless of the fantastic weather we experienced, a rather large swell albeit on an otherwise calm sea was rolling in from the North, breaking heavily on the shore and skerries and promising added spice to the days diving, it was not therefore surprising that the more experienced members of the party had kitted up and were sitting ready to dive before we had left the harbour !
The first dive of the day was Anenomie Gullies off the Skells and while I dived with Steve, Colin joined Gary and Izzy. After shuffling across a pitching deck, like a drunken penguin we flopped into blue water and made a free-fall descent to hit the top of gullies at 18m which were encrusted with deadman’s fingers and an amazing variety of anenomies.
The viz was initially a little disappointing with particulate matter in the water column but this improved with depth as we swam seawards, soon the anticipation of finding life in every nook and cranny took over as the swell moved us to and fro along the gullies. A lobster provided a bit of sport as we teased it out of its lair before of course putting it back unharmed. The other party reported three wolf-fish and a scorpion fish as well as an octopus. After nearly an hour in the water we surfaced to be retrieved by tail lift onto Tiger Lilly, a truly delightful experience when compared to climbing up a ladder or even into a RHIB.
A quick turn around saw the gear stowed below benches and the bottles offloaded before we disembarked and the next wave of Sunday trippers boarded. To degas we spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the sun, eating sandwiches and setting the world to rights.
The afternoon dive was the Black Carr where we jumped into 10m and straight down against a reef to shelter from the easing swell. This time Colin joined Steve and I and we had a merry chase around the skerry where we found an old and very large anchor.
conscious of the bottom time (no really!) and the contents gauge, slightly shallower depths were sort and we ascended off the reef and onto rocks above, where we found a knarley old wolf fish and gardens of anenomies and Deadman’s fingers, here we spent time will numerous tame Ballan wrasse and passing Pollack that seemed unconerned with our presence. Finally it came time to ascend and we slowily drifted upwards over an amphitheatre covered in life through a cloud of jelly fish to end what was a remarkable days diving.
Tea and cakes in the harbour cafe and a final chinwag in the sun before we set off home after a very easy and incident free day.
Another great day out with the club!
Congratulations to our 10 new Nitrox Certified divers would attended our Nitrox Workshop last night, this course was aimed at all our pre 2007 trained divers who wanted to bring their qualifications up to date with the new BSAC Core diving syllabus.
Nitrox (Enriched Air Diving) is a relatively new to Sports Diving over the last ten years has become more popular with Manufacturers now making Nitrox compatible equipment and diving centres able to offer Nitrox fills it offers benefits to clubs where the majority of diving is in the 20-35 metre range. Since 2007 BSAC as part of its core training now includes Nitrox Triaining in their Ocean Diver (PADI Advanced Open Water Equivalent) and Sports Diver (PADI Rescue Diver Equivalent) courses.
The benefits of Nitrox are two fold, one reduce the amount of nitrogen in their bodies and reduce the risk of Decompression Illness and feel more energized at the end of a dive ie. climbing back into the boat and driving home from the West Coast! second you can increase your bottom time (Ie spend more time on a favourite wreck such as the Hispania in the Sound of Mull) and reduce surface intervals so for trips to dive sites on the West Coast Scotland that take 3-4 hours to drive to, such as the Port Napier (Skye) or Lochcarron Narrows so we can get back home sooner.
Roll on Easter looking forward to diving the Garvellachs to the South of Oban this weekend
Northern Region held a diving weekend based around Loch Duich which was well attended by an enthusiastic and varied group of divers from all over Scotland. While most people camped, some stayed in the Ratagan hostel and some folk slumbed it in the Kintail Lodge hotel.
On Saturday, sites on the Southern side of the loch, towards Totaig point were dived with some interesting drifts being reported.
On Sunday I made an early start and joined the rest of the participants for the day. Surprisingly it took just 30 minutes longer than the trip to Oban, which is certainly something to think about.
Sundays dive sites were ‘Dornie Corners’ just short of Eilean Donnas castle and ‘Jacobite bay’ at the Kintail Lodge hotel. Both interesting dives with a variety of topography and life.
You can see some of my pictures here
‘Dornie Corners’ were found to be a sand and mud slope which ended on steep glacial slabs that disappeared into the gloom. The dive set off down the slabs and drifted at a desired depth until bottom time expired. Some interesting life floated by including the colonial sea squirts and shoals of queen scallops. Putting in a couple of stops on the ascent seemed sensible today and stopped the alarm screaming!
Second dive was near the Kintail Lodge hotel on the old road that turns off by the Jacobite restaurant, here a little sandy bay leads gently down to 15m (although does go further) where the beast that I had come to see was reported. The fireworks anenomie is a fantastic sight, at over 50cm across it stands out like a light house. Quite an interesting site as we also found all three sea pens, a forest of sea cucumbers and a docile Pipe fish.
All dives completed without incident and apart from a set of keys going missing which delayed departures, an enjoyable day had by all assisted by some very reasonable weather.
Dive site 1: N57°15’31” W5°29’16” Dornie Corners, Loch Duich
Dive site 2: N57°13’26” W5°24’54” Jacobite bay, Eilean nan Gall, Loch Duich, Kintail Lodge Hotel area