Orkney – August 2014

Huddersfield BSAC 18  – The mysteries of Orkney.

By Matt Corder

The Orkneys have been inhabited for 8,500 years from the Neolithic to the present day. They have witnessed major historical events – Viking invasions, scuttling of the German fleet in World War I, the base for dangerous Arctic convoys of World War II and most recently the invasion of these mystical islands by Huddersfield BSAC 18.

Group photo

The horde from the south


In early centuries, the locals worshipped the sun and the moon and mystery and magic abounded. Some say that mysticism still pervades the islands and some of the events of the club’s trip had all the hallmarks of these mysterious influences.


How would you account for the beauty of the weather – well most of it? The intensities of the sunsets, the tranquillity of the sunrises, for those not sleeping off late nights tying knots and talking.


Idyllic or what?


How would you account for the calmness of the seas which enabled the creaking Jean Elaine out of the flow and north to the Northern Isles for the first time this season and allowed those of us with delicate stomach to shun the call of the ‘Stugeron’?


How would you account for the stunning visibility in the Flow? It was actually possible to see a lot, if not all, of the gargantuan German warships rotting away on the seabed. Including large tubes which mystified your author and excited our glorious leader. So there were a couple of big guns under the Kron Prinz Wilhelm………….!!!


One gun!Good viz

Seen one gun, seen them all.                                                 Now that’s good viz.


How would you account for the temporary disappearance of Frankie on a drift between Eday and the Calf of Eday for a goof half an hour? Some of the company were mysteriously humming the tune to ‘Frankie goes to Holywood’ while scanning the waves. Full marks must go to Karl’s eagle eyes for spotting the forlorn diver and his orange blobby.


Anyone there whos lost

He’s out there somewhere.                                                 Lost? Who was lost?


How would you account for the strange temporal, or was it cerebral, imbalance that resulted in Richard H and Alex spending 25 minutes in deco returning from the Kron Prinz Wilhelm? Perhaps they were sucked into a marine black hole which transported them to a wreck on another  astral plane…………..apologies, I’m getting carried away.


How would you account for the otherwise meticulously organised Richard W – our magnificent trip leader, jumping into the water with his flies undone- actually it was his dry suit zip? He was forced to make a yelping return to the Jean Elaine to rectify his ‘wardrobe malfunction’


How would you account for Richard W finally remembering his ‘Book of Knots’, buying 1m of cord in Stromness to enable hours of innocent fun on the part of some of the Company and the suddenly discovered need for sleep, on deck, on the part of the rest?


Retreating from knots and Rhys.


How would account for the outpouring of the huge lexicon which is Rhys Farrow’s verbal encyclopaedia (this is his type of phrase)? This avalanche of verbosity delighted some of the Company and rendered others to a state of distracted desperation. It has become apparent since this trip, that the mysticism of Rhy’s verbal manifestations are a constant and not just attributable to the strange influence of the Orkneys.


How would you account the presence of an aggressive man-eating scallop which nearly surgically removed Frankie’s finger? A scallop, with many others which became part of a mystical fish pie created by our oft referred to leader, Richard  W. The same fish pie which contained the only mackerel the company managed to catch from a sea full of Mackerel.


How would account for the masses of fish which seemed to appear on every wreck we visited? They were present in such quantity that the expressions ’fish blizzard’ and ‘fish soup’ were coined in description.

Fish Soup

Fish soup


How would you account for the fact that Will and Richard H and Alex reached  the milestones of 150th and 100th dives respectively on this particular tip in this particular place?


Will on number 150…………ish


How would you account that, out of a potential collective 144 dives for the trip, 144 dives were completed despite some of the company suffering from colds and doubtful eustachian tubes? This was a statistic which had never before figured in our chief statistician’s (Steve H) copious records before.


How would you account for the sheer divine food which Diane, Frankie and Richard W conjured up out of a ’new’ yet very recalcitrant cooker? Perhaps the state of near starvation of the awaiting company transported them into gastronomic nirvana when the food finally arrived. Or perhaps just top drawer cooking.


How would account for the weird spectacle of the Tormalina wedged upright in its own rocky gully looking as if the crew had only just left – well apart from the rust, abundant marine life adhering to the metal and the holes and dents in the hull?


How would you account for the almost spiritual experience that is diving the Tabarka? Sun streaming in the holes in the upturned hull, gin clear water and an abundance a marine life on every surface and in every nook and cranny. If one was inclined to the religious then the cathedral like space could bring you to your knees in supplication. Your overawed author needed to just sit and wonder at the sheer beauty of it all.


The mystical Tabarka


The sceptics amongst you will dismiss all this mysticism as pure baloney. You would say it is all perfectly explicable combinations of benevolent climate and marine conditions, exceptional diving skills – well mostly, great seamanship, extraordinary group management and organisation and extreme patience of the verbose by the taciturn. Perhaps, however there are forces abroad which are undefinable, that do not follow the logical or scientific path and which shape events and outcomes. Should forces be at work then, surely, the Orkneys must be a credible centre for their influences.


Dear reader, I will leave you to decide……………………..

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