Farnes – 17th October

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.

Monday 17th October

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.

Tuesday 18th October

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.

The seal crew.

Nick Harrison, John Heagney, Mark Glowrey, Byron Nurse, Helen Lacey, Brian Long and Emma Spring

Credit – Brian (Trip Organiser and Chairman)

St Abbs – 15th October 2022

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 – 23rd September 2022

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)

 

Capernwray – 11th September 2022

As a joint trip of scuba diving and hiking, four of us headed up to the Lake District for a long weekend of activities. On Saturday we made an early start and set off to Orrest Head for an easy walk up to a view point over Lake Windermere. We continued on to Ingleton Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales, where we endeavoured on a harder, 4.5 mile hike around the valley where and saw some of the magnificent waterfalls.
When Sunday rolled around we were keen to get to Capernwray to dive. We made an early start and arrived for site opening. This was a prime opportunity for some Dive Leader training, so across our three dives we ticked off three lessons, as well as having an explore around the dive site. It was a comfortable 19ºC, so we had the chance to do some long dives and find a lot of the wrecks, including the planes, the gun and, of course, the massive sturgeons. It was a great weekend and we hope to travel up again soon and make it a bigger trip next time!
Credit – Jack (Trip Organiser)

Littlehampton – 8th August

On a gloriously hot Sunday in August, 8 members of Putney BSAC went to Littlehampton for the day. Ropes off at 10:30 was a welcome change and meant we almost got a lie in compared to our usual 5am wake up call when we do a day trip to the south coast. We dived the Jaffa wreck in the morning, followed by a drift over the Waldrons. The water was a balmy 22- 23 degrees even at the bottom.  The Jaffa is a fantastic dive. We were greeted by a shoal of fish as we reached the engine room at the bottom of the shot and saw some conger eels, crabs and plenty of other life as we explored the wreck. There was a little less life on the drift, but a good dive nonetheless with plenty of scallops and not too bad vis. Overall a thouroughly enjoyable day. Big thanks to our skipper Graham- we will be back next year.
Credit – Emma (Membership Sec and Trip Orgainser)

 

 

Weymouth – 23rd July 2022

Putney SAC gets deep and technical… almost!
Friday night we had the trio of BSAC clubs meet up in Castletown, Portland ahead of the day’s diving. My Dad – Mike, Jamie & Mark (all from Warrington SAC), and Charles & myself (Putney SAC) risked it all heading to Balti Island for a nice curry before meeting up with Mark & Andrew (also Putney SAC) and Cat & Andy (from Richmond SAC) in the Little Ship for a few pints and a recap of the plan for Saturday.
Saturday was beautifully sunny and we met Richard and Sue aboard Weychieftain IV at an unusually pleasant time of 09:30, a rarity for our normal Weymouth trips. Richard was flabbergasted! “I’ve not seen a boat full of twinsets in years” – in reference to the usual split of clubs either chartering the boat to dive the Weymouth/Portland classics on single cylinders or the proper techies out doing the mid-channel stuff on their rebreathers. We even made it onto Weychieftains’ Facebook account for the pioneering techies to reminisce about their twin-20s and presumably now their back problems!
Anyway, enough about the gear – we headed out down the east side of Portland bill, just off the shambles bank to dive the Ethel, a British Steamship (88m long, fitted with a triple expansion engine) that was torpedoed by UB-104 on the 16th September, 1918, en route from Rouen to Barry. She sits in around 36m and is a great dive in her own right, but is particularly good as a check-dive/build up to the Salsette (which is what we had planned).
I was diving with Mark and Andrew, and the other buddy pairs were: Mike & Charles; Cat & Andy; Jamie & Mark. Mike and Charles were first in with their 80% deco stages with a solid bottom time planned, soon followed by Jamie and Mark with their stages, then after a couple of minutes, the rest of us jumped in. Lots of life (apparently) and a nice set of boilers later we ascended for a few minutes of decompression before boarding Weychieftain and heading back north for shelter in Balaclava Bay with a hot drink and some jam donuts.
Sadly the wind had picked up over the morning and was getting quite blowey. We quickly got kitted up after our surface interval and jumped in for a drift across Bally Bay. A varied experience between buddy pairs – Mike and Charles came up with more Scallops than air left in their cylinders (well Mike did… poor example from my father there!) and they also saw a lone octopus tentacle swimming along. On the other hand Mark, Andrew and I went for possibly the slowest drift I’ve done in my life and to make things worse Andrew lost his GoPro (ouch!).
After a good amount of time looking for Andrews GoPro on the surface, we had the windy ride back to Weymouth with the realisation we weren’t going to get out at all on the Sunday, let alone to the Salsette – our primary target and a jewel of south coast wreck diving. Sadly my curse from Swanage was back and we were blown out from diving this beauty.
The sad news from being blown out again and Andrews GoPro in conjunction with the blisteringly hot day we had had, meant we were certainly due some dirty food and a few beers at Billy Winters bar and grill. This quickly turned into a night out sampling a few too many beers in the Little Ship until the early hours of Sunday… almost going back to the old days of the club, where the drinking:diving ratio was certainly in favour of the booze!
After a slightly groggy start to Sunday, Warrington SAC headed off on the long drives back north and the others back to London. Charles and I headed for a quick fry-up on Chesil Beach, looking out at the white caps pondering what could have been… we’ll get you next time Salsette!
All-in-all a great weekend away, great company and great to be out diving with 3 cracking BSAC clubs! Sadly we can’t plug the Richmond club for obvious reasons (obviously we’re the best club in SW London!) but if anyone finds themselves in the North West, check out the Warrington SAC.
Credit George (Training Officer & Trip Organiser)

Swanage (Take2) – 9th July 2022

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)

Ireland – 16th June 2022

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)

Littlehampton – 29th May 2022

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.

The Crew

Anna, Brian, Byron, Emma, Helen (Guest), Mark, Michal and Nick Harrison.

Credit – Brian (Chairman and Trip Organiser)