The Shetland Diaries

Shetland Diaries 24-31st July 2021

Saturday

Early morning start for a shorter 4 hour run up to Aberdeen. First time over the new fourth road crossing was an experience looking over at the old road bridge and the rail bridge in a bright blue sky.

Kit loaded into the ferry containers, van parked and off to join some of the group in Spoons for some lunch and a beer.

Easy boarding on the ferry but a couple of hours to wait until the bar and restaurant open – and the banter and mickey-taking has started already.

Finally, the whole team assembles (with the exception of Sarah who’s already in Shetland) for a couple of drinks and an early night due to the 6am get up. That and the fact that the bar closes at 9 due to COVID for some reason that escapes everyone.

Sunday

Woke up early to grey skies but a perfectly smooth sea and Sumbrugh Head out the cabin window.

Picked up at the ferry terminal with a quick transfer to Valkyrie, our home and dive platform for the week. An unholy amount of dive kit and clothes bags on the deck turned itself into twelve sets of kit and six untidy cabins in no time at all – well, maybe a couple of hours anyway.

First dive was the Froach Ban, a small fishing boat in 30 metres. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and had a play with the flatfish that populate the sand around the wreck.

Second dive was the Giants Legs on Bressay. This is a double arch with a cave in the back and has a massive lobster in the collapsed old roof of the cave. Also seen were octopus and swimming Black Guillemots underwater.

Dinner on the boat was an enormous amount of food so we had to go for a walk before heading to the pub to wash it down with a few beers. Found Jimmy Perez’s house by the water in Lerwick. The kyakers found some water in the evening sun. No murders as yet!

Monday

A mixed nights sleep in the cabins brought a bit of a drizzly morning. Still, that’s better than the thunder and lightning that was forecast. We also saw a family of otters swimming across the harbour while still tied to the dock kit fettling.

First dive wasn’t as described from last night’s info. Bard Cave in ten meters rather than a wreck in twenty odd because the other boat decided they were doing it instead. Glad we got a Nitrox mix for that!

Bard Cave was a good dive with a big boulder field and swim throughs. There was a succession of ever bigger lobsters in the little side caves on the way out until the bid daddy showed up with a huge red claw!

When we surfaced the boat came to us and lowered the lift into the water. Only problem was that the cable was broken and the lift carried on to the bottom in thirty metres of water – oops. Fifty minutes and a lot of bobbing about at the surface later the emergency ladder was rigged and we made it back onto the boat. For some this was the first, and hopefully last, time up the side of an ex trawler without a lift. We found out while bobbing around as a group that cold water is good for dementia – apparently!

Lift recovered we headed back to Lerwick for repairs while having lunch/second breakfast.

A late second dive on the Pionersk, a Russian fish factory ship, gave everyone a rust fix for the day and boy was there a lot of it. Not a lot of life seen but the good news was that the lift worked without a problem again.

Great meal again on the boat again, chicken curry followed by pineapple upside down cake then a quick trip to the pub to round off a pretty full day.

Tuesday

A mildly moist morning and a short run out to the wreck of the Gwadmena. This is another nineteenth-century wreck which had a slight encounter with another ship whilst stationary and sank.

The wreck is in 38 metres on sand and has been wire swept so very open but, in the style of Eric Morecambe, all the parts are there but not necessarily in the right order. The team member who’d left their heated vest controller at home arranged for it to be matter transported to their bag (where they’d left it) in order to have a much warmer remainder of the week.

A light lunch of two burgers and chips with a side salad as an attempt on healthy eating. Burp!

Second dive on the snappily named Mungers Boulders which promised the wreck of the Rognor, octopus and cuttlefish. None of which materialised of course. One member of the team had such a heavy lunch they decided a weight belt wasn’t required for the dive which turned out to be the wrong choice as it happens.

The water was a bit cold which is good for dementia-apparently.

Short run back to Lerwick for an early shower and a walk around town (and maybe a deco beer) before a big night out in the “bright lights” for a Thai banquet for twelve.

Before we left the boat, Dug the Dog left a little browny orange present on the deck next to Amanda’s stage regs. “Good boy Dug”.

A walk up to the Charlotte Fort and found a canon trained on Valkyrie. Tempting but the volume of kit on there stayed our hand. Wandered the beach next to Jimmy Perez’s house looking for sea glass, pub and then the Thai restaurant which was excellent food and a good night.

Wednesday

Another moist morning gives us the wreck of the easily pronounced Lunokhods 1 (which suggests there’s at least a 2 about somewhere) which is another Russian fish factory ship that’s broken in two and lies in forty-four or fifteen metres so take your pick. An interesting wreck with a few sort of swim trough’s and an even more interesting ascent line/SMB line combo on the way up.

It’s now midweek and energy levels are reduced. Only time will tell who’ll be the first to apply for their Dive Avoidance Specialty.

Meatballs for lunch and some laughing gnomes at the table! Queue David Bowie.

Second dive is another scenic rocks dive at Balla Skerry. Fully expected someone to bail based on the above and that’s is pissing it down but no, everyone opts to dive. Mixed results of conger, seal, octopus or nothing.

Too wet for a proper outing tonight so it’s film night, cards against humanity and a few beers.

Thursday

On a normal cruise the idea would be to run up north to Unst on Tuesday, do some diving up there and stay overnight in Unst harbour. But no, not this week – this week it’s the option to do a six hour “suicide run” up, dive the E49 submarine, then six hours back to Lerwick. Early start and a sleep in the cabin as there is no scenery to look at due to the low cloud and mist. It’s now that foggy that the boats foghorn is going but we still manage to have a “very” close encounter with a stray trawler. So much for modern vessels having AIS.

After a looooooong steam out the first dive is on the E49 which is a WWI sub sat in thirty-one meters on a sandy bottom. Those who had a mix for this depth were disappointed, as it turned out to be thirty-four or five metres, whereas those who thought they had a thin mix were rolling on the bottom laughing at them.

Fantastic dive which lived up to its hype. Very atmospheric sat on the sand with twenty or so metres of viz but sobering to think thirty-four men lost their lives here.

Dive two of the day is Lunna Wall on the loooong trip back to Lerwick.

Finally, we have the first two candidates for the Dive Avoidance Specialty. The call of the shower won out over the draw of a scenic wall. The only surprise really is that it took until Thursday to happen.

We were supposed to go along the wall and then go into an area called the amphitheatre. Out of the ten divers in the water a round number of zero made it into it. Decent wall would have been improved by some sunlight.

Finally arrived back in Lerwick after around fourteen hours at sea. Anyone who’s been out to the Pilsudski from Bridlington will know how this feels.

Friday

Single dive day today so we can get back to port with enough time to wash kit and get the five o’clock ferry back to Aberdeen.

We were all due to dive the wreck of the Glenisla but some of the group opted to dive the Froach Ban again instead.

Group one on the Froach Ban had a great dive with lots of life and acres of vis. Slight issue with the fact that some fishermen had left dozens of hooks on the descent line along with a large weight and a dead mackerel.

After a semi-patient wait group two dive the Glenisla in 44 metres which is fairly close in to Lerwick. Happy divers with not great vis but a good wreck. Minor issue with some stage regs but this was dealt with in the water.

Final lunch of chilli con carne, a rapid kit wash and pack. The volume of kit on the quayside is an impressive sight and a large price tag to leave unattended, however we did due to an opportunity for a beer in the Thule Bar (finally made it) then shuttle the (intact) kit back to the ferry port.

Funny how a tiny en-suite cabin on a ferry can feel like luxury after a week on a uk liveaboard. A number of carried on beers and wine compensated for the seven til nine bar timeframe.

At the end of a great week here’s just one thought to carry forward in life; Cold water is good for dementia-apparently!

Thanks to (in strict dive sheet order of course) Amanda, Liz, Steve, Andrew, Phil, Pablo, Rosa, Kay, Tom, Ian and Sarah for a great week.

Thanks also to Helen, Hannah and Andrew for looking after us for the week – it would have been a challenge.

Special thanks to Dug the dog for keeping up the ever-vigilant seal watch through the week and also for the little brown deck presents he left us as well.

Keith

Check out our Shetland YouTube Playlist to see an assortment of videos from the trip.

Shetland 2021 Playlist

Firth of Forth – Four seasons in one weekend and a 4-0 England victory!!

Despite some divers choosing to completely ignore the extensive information pack issued prior to the trip (you know who you are Pablo), the whole team eventually all gathered in Eyemouth on Friday evening.

After grabbing something to eat the weekend began with a few (but not too many) drinks to start the weekend in good form.

Saturday morning dawned bright and despite at least one lightweight complaining of a hangover (you know who you are Liz) we managed to load the boat and (almost) achieve the 8am ropes off target for the sail to Bass Rock.

Not far out of the harbour and the fog descended but our intrepid skipper Graham battled through and after a couple of hours Bass Rock majestically appeared out of the gloom.

The first dive was on the north wall which certainly didn’t disappoint with lots of life and everyone had a super dive despite a bit of current running.

After a spectacular surface interval watching the stunning bird life and chomping on Jaffa Cakes and Hob-Nobs we headed back to Fast Castle for our second dive. Unfortunately, the conditions had deteriorated somewhat but after a long and very bumpy sail we still had time for the second dive which was enjoyed by all.

Once back and showered it was off to The Ship restaurant for a scrumptious meal for 12 (not 18!) and then round to the Cutty Sark beer garden to watch the end of the England v Ukraine match. Not sure everyone in the bar was as excited as we were though at the 4-0 result! Ah well there’s always Qatar for you to try again next time Scotland….

Thankfully day 2 started on a sunny note and we headed back into the marine reserve for two great dives on Black Carr and in Guillemot Bay. Loads of life and colour including curious guillemots diving and flying underwater around us.

All in all, an excellent weekend, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Thanks to Gary, Graham, Jade and Alex at DiveStay for looking after us.

Amanda

Video Highlights

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

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

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