It is in the nature of a true Englishman (and woman), to view with some scepticism the likelihood of fine weather in days to come. It is doubly so in the caser of English scuba divers who travel on dive trips hoping for the best but expecting the worst. So it was with the trip to Loch Fyne. All the indications were for excellent, sunny weather and calm seas – we feared the worst.
However, our pessimism was misplaced because, as is often the case, Scotland delivered on its climatic promises. We had wall to wall sunshine for five days. OK it was a bit cool and breezy in the evenings but, hell, no one was complaining as we sat on our decking and read the papers, chewed the fat or swigged beer or wine.
The diving, well nit was typical Loch Fyne diving especially as we failed again to persuade Malcolm-the skipper, to vary his routine and go a little further afield. So trips to Torpedo Reef, the Margaret Niven, where tickets were issued for access to the very small wreck, and Arran III which could be missed if you blinked at the wrong time. Other scenic dives were spoilt by the activity of the scalloping boats which make a mess of the seabed and scatter the wildlife far and wide. Where protected by rocks and reef, the seabed is spared and a more diverse and richer wildlife is available for the diver’s delectation.
We saw some great specimens – a Thornback Ray, no not Mr Dawson in a bad mood, an angler fish with its little fishing rod, ferocious sharp teeth filled mouth and strange frill. It is pure chance to spot one as they blend into the sea bed beautifully. Matt and Adam spotted a mysterious fish about which there was much debate until Ray and Frankie also spotted one and Ray managed to identify it. It was a Dragonet whose main characteristic is that it has a pattern of blue fluorescence when a torch is shone on it.
There was a strange lack of fish and even attempts to catch Mackerel during our surface interval. Malcolm assured us they were right under the boat about 10m down but our efforts were in vain. The local Gannets also thought they were somewhere else as they were diving for them some distance away. However, there were plenty of scallops and we feasted on our catch as a starter before the bbq on Sunday evening. Some also were transported south in goody bags for future, lip smacking consumption.
Non-divers enjoyed walking o’er hill and dale and through the local forests. Poor Millie, Anne and Matt’s middle-aged dog found the first full day all too tiring and completely flaked out in the evening. Anne had to reign back her walking plans to allow for Millie’s age and dignity over the following days.
The high point and most comical episode of the trip was the discovery and an old trawler, owned and run by a local trust, neatly parked on the rocks of a pinnacle we were due to dive. As the tide ebbed. Malcolm predicted a new wreck for us to dive in future visits. However, Neptune or Poseidon, or one or other of those sea gods, was in benevolent mood and the boat survived on the rocks, undamaged albeit listing at a precarious angle. It was floated off on the next high tide with the only damage being to the pride of the ‘experienced’ sailor that took it out. It would have been excellent to be a fly on the wall when he was explaining what happened to his fellow trust members.
Those who had to get back drove off sunburnt but satisfied. Others stayed on an extra night and enjoyed another fine meal at West Loch Tarbert. Finally, only Anne and Matt were left with the palatial lodgings all to themselves, more scallops for tea and a final beautiful day meandering down to Campletown. The advantages of self-employed status.
If you want to suggest extras or just organise something please get in touch with Ray for any assistance you require
Our annual ‘winter’ pilgrimage to Tobermory. 2nd-5th March. One not to miss !!!!
MV Halton with Skipper Bob Anderson
A glorious long weekend blessed with calm seas and a lot of fine weather (some rain – this is Scotland in March !!)
Excursion to Coll. A new walking destination for Ray and Karl !
Usuals in the Sound. Hispania always the stand out. Plus Aurania and Consul General Ellisejeffe (maybe spelled similar).
We had a really enjoyable weekend just off junction 36 on the M6 at Etland House, Preston Patrick, Cumbria.
Given work committments arrival times on Friday afternoon / evening were somewhat variable but we did meet up using the evening. A supposedly quiet night was the plan with the intention of a early start and breakfast at Capernwray.
Some of us managed the plan at least. We had to meet a trainee ! Two dives later and we could withdraw to the public house for an afternoon drink. Then back to our base to begin preparations for the meal. Many thanks to Jill for her food organisation and everyone who helped out. A great dining experience followed by the traditional games.
Sunday and time for a walk (or two) before the early departures. The core of the group stayed ’til Monday for extra fun!
Started Ocean Diver, Sports Diver and Dive Leader courses in Feb. Can still add more to Ocean Diver.
All week and the forecast is looking good. We’ve seen this before though only to have hopes dashed at the final hurdle. So, we set off, full of expectation and hope, but a much depleted team due to late drop outs (for good reasons).
Our accommodations at ‘The Bunker’ are ready for us as we arrive at various times during the late afternoon and evening. Owen, a late replacement, takes the biscuit though arriving at 4.30 am, after needing a nap en route. So we have a bright (expression only) and early start with breakfast at 6.45, ready for an 8.00 ropes off for a 9.30 slack window.
Our first dive, the M2. Perfect conditions; a slight chop, overcast but bright and clear. Descending down the shot (placed perfectly on the conning tower) we could see the shape emerging before us. Good visibility at about 8m meant we got a really good appreciation of the wreck and all the life in and around it. Conger, Bib, Tompots, Pollack, Crabs. A real treat with the hangar safely accessible for those who wanted to share it with the free swimming conger.
As always with Portland the second dive is a drift. An opportunity to go scalloping and critter searching on Lulworth Banks. Visibility was limited so keeping your buddy was a challenge, not possible to hang around and wait ! Lots of crabs, small wrasse, gobies and some nice corals. There were patches of king and queen scallops, so a good haul by some.
Jill had observed the funfair (difficult to miss since it was next door) and so persuaded / bullied various members of the team onto the waltzers. Being organised, we had booked the ‘Cove’ for dinner and a very pleasant meal was had by all.
A slightly later ropes off and a more civilised breakfast time made for an easier start and the flat calm sea helped ! St Dunstan, a bucket dredger, our first dive of the day. Great visibility of 10m mean for an excellent dive. Lots of open areas, the operating machinery clearly visible, hundreds of fish around (as previous day) plus lobster and huge shrimp. A really good dive for both metal heads and veg divers. Off the side of Portland headland at Black Nor Point for the drift. Quite gentle so opportunity for an explore – more hidden life except the ubiquitous wrasse and occasional cuttlefish. Some saw the remains of the James Fennel.
Since we were starting early it made for an early finish so we continued the custom of a drink in the ‘Boat that Rocks’ (Marina Bar) before going too far. Except that Jill went a little too far with ‘play’ pushing Huw into the hedge. Huw not realising that this was ‘play’, was a little more forceful in his response and we all heard the loud scream and turned to see two feet sticking out of the hedge. Only pride dented though.
We were meant to take slow cookers but only one arrived. So we ended up cooking in the late afternoon. An excellent chilli following the starter of diver caught scallops was enjoyed by all. Thanks to Frankie, Ray and Matt.
Our last day came around too soon. A slightly more adventurous sea journey to get into the lea of Portland for our second sub, HMS Sidon. The visibility was not great (we had been spoilt) at maybe 4m but it was enough to see where you wanted to go. Fantastic fin shape on the stern and the usual profusion of life.
We decided to repeat Black Nor Point to search for more cuttlefish and wreckage. We got both ! A great end to a very enjoyable long weekend.