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.