Trip Report Northern Ireland – 2013

DSCF6640DSCF6576 DSCF6636 DSCF6633 DSCF6608 DSCF6598 DSCF6589 DSCF6584 DSCF6583 DSCF6579  DSCF6573 DSCF6566 DSCF6561 DSCF6540 DSCF6519A fantastic week aboard the live-aboard MV Salutay with Norsemaid Charters – Al and Freda.

An altogether unpromising forecast for the week saw us driving to Stranraer in very mixed weather.  However, we have agreed to meet at Portpatrick for lunch if early and the majority managed that. Despite the wind and occasional rain (heard that before somewhere !) we have a little wander about this very pretty port.

The welcome as we met Al and Freda for the first time was great. Telling us exactly what we needed to know and getting our kit stowed.

The crossing in the morning was a little rough for some of our team (we’re all fair weather sailors) but we made it in the end to the security of Rathlin Island and our diving appointment with the Loch Garry ! What an excellent first dive. 10m vis and lots of life. A wreck that looks like a boat, identifiable pieces everywhere.

Into Ballycastle for the evening and the start of our culinary adventure. We were kept wondering all week just what Freda would produce next, how much we could eat and still fit into our drysuits at the end of the week.

So good we dived it twice. Loch Garry again in the morning and just as enjoyable. Better for knowing where to look the second time. Tide was picking up at the end. Finished with divers on a washing line for the deco stop.

For the afternoon the HMS Drake was calling in the shelter ofRathin Island bay. An island in a sea of sand. Really have to explore the kelp to understand that this is a wreck not a reef it is so well assimilated into the natural world. Lots of nooks and crannies, a few swim throughs with life galore.

Over to foreign lands the next day – Donegal – for the Castle Eden. Fantastic vis and so many fish. Exploring the scattered wreckage was a joy. In the afternoon the William Manell. Poor vis and hard work (against the current) to find the wreck.

A long steam back to Port Rush for the evening. Then setting out for the Castle Eden again. How could it be this good again?  Then for our afternoon workout (got to be payback or all the cakes) the Towey (nowhere near Essex). Nice upright frame and then a sniper crawl to the 2nd piece of wreckage. Fantastic growth colours and thousands of fry.

Back over to Rathin. The weather closing in forced a diving in the shelter at Black Head. A scenic dive with interesting tides ! Lots of hiding life. A strange late afternoon with glorious sunshine (as in sun bathing) and sea mist all around closing in – very eerie. Then all clearing for a glorious sunset.

Sadly the final day and an easy steam to Stranraer taking in the Longwy on the journey. Great colours and lots of life but very murky.

A great week was had by all. Many thanks to our hosts for their excellent hospitality, great organisation and fantastic skippering. We are all desperate to dive with them again sometime soon.

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