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Well as if you hadn't already noticed St Abbs is one of my all time favourite places to dive and this weekend just confirmed that once more.

There were three of us setting off from Teesside on Saturday morning, Myself, our Mark and Dave Dowson (Dave is good friend of ours who went through the SAA training with us and who has now shared quite a few dives since then) We were all meeting up with Ben (aka Driftwood) who was travelling down from Edinburgh.... 9:00am Abbs carpark was the agreed time and meeting place, and after a quick stop at Scoutscroft to fill Daves bottle we pulled into the carpark to see Ben stood patiently waiting for us to arrive (As usual we were slightly late)

After some greeting and a bit of banter I ran over to Billy's house to ask Alison (Billy's wife) if there might be some places on one of the trips out today, so she got on the mobile to Billy who was already dropping divers onto the Glanmire to ask, and sure enough he could get us on at 11:00am... Excellent news  :biggrin:

So.. the plan became to chill out for a while, have some breakfast, meander around the harbour wall to have a look at the briny and wait for Billy's boat to return.

10:45am..... As soon as the boat had arrived and unloaded a group of very happy looking divers we were on in a flash, and before long the boat was backing out and getting ready to take us to the dive site... The tide was running fairly strongly according to our captain so he didn't want to take us all of the way around the head to the Skelly's or the Post box (dives we'd requested) but preferred to drop us off a little closer to the harbour than last time, at first I was a little dissapointed with this decision as it looked as if we were just in the middle of nowhere, but hey! he was the captain and you don't argue with the captain now do you...

So in we drop.. Mark and I first but the boat was still moving so that by the time Dave and Ben dropped in they were quite a way from us, so a long surface swim later we're finally grouped together and giving the ok signals started a nice controlled decent onto what, I didn't know....

A minute later and we're all gathered at the bottom, a quick check on each other... everyone ok-ing everyone else and it was time to look around and take in what surrounded us.... Wow!!! it was awesome... incredible viz, as good as last time (10-12m plus).... massive shoals of fish like I'd only ever seen on TV before.... rocks and walls covered in oranges, yellows and browns.... I just hung there stunned, slowly doing 360's trying to take in the panorama that encompassed me. Once more I was smitten by the beauty of these dives in Scotland and reaffirmed the reasons I keep coming back here.

Quite a few minutes was spent mesmerised by this huge shoal of black fish that kinda blocked out the light at times... I found that if I shone my torch into it I could make the shoal split where ever the beam hit them, I don't know what type of fish they were unfortunately, but I was impressed by the sheer size and sight of this shoal flashing around just out of reach.

We moved on keeping a southerly bearing, just meandering really, swimming between large overhangs, then wide open spaces around and over big rocks covered in coloured corals (I don't think these are what you would call Dead mens fingers' I don't know what they are called to tell the truth, but they were everywhere, they made the whole place look a bit like a garden with all of the variations in colour and size.) We came across wrasse, big buggers that seemed incredibly curious and unafraid of us.. My new/second hand UK400 iluminating them beautifully so that I could see them in all of their glorious reds and patterns.

There were sea snails, flat fish, bright red squatties with neon blue flash's hiding under rocks, more wrasse and even more wrasse, more shoals of now silver coloured fish, what with the sun lighting up the shell covered bottom and all of the marine life it was a magical mystical dive that I didn't want to end but alas we'd reached the time when our reserves were low and it was time to send up the bag.
Max depth 20m - Time 51 minutes

If we'd gone home then, for me the 4 hour round trip would of still been worth it, but there was more to follow Ben was going to lead us to Cathedral Rock... would we find it? or was my bogey dive still going to elude me as it had done so many times before??

After a suitable SI, bacon and egg butties cooked by Alisons fair hands Remember them Andy/Jay?? ;)
We kitted up once more but this time instead of serenly sailing of into the distance we had the long long walk around the harbour wall to the get in point.... am i getting older or is that walk getting longer? Once in the water Ben led the way, I realised once we had set off that Ben maybe wasn't as confidant of the directions as he's first had me believe, especially after we'd cut through this kelp, and over that kelp, fought our way against some strong swells through some narrow openings, turned left then turned right, doubled back a bit and a few shrugs of his shoulders later I knew we'd blown it... once more I wasn't going to find this myth they call Cathedral Rock.

I'd resigned myself and decided to enjoy the dive anyway, when Ben suddenly went frantic... thrashing his whole body in wild movement and flailing his arms in the air... from 10 ft away I could see the grin of delight and relief on his masked face... he'd obviously found it...

On turning the corner I was presented with It... Cathedral Rock!!! and it was much much better than I'd ever imagined.... it was huuuge.... a great big arch and swim thru, laden with the same coloured corals I decribed earlier, shaft of sunlight illuminated the whole scene....the middle of the arch full of fish, there were more large wrasse just hangin out, shoals of various other fish, and all forms of marine life... the way the sun shone thru and down into the arch illumitaing the entrance was truly a sight to behold... I'm so pleased that my first sight of the Rock was with such great viz and that I could take in the whole of the sheer size and splendour of it all in one go...

F*ckin Ell what a great time I was having, I literally tingled all over, goose pimples the whole bloody lot...

(Thanks Ben as promised you are now my Hero :thumb:)

Quite a while was spent in and around the Cathedral swimming in and thru and then back out again, watching all of the bubbles of air dancing around the corals on the roof, spending time searching under the large rocks at the base, watching the large wrasse slowly circling and watching...
Unfortunately we'd stirred things up a little with our continous traffic backwards and forwards thru it so we decided to move on, I gave one last look as we turned the corner and it was gone, I'd decided there and then that I was most definitely going to do this dive again, thats for sure!

It was just after this that Daves air had gotten low again and Ben had to once more cut his dive a bit short to take his buddy up, while once more Mark and I still with plenty to suck on decided we'd stay down..
(Ben Mark and me had 15's while Dave had a twelve so unfortunately he emptied his first.)

We waved them goodbye and set of into a major kelp forest, Its amazing how when I first started diving, kelp scared the crap out of me, I felt it would first entangle and then engulf me but now I love nothing more than getting down into its root structure and pulling my self thru its jungle like atmosphere especially when the sun is bright, its really wierd in there, you kinda feel like this must be new territory as not many would drag themselves into the tight little spots but both Mark and me now enjoy these little excursions, altho I have noticed I tend to grip my mouthpiece a little bit more than usual....  ;)

We broke out of some kelp and after swimming a few stroke I turned to check on Mark only to see him swimming like mad towards me with both arms straight out in front holding onto something that resembled a large rock or grey rugby ball, but as he came closer I could that see he was holding onto a massive scorpion fish, I couldnt believe what i was seeing.. how the #### had he caught it with his bare hands??......The picture was so funny, it looked like the fish was dragging Mark along behind it who was holding on for dear life..... I wish I could of filmed that moment, Excellent!!.... As Mark got next to me he let go of the friggin thing and it was off like a rocket into the distance before I'd had the chance to have a real good look at it..  I'd played with one of these things in Oban they tend to just sit on Kelp fronds, Mark had thought it was dead and picked it up, the fish must of awoke terrified... lol! they are an incredibe looking fish with their bony structure, big spiny dorsal, fat lips and lots of little dangly things that hang off the body that I still haven't worked out yet. Mark was quite suprised when I told him later that they were related to the Lionfish I used to have in my marine tank and that it probably would of hurt like buggery had the spines punctured his skin.

Finally after getting totally lost and a long swim we got back to the rocks and clambered out relating our stories to Ben and Dave who were waiting for us on the harbour wall.... Once more....Top dive!!
Max Depth 14.7m - Time 51 minutes (again)

Two amazing dives and a great day that I wish my YD buddies could of shared, next time hopefully, I'll be back within a couple of weeks if the weathers kind (Please God bless us with South westerly's for ever)

Thanks Ben (Driftwood) for joining us and thanks for leading us to Cathedral, I hope to dive with you again very soon mate.

All the best
Dave.
 

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Glad you had a great time - I'm going to try and make it up in a weekend or two if the weather looks good - may come to yours Dave on a Friday if thats ok and then we could go up on the Sat morning and I could go home Sat night. Wither that, or could camp again at Scoutscroft on the Friday night.

Will let you know if I can find a spare date soon.
 

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You know your always welcome mate, I can make any weekend except Saturday 7th July as my son has a bout on that day.
 

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Great report Dave, I wish I could have been there! sounds like you had a brilliant time....
Dive safe,
Eddie...
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Quote: from Dave Williamson on 9:46 pm on June 23, 2002
You know your always welcome mate, I can make any weekend except Saturday 7th July as my son has a bout on that day.
<span =''>

Make it threee weeks and I can lead you out again.... My report will be posted soon.....
 

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My  God! A weekend when I’m not working and have no diving plans – what’s going wrong?? So off I go posting to see if anyone fancies a dip on the east coast o’ bonnie Scotland (albeit perilously close to England!) at St. Abbs. One rapid response from Dave and a few maybe’s from a couple of others and a time of 9am (urgh) Saturday morning is arranged

Now, due to a little concern over parking availability, I’m for once organized and on the road at 7:30am, due to arrive at St. Abbs for 8:30 and grab 2 parking spaces with a tactical bad parking maneuver. 9am comes and goes, and after a few calls and jokes along the lines of “You re-enacting Driving Miss Daisy?” and “Really, turning up with empty cylinders” Dave and co arrive “slightly” late….. And yes, before a certain someone says anything I admit my timekeeping can be a little erm, lax :turtle:

Well, we sort a rough plan and Dave organizes a trip on Billy’s boat (http://www.divecentrestabbs.com) :yelclap: . We’ve got some time to kill so Dave stuffs his face and jokes about feeding the fish start to fly. We watch a few other boats come in and comment on the lovely, caring procedure of hauling the kit up the harbour wall – crunch, scrape and bang – we decide to load up the old fashioned way, and I question the logic of climbing down a ladder onto the boat with a 15l + 3l pony strapped to my back! :pity_party:

Well, soon we are steaming out of the harbour and welcome of a cool breeze after baking in our drysuits :smilie_anim: (or in the case of one brave individual – a semidry!). Five minutes later, we kit up, buddy check and jump in. Dave and Mark drop in and as I’m about to join them Billy moves the boat! So a short surface swim later, we are back and ready to drop down as a four.

Going down, the viz is pretty good. We get a little muddled as I start to lead off and Dave has stayed by Mark (later we get the comment – “I wondered where your pony bottle went!” :rofl2
but we get sorted and head off. 10-12m over rocks covered with deadmens fingers and strange worm like things on them (any ideas folks?) and every knook and cranny is poked, prodded or illuminated. I lead off south and just see the back end of a large, metre long fish (brown, with a small triangular dorsal – dunno) disappear through some rocks.

Next comes one of the best bits. Following the current, we find a gulley with 5-8m high walls on each side and about 2m wide. The current fires each of us through – what a ride! This opens onto a boulder strewn area which drops down to 18m. As we pass though a thermocline everything goes hazy, then “Who turned out the lights?” I look up and massive schools of fish (must be more than 250) go past and back round past again. Shining the light on the fish splits the school in two, which then reforms and heads off again. :shocked:

I have never seen so many large fish (each about a foot long) in one place in Scotland. Wow! We keep on south and play up an undercut cliff for a while until Dave shows me just over 50bar. So I whack out the dSMB (bright yellow of course!) and the dodgy reel I was given free. A minute later, and many swear words though the reg I find out why the reel was free. So collecting the slack in my hand we do a bluewater ascent. :rambo:  At 5m, suddenly out of nowhere, a flotilla of jellyfish appear to keep us company, including one of those funky, pulsating shiny ones…

Back on the boat, we meet up with Dave and Mark, each exchanging wide eyed stares, “did you see…..” and smiles so large no reg would fit!

We get back and decide to go for Cathedral after a SI of bacon butties and coffee, kindly provided by Alison (Billy’s wife) in the shelter of her conservatory as the heavens open wide. Just as we think it’s going to be wet and miserable for the second dive, out pops the sun.

So we kit back up and wander round, with the :eek:ldman:  leading the way until he has to stop for a breather! We get round and in to find the current is going at a fair rate (about 2 hours past slack) and head off. Things go slightly wrong as last time I was at St. Abbs, I went to Cathedral via the far side of Broad Craig. Thinking this would be too hard with the current and to conserve air, we follow the harbour south and cut through underwater at Little Green Carr.

Oh bugger, the current here flows in a totally different way to what I was expecting and start to wonder about my sense of direction. :jpshakehead:  We perceiver for about 10 mins  thought thick kelp and narrow gulleys (anyone see the dead cod in there?) until my sudden massive arm movements indicate the Holy Grail. :jump013:  A massive 5m arch opens up in front of us.

I head on though, a little nervous (well, overhead environment!) and stare in disbelief at all the soft corals and leave the three others to play in there. On the other side I make a new friend. A foot long spotted wrasse circles me, playing in the beam of my torch (and no, St. Abbs is a conservation area so no urchins were involves!) for a good 5 mins. Bliss :eek:gle:

Suddenly, as I approach the opening, the SECOND school of fish appears over the rocks at the entrance. Same type as before but only about 100 or so this time. We head out and back to the harbour, seeing more life on the way (what was that thin, silver fish we saw?) and again Dave and I play with the reel and head up…

F*kin’ ell! How did we get here? We surface on the inside of Thistle Brigs and swim in,. Fortunately now the current is with us and helps. After playing in the waves we scramble out only to see Dave and Mark surface right at the entry! We soon find out however just where they got to and how they got back……

Next time guys, we should follow the wall out to the angular rocks, go through Cathedral and return via the far side – it’s cracking diving round there if you get it right.

Well, another long walk, a slow dekitting and we agree it’s a must-do-this-again-soon dive – No worries chaps, how about Sun 7th or Sat 20th/Sun 21st July? Just need to let the Wow! Muscles recover….. :eek:gle:
 

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Hey who you calling 'old man' you cheeky young wippersnapper!!  ;) and I wasn't having a rest I wuz waiting for you jabbering fish wives...

It was a brilliant day Ben, and I agree the next time we should take your original route onto C.R.

I'm up for Scotland again anytime except 7th July as my son Mike will be beating the crap out of some Geordie in a kickboxing bout on that Sunday, but i'll be ok for the Saturday... :biggrin:
 

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</span>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Quote: from Heads Up on 9:12 pm on June 25, 2002
Excellent reports guys - really making me jealous!
<span =''>
Well, you should have come along then when you had the chance!! :eek:uttahere:

PS Was great to use my new 20W torch bulb in good viz opposed to the old 10W - I know, I've doubled the bulb power but it only appears 30% brighter and lasts half as long......

(Edited by Driftwood at 11:36 pm on June 25, 2002)
 

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I can see you're not a parent Ben, had you been one you would know that missing your daughters birthday party to go dipping yer arse in the ocean would of been a henious crime requiring severe punishment from both wife and daughter lasting oooooh at least a decade or so....
:whack:
 

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</span>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Quote: from Dave Williamson on 7:42 am on June 26, 2002
I can see you're not a parent Ben, had you been one you would know that missing your daughters birthday party to go dipping yer arse in the ocean would of been a henious crime requiring severe punishment from both wife and daughter lasting oooooh at least a decade or so....
:whack:
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Sounds almost as bad as winding up the fiancee due to stupid Scottish law meaning I'm having to go to Ireland for 8 nights and apply for residency just to get married..... Told her "I'd rather be diving" as a joke..... Ooops.
 
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