Two Classic St Abbs Dives, Glanmire and Cathedral Rock – Awesome

I organised a trip down to Coldingham and St Abbs to show some of our newer divers what the Berwickshire Coastline has to offer.

We have been lucky previously with trips on the West Coast including Skye, Summer Isles and Handa Island so thought I’d try and see if we could have some luck on the East coast. There had been a strange weather pattern with weak systems sitting over the UK and a Large Low Weather System (later to cause the near flooding of the Louvre in Paris) moving over Mainland Europe and then heading slowly North which was threatening to bring in Northerly cold weather to the East Coast. Fortunately for us the winds calmed down on the Thursday night to 5-6 mph but I wasn’t sure of what visibility we were going to get.

On the Sunday morning we decided to do a morning dive on the Glanmire a steamship that ran aground on St Abbs head on the 25th July 1912 in poor visibility. After all the crew and passengers were rescued she drifted off the Rocks and sank a few 100 metres off the Lighthouse. The Glanmire sits in 32-24 Metres depth and the hull has opened up to show the two boilers and large steam engine.

So, after coordinating with the local dive skippers we used the permanent shot which is positioned a short distance from the boilers to descend onto the wreck.  With it being neaps this also gave us a bigger slack window to dive the wreck.

Normally for me I’m used to 6-8 metres visibility on the East Coast and was amazed to find I could see the wreck laid out from a depth of 14 metres. With a cold start to the year and water temperature of 9 degrees Celcius, the Algal Blooms hadn’t hit us yet and we were fortunate to get 20 metres vis. The Glanmire was stunning, you got a real feel for the size of the wreck (1141 Tonnes Gross) which had a mixture of Wrasse and Pollack on it, I didn’t see any schools of Saith yet, later in the Summer perhaps? The wreck was covered in Deadman’s Fingers, a few Horseman Anemones, Spider Crabs and Lobsters and Edible crabs hiding in the plates of the wreck.

After heading back to St Abbs for lunch the second dive was to be Cathedral Rock only 2 minutes in the Rib from the Harbour. This dive is potentially best done at low tide as the rocks are submerged at high tide and the Charts on Navonics or Garmin are no help.  At high tide only Little Green Carr breaks the water and the Rocks that form the Reef, which include Cathedral Rock, are approximately 30 – 40 metres to the south of Little Green Car. Be careful, Cathedral rock is the 2nd Rock in and from memory should line up on a 120ish bearing from the Gully that comes out of the Harbour wall, and yes you can do it as a shore dive.

We dropped Steve and Ben then Hamish and Eddy near the rock first and thankfully I had got it right, had been a few years since I had dived here, phew! Hayden and I dropped in on the 2nd wave and I’m glad I had sorted out my strobes and Lens as one of the regulars, a Ballan Wrasse, popped over to say hello.  I then took Hayden on a tour of the Arches, looking at the mixture of Anemones covering the ceiling of the arches and the pool of air caught in the roof of the second arch (Reminded me of the up turned Bath at Dorothea Quarry, that frequented the top of the tunnel) before exploring East to find any reefs. Returning back to Cathedral rock from the East we were met with amazing walls of Dead Mans fingers.

The comment from Hayden was f***ing awesome which I assume meant the second dive was even more spectacular than the Glanmire. You can’t beat British diving at its best! 🙂

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Hard Boat Diving at St Abbs – Black Carrs and Skells

After looking at various options for diving this weekend and with winds predominately from the South West, St Abbs looked like a good bet for calm waters. Steve had organised a dive trip with the hard boat Tiger Lilly for the Six of us. We were the 2nd wave that morning the first trip had mentioned that the visibility was poor and similar reports from the other boats so we decided to dive the Black Carrs.

Steve and I buddied up with our cameras and dropped down to 15 metres depth where the vis was about 2 metres the rocks were covered in Brittle Stars and there were plenty of different coloured anemones, as we dropped to 22 metres we found several reefs with walls of Deadmans Fingers after 40 minutes headed back up to the surface, Chris and Gary were lucky enough to see a Wolf Fish which are common in this area.

After lunch we headed further around St Abbs Head past the Light House and Fog Horn and with Slack approaching the Skipper dropped us in at the Skells which are Three narrow gulleys that drop down to 22 metres the Vis was slightly better about 3 metres.

I managed to take a few photos this time with a 60mm Macro lens, there was still a swell to deal with, whilst doing close up photos which added to the challenge. I’m starting to get to grips with using the Nikon D7000 underwater.

On the surface I managed to get a few shots of the St Abbs Lighthouse and the Fog horn which in the was switched off in 1987 and the Lighthouse automated in 1993. I used to remember the Fog horn in the 70’s it’s deep noise resonating across the bay when the Haar (sea mist) covered the Forth and the North Sea.

We headed over to the Coffee Shop and fortunately there wasn’t a Victoria sponge shortage so all Happy 🙂

Shore Diving at Eyemouth Green Ends Gully 2nd September 2012

With Spring tides and sunny weather forecast (gentle south westerly winds)  I thought it would be a good chance to dive some of the best shore diving in the UK,  Eyemouth 30 years ago was a busy fishing port with many boats and several Fish Markets a week, Landing Lemon Sole, Herring, Lobsters and Edible Crabs. Now there are a few fishing boats in the Harbour and next to the Old Customs House a Yacht Marina and New Harbour Building which has the Aquastars Dive Centre with friendly and welcoming team that will give you advice on the local dive sites as well as Air fills.    With Low water at 10:30am we decided to have a late start and start diving at 12pm as the entry and exit points for the Green Ends Gully are best 4 hours either side of high tide, otherwise you have to Scramble into and out of the Water not much fun…

The first dive we did was to follow the concrete walkway to where the Sewage pipe ends (disused I hasten to add)  dropping into the water we dropped into the Kelp if you look closely there is a swim through under the Kelp which takes you down to about 8 metres ideal to test your buoyancy perhaps do a few Fin Pivots, there were lots of Lobsters in the Gully and as we headed along came across three or so creels that had been lost and then dropped into the deepest part of the dive about 14.5 metres depth before rising up to 11 metres on a slope of small pebbles smoothed by the action of the sea.  We headed out along the right wall for about 15 metres but stopped as a strong spring current swept round the edge of the rock and with a visibility of about 4-5 metres I didn’t want to get lost! so we started to move slowly back around to the other side of the Gully and when you slow down and look closely you start to spot lots of interesting things including several different Sea Long Spined Scorpions a, Prawns and Butterfish as well as brightly coloured Elegant Anemones, an excellent dive!

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After Lunch and with the water approaching high tide this made the first gully easy to access just at the top of the concrete Walk way, this Gully is Narrower than the first and has an impressive overhang dropping to 11-12 metres deep. Fed and I decided with slack approaching we could be a bit more adventurous heading out around one of the Reefs which were covered in a carpet of dead mans fingers we had to watch for a current still running between the rocks here but managed to pop over the reef into shelter and calmer waters. Another excellent dive with lots to see.

My thanks to Steve, Mo and Fred to an Enjoyable days diving and to Tara and the Scotties for being Shore Cover and lookign after the car keys.