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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Shine a light

With two days of guiding lined up, it was a great way to get a decent send off. Weather and viz weren't so hot on the Sunday, but Monday was a real scorcher and as usual I got sunburnt for my troubles!

It was great to be back in the water with Pete and Diane and a pleasure for me to guide them around the stomping grounds again. Captain O'Callaghan ferried us out the Black Carr first as the surface conditions were not the most favourable.
My attempt to walk on water fails again....
I must say that Diane was on fire with her spotting and she found some great stuff on the Carr, The placce was craling with nudies, butterfish, lobsters, scorpionfish, the whole works despite the 4 metre viz working against us.
Pink prawn goes solo
We glided up, over and throught the swim throughs lapping the second pinnacle a couple of times before heading back to the shelter on the back of Big Black and finish off the saftey stop.
Wolfies always smile when they see us
We jumped on the Craigs for the second dive with the fog rolling in but despite the worsening conditions, it was the best dive on the Craigs I have ever had. After the first three outcrops, we picked up the wall heading North East at about 22 metres and it just kept going on and on and on. Every inch was covered in plumose and dahlia anemones as well as dead mens fingers and soft corals. Absolutely spectacular.
Juvenile scorpionfish on the Craigs wall
We couldnt have a better way to end the day, the dive was just mind blowing and I found a nice sea hare as well so that was the icing on the cake for me. The Craigs is a veritible photographers delight, and I wish I could have spent more time down there but as always air and deco time are the divers nemesis.
Sea hare, as opposed to my no hair!
Monday proved to be complete turnaround weather wise from Sunday with blistering sunshine and half decent viz. We opted to jump on Wuddy Rocks before heading through the swimthrough onto the backside of Big Black Carr.
Look into my eyes, you are feeling sleepy........
Pete and Diane were fortunate to find the octopus that hands around on Wuddy Rocks but I wasn't able to get a shot of it as I was just a little ways off focussed on getting some shots of a pair of mating nudibranchs, *bow-chick-a-bow-wow*. 

Wuddy swimthrough is spectacular and easily on par with Cathedral and unlike Cathedral, once you've been through it, you have plenty other places to fin to and see. It's not quite the one shot deal like Cathedral can be.
This was a big old beast of a lobster on Wuddy
Captain O promised us fish and chips for our surface interval and he was as good as his word as he drove us down to Eyemouth so we could stuff out faces in the sunshine!
"Fish and chips, single black pudding, two pickled eggs and a bottle of Vimto ahoy!!"
The seagulls fancied their chances a few times but they weren't getting hold of my haddock! We watched the seals frolick in the harbour for a while and fuelled up the boat before heading around the corner to a site raved about by some friends of ours caled the Pinnacles. And it was a bit of an anti-climax to be honest. Yes it was nice but it wasn't anything that the St Abbs sites couldn't do better. Some nice decorator crabs around on it though.
Decorator crab. Just don't ask it to do your skirting boards....
As we motored back into the harbour, the sun was starting to edge it's way towards the horizon, closing the chapter on my many years of St Abbs and UK diving in general, but what a glorious way to finish it all.
No, I have no idea why Dawn married him either..... :-P

Monday, 11 June 2012

Beyond the sea

The skies were grey and heavy threatening to let go at any moment, the surf was crashing off the rocks, the swell was about 6 -7 feet at the surface and the surge could be felt at anything less than 14 metres.
The last voyage of the original dive team and crew
Despite all this the diving was superb with an empty boat and cameras in hand, myself and my buddy of many years and long standing jokes took to the seas in what was to be our last dives together in UK waters. With a 5 knot Easterly buffeting the coast line, we were very limited to where we could get in so it was a no brainer to get in the water on the back of Black Carr along with the Pathfinder and Tiger Lily.
"Gan hurry up in the water, ya knaa's wor lass has gissies, tetties and bagies for dinna!"
Once in, we pushed on through the current and surge to the front and hunkered down on the wall at 28 metres to enjoy the scenery. I must say in all my years diving Black Carr this is the quietest in terms of marine life I have ever seen it.
I just love the vibrant colours
The wolfies were not in their usual holes, the wrasse and pollock were absent, nudis, crabs and lobsters where making themselves scarce. Obviously they knew that there would be no more diving here and were in a state of mourning! 
Anemone and sunstars abound
We made the best of it and weaved our way through the multitude of swimthroughs and nooks, absorbing the magnificence of the scenery with naught but the occasional moon jelly fish wafting by to distract us. 
Captain Crowe can't resist a cheeky wee grin as he drives by to pick up his divers
My buddy even elected to put the SMB up at the end for a change which sent me in to total shock. Still, the practice was good for her as I wouldn't be around to sort her out in the future. And just as well as her line decided to get snagged on the reel handle and we waved good bye to the whole lot as it headed for the surface. 

So back to me to deploy the balloon. As usual. We did mange to rescue it back on the surface though, so all was not lost. I do worry for her when I'm not around....
Seconds away from snagging...
We took a chance at lunchtime and headed round the headland to see what the conditions were like at the Skellies. 
I perform my amazing levitation routine off the side of the boat
Still as lumpy as an old mattress but we got in and down and cracked on with it. Water temp was staying consistent at 10 degrees and the vis was touching 7 metres in places with a fair amount of particulate in the water.
A wolfie pops out to say goodbye
However for this dive the marine life didn't disappoint with lobsters, squaties, wolfies, humungous nudis, crabs, wrasse and guillemots.
Gigantor, king of the nudibranchs
I think my buddy thought I might have been dominating one particular wolfie with the camera when she decide to elbow me to the head to get me out the way. I know it was secretly a sign of affection.....
The lobster whisperer's final conversation
Still, it was a fitting way to end the day . My buddy managed to hang on to her reel this time (not that I'm casting it up at all...) and we were escorted back to the surface by dive bombing guillemots.
Pick up at 2:30pm for two?
If I'm lucky, I'll get out one final jolly this weekend with the outrageous Captain O'Callaghan but seeing as my buddy is abandoning me to see another man down in Exeter of all places (women are fickle creatures), the original dive team will never be seen in this part of the world again. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mother's Little Helper

Superb diving today, despite 4-5 foot swells at the surface. We had 10+ metre viz in the water and loads of light coming in up top. 
Storm clouds brewing on the horizon.....
Captain O had a full boat today, so we were merely along for the ride and as they all wanted to do the Glanmire, we did the sensible thing and jumped overboard on the Craigs. The Craigs is one of those oft overlooked dive sites which doesn't get as much attention as the more well known ones but it has a unique charm and plenty of features all of its own. The site is peppered with large boulders, pinnacles, walls and shelves with all manner of goodies to find.
Vibrant Dahlia anemones abound on the Craigs
The plumose and dahlia anemones where out in full bloom with moon jellyfish gracefully undulating all around us in the water. Edible crabs, velvet swimming crabs, decorator crabs, lobsters, gobies, blennies, wrasse, pollock, flounders and wolfies, moon and lions mane jellyfish were out in force today enjoying the good weather.
The staring contest continues......
I was lucky enough to spot a nice big wolfie out in the open. Unfortunately it was facing the wrong way from as and as we maneuvered for an optimal shooting angle it shot off like a rat up a drainpipe. You would not believe how fast these things move through the water. Seriously, greasy weasels don't get a look in. 
Split second before take off. Next time....
With an average of 8 degrees in the water, it's still not up to usual summer time temperatures but with quality scenery and marine life like this, there's hardly room to complain. 
Velvet swimming crab says "OLE!"
We were also graced with a full escort of guillemots on out ascent to the surface after 66 minutes in the water. Unfortunately carrying my rig in one hand and the smb in the other I wasn't able to get any shots off but the guillies this week were particularly curious and were getting very up close and personal with us which always makes for a pleasing spectacle.
I can't believe it's not butter(fish)!
Back on top we had the challenging task of getting back on the boat, which despite Pathfinder having a tail lift was still a task and a half. My buddy made one of the most ungracious and unladylike like exits I've ever seen her do which probably didn't help with me pushing her up by her cylinder and her arse to keep her upright. Good job we're close friends.........

Less people went out on our boat as well as all the other boats for the second dive due to green faces and regurgitated breakfasts. Which meant more room for us on the boat so I'll not complain. Dive 2 saw us jumping on Wuddy Rocks for a nice bimble around before heading for the second pinnacle on Black Carr. 
Left at Wuddy and straight on to the second pinnacle
I found a nice big Yarrell's blenny sitting out in the open which makes 2 weekends on the trot which I've found one, so I'm a happy camper.
Another Yarrell's Blenny for the scrap book
I also clocked an octopus as well, but only managed to get it's backside before it disappeared under a rock and despite waiting for it to come back out, it wasn't going to happen. Never mind, there's always next time.
Damn you octopus!! Come back here!!
Surprisingly this dive was quite wolfie free for a change however there was still plenty of other critters vying for our attention including another swarm of guillemots.
Feeding time on Wuddy Rocks
Once we hit the surface, the grey skies and rain had gone and the blazing sunshine blessed us with it's warming rays as we carved our way through the wall of waves to end another great days diving.The weather is slowly, very slowly getting better and better. Bring it on!
My new goby best friend