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Myself and my mate were lucky enough last weekend to snaffle the last two seats on a hardboat out to the Farnes Islands.. (I use the term 'seats' loosely, very loosely)

Meeting up with the 12 other divers on the harbour wall we all looked around at the boats parked up in the harbour and wondered which one would be ours... maybe that sexy looking one over there, or maybe that one with all of the nice kitting up areas over there.... It wouldn't be that rusty old green fishing vessel that was draped in nets and chains and reeking of dead fish that was now pulling up beside the slip would it.. of course not, you wouldn't put 14 divers on that now would you.. would you??....

As the rusty green thing pulled up and the skipper shouted for us to stow our things on board my heart sank... "I want that boat" I moaned and pointed to a rather sleek looking number awaiting it's collection of would be Cousteau's.... mumbling under our breath about the stench, the shortage of room and the serious lack of places to sit, we loaded all of the kit onto the 'vessel from hell' and waited to move out.. it was at this point that the deckhand decided to get rid of the standing water from the tarpaulins that were covering the front half of the deck and proceeded to soak all of our dry kit in the process.... "Ah well" I thought to myself, "Never mind...the suns shining, the sea looks flat and I'm about to go diving with seals so chin up Davey boy, chin up!!"

Finding myself somewhere to stand at the back of the boat, (Which was open to the sea, obviously this was the place that they dragged the nets in) I wrapped a hand around a rusty chain, grinned like a madman at my mate and prepared for the journey to the islands..

Now earlier in the week I'd contacted our very own Ron Young, author of 'The Divers Comprehensive Guide to the Farnes & Holy Island' and asked his opinion on what to expect weather and viz wise for the weekend.. his reply was..

Not very pleasant I'm afraid mate. Looks like it could be swinging around
from the west to north with very little wind, but this often drags a roll in
from Iceland etc. Then it's going to SE, light to moderate, which is usually
quite a hump and rolling swell


Unfortunately Ron was bang on.... what looked like a flat blue sea from a distance actually had a monstrous swell which had this boat rocking and rolling as soon as we passed out of the harbour, now anyone who know me also knows that I'm prone to feeding the fishies just sitting on a rowing boat in our local boating lake, never mind chugging out of Seahouses on Barnacle Bills tug at about 3 knots in a swell that had the sea looking decidely higher than the boat at times... the Stugeron pills were trying hard but the moving horizon, the smell of dead fish and the banter about seasickness soon had me on the wrong side of happy..

Finally we reached the islands and the skipper, God bless his soul pulled into the slip next to the Longstone Lighthouse where the water was protected allowing us to kit up without being thrown about which quite frankly saved my day, very quickly we were all ready and lined up in our buddy pairs... the skipper backed out from the slip and moved over to the dive site, I couldn't wait to get in and so moving into position I grabbed my nutts, my reg and stepped off the back...

Dave stepped straight off behind me, a quick check on each other and down we went... we had the prearranged stop at 6m for the bubble check, everything tickety booh and on we go.. Dave and I kept eyeball contact all the way down but I glanced around and was able to see descending divers all about me... "Oooh good viz" I cooed into my regulator.. and gave Dave a Double OK signal, and could see him grinning back at me.. things were most definitely looking up...

As we neared the bottom a large wrasse swam up to meet me, I hadn't seen one of these boys since last year and it bode well for the rest of the dive.. sure enough viz was a very respectable 6-8m and the sea bed was covered in all sorts of stuff, checking compasses we moved in the direction of the wall that we were to keep on our right and moved into the dive proper..

We had a concern going into this day's diving about air, Dave only had one pair of twin sevens and we weren't coming back in for fills so we'd arranged that he'd go onto my long hose as soon as possible to reserve some of his backgas for the second dive, my worry was that conditions i.e. swell, tight ravines, kelp etc might hinder this process but we were lucky, conditions were perfect and so no sooner had we started the dive than we were sharing air but diving like we were separate (you just gotta love the seven foot hose ;) )

Only a few moments into the dive something large moved through the water over on my left, I nearly shat myself until it dawned on me that I'd seen the distant shape of a seal swimming parallel to us, I looked at Dave and signalled frantically in the direction I'd seen it but he just looked into the gloom then quizzically back at me, never mind I shrugged just as another seal zoomed into view right in front of us and then went vertical like a missile up to the surface... I jabbed Dave with my elbow and turned to see if he'd just seen what I had seen and the wide open eyes behind his mask confirmed he had, we punched the air (erm the water) and did a little jig... this dive was becoming complete class, now I was really buzzing!!

The rest of the dive went perfectly, we'd cut the air share but when Dave (Now to be known as Gasper) showed me that he'd hit the 150bar mark on his 300bar sevens, a pre-arranged limit when we'd call the dive leaving him enough air for the second dip, I thought bugger this I'm enjoying myself far too much and passed him the long hose once more..

Back on the boat we raved about what we'd seen and looked forward to the second dive... I looked desperately at Longstone Lighthouse as the last two divers were pulled over the side, the sea state was becoming worse and I was now looking forward to getting onto some Terra Firma... to my dismay the boat chugged around a small island and then the engine stopped....

"Why have we stopped here?? " my voice slightly feminine in octave for I already knew the answer... "We'll be stopping here for the surface interval" came the matter of fact reply.... "No we're f*cking not" I barked back... I looked around for backup but it seemed liked everyone else had accepted the fact that we were staying put and were trying to find places to park themselves amongst the kit and fish remains.... "Lets park up at the Lighthouse like always" I said a quiver of desperation in my voice was now evident but I didn't care, Was the man mad??... The boat's moving around for christ sake, didn't he know that I would surely die if we stayed where we were??...  Horrifying memories of me being stuck on a fishing boat for seven nightmarish hours whilst turning myself inside out by becoming a living breathing vomiting machine came rushing back, how had I allowed myself to be tricked into being stuck on a boat at sea for a whole day once again??... I'd sworn that I'd never let that happen to me ever again and yet here I was.....

Anyway, my whining whinging and chringing must of done the trick cos I was promised that as soon as the tourist boat left the lighthouse we'd move in.... Good to his word the skipper fired up the engine as the last tourist left the island and in we moved, my eyes darting in all directions terrified that another boat might jump the queue...

Before the boat stopped I'd pushed past the deckhand trying to tie off and I'd leapt onto dryland... I spent a few minutes trying to stop the island from spinning and finally got a grip of myself, after apologising for being a wuss and thanking the crew from the bottom of my heart for bringing me in I skipped happy as a sandboy across the island to piss contentedly into the North Sea...

Everyone was pleased that we'd landed but no doubt was even more pleased that I was the one looked upon as a right Jessie with nae sea legs by the crew....  we all chatted, had photos taken, munched our sarnies and drank our coffee and soon it was time to board the boat again, kit up and head out for the second dive.

The swell was much worse now and I was losing it just standing there waiting to go.... finally we were in, same routine as last time, not as good viz but even more seals... a bit of a swell underwater this time too but I enjoy that, I love slowly finning against it and getting nowhere only to then rocket forward when the swell turns, great stuff...

We kept it at 10m to lengthen the dive but all too soon we had to end it and send up the blob, on reaching the surface the weather had turned really rough and getting back on the boat was a complete nightmare, a rope was thrown to the divers and we were all hauled away from the rocks to the boat, then a dice with a dodgy looking ladder followed, timing here was paramount to not only making sure that one wasn't concussed by this thing first leaving the water as the boat rocked one way and then plunging back into the water as it rocked back towards us.... after watching it for a few moments and trying to get the timing I grabbed onto the ladder and was hauled out of the water... finally being dragged over the side and into an ungainly heap on the pitching deck..

I dekitted as quickly as was humanly possible while the deck below me moved in all directions but couldn't stop the inevitable, I started to feed the fish all the way home, ah well at least I'd finished my diving....

Other than the horrendous swell and my girly disposition to motion sickness I had a totally great day and even though I waffled on about the negative aspects they weren't really that bad, infact I'm booking myself on the next one going out in May which will no doubt bring more life than this one, fingers crossed for fair weather and calm oceans though eh


Best regards
Dave
 

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Respected Wreck-diving Author & Resident Farnes Ex
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Hi Dave

What was the boat called and the skipper, he's killing two birds with one stone by fishing and taking divers out in between?? Best use a dive-oriented skipper, like Stan & Lee Hall, Colin Rutter (WAVEDANCER), or Sovereign Divers and Graeme Harrison of course, who is a diver himself. Some of the others used to hate divers, but now use them to make a good living.

Ron
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Nice report Dave, glad you had a good time.

The boat sounds like the one we were on a few weeks ago, skipper wasn't Jonathon by any chance ? . They are a right laugh, but a good bunch.

Our vis wasn't quite as good. Very dark and spooky on the Somalia !!

WL
 

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C-in-C the Amphibious Contingent
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Good report, glad you enjoyed it despite feeling icky.  Not funny, you have my sympathy on that one.  I feel for anyone who has motion sickness.  Been there, done that, got several T-shirts...  Which is why I just don't get on RIBs or dive boats.
 

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That's Dude with an E
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Please tell me the boat wasn't  Dawsons of seahouses?

We're booked with him in August.
 
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