Och Aye Dunoon

Well we all arrived safely at the Argyll Hotel late Friday afternoon, got checked in and in the true spirit of RHDC, met for a pre-dive beer and briefing in the hotel bar. Our Illustrious skipper was downstairs in the restaurant having a meal with the divers from his group earlier in the week. We had a meal and another few beers whilst we watched a bit of footie (yawn) and blethered on. Our loyalty at the bar was rewarded with a complementary pizza and a couple of bowls of chips, washed down with a shot of what tasted like a cocktail of fairy liquid and meths, also on the house (which helped to numb the pain of watching the football) before heading off to bed.

Saturday we’re all up bright and early and thankful for a respectable ropes off, affording us time to tuck into a hearty breakfast. Jay chose the light option as usual. Breakfast was more than adequate and the weather was great, no wind, no rain (I feel a song coming on here) and glorious sunshine.

We met with Jason at Holy Loch marina, who explained he was a little below the weather having imbibed maybe a little more than he should have the previous evening. We kitted up and with the help of Jason, loaded our gear on to the Starfish Enterprise to head out for our 1st dive, two World War Two US Landing Craft, in Holy Loch. Jason gunned the engine and we hit warp speed for about 1 minute, then we were there. Andy and Bev readied themselves to take the plunge, 3-2-1-Go, splash splish. First impressions as they descended on the shot line were Heinz pea and ham soup, the algae bloom was weird and very thick. Conditions did not improve when they hit the landing craft (quite literally as they couldn’t see the buggers), not much to see but a nice easy first dive at around 18mtrs. David, Jay and Tom faired little different and after failing to follow the skipper’s simple instructions of “follow the line off the portside of the 1st landing craft to get to the 2nd landing craft” found themselves lost in a baron wasteland of silt with only the odd bottle and a hermit crab for company, knowing that Jason would be watching from above with much head shaking and sighing. 1000 lines issued – ‘I must follow the advice of my skipper to maximise the potential of the dive’.

Back to the marina for SI and lunch at The Holy Loch Coffee Shop.

Next, we were off to the AKKA for our 2nd dive of the day and in light of the excellent viz reported only a few days ago, we remained optimistic. Once again 3,2,1 splash splish and we were in. We descended the heavily encrusted shot line, again in pea soup. Viz was not any better on this one but we managed to have a reasonable bimble around the deck and along the hull to around 24mtrs. The comb jellies were pretty awesome and abundant and there were nice swims through the companionways, every inch covered in life. Andy and Bev surfaced after around 25 mins, so a short dive but Andy had some ear issues. On climbing aboard our vessel, they were covered in tiny (about 2-3mm) amphipods, they were everywhere, even one up Bev’s nose, think they were picked up from the shot line on their descent. Andy and Bev had a nice hot drink and a homemade flapjack whilst they waited for Jay, David and Tom to return.

Back to the Argyll Hotel for a deco beer, followed by more beer and a meal! No freebie pizza and chips tonight so we were forced to order a starter and main to stave off the hunger.

Sunday we were up sharp to force down another breakfast to set us up for the day, well a couple of hours anyway! Sadly, Andy had picked up an ear issue so had to bin off the diving. He and Bev took the road option to Lochgoilhead and the rest of us, now down to 3, boarded the Starfish Enterprise. Jason gunned the engine and once again we were on plane and heading up to Loch Goil at a rapid rate of knots, to our 1st dive site of the day, the MV Averella. Without doubt, a strong contender for the dive of the weekend. A humble trawler sitting in 30mtrs, fully intact and beautiful, decorated in life and offering perfect viewing in great viz up to around 8M. A few circuits of the vessel were made, slightly shallower each time, desperately staving off deco in our reluctance to leave her but finally deco won and we headed back up the shot. A quick hot drink before were berthed at The Boat Shed Cafe for lunch and met up with Andy and Bev who had been chilling there whilst getting shredded by the hungry clouds of midges!

Sadly it was time for Andy and Bev to part company once again as they headed to the hills on route home and we boarded Starfish Enterprise to head out to our 2nd dive site of the day ‘Colesy’s Crack’, Loch Goil Wall. We rolled off the boat into 5mtrs viz, picked a depth between 5mtrs and 25mtrs and effortlessly drifted along for the duration of the dive, taking in the beautiful surroundings and clocking the abundant life. Top find was the Small-spotted Catshark, nicely photographed by Tom. Jason was waiting to collect us as we surfaced and the floating cafe was once again in full swing as Jason knocked up the hot chocolates, with whipped cream and marshmallows (Is there anything this guy doesn’t do?) and handed out the home baked flapjacks before one last fast RHIB ride back to Holy Loch Marina, and the long drive home.

A fantastic weekend of diving and pampering with Wreckspeditions. The bar has been set high and we’ll hopefully be back for more of the same soon.

Thanks to Tom for providing the underwater photos and to Jay for providing the topside photos.

Andy

Sunshine on the Tyne

Conditions couldn’t have been better for this fantastic trip to the North East. Bright sunny skies, no breeze and a very calm sea.

Unfortunately, P&O weren’t able to take advantage of the lovely conditions as we see here a very sad and unused cruise ship.

Diving with Allan Lopez on Spellbinder II we push off down the Tyne with the sun beaming down on us. I reach for the only sun cream I can find which is factor 50 and Allan’s deck hand Mark says “that’s a donkey jacket where I come from”.

Our first dive was on the Eston a 240 feet long Cargo Vessel just off the coast at Whitley Bay. Whilst vis is rarely fantastic off the Tyne most of us managed well enough, however there was a normally inseparable diver pair that did not get to make best use of their Nitrox fills 😉

A highlight of the dive was the sighting of a wolf fish which I made very vocal (I wanted to share it with everyone). Apparently, I’ll never need a tank clacker due to the distance my screams of joy can travel.

On our surface interval we were presented with the very welcome curry & rice that Allan & Mark never fail to serve up. If you can’t manage it all, the gulls are always on hand to help out (just remember to check the wind direction before launching it skyward as your fellow divers don’t always appreciate the curry shower, sorry guys). I think I redeemed myself with the endless supply of wine gums.

The second dive was on the Cider Wreck (aka the ‘55’), another very pleasant dive and this time all divers managed to stay together.

Back on-board and the sun is still shining down on us for a very pleasant cruise back to Mill Dam for offloading.

We didn’t have far to go this time for air fills as the Aquanorth Diving Centre is just around the corner from Customs House. What fabulous service we received; they even loaded the full cylinders back into the van which gave us even more time for a deco beer (cheers guys).

After another deco beer, shower and shine back at the hotel we were ready for the main event of the evening, the aptly named Man Vs Food. This location would normally be a challenge for most but not our every hungry Jay, who true to form demolished every morsel without breaking stride.

Sunday morning, we descend upon the Premium Inn breakfast which in these covid times proves to be frustrating but hilarious. We blind order what would normally be on display as a breakfast buffet and receive various bits close to what we imagined but not quite. Jay of course orders a banquet then in the rush to go diving Steve & I leave without paying (we of course returned later to square up).

It was a full day of diving starting on the Pandora (aka Dolphin) then the Hanne and finally the Oslofjord/Evgenia Chandris.

Highpoints from Sunday include multiple sightings of an Angler Fish, hundreds of bullets to be found on the Oslofjord and of course the lunchtime Spellbinder curry special.

Thanks to all who came and made it a weekend to remember and thanks to Allan and Mark for an excellent charter.

Andrew

2020 Annual General Meeting

Thursday 27th February at the Black Bull Inn

The Club AGM will be held at 7pm on Thursday the 27th February in the Black Bull Inn.

The agenda will be as follows:

Welcome

  1. Chairman’s Address (LS)
  2. Dive Safety Officer’s Report (KJ)
    Proposal to accept Diving Officer’s report
  3. Financial Officers Report (AT)
    Proposal to accept Financial Officer’s report
  4. Proposal to accept changes to the Club Bylaws (AL)
    Changes in the areas of committee roles and solo diving
  5. Election of Officers (AL)
    Chairperson
    Diving Safety Officer
    Finance Officer
    Club Secretary
    Social Secretary
    Membership & Recruitment Officer
  6. A.O.B
    Close

Please remember that all committee roles are open for anyone to apply. If you wish to stand in the committee elections, please contact Andrew Lamb by 1st February.

Following the meeting you’ll be treated to a chilli supper.

For more details on the AGM, click here.

Hope you can make it.

It’ll be reet!

‘It’ll be reet!’ was the motto of the weekend.

We’re creatures of habit in Robin Hood Hood Dive Club and true to form the weekend’s fun and frolics started with a few welcome beers in Oblo with Steve, Keith and Amanda leading the way as the first to arrive, soon to be followed by Bev, Andy, Jay, Sue, ‘Birthday Boy’ Nigel and eventually Tom. Ian decided to spend the evening in his room to finish charging his torches but the rest of us decided that with a very civilised ropes off time of 10.45am the next day – It’ll be reet!

Next morning Tim and Liz made a very early start at 5am to arrive just in time for breakfast, leaving a very disgruntled Merlin in the van. Whilst the day dawned bright and sunny the wind had whipped up a bit of a swell but our intrepid skipper Gary was not to be deterred and we headed out on Wavedancer with only one fully working engine and a slightly bent prop – It’ll be reet!

After a leisurely sail past St Abbs Head we arrived at our dive site, Anemone Gullies, for what turned out to be the first of four cracking dives over the weekend. With 15+ meters of viz and abundant life, including wolf fish, octopus, shoals of Pollock & Herring, wrasse, lots and lots of lobster and a 1.5 meter long Anglerfish (Tim/Liz – you do know things look bigger under water?) everyone agreed that UK diving does not get better than this!

After the second dive of the day at West Hurker we headed back to Eyemouth and despite a VERY lumpy steam, during which the skipper was heard to say “better have a Haribo before we die”, the boat was full of very happy smiling divers – It’ll be reet!

A couple of deco beers, showers and a meal at Oblo provided the evening entertainment before everyone turned in for the night to be up bright eyed and bushy tailed for a 9.30am ropes off.

Sunday kicked o_ with a superb dive at the much maligned Pettico Wick followed by Skelly Hole and Anemone Gullies to compete another memorable diving day.

Thank you to our skipper Gary and his crew, Dougie “Aye”, Graeme and James for looking after us on the boat and to Jade and Alex at the Home Arms.

Thanks to all for making this another cracking Robin Hood Dive Club trip!

Pictures courtesy of Jay Lawson.

Noah and the Wrecks

Very early Saturday morning saw our intrepid divers heading up the A1 towards South Shields to pick up Spellbinder, our dive boat for the weekend. The rain was so heavy that at one point I was tempted to call the skipper to come and pick us up at the roadside with the boat as I’m convinced the water was deep enough.

As it happens we all managed to make it to the jetty at Mill Dam on time to hit our ropes o􀆒 target. I did have a chat with a bloke called Noah at the jetty who wanted to take an even number of his menagerie of animals onto the boat with us but unfortunately we didn’t have enough room for the giraffes so had to leave without him.

Skipper Allan Lopez navigated us out to the first wreck SS Eston successfully and we were encouraged by the reports of 7m of viz from the previous evening. Now I’m sure some of you will have been on many trips and read enough of these reports to know where we’re going next. Sure enough the 3m of viz was a little disappointing but everyone had a decent swim around the wreckage and some of us even found some recognisable parts of it.

The second dive took us to an old favourite on this coast with the wreck of the Pandora. No talk of good viz this time which is just as well but we did get another metre or so which helped. Lots of life on the bow section with a new split in the wreck to give a bigger swim through in that area. Some divers found their way to the stern to find the prop mostly buried again this year.

Having done two dives we now got onto the main event on any Spellbinder trip – lunch! As usual Allan didn’t disappoint and a bowl of steaming chicken curry and rice was presented to each of us almost before any kit had been taken off. Something shocking did happen at this point as human dustbin Jay Lawson couldn’t eat all his lunch. This has never been seen before with Jay and I can only hope it doesn’t happen again.

For those hardy souls who were up for it there was a third “cheeky” dive on the wrecks of the Oslofjord and Eugenia Chandris which lay on top of each other just off the mouth of the Tyne. Not everyone did this and the Dive Avoidance Specialty will be awarded to those divers in accordance to club rules – you know who you are guys!

The Sunderland annual Air Show was on for the weekend and we did get to see some impressive formation flying and a direct fly over by a Chinook helicopter.

As we came back in to the Tyne Allan had some bad news for us as the weather forecast for the Sunday winds wasn’t great and the diving for the rest of the weekend was to be cancelled.

As you will understand, everyone was pretty put out by this, but in the best club traditions we quickly put this setback behind us and went to the pub. And then another pub, which was followed up by an evening meal at the Man Vs Food restaurant in South Shields.

Unfortunately, Food won and Jay had to settle for a doggy bag in an attempt to retrieve his rapidly disappearing reputation as the club food processing plant.

Thanks to everyone on the trip for making this a great, if slightly shortened, weekend.

Keith

Final picture is in the form of a caption competition. My effort on this: “To his horror, Bob suddenly realises that he’s run out of pies!”

Not Bass Rock Trip Report

The not Bass Rock, but better than Bass Rock trip

Limping boat, dolphins, scooters, great visibility, leaks and sunshine………Just a brief summary of this week’s instalment of the ROHO 2019 calendar.

Thursday begins with a cracking weather forecast and 12 excited divers readying up for the weekend’s festivities, this soon takes a temporary hit with the news of dive boat gremlins having gotten loose, thus demoting our dive boat Wavedancer to the Waveplodder. 11 of the 12 divers are so blinded by the thought of some Scottish sun and North Sea dipping we happily head up on the Friday with some more local diving destinations in mind.

In true ROHO fashion, we pick up a straggler and bolster our numbers! Welcome to the club Genine Keogh, who funnily enough I’d already met on a liveaboard in Egypt last October, small world! Soon attention turns to diving with a warm-up through Tyes Tunnel, visibility turns out to be good, water still has that cheek flushing coldness with a successful (for most) dive to follow. Wet dive number 1 for Liz… The Glanmire is available for the 2nd dive which is duly jumped upon by many, all reported a nice dive with no issues, bar Wet Dive number 2 for Liz….

Saturday night saw a nice meal at the Ship Inn and sensible decisions were made ready for a 9am RO Sunday to find another spot of slack over the Glanmire. Visibility seemed to be even better than the day prior and the dive club had 2 new friends today breaking their salt-water virginity, in testing for their Britannic Expedition later this year, both scooters working flawlessly and sending their riders far from the wreck in search for god only knows what, finding
absolutely nothing, but bloody good fun!

Wet dive number 3 for Liz? I can’t quite remember due to the appearance of the dolphins I had ordered, but the final dive of the trip being a nice leisurely wolf-fish hunt starting on the landing pad, the scooters had new yobs on them this time providing smiles of equal grandeur.

All in all a successful trip, always well looked after by the team from Divestay, plenty of post-dive hot drinks and snacks by the Duracell bunny that is Dougie. Reports from MarineQuest divers that visibility around Bass Rock and the Isle of May being particularly poor over the weekend showed that maybe the dive gods were really looking out for us after all.

Chris