End of Season Finale

The trip that was on, off, on, off and on again.

The North East was in Covid lockdown and the hotel rooms many of us had booked for Friday night ‘oop north’ had to be cancelled. In light of the horrible weather and sea forecast it was probably for the best as on Tuesday prior to the trip, William, the skipper was rather non-committal and I think would have called it there and then if it wasn’t for the diabolical season he was having between global pandemics and shitty weather. ‘Let’s wait and see’ he said, and that’s what we did.

On Thursday prior to the trip I rang expecting to have the cancellation confirmed and was rather shocked when he said ‘ Let’s do it!’ ‘I’ll get yea in on the sooth side o’ the island’s like’ (NE Accent needed). So a last-minute reprieve and lots of frantic kit packing and we were all set. Having cancelled our hotel Steve and I set off at some ungodly hour like half past yesterday and drove steadily up the A1 arriving in time for a Trotter’s breakfast bap and a coffee before boarding GT7 and chugging out to the islands.

The sea state was not too horrific considering it was predicting a 2m swell and we enjoyed a socially distanced deck party. The good thing about wearing face coverings in at this time of year is that it keeps you all nice and warm. Before too long we were kitted up and ready to jump into sounds of honking seals greeting seal Ben. We dived Little Harcar to a depth of between 18-23 m, the visibility was reasonably good considering the raging storms that had been through over the previous weeks and my new neoprene neck sea was watertight, so happy days. Steve and I saw a small octopus, well I saw a small Octopus, Steve was just videoing a rock wondering what on Earth I was gesticulating at. We had a few fly-bys by seals but I must have been wearing my seal repellent because they didn’t want to play. Meanwhile, Dan and Trev were getting mugged by an overly amorous lady seal who had had enough of lockdown and decided it was time to party. Keith and Amanda won the spidge recovery award by surfacing with a rather snazzy looking Camouflage go-pro like camera…How they saw it is a mystery. We still have not located its owner.

Lessons learned were that a) it’s a good idea to fill your blow and go before going on the dive, and b) If you don’t remember to fill your blow and go before diving don’t bother trying to fill it the old fashioned way as it’s a bit faffy.

Back on the boat we reminisced about the good old days when we could pass round a packet of club hobnobs and jelly babies and stagger around the deck carrying scalding hot cups of salty teacoffee. Ahhh them were the days! Amanda was most impressed with the toilet refurb that had been carried out during lockdown. She really enjoyed the alfresco facilities and the fact she could listen to the dive briefing whilst having a wee. They just need to fashion a slightly better ‘curtain’ so the whole boat doesn’t get to watch proceedings 🙂

Dive two was the wreck of the St Andre and the Pinnacles. Dive times were ranging from 44 mins to a winning 54 mins (well done Dan Atkinson). The wreck was interesting with lobbies, crabs and a few lurking cod. The reef wall had plenty of crabs and small echinoderms (look it up) and we all surfaced having been pleasantly surprised with the diving.

Back ashore we convened to the pub, the sun showed up whilst we enjoyed a post-dive beverage in the garden.

And that folks, is that. The weirdest year ever delivered one final trip for us. See you next season x

Post lockdown freedom at the Farnes

It was a later than usual season opener this year…but I can say that I much prefer the Farne Islands in July to April! When William gave me the nod that diving was going to be on I went a bit wobbly…There was a flurry of excitement as people started to pack their kit bags, with a few strange additions….face mask, flask, she-wee 🙂

We arrived at Seahouses Harbour to an orderly if not a little inconvenient loading system. However it was no great hardship and the pay-off was the discovery that we were on GT8, with only 11 of us on board, and a working toilet (she-wee not required).

So with a group of slightly nervous diver (it had been several months since we dived in the sea), we set sail to the islands. In glorious sunshine and nice calm seas everybody kitted up and with a tiny amount of tummy butterflies we launched ourselves off the boat and into some of the best viz I have seen for years! We had opted for the wreck of the San Andre and William popped a shot on the boilers for us. The wreckage was full of life with lobsters in almost every hole, and friendly ballan wrasse were welcoming us back after a long absence. We finned a lot….the current seemed to be against me wherever I went….but it was lovely. We popped up an smb at the end of the dive and we were treated to a superb display of puffins and guillemots which circled us for the entire safety stop. They really are a great sight and this trip is probably the last opportunity to get the birds this season.

Back on board we enjoyed hot drinks from our flasks…hot chocolate and biscuits was the order of the day for me, and it made a change not to have to do the sea legs swagger carrying cups back from the bow. It was also quite nice having the spare cylinders right next to your spot for the change over.

Dive two was The Hopper. The viz was again superb and the water a pleasant 12 degrees, but I was still on level 2 on my heated vest :). A very friendly seal was waiting for us on the seabed and shook some hands. I think they have been wondering where we had been all year. Another notable find was a tadpole fish. Yes that is really a thing. More lobsters, wrasse, an odd cod here and there and also plenty of soft corals and photo opportunities.

We were back on board and heading back to Seahouses when the cry ‘Minkie Whale’ went up. Now I’ve been diving the Farnes since 2002 and have never seen these mythical creatures, so I was a little dubious…however, there was the fin. It was a big beast and we later found out that it was actually a Fin Whale! This was a rare sighting here with only three previously recorded sightings at the Farnes…1810, 1831, and the last one was in 1915. We were definitely blessed and the trip was well worth the wait.

The whole thing was topped off with a socially distanced pint in The Ship and a portion of fish and chips down by the harbour. It was a great day out, and one that at times this year I doubted would happen. So thanks to the skipper William Shiel for getting us out, and all the divers for the effort they took to get dived up, kit checked, paper work sorted, and of course, for all the banter on board.

Liz

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