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<font color='#000080'>I've come back a day early from this one, so others will probably have more to add later.

My involvement in this trip was thanks to Tony from Sacramento. He posted that he was going to be in Manchester this week doing a university course and was looking for someone to take him on a dive. Keen to show a little YD hospitality I offered to help and the first plan was for dives off Blackpool or at Capernwray with a night out in Manchester thrown in. This soon evolved when Peter pointed out that he was planning a trip to Mull the same weekend. With the bait of some quality wrecks there was no contest and we signed up.

The week before I had sorted a completely new rig and with some delays in parts arriving there was a bit of a rush on to get ready. Thanks to Chris we got it tested at Eccy Delph the day before departure. There was a lot of experimentation with tanks inverted, then upright; all kinds of different hoses. We eventually found what seemed a workable set-up and I was hopeful that all would be fine, but more on that later.

Come Friday I picked Tony up from his hotel at 12.30 and we began the 7 hour drive up to Mull. The time passed well with some good conversation and later the stunning scenery of the western highlands. Glencoe has a reputation of being Britain's most beautiful valley and it didn't dissappoint.

We arrived in time for the meets-and-greets and a few beers (and for someone quite a lot of tequila!). If you haven't been to the dive centre at Lochaline you really should add it to your list of "must do's". The accomodation is clean, warm and comfortable and brings a new definition to "value for money". We were paying £35 per day for two dives from a hardboat AND a night's accomodation. I can't imagine you'd beat that anywhere.

All up bright and chirpy Saturday morning (well, all except one!) and a short walk down to the quay to get on the boat. A good sized boat and perhaps the best skipper I've ever dived with. All weekend Alan dropped us onto the wrecks at exactly slack water. Others who had dived the same wrecks before said they'd never had it so good. The weather was ideal; sun and flat, calm sea.

Once on the boat Julia revealed the "item" that Bren had cryptically warned us about. A flourescent yellow hood with newly attatched monkey ears and tail! She declared that from now on all YD'ers should do the same just to prove how much we enjoyed our diving. I wonder - will it catch on? One thing to be said for it; under water she was real easy to recognise!

First dive was the wreck of the Shuna, a coal carrying cargo ship sunk in 1913. It lies upright on the 30m seabed. Under strict instructions not to bring any coal up we descended the shotline secured amidships to find decent viz of about 6m. Perhaps only coincidence, but the only buddy pair to actually miss the wreck was led by a certain tequila soaked individual! They got there in the end though, after surfacing and being taken back to the line by the boat. We spent half an hour or more touring the ship - the highlight being the prop and rudder, still in place. The only annoyance for me was the tendancy for my octopus to freeflow occaisionally. This was to be a feature of every dive, and probably as a result of all the tampering with hose changes on the Thursday.

Back onto the boat with our dive stories and a pleasant cruise through the beautiful Sound to the pretty harbour of Tobermory, most recemtly famous for being the setting of the children's TV programe "Balamory". A surface interval with a pub lunch was a very civilised way to go diving!

Next was the Hispania, our tanks having been filled by the on-board compressor. Once again we were dropped in right on slack. Another upright wreck in 30m, sunk in 1954. As before, a shotline was in place midships and we descended to find excellent viz approaching 10m. We had been warned that there were many lines ascending from the wreck which didn't reach the surface so it was with relief that we found a plastic pig tied to the bottom of the shot line to mark it. We dropped down the side of the ship to the bed, a sheer wall nearly 10m high and covered in life.

My buddy, John, soon spotted a blue battery on the seabed. I recovered this and then saw a torch reflector and bulb nearby, which we also picked up. We later found that these were Parahandy's. He had caught his torch on the side of the boat when jumping in and the bezel had popped off. We were glad to reunite him with at least some of his torch. This wasn't the only find as Nick and Julia came up with a very nice mask!

Again we toured the wreck for a good half hour or more. There were large, wide open holds to explore and much of the superstructure to look into. No prop this time, but plenty else to look at. We returned to the plastic pig to ascend and reveal our finds on the deck of the boat.

Another pleasant cruise back into Lochaline and left our gear safely on the boat overnight. After a shower we watched the football and had a beer or two before going to the nearby Whitehouse Restaurant for dinner. John brought along his demijon of home made wine which was remarkably good! The menu was a little limited but everything was fresh and well prepared. Tony ordered the seafood pasta and clearly got everything that they had left - it came on two plates! After some good food and excellent conversation we all went back to our bunks for some much needed sleep.

We awoke on Sunday to weather just as good as the day before.

The first dive was the wreck of the Thesis. This was perhaps the most beautiful wreck I have ever dived. It lies upright with the stern just short of 30m. The bed rises up towards the prow, the deck of which is at 16m. The plating at the prow has fallen away leaving the spars exposed. These are encrusted with life creating a fantastic cage enclosing shoals of fish. As the sun shone down through the spars it was stunning! Tony had brought a video camera with him which he was using for the first time. His footage should be worth seeing! It's not a big wreck so we had plenty of time to explore its holds, now quite open and with good light. Visibility was a good 7m. We found a conger hiding in the boiler; others found another under some plating. True to form, Nick and Julia found a torch! We reluctantly ascended the shot line, playing noughts and crosses on the safety stop.

We quickly popped back to Lochaline for lunch; a "bambi-burger" from the trailer on the quayside. Back out, and for a change no wrecks, but a drift dive. This was planned to be a scallop hunt for the evening's barbecue. We dropped down and slowly drifted along between 20m and 15m, gathering dinner as we went. I love drift dives and should do them more often. It's always so surprising to see how densely populated with little critters the seabed can be. They're fascinating to watch.

Unfortunately it was now that my octopus really started to play up and freeflowed five or six times. It cut the dive a little short at 40 minutes, but we'd managed to fill our bag. I sent up the SMB and reeled up to the surface, the octopus going again on the way. I guess I should have shut it down, but it settled and with my hands full of reel I decided to keep going. At the surface it blew one last time and practically drained my tank before I shut it off. Fortunately I had been able to fill my BCD beforehand. I saw that I had drifted a good way from the boat, which was busy picking up another pair of divers. John's blob showed me that he was still on his way up and had drifted even further beyond me. I was glad then of my recently purchased Avid pocket snorkel which kept me comfortable until the boat came to collect us.

On the boat we compared our hauls. Between us we'd managed to fill a big box to overflowing. John and I thought we'd done pretty well until we learned that Julia and Nick had once surfaced with a full bag and then gone down again for more!

It was here that the trip ended for Tony and myself. Tony had to be back in Manchester for his course on Monday morning, and with a high altitude drive back we decided that it would be prudent to miss the third dive planned for the day, even though it was to be a shallow drift of 10m.

To finish off a great weekend John and I cracked open a can of Stella each on the deck of the boat (naughty!) and then we said our goodbyes, with the obligatory team photo to include Tony, YD's first overseas member to join a trip.

For a weekend's diving it couldn't be beaten. A first class operation at Lochaline providing great value, some wonderful wrecks, but more that that some top quality company to dive them with! If you've been looking at YD for some time but haven't yet got round to joining one of the gigs then you must do soon. I promise, you're unlikely to be dissappointed!
 

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Top stuff my man... excellent read and you make me so jealous as that part of the country is my absolute favourite.

Glad you all had a great time.
Best regards
Dave.
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>I can only concur wholeheartedly with Mark's report on Saturday and Sunday.  

As for Monday - I am sure there will be others who will have plenty to say about such a fantastic day - and if not, I will try and make time later to post more fully on the day's diving (and post a few photos of the trip).  However, suffice to say that the (?name) pinacle had the most wonderful garden of stunning plumose anemones I've ever seen - and then, to top off the day we saw a pod of dolphins swimming alongside our boat!!!!!!! (well, porpoise actually), but there they were jumping around and playing in the sunshine. FANTASTIC.

All in all, a top weekend made up of great diving, great people, great food (cheers for the scallop recipe Nick), stunning scenery and really pretty good weather.

Roll on the next trip!!!!!!

 
 
 

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<font color='#000080'>Talk about making me sorry for coming home early!

Fi, glad your last day measured up to the rest - indeed, it seems to have surpassed it.

Peter, put me top of the list for the next trip!
 

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<font color='#728FCE'>Too true!

What a weekend, a BIG thank you to Peter for all his hard(!) work organising the trip. Really great to meet some other YDers and enjoyed some crackin' diving. Liz is getting to enjoy UK waters a little more and wants to retun to Lochaline for some more of the stunning everything that was this trip.

Does anyone have names for the 2 sites we dived on Monday?

 
 
 PS DIFF Rocks!!
 

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The first site on monday was Risca pinacle and the wreck I cant remember even though we looked at the name plate. Just for those who didnt go the wreck is a fishing boat that was sunk about 6 months ago. Gordon Wadsworth found it in April and we were the first to dive it  then.

Total agreement all round that this was a totally top trip in every respect, on the third day I did find another bit of dive kit, a very nice DSMB but it was the one that Nick had dropped a minute earlier. We did find a angle grinder close to the wreck on the last day too but we didnt bother to recover it!

Great to meet all the lovely folks on the trip, so many magical moments that it would be hard to choose. The cats ears certainly caused some discussion and enabled me to develop some new underwater signs (waggling my ears when really happy). Liz also showed me her WOW sign which came in handy a lot.

Thanks very much to Peter for putting on such a great gig, we had a ball and cant wait for the next one.  The Sound of Mull is very special indeed!

Jules:D
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>Here are the photos I mentioned.

Unfortunately, I don't have a full group photo, but I am sure someone does!

This is some of our group diving (I can't remember where this was - although suspect strongly it was the Hispania)
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>and this, I am fairly sure IS the Hispania
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>and this was Gav and I on the Monday morning - see that sunshine!!! (the smile belies the fact that we were really very sad that the trip was drawing to a close)  
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>this was a rather large lobby that Gavin wanted me to play with - err, no - I like my hands and fingers the way they are thanks!
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>and this one is for Bren.....
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>This was Tobermory - yes, the houses really are the colour they are in Balamory!
 

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BASTARDS !!

I'm not remotely jealous.......herrumph....grumble.....swines.....not fair.....know who your friends are........you could have kept this quiet, but no, you had to rub it in.......


Jules you look wonderful mi dear. Fi darling, thanks for the photies - the viz looks crap!  


Rather feel like I best get my arris on the next gig. Peter, deal me the details baby.
 

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Ey oop Bren,
               I've not quite got the nitty-gritty squared away yet. I'm just really taking a head count at the moment from various folk. It'll be pretty much the same again with possibly another couple of "different"(ie.different to me) sites flung in. I'll put it up in planned trips the 'morra.

Peter
 

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<font color='#FF00FF'>Hello everyone
What a weekend... It was amazing. Two things to say up front before I go into a ramble. First - Peter - can you please book Chris and I on the next trip as 99% (just waiting for an exam date before we can confirm 100%). Second - Fi - how do you put photos up? let me know and I will add the group shot and one or two we took underwater.
As for my thoughts on this trip which for me was my second UK dive experience it really got me thinking - this is not bad at all! Almost like the Caribbean with flat calm seas and sunny skies - just wierd to be sitting in a sleeping bag romper suit!!!
Particularly I enjoyed the "dancing" scallops, the "fight-me fight-me" squat lobster thingies and the kelp that metamorphosed into lots of stingrays each time it was touched... Well sometimes my active imagination is a benefit and not a liability on a dive.
So a big thank you to Peter for organising everything and a big hello to all of you who made it such a good trip. Nice to meet so many gooduns and in particular my hat off to Alan the skipper who was a good bloke and an expert boat captain. Cheers all
Liz
 

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Hi Liz,
        When you've put the 'photies into your computer. Go onto YD as normal and press the add reply button as normal. At the bottom of the screen there's a bit that says "File Attachments". Click on "Browse" and dig out the pictures from your machine. Then just add reply as usual!!!

HTH

Peter
PS- This bloody trip is nearly full already if all the possibilities go.
 

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Looked like there should be a few good group shots taken and
look forward to seeing those, either posted on the forum or if anyone can see their way to sending e mailig a copy i't would be appreciated.
 

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well, from a Yank's point of view, this trip was well worth traveling 1/2 way around the world.  Many thanks to Mark who picked me up in Manchester 1/2 hour after I arrived at my hotel.  By the time I reached Lochaline, I'd been traveling for about 30 hours I believe.  Then it was off to the Social club to see how much Tequila a Scottish diver could actually drink.

The days and the dives were as everyone said, just fabulous.  We just don't have those wrecks in California so getting the chance to see them was fantastic.

But you UK divers are just a bunch of jokers.  Here I go traveling 1/2 way around the world and on my first dive, you up and move the wreck a few hundred yards up stream so Peter and I descend on a silty seabed.  Very funny!  Anyway we did find it and others and it was great.  I guess the trick is to follow that bouy line to the bottom... gotta remember that next time....

On day two I took my video camera so I'll see how that turns out.  I know I have to do some editing though.  I wondered why my battery died on dive two and after a quick review of the tape it looks like I left my camera on while it was on the boat!  So, I have about 30-40 minutes of filming a tank valve.  But, there are some clips inside the Thesis and on the Scallop dive.  I'll get it edited and posted/distributed soon.  But remember, this was my first time with the video so don't be toooo critical.

Anyway, it was great to meet some of the divers.  I was extremely impressed with the skill and quality of all divers there.  Hopefully I'll be able to join another trip next spring.

Oh, and many thanks to Peter for arranging this trip!  Just fantastic.

Sacramento Tony
 
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