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.