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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Hidden Treasure Trove

Now this would have been a hell of a find to make on a dive. Just a shame that they haven't invented scuba that can hit 3miles down!

"It was a dark, ice-cold February. The merchant ship SS Gairsoppa was seeking refuge in Ireland when a Nazi U-boat sunk her. She was loaded with seven million ounces of silver. That's worth £150 million in today's money"


According to Odyssey, the seven million ounces of silver is "the largest known precious metal cargo ever recovered from the sea." They will keep 80%, while the British government would grab 20% of the total booty. They will start the recovery in 2012.

I think it would be fair to say that most divers dream of discovering a new wreck or dive site, especially one with £150 million of silver sitting on it. Carl Fismer and Mel Fisher, eat your hearts out! 


Now where's my metal detector?.........

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Killer Soup

A very interesting and thought provoking article found on one of my regular tech sites and not something you would not normally find on such a site but something that has a huge impact on us and and the environment.

The Soup That is Killing The Ocean

Say what you will about Ramsey, he has some clout and a TV show to be able to highlight something that we've known and been banging on about for years. 

Richard Branson is also carrying the torch for the ban on finning along with a couple more US states passing a bill on the ban of sale and consumption of shark fins.

The Washing Post

Time Magazine

The more people that we can get this message to, by whatever means, the better.

And we need to be sure we keep sending this message until the brutality stops.  

1.5 million sharks a week (most going to China) need our help. Without them, our oceans would be a lonelier, sadder place to be.

Save Us!!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

MORE POWER!!

Just finished having an awesome weekend completing our RYA Powerboat Lvl. 2 course and what a blast it was!
Overcast start to the day at Port Edgar
With 30min segments of classroom work spread over the 2 days, it left more than ample time for practical hands on time with the RIBs, covering launch and recovery, safety checks, boat handling, towing, man overboard, anchorage, knots, collision avoidance, charts and loads more. Very interseting stuff.
Jill screwing the RIB at 20+ knots under the Forth Rail Bridge
With 3 to a RIB plus an instructor, it wasn't too overcrowed but we did have an older student that had the touch of an elephant on the throttle and just wanted to go fast everywhere. Forward, backward, you name it, full power all the time. Disconcerting when he's driving you straight at the pontoon at 8 knots. In reverse. I definately heard the instructors buttocks squeak at that point!
Inchcolm Abbey. Well worth a visit for the scenery
With most of the basics out of the way on day one, day two involved putting most of it together and planning a drive. So we pulled out the charts and worked out a nice route from Port Edgar across to Dalgety Bay, a stop on Inchcolm Island for a look and refresh our knot practice, over to Granton and then back to Port Edgar. 

And we had an added bonus in that the Queen Mary 2 cruise liner moored up during the day, so we took a slow drive past for some pictures and a look. The thing is massive. Especially when you're in somthing thats only just less than 6 metres. I wouldn't want to get caught in the wake of that thing!
I think the QM2 has the right of way.....
The weekend has certainly been a good learning experience and we've enjoyed it so much we've already signed up for our RYA Intermediate course with the Advanced happening in December. 

As a diver I can definately see the benefits of the course and it gives you a real insight into the mind of the boat skippers and everything they need to take into account. It certainly makes you appreciate them all the more when they are able to drop you in the water and pick you up in some seriously crappy conditions. Hats off to them I say.

Leaving the QM2 eating our wake
Don't think I can justify £15k on a new RIB though. Maybe Santa will be nice this year......
 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Into the Blu

This is an awesome concept and well worth following closely to see what they are able to create with this project. A living, breathing ocean in the cloud. It's going to keep growing and growing.....

The Blu

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Four Minus One

Despite the stong winds and the patchy weather, the diving was still stonking , despite muppets turning up late and taking 45 minutes to actually get on the boat and get sorted. And without even an apology for keeping us waiting. Still, we had the last laugh as quite a few of them were decidedly green after the boat ride out the the Skellies, so karma was definately in effect today.

It's also worth mentioning Elaine decided to bail out at the last minute, some nonsense about having to pack for her holidays to Cyprus.You would think holidays are more important than going diving. The nerve of the woman!! :-P
Looks can be deceiving. Rock and roll all the way.
Skellies gullies where still as vibrant as ever despite the lateness of the year and the lobster army was still ever present and scuttling about. With a multitude of flounders, scorpionfish and shrimp covering the walls and bottom, we weren't short of things to see, thats for sure.
Plenty of flatties in the gullies
Vis averaged 6-7m all day, which isn't the worst we've seen by a long shot but not the best either, but considering it wasn't the calmest of days, I'm not going to complain. We ran up and down a couple of the gullies and then drifted off SW to the shallows, onto the back of Hurker for our pick up before motoring back to harbour for the trational bacon butties.

Oh, and it's also worth mentioning that they have finally got round to fixing the potholes on the road down to the harbour. Which is nice.

Given the weather, dive sites were a bit restricted so we opted for Black Carr. No surprise there. Never a bad dive, etc, etc...
Lovely little scorpionfish in unusual colouring
  Tide was in flood so Peter dropped us further North on the frontside. This gave us plenty of opportunity to get some quality time in amongst the pinnacles and swim thoughs. This is one of the best dives I've had here and I found a couple of new swim throughs and overhangs (new to me) which were spectacular and just covered in dead mens fingers, anemones and nudibranchs. 

We swam through one crevice to end up in amongst a massive shoal of pollock which was spectacular and Mabs made a great find of a conger of truly epic proportion. As I've said before, you don't see many congers at St Abbs and this was a whopper. And wasn't shy either. I think Mabs was getting to ready to swim for it before it got hold of her and dragged into the depths!
Lobsters to the left of me, lobsters to the right....
And scooting past the anchor, we found several of the wolfies in their usual holes along with a juvenile wolfie who was a little shyer than the rest and wasn't keen to come out. Next time. Conditions at the surface were still on the crappy side and getting pretty lumpy, but fortunately we managed to get unloaded and in the car before the torrential rain hit us. Great weather for ducks.

It's about this time that the place starts to wind down for a lot of people. Peter, Paul and the rest still have a few more bookings for next month but after that, it's fairly spotty. But we'll be there as usual, all through Winter (weather permitting) and out the otherside. Roll on Summer time......

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wrecking Lochaline

Heading to Lochaline in pouring rain at 4am is not my idea of fun but coming back from a new Sony product launch in London at midnight, needs must when required. And I did get an offer of getting dragged around the dive sites if I wanted a quick nap underwater. We were bundled onto the M.V. Sound Diver as the light rain fell, mixed in amongst a group of seven from somewhere in England.
Ready for the off at first light
As they were the larger group, they dictated the dives to be done over the two days. Which is a shame as they chose wrecks all weekend. Don't get me wrong, I like a nice wreck as much as the next person but there are some astoundingly good scenic dives which were all completely ignored. A real shame and their loss. I can only put it down to their unfamiliarity of the area.

First jump was on the Rondo which is an interesting wreck in that is sits nearly vertical in the water, stern up and the rudder at about 8m, and a nice swim through at about 18m which can take you out of one of the holds at 32m. 
Entrance to the Rondo swim through
The problem is when the wreck gets loaded with divers and theres a current, the safety stop gets very busy with limited space. 
Devonshire cup corals and plumose anemones on the rudder
Not the best dive I've had on the Rondo due to the swarm of divers, ripping current and crap vis, but still pleasant enough all told. We've had much worse.

We were due to head to Tobermory to cool our heels and have lunch, but some silly woman from the other group who was diving in a wetsuit was complaining she was cold and wanted to go and get her other wetsuit from the dive centre. Which was a long way away. So the boat headed back. This was the same women that said that she never gets cold on dives in a wetsuit. 

Here's a tip for you love, wear the proper bloody exposure protection you stupid moo, then we wouldn't have to waste 4 hours at the surface to ferry you around because you're an idiot! I really have no patience for morons and less patience for those with little common sense. Right, rant over.
The girls thinking about slapping all women wetsuit divers on the boat!
When we left Lochaline for the second time that day, we motored over to the Hispania, a Swedish built streamer which is coming up for its 100th birthday next year and is still in pretty good condition, sitting at a slight angle from shallow bow (about 22m) to the deeper stern (about 34m). 

As it's still in good nick, there's plenty of opportunity for penetration and getting right in amongst it. But don't forge to have a little mooch around a little of the wreck at the debris scattered around, particularly amidships off starboard side, where you'll find plenty of marine life like a nice conger we found in one of the old steam pipes.
Steamed conger
There was also a good selection of wrasse, pollock and flounders hanging around to be photographed  and made a fuss over. We worked towards the bow and up and over onto deck and down port side towards the rudder and back up and over for a final fly past. Again, the vis was not at its best today and it's a good wreck to do at slack water when the vis is excellent to get the full effect.
Mabs checks out the anemone covered rudder
We powered back to the pontoon and settled in for the evening. I must say that they have done a good job updating the dive centre accomodation. All the rooms are now onsuite with underfloor heading and the dining room has been over halued furniture and fixture wise which comes with its own built-chef. 

Not difficult to get Gordon talking as he has quite a lot to say about every subject under the sun. And his food's not bad either. We settle in for fresh made breaded haddock for starters with spagetthi bolognese for the main attraction with the girls hitting the wine whilst I hit the sheets and try and reclaim some sleep. After all, tomorrow is another day.


The sun shining, breakfast on the decking and another day of diving.
We scoffed a full english (don't know why its not a full scottish, but there you go) and then made a break for the pontoon to gear up. The Brendan was setting off with their divers at 9am and we were on the charge to hit the Thesis first before the mad rush.
Full throttle for the Thesis
The Thesis is a lovely old wreck with plenty its ribs showing through which makes for excellent photographic opportunities and it's easy enough to weave in and out the wreck and amongst the holds. 
Elaine swims outside past the hull ribs
When you get bored and want a little change of scenery, swim off the bow and head NE and your right on the reef in under a minute with some excellent scenery, large clusters of boulders with clusters of lobsters and edible crabs liberaly sprinkled around.
An edible crabs nestles on the reef
With a nice little potter at 15m, I drifted off into the current back onto the wreck and drifted up the shot. By this time, the current had picked up something fearsome and divers were scattered all up and down the coastline of Mull. All good fun.

Thankfully today, we didn't have to spend waste time motoring back for a stupid wetsuit and we hit Oban for a slice of sunshine and bite of lunch. The kayakers where out, the tall ships were in and the tourists where milling around in abundance.
Oban in full panoramic sunshine
Last but not least on the agenda was the Breda, which is by far one of my favourites. It's a big old lump of metal at 127m long and very scenic with a bucket load of marine life on it, with the bow sitting shallower than the stern which also makes it ideal for divers of all levels. The decks covered with ship wreckage and vehicle and aircraft spares cover in growth with nudis and scatterings of pollock all over.
Quality camera time on the Thesis
This is actually one wreck that it is difficult to get bored of as there's just so much to see of it. The deck sits far off the bottom so don't be lulled into spending too much time on the bottom. Do a quick visit to the prop and then get on to the deck and enjoy the scenery. 
Peek-a-boo!
The bow sits at about 10-12m depending on the tide and it you can easily spend most of the dive on the front section of the ship. And because its such a large wreck it's very difficult to meet any other divers on it so you can be assured of a quiet, peaceful dive without continuously getting a fin in the face.
Some strange women on the bow


Perfect diving on the Breda
 We spent most of the time up on deck posing for pictures as well as taking them and enjoying the sunshine coming in from the surface to light up the wreck. Reluctantly we headed up the midships shot to end the dive and day before heading back to shore and the long, winding road home.
Nap time for Mabs!
Not to worry, theres always St. Abbs on Saturday, so its not all bad!