Great day at Vobster @ the charity Santa dive for RNLI and Dorset Air Ambulance – massive success, very relaxed dive, lot of fun and all for a good cause in Xmasy snowy day.
Divers: Michal, Andrew, Jack and Henry!
When Tim Watson organised a trip to St Abbs, I thought it would be perfect to add the Farnes on to the end of trip as we have travelled so far and the Farnes only being about 40 minutes away from St Abbs in Scotland.
So, with accommodation and the boat booked with Sovereign Diving, 6 of us who were on the St Abbs trip finished diving on the Sunday and made our way to Seahouses to find the accommodation. We were surprised by just how nice the accommodation was as not that expensive and the breakfast was great as well. After a few beers in the Old Ship and some food, we were joined by Nick Harrison who flew into Newcastle airport and was picked up by Mark.
The weather that hadn’t been great in St Abbs was still with us but we did manage to get out to the Farnes and we are so glad we did as had a brilliant 1st dive with everyone reporting loads of interaction with the seals, the 2nd dive at the same location due to the weather, saw seals right at the start but then they all disappeared we think they sensed the weather that was about to come is as when we got top side the weather had deteriorated and the journey back to Seahouses was not direct as usual but going close to Bamburgh Castle where so we all checked our eyesight. The evening was followed by a fish and chip supper and a few beers.
With the weather still not great but much better than it was coming back the day before and a change of Skipper we once again headed out to the Farnes but this time to a different location and had another wonderful dive with the seals (Nick Harrison seemed to be the trips Seal magnet), the 2nd dive was at the same location but we were advised to 1st swim along the wall in the opposite direction this allowed us to see a little bit more life before returning to play with the seals which were out in force once again. This was followed by the obligatory last night curry and a couple of drinks in the Old Ship.
Nick Harrison, John Heagney, Mark Glowrey, Byron Nurse, Helen Lacey, Brian Long and Emma Spring
Credit – Brian (Trip Organiser and Chairman)
It’s been five years since Putney BSAC last visited St Abbs, a quiet harbour village in the Scottish Borders. As a club we have been there many times before but this was an opportunity for a new generation of club members to dive at one of the best scenic diving sites in the country. It’s marine reserve with a large number of reefs teaming with life.
One of the most famous animals is the elusive wolf fish, a dark stone fish that hides amongst the rocks. Some divers will visit St Abbs several times before getting their first sighting. Of course John and Brian saw four on their first dive, and practically tripped over them on every subsequent dive.
Of course St Abbs other great diving feature is the 10 min journey time to the dive sites and a 10m walk from the accommodation to the dive boat. Surface intervals in a warm cafe and a late ropes off time will please any diver.
The relaxed diving pace gave us plenty of time in the evening to relax. On the Saturday Mark generously took on the role of group chef and cooked us a fantastic spaghetti bolognese. Michal jokingly made a flippant remake about wanting crepe suzette flambé for dessert not expecting anything to come of it but Mark wasn’t going to step away from a challenge. So we were all treated to delicious French dessert Scottish Borders style.
Since we lasted visited St Abbs has become famous for something else other than diving. It was the filming location for New Asgaard in Avengers Endgame. The village museum boasts a replica Mjolnir and Stormbreaker (Thor’s hammers) which tourists can be seen posing with for photos on the cliff edges. Of course we didn’t miss the opportunity to pose with them as well.
All in all another very successful dive trip, with some great diving and beautiful scenery above and below water. It’s a long drive but it’s well worth it.
Credit – Tim (Trip Organiser)
Scapa flow is easily one of my favourite dive destinations. I’ve been banging on about organising a PSAC trip since my first visit in the centenary year of the scuttling of the German High Seas fleet back in 2019. The trip went in at our dive planning meeting back in 2020, leaving plenty time for people to get dived up and get comfortable with twinsets and accelerated decompression to make the most of our time there.
The journey for most of the club started very early on Friday morning with a 13hr journey up to the Weigh Inn in Scrabster for a much-deserved pint and a bite to eat to kick off the trip. We were seven strong from Putney SAC (me, Charles, Michal, Helen, Mark, Andrew and Leszek) three from Hellfins SAC (Jon, Matt and Nithin) and one from Warrington SAC (Mike).
A nights’ sleep and a Northlink ferry later everyone arrived at our home for the week MV Karin – skippered by John Thornton, a veteran skipper of Scapa Flow and a very accomplished technical diver who was part of the 1997 expedition to HMHS Britannic. Once everyone was unloaded and set gear up, we headed to the Ferry Inn for a few pints before heading to the local Chinese to eat onboard.
The following day started our diving off on SMS Dresden, one of the four cruisers still on the seabed in the flow. The visibility was not amazing, but everyone was happy to get on their first piece of WW1 rust of the trip and shakedown any nervous apprehension. Dive two took us to SMS Karlsruhe, another cruiser in about 25m of water. The visibility was much better, allowing the main sights of the 5.9” casemate guns, anchor capstans, teak decking, rudder and the infamous armoured control, where the door had fell off and trapped a diver around 20 years earlier, a few minutes of decompression later and everyone was back on the boat for some celebratory beers… first day of Scapa complete!
The wind was scheduled to increase overnight, and it sure did. We still managed to get out for a lumpy dive on the F2 and YC-21 in the lay of Hoy, but with a bit of struggle getting back on the lift, the days’ diving was called, and we headed back to Stromness. Eager to take in the Orcadian sights, we headed over to the Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war and maintained in great condition to this day… we then obviously headed to the pub!
Day three saw the wind die down and we were back out to the high seas fleet to carry on with our cruisers, dive one was SMS Cöln in around 36m and dive two was SMS Brummer in around 35m. Both similar dives plenty of 5.9” guns to see if you have a keen eye and both have their standout differences, most noticeably the bridge rail and search light iris on the Brummer, and the machine gun mounts and armoured control on the Cöln. Sadly, the Brummer is showing significant signs of deterioration even in the couple of years since I first dived her.
Day four brought us flat calm weather and we got straight on to one of the “big boys” of Scapa, SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, a König class battleship. Dropping down the shotline we landed on the hull, then headed over the side following the line down to the 12” guns in around 38m of water. I could hear Charles exclaim “they’re f*ckin’ huge” through his regulator… they certainly are a highlight of Scapa flow and my favourite sight on the trip. Dive two brought us to the UB-116 in Hoxa sound, visibility was easily 10m on the white sandy bottom allowing some great pictures on the conning tower (big thanks to Jon for lining off to it!). Dive three… yes dive three, took us to a small fishing boat called MFV Responsive near Burray to catch up on the lost dive from day two which was a great dive to end the day, lots of life and would be a great option in bad weather.
Sadly, the stern toilet had become blocked the previous day and caustic wasn’t freeing the blockage… but not to fear “turd-buster” Denby was on the case and had the pipe unblocked in no time, despite John shouting “put your regulator back in!”
With the bog unblocked we headed to Burray to overnight in a different port, visiting the Sands pub for a nice meal and yup, you guessed it some more beer!
Day five was a great day, possibly my favourite wreck ever – SMS Markgraf and the one that has always eluded me on previous trips – the blockship Tabarka. The Markgraf is another König class battleship sitting overturned in around 44m of water, we all took variations on the classic route down the anchor chain to the gun-run and on to the officers’ accommodation with intact portholes partially open. We then headed onto the hull to see the gigantic rudders and then bagged off very content with the dive. The Tabarka was an excellent second dive. Gin clear water in around 15m, but the tides run quick. We all jumped in negatively buoyant and headed straight inside to take a look around… this is a very photogenic wreck!
Once up from the dive we headed back to Stromness with the sad realisation that we weren’t going to get out for our last day of diving. The winds picked up a hell of a lot, blowing F10! We sheltered most of the day in a local café, then headed over to Kirkwall for a curry before waiting for our evening ferry to Aberdeen (which was delayed for 3 hours due to bad weather).
All in all, a great trip with great company. It was really nice to have two London clubs come together and of course my dad, who has probably done more diving outside of Capernwray this year with PSAC than he has done with the Warrington club!
Credit – George (Trip Organiser & Training Officer)
Dives planned, tanks filled with the perfect mixes, and a sunny forecast, we were back down to Swanage to complete the plans from a few weeks earlier.
After a nice first dive around the Carentan, with plenty of bottom time and good gas switching practice, George and I were well set for a dive we had been wanting to do for a long time. Chips for lunch followed by some optimsed decanting and we were ready to go.
The Kyarra did not disapoint, a huge wreck with lots of life and plenty to explore. With 40mins bottom time we managed to cover from the boilers to the bow and back again, but still so much more to see.
Credit – Charles (Trip organiser)
We spent our time mostly diving on the South Coast so diving in the Atlantic was certainly an interesting prospect. We had proposed doing this trip with Aquaholics on the Northern Ireland North Coast a year earlier but Covid scuppered those plans. Helen had recently moved to Ireland so we decided to split the plans between Belfast Lough and the Causeway Coast, named after the nearby Giants Causeway. The group of 10 divers split initially into two groups, one accommodated in Bangor and could explore Belfast before the dives and the other based on Carlingford Lough, a good base for those who fancied visiting Dublin and doing some outdoors pursuits such as hiking & kayaking etc.
The first dive in Belfast Lough was a bit of a shock to the system as while people in London were experiencing 36°C temperatures, we had rain and hail on Belfast Lough and about a metre of vis on the first dive on the SS Troutpool. It did improve though markedly on the second dive.
At the end of day one we drove to Ballycastle on the Northern Ireland Coast. The landscape is very dramatic up there, home for many location shoots for ‘Game of Thrones’ etc with impressive cliffs, and big rollers coming off the Atlantic. Our accommodation was in the suitably named ‘Aqualodge’ which had a large garden and a very modern fit out mainly aimed at the diving fraternity. Equally impressive was the proximity of the hard-boat just across the road in the marina which was the one of two bases for the Aquaholics dive boats.
We had 2 reef or wall dives around Rathlin Island which because of it’s shape usually offers some shelter from the winds but by far the most impressive dives on the North Coast was on the Lough Garry, a wreck standing upright and very much intact at 32m with about 20m vis.
I for one wasn’t looking forward to diving back in Belfast Lough after the diving up North but was more than pleasantly surprised when we had decided on diving on the SS Chirippo and diving with DV Diving. The wreck lying on it’s side with the hull exposed was covered in dead man’s fingers and coral and the vis was superb, allowing for a great end to our diving in Ireland.
The Crew: Paul, Helen, John, Aidan, Brian, Emma, Jack, Andrew, Michal, Byron Organisers: Paul & Helen.
Credit Paul (Trip Organiser)
After being asked if there was any diving for Ocean divers in April in the coming months. I rapidly setup up a dive for Ocean divers and above out of Newhaven for the 29th May. With a couple of weeks to go before the dive the Newhaven skipper called to say he had sold the boat, so we were left high and dry. A quick look around and a Facebook post and we were back in business on Aquanaut just a little further west along the coast in Littlehampton.
So early on Sunday the 29th May, 8 of us met up at Littlehampton the sun was shining as we left the harbour and headed out on the hour steam to the Concha wreck once there and all kitted up it was in to the water. As we made our way down it was clear (or not) that the visibility was not bad, but a plankton bloom was upon us reducing the overall visibility. The Concha is well broken up wreck with the main area being the boiler another structure that none of us could identify and a small prop at the stern. The wreck was full of life with Bib/pouting, crabs, tompot blennies, lobsters (one large one), squat lobsters, congers, a nudibranch and for one lucky dive pair a fair size cuttlefish.
The 2nd dive was on the Waldrons reef just outside Littlehampton harbour is a nice little drift with plenty of life. Highlights included Dogfish (Catshark), thornback rays, ballan wrasse and tompot blennies.
Anna, Brian, Byron, Emma, Helen (Guest), Mark, Michal and Nick Harrison.
Credit – Brian (Chairman and Trip Organiser)