YD Scuba Diving Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
DIR since '64
Joined
·
261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got back in from a weeks diving up in Malin Head, Donegal, Ireland onboard Loyal Watcher.

The trip was arranged last year for a group of friends from the Ringwood SAC. As we could only muster 6, we decided to jump on one of the individuals trips that Rich Stevenson runs in conjunction with Loyal Watcher. This took away the worry of trying to fill the boat and the usual palava of people pulling out at the last minute with the usual lame excuses.

I had done the trip in 2005, but was on OC. I was very disappointed to get very short bottom times, due to buddies not having particularly good SACs or wishing to do much over 20 mins @ 70m. Doing the trip in 2005 and seeing the potential of CCR was one of the reasons I knocked OC on the head that year. I vowed to Darren ( Skipper of Loyal Watcher ) that I would come back at some point and do it properly :)

It has taken me more or less 2 years to get back - taking CCR Mod 1 & 3 courses plus the associated experience-building. We also did a scooter course in the summer, so we could further kick the arse out of the wrecks, by hiring scooters for the big wrecks. :)

Myself and my regular buddy Rob Allen set off early from Oxfordshire last Saturday to not only make the journey as comfortable as possible, but to try and nab a twin cabin away from our very loud snoring friend, Alan. We arrived at Ayr to meet the boat in very good time ( 4 PM ) only to discover 2 other divers had had similar plans and had already snaffled the last twin cabin, but had also got prime benches :-(

The rest of the divers arrived over the course of the next few hours and we all introduced ourselves. From the outset it was clear everyone would get along and plans were made for a outing to the nearby Pub as we wouldn't be sailing until the morning due to poor weather reports.

As it happened, the weather wasn't too bad and we set off to Rathlin Island at about 8am



The first dive was to be the Loch Garry in 30m which proved a very useful shakedown dive. I jumped in with scooter only and we had great fun feeling our feet again with the scooters and blasting all over the wreck. The plan was to come back to the shot and ascend. However the tide was a bit too fierce for this and we ended up bagging off anyway. Everyone had a good dive and viz showed a glimpse of what we were going to get later on in the week.

As the weather forecast was still bad for Monday and Tuesday, we had to go back to Cambletown for the night. It was decided to do the Loch Garry again, as we couldn't get round to Malin/Loch Swilly. I took in the camera this time and again had fun scootering and snapping.



News quickly circulated around the boat, that we were off to Malin. The weather looked to be improving all the time. But, by the time we got into Loch Swilly, the sea state had deteriorated and we all spent a very uncomfortable Monday night tossing and turning in our bunks. It was very obvious that the diving would be off for Tuesday and some of the group spent the day walking and sight seeing around Port Salon. Others took the opportunity to fettle with kit and watch DVDs from Watchers extensive film library :)

On Wednesday, the weather finally came good and we trotted out to the Audacious. Tables were carefully prepared and the guys on the Trimix and Mod3 courses eagerly awaited the 'big dive'. I was also looking forward to giving the dive a good seeing to on a CCR + scooter and planned a 40 min bot time, so we could get around all of Audacious's attractions. We we using a lazy shot system this time and the first pair got in promptly on slack to tie in and send up an apple to indicate the line was tied. Myself and Rob were 3rd in and quickly scootered down the line to be greeted by stunning viz and Audacious's huge props. We then moved forward to the boilers and then the guns. I was stopping to take stills, whilst Rob attempted video.





A fantastic dive for me and kept the promise I had made in 2005 to return. Once all the divers and gear was safely aboard, we steamed back to Loch Swilly and a well-earned drop of the black stuff...



... Or so we thought, when we were told there was a second dive: the Laurentic I ummed and arred for about a minute before deciding to get my kit ready. For me that was just a matter of rolling up my DSMB and charging the torch and scooter batteries. The 2 OC divers in the group had to get gas fills and all the banging and hissing really spoilt the DVD enjoyment for the rest of us :-(

Only a few opted to dive the Laurentic in the end, but again those that went in were rewarded with good viz. It was largely a skills session for the guys on the courses, but I took the opportunity to just pootle around with the camera ( no scooter ) and just enjoy the stunning wreck.



The next day the weather-gods were again smiling and we went off to the Justicia. I never got onto this one in 2005 and was really looking forward to it. We agained planned a decent bottom time to really get the best out of the dive. We were first in, as we were going to do the longest bottom time and tied the shot into the HUGE Justicia bow. Darren had carefully placed the shot for us, so that everyone could enjoy the magnificent bow.



This sight will stay with me for a very long time :)

We went off looking for the boilers and engines and stopped along the way to admire the huge portholes.



Darren had asked us NOT to lift any of these as they are soo big and doubted people would have room for them in their houses. He told us one chap had recovered one and it bent the little hoist, Watcher uses to recover stages plus couldn't get it in the boot of his car when he got back to port ! I was happy to just take snaps of them and enjoy seeing them all lined up in rows.

Time was soon upon us to surface and looking down gave an appreciation of the vastness of the Justicia





After the Justicia dive, we went into Bally Castle for the night. Another chance to have a guiness, but everyone who was diving the next day, limited themselve to a couple and got back on board for 10 PM. Dive time was to be 7:30 AM and this was too much for some of the group. I had come a long way for these dives and staying in bed and missing a dive wasn't an option for me.

On friday ( last diving day ) we set off early from Bally Castle and were kitted up ready to jump in as soon as slack arrived. The dive was the Santa Maria in 65m, with the bridge in 70. We planned to stay on the main wreckage site and not go down to the bridge.

Myself and Rob were first in again and found the tide to still be running a bit. Once on the bottom, no wreck - bummer. The grappel was bouncing along the rocks and we couldn't tie it in due to the tide. We hadn't taken the scooters on this dive so were forced to scrabble along the bottom ( in 60m ) hand-over-hand looking for the wreck. We eventually came across some fish who showed us the way to the wreck. Fairly uneventful dive once we found it and proceeded to swim along its starboard side. As the wreck was on its side, we got shelter from the tide and enjoyed 30 odd mins on this WWI casualty.

We bagged off from the bottom on this dive and all too quickly the dive and the week were essentially over.

Most of the group stayed onboard on the friday night, which was good. We went to church on friday night and had a few drinks in the pulpit ( Weatherspoons pub - converted church in Ayr high street ) Again not too many as we all had long trips back, mostly to the south coast.

All in all a very good trip. The weather gods could have been kinder to us on the first few days - but very pleased to get the Audacious and Justicia in. Already planning next years diving from Loyal Watcher as she is a very capable and comfortable boat/dive platform and the owners - Darren and Linda are perfect hosts. Darren's attention to detail with his shot placement was really appreciated on the big wrecks as it is impossible to see the whole wreck in one dive without a scooter. Linda kept us well fed and got us into and out of the water safely.

The 2 OC guys on the trip are seriously looking at going CCR now. The logistics of OC on these sorts of trips makes it very difficult to get the best out of the diving without dumping gas all the time ( wrong mix ) plus had limited bottom times. I am so glad I bit the bullet in 2005 and went down the CCR route. I can now contemplate dives that I never thought possible then plus has been great fun doing all the courses and attaining all the new diving skills.

Some more pics from our trip are up @ 30Fathoms
 

·
That's Dude with an E
Joined
·
12,959 Posts
Nice report.

l may borrow the start of your report for my trip report in a couple of weeks because l dived Malin Head off Loyal Watcher in 2005 and it was that trip that convinced me to go down the RB route.

On our last trip we had nine on OC and two on CCR, out of that nine six have now got CCRs.

l'm dragging Chaseys sorry arse up there the week after next, again on Loyal Watcher and we will be on scooters as well.

l'd be happy to do all the dives on the Audacious.

Yippeeeeeeee :D
 

·
DIR since '64
Joined
·
261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
l'm dragging Chaseys sorry arse up there the week after next, again on Loyal Watcher and we will be on scooters as well.
The scooters will be ready for you - they are so much fun on the big wrecks and as you say could do all the diving on any one of them. Combined with a long bottom time ( which I know Mark is fond of ) you will have some 1st class dives. Doing the long decos is not a problem as Watcher trundles alongside the deco station/group and has drop bottles of gas ready. We also took up a couple of O2 drop bottles as well.

If you have a video, you will need to sort out a scooter mount yourself as Richie forgot it :-(

Fingers crossed for good weather for your trip.
 

·
A short fat well off crap cave diver. Likes wrecks
Joined
·
15,343 Posts
Nice one Dave, great report and pic's. I am off there on Saterday and praying for the wether.

See you soon

ATB

Mark
 

·
The King Of The Divan
Joined
·
1,848 Posts
Great report - thanks for the write up. Some great shots.

Your buddy - is that Rob from Banbury? If so, I've done a couple of Mid-March Mull trips with him on the Gaelic Rose.

The Santa Maria - have you any shots of her? I last did her in 1992 on air with the late Tommy Cecil (RIP :frown:) diving out of Rathlin. It would be great to what we were diving on :teeth: . She still hard portholes on back then.

Cheers

Snash
 

·
DIR since '64
Joined
·
261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Your buddy - is that Rob from Banbury?
Yes



The Santa Maria - have you any shots of her? I last did her in 1992 on air with the late Tommy Cecil (RIP :frown:) diving out of Rathlin. It would be great to what we were diving on :teeth: . She still hard portholes on back then.
Didn't see any portholes, so guessing they have all be taken HOWEVER the bridge has slipped down to 70m now, so there may be some down there.

Some pics of the Santa Maria but not the best of pics.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top