Category Archives: Dive Trips

Last 2 days from Shetland week …….. in St Abbs

From our planned week long trip in Shetland we had only 4 dives but had spent 5 days at it. We were desperate to try and recover some diving. So to our rescue came Paul Crowe at Rock House in St Abbs     divestabbs.com    offering us 2 dives Thursday pm, 2 dives Friday am and accommodation for the night. Very convenient as a halfway stop on our journey from Aberdeen to Huddersfield. So the logistics worked out perfectly.

And so did the diving. Fine weather and OK visibility. 4 excellent dives. Cleaver Rock, Black Carr, Wuddy Rocks swim through and Anenome Gullies.

 

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Shetland 2020 and …………

One of our long awaited trips is on the cusp. Are we going to Shetland ? Will the weather gods smile on us ? What will Bob decide. Will there be any lockdown changes ?????

Well.

We all travelled up to Aberdeen, in glorious sunshine, for the Saturday night ferry to Lerwick. Full of hope but knowing there was a storm coming our way !

A very calm crossing and quick disembarkation meant that we loaded the Clasina and were on our way very quickly for the first dive. Fraochpan (trawler on white sand) at 30m. Only small but upright and very recognisable as a boat with life colonising the relatively recent wreck. Flatfish all around on the seabed. 2 Octopus on the wreck and 1 a little way off. A great start.

Then, the start of the conversation about the storm due Wednesday and when to make the crossing to Orkney. Never mind, focus on the diving. Two more dives today. Lunokhods (Klondyker) in 40m. Everyone found the shotted bow section but only one team managed to follow the wreckage trail to the shallows. OOOPS. Visibility not great (my excuse!).

Off to Giants Legs. Two arches and a cave in 20m max. Everyone successfully navigated this and had a great dive. Lots of life all around. Scared the seal out of the cave.

Decision time. Can we face a rough crossing for 14 hours – NOOOOOOO. Decision made easy then. Steam for Orkney in the evening and arrive in the early hours.

Awoke docked at Eday. Slow start to dive the Char (Oceana). Broken wreck in 16m with a few swim throughs. Good visibility and lots of life. Things are looking up.

Spoke too soon, The boat has engine problems. Need to get to Kirkwall and an engineer ASAP. No diving for the rest of the day. Go for a wander. Highland Park shop is open but not a lot else.

The situation is terminal. Boat is properly broken. Some serious engine dismantling and parts needed. No more diving for us. Can’t get the next ferry until Wednesday night so 2 days ‘at leisure’. Means different things for different folks !

Not the result we had hoped for.

Please see the next instalment – short notice St Abbs – on the way home.

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St Abbs in July ??

Well. What to say. It’s off. Then it might be on, with restrictions. Then who wants / is able to go ?!?!?

Anyway. Six of enjoyed a fantastic weekend.

The weather was phenomenal. Wall to wall sunshine Saturday and Sunday after a grisly drive up. Alternating between downpours and sunshine.

Socially distanced in accommodation sharing the bunkhouse, the Cottage and camping and the dive boat with a maximum of 8 on board. It all felt very strange. Obviously no helping each other kit up except for the drysuit zip.

Fortunately, once in the water all that could be forgotten.
Wuddy Rocks to Black Carr. 12m viz, lots of crawling life and Wolfish, Angler fish, Nudibranchs. Jill and others claim seal action under water.
West Hurca. 15m viz. Fantastic colours and shoals, Sand eels schooling to protect themselves from the prowling Pollack.
Tye’s Tunnel. 15m viz. Bit swelly going in but good nevertheless. Then out towards West Hurca route. Lots of Wrasse of all varieties.
Weasel Loch. 12m viz. Lots in the crevices including Tompots and leopard spotted Gobies. Adam found an Octopus. They’re always there. Can you find them ?

St Abbs at its best. Including Cullen Skink at the cafe (well take out).

Many thanks to Paul and Rachel at Rock House for a fabulous weekend.   http://divestabbs.com/

Good recommendation on the chinese takeaway. Chu Hoi.   https://chu-hoi.business.site/

 

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Christmas St Abbs (well the weekend before)

Forecast for 3m swell?!?!? Should we take our dive gear ? Good job we listened to Paul and not Richard !!!!

Despite the awful weather earlier in the week the weather was improving. So we drove up in sunshine full of hope. The never ending debate going on. Where should we get our Friday night fish and chips. Giacopazzi’s won, what a great choice   http://www.giacopazzis.co.uk/

A very chill evening so taking all the wearable gear into the bunkhouse for maximum benefit in the frosty morning. A nice leisurely start to the day (courtesy of the tides). Paul was promising nothing except the ability to put us in and get us out.

So the first dive was from West Hurca drifting toward St Abbs. A really nice drift, visibility about 2m and not much life except the crawling kind but good to cover anemone gullies. Just over 30 minutes was enough for us all at 8 degrees.

Lunch interval, so a rapid traverse to the café for Cullen Skink (the best in Scotland).

After lunch the intrepid 5 (losing Richard) took to Black Carrs. It really was black, like a night dive, forcing focus on the torch beam but better vis of about 4m. The highlight being the anenomes out and feeding and their glorious colours – pink, white, mixed, reds.

Diane had done most of the dinner preparation so a quick round of spud bashing and we were ready for the New Inn (walk for the hardy). Then a return to a sumptuous Christmas dinner followed by who can remember what.

Lazy Sunday with breakfast in the café. Not quite the plan but it worked out well. So fully fuelled a few of us went for a walk round Gibside with the obligatory coffee (near Newcastle https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside). Well worth a visit.

 

 

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St Abbs September 2019

A reasonable forecast prior to the weekend but very changeable day by day as we got closer. What would actually happen ?

So we arrived Thursday evening to be greeted the waves breaking and Paul saying ‘it will be what it will be’, ‘there’s certainly going to be swell tomorrow’. and so it was.

Undeterred we set off for the Isle of May under a grey cloud and on a swelly sea. The further we went the more we could see sunshine behind us (the wrong way !) but the swell was lessening. Looking round the island the swell was from the SE making the NW the only ‘safe’ area.

So seals resting / swimming round the north side became our target. We were not disappointed, with many seal encounters. There were lots of younger seals and they were very inquisitive.

A short lunch break and we were ready again, For the bits of the Albany wreck. Ribs and hull plates with various scattered items along the sea bed. Life clustered in and amongst including conger and lobster.

Quite a long haul back in worsening weather (the rain – URGHHHHH), Then a quick change and out to Eyemouth for tea.

With no promises for Saturday we awoke to sunshine and calm seas. Needing to stay in the shelter of the bay Black Carrs and Ebb Carrs were selected. Good choices. Octopus, Angler fish, Ling, shoal of juvenile pollack, wolf fish all sighted as well as lots of lobster and crab.

As evening drew close we saw the best of St Abbs in the sunshine as we prepared for our dinner at the New Inn, Coldingham.

Paul warned us about Sunday and so no one was surprised when diving was cancelled. So an opportunity for a leisurely start and early set off for home.

Many thanks to Paul and Rachel (Dive St Abbs, Rock House and Shore Diver).

 

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Orkney August 2019

There is a lot more to a six day liveaboard diving trip than exploring rusting hulks and chasing marine critters. In fact, during this year’s Orkney trip, over the six days and, assuming an average dive time of 45 minutes, each of us only spent 9 hours underwater. Of course, some of us – notably your humble author, spent quite a bit less than this, but more of that later.
So, what else diverts us during the remaining ninety six hours or so – the time remaining that we are not asleep at night?
Eating and drinking, as in all trips, or indeed any holiday, is of vital importance. Let’s face it most holidays are merely filling in time between meals. We were blessed with food of the highest culinary standard provided by the efficiently delightful Rachel. She provided tasty, yet balanced meals catering for the varied capacities and idiosyncratic tastes of the assembled diners. Of course, the carefully crafted and balanced diet was totally undermined by the large quantities of sweets and biscuits eaten in between those meals.
Drinking is a vital pastime which, it goes without saying, was indulged to strictly moderate levels – unless it was your birthday. However, it is essential to oil the wheels of social interaction and ensure, for the older members of the group, a regular and vital exercise regime through the night. The quantities of cans and bottles deposited in the various recycling bins, clearly evidenced the commitment to the pastime.

The old traditionalists

Birthday boy
There is also ample time, for some, to pursue a strict exercise regime and for others to strictly not pursue any exercise regime. For most, gentle evening strolls enjoying the beautiful Orcadian sunsets was sufficient to maintain a modicum of physical fitness. However, on one occasion, the desire for an evening libation, spurred the group to a furious route march to a far-flung hostelry.
In between dive sleeping and reading was another favourite pastime. Usually it was more of a case of reading then sleeping rather than any lengthy retreat into the fantasy of prose.
Of course, the nine hours under the water involves support and ancillary activities such as kit fettling, nitrox analysis – for those willing to pay for it, and equipment repair with the help of the of the very efficient overnight service of the dive shop in Stromness.
This trip brought new innovations. We had the newly devised MOTD Awards which were nothing to do with football and actually meant Muppet of the Day (perhaps it was about footballers?). There were several, variably deserving recipients of the award who I will not embarrass by naming here. The sloppy grin and pinkness of your author’s cheek, gives away my identity as one. It was possible that I might have received on more than one occasion but a sense of fair play on the part of our revered leader meant the award was more widely shared out. An overall weekly winner has yet to be announced.
More excitingly, there were new DIVE BRIEFING innovations (this has to be in capitals as it always must be shouted very loudly).Bob delivered his first 3D model some undersea pinnacles called “Nipple Rock”, using a handy blanket. Whether the model was meant to allude female mammary glands only Bob can say. It was a tour de force and left us all open mouthed in admiration. However, even this momentous new innovation was eclipsed by application of the latest cutting edge technology in the form of a 3d printed version prepared by Ainsley and Rachel. It was of a separated item of wreckage photographed on the sea floor then rendered into vibrant orange three dimensions. The only disappointment was the actually item of wreckage proved not to be bright orange as the model suggested it would be.
Another first was that Bob abandoned ship for two nights and a day and left us in the youthful but very capable hand of Ainsley and Rachel. Ainsley proved to be a master steersman and professionally overcame the elements to extract The Halton from a quay in strong winds. Rachel delivered more traditional dive briefings with a thoroughness and a great deal more beauty than is generally available from Bob. We were suspicious of Bob’s reasons for time off but were too polite to mention them.

Undersea Beauty I

Undersea beauty II
And the diving? Divers go to Orkney for the remaining wrecks of the scuttled WWI fleet and often never venture from Scapa flow for the entire week. We are more intrepid and venture out to the other island and this time tied up in Burray in the west and Westray in the north. We also managed a couple of hours for late breakfast and love gift purchases in Kirkwall. We also made an attempt on a much lauded site well out into the Atlantic called North Shoal. However, the sea state was against us and after 5 hours bobbing about there was concern over retrieving divers and a general lack of enthusiasm to dive. Round we turned and eventually dived in the shelter of the islands. Typically, our nauseous author spent the whole time in his bunk.
In the flow we enjoyed the variety of diving that is characteristic of Scapa Flow. We dived a battleship (Kron Prinz Wilhelm). All the three battleships in the Flow turned turtle when scuttled and only brave and intrepid divers venture in the dark recess to see the juicy bits partially buried in the silt. The cruisers (Karlsruhe, Coln, Brummer and Dresden) are much more rewarding as they lie on their sides making the most interesting deck paraphernalia available for exploration.

Tabarka -the undersea cathedral

Extreme scallop preparation on the Barge

There is plenty of other diving with block ships (Tabarka) and, possibly your author’s favourite, the F2 and barge.The irony of the story of these two wrecks is that the barge sank whilst part of the salvage attempt of the U boat, the F2. It sits there on the bottom with a couple/three of the U boats guns which will never again see the light of day.
The beauty of diving in Orkney is that there is diving for all tastes whether you are a young techy or an old traditionalist. This trip typified this and with generally benign weather, sociable company and the professional and, mostly polite, care of Bob and the crew of The Halton. We all sped home tired but fully satisfied with our experiences. Actually Karl and overnighted in Edinburgh and found ourselves the only the only westerners in a Chinese restaurant.
Our sincerest thanks to Richard Ward for organising yet another successful trip.

 

Matt Corder

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Red Sea trip organised April 2020

Liveaboard Blue Adventurer – Strait of Tiran/ Northern Wrecks from Hurgada – 24th April

Still places left on the boat.

Interested contact Ray.

 

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St Abbs (New Asgard) June 2019

A glorious weekend with the most divers from our club ever. 15 on Saturday and 14 on Sunday. Used all the accommodation and both waves !

Black Carr, West Hurker, Glanmire and Tye’s Tunnel. Great dives with a bit of current running round the headland. Interesting.

Wolf Fish, two Octopus and the usual crawling suspects. Viz fine at 4-5m. Water temperature was a warm 10 degrees. 50 minute dives from some with 40 minutes the norm.

Great accommodation and boat with Paul and Rachel at Rock House and aboard Shore Diver.

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Diving the Farnes Islands June 2019

Blown out Saturday. This is the UK after all !!!

A great days diving Sunday. Fantastic viz to say a storm had been through.

Blue Caps and Hares. Seals mainly sunning themselves but in the water around Blue C aps and some good interactions. See Facebook video segments.

Thanks for the pictures Victor.

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Mull 2019 – great diving in glorious weather

Been to Mull for our winter splash. Feb 21st- 24th.

MV Halton with Bob Anderson. The usual wreck highlights of the Sound.

Warm water 8 degrees (it is winter !!!). Great weather, only one afternoon of rain (in Scotland) !!

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