Just a note to say that the April weekend in Mull was a splendid affair.
First of all, a big thanks to Mark Davies (Esquire) for organising the trip and coping rather well with the fact that his red shiny TT popped it's clogs within a few miles of arriving in Lochaline. Hope you got home ok on the tow truck.
The early birds (x4) kicked off with a wee bimble at the Grey Rocks just to wet the kit.
Dive 1: SS Shuna.
This was probably the best vis I have had on the Shuna (10m+). Skipper Allan briefed everybody to head to the stern to visit the prop first so Paul and I immediately set off for the engine room. We had a good 14 minutes in there rummaging around with fantastic vis. Until the others arrived
Simon K waving a friendly fist at me as he entered the space just as Paul and I were leaving. Simon's 40 year old camera apparently doesn't work too well in silty environments.
Dive 2: Ardmore Point.
Last time I dived this sloping wall I remember being seriously underwhelmed. This time the great vis allowed plenty of light to show up all the smaller life at the site. Soft corals everywhere, feather like majiggers sticking out of the sand and a couple of large Sea Lemon nudibranchs (15cm long). Excellent dive that was only cut short by the cold (7C)
Dive 3: Hispania.
We arrived at the Hispania to find a few other boats waiitng for the slack water. The skipper advised us to wait and wait we did. A diver from one of the liveaboard vessels jumped in, missed the shot and was swept quickly downstream. After he/she was picked up, a message came over the radio "Advice to divers, zip up your drysuit before jumping in". We waited until pretty much all of the other groups had finished then dropped onto the wreck. The current was still running so we entered the rear holds and stayed in the wreck for pretty much the whole dive. The vis was excellent (15m) although some areas were silted up due to the previous visitors. We swam though the engine room into the funnel where I saw the biggest pollock I've ever seen. We ended the dive like flags in a hurricane on the shotline doing our saftey stops.
Evening spent having a couple of beers in the Hotel
Dive 1: SS Breda.
A leasurely punt down the Sound to visit the Breda. Armed with images and movies from our (ADUS) recent survey data, we dropped onto a nicely illuminated wreck. The vis was a decent 8 to 10 metres with lots of light hitting the seabed. Shot at the stern we swam pretty much through the wreck to the bow. Stopping to rummage around the blast section behind the engine. Lots of enticing but tight looking openings beckoned, and were resisted, maybe next time. This is a great wreck with lots to see, not least the chopped off, bow deck section, lying on the seabed to the port side of the bow. The cold (7C) got the better of us after 40 mins.
Dive 2: Falls of Lora.
We had a fairly long wait for the tide to turn and allow us a drift dive nder the Connel Bridge. Jumping in at the first opportunity we manged to hit 22m when we expected 10m. SMB lines were tangled, untangled, retangled then sworn at before attempting to swim aover the ridge and along with the current. As I edged up the ridge I could see kelp bending to horizontal ahead of me and at 90 degrees in the other direction to my left ????? Before I could decide which way to plunge, the current picked me up and dumped me back at 22m at which point I realised I had lost my buddy.
Hmmm, have another go I thought. Edging gingerly back up the wall I was picked off by the current and almost chucked out of the water. Hmmm, at 3m I had no control of buoyancy whatsoever and popped up on the surface to see the Peregrine bearing down on me. I could see Paul's SMB ahead of me and tried to swim down to him by following his bubbles. As soon as I reached 5m the current strated to drag me down rapidly. Sod this (I thought...calmly) then I filled my suit with air and managed to struggle to the surface whilst watching my bubbles head in the opposite direction. The dive lasted 14 minutes. Back on the boat, it seemed that everybody had very similar uncontrolled experiences. Might leave that one alone for a wee while.
A few folk headed home early leaving a roomy boat and the calmest seas of the trip for the rest of us.
Dive 1: Rondo.
Again the vis was spectacular. We had discussed the idea of touching the bow on this dive (about 50m) and decided to see how it went on the way down, checking narcosis comfort etc. At about 38m I recognised the oncoming narcosis but could see the whole width of the wreck without using my torch so decided to continue a little further. At 45m Paul signalled that he was levelling out and wasn't going any deeper. I looked ahead and could see the bow about 10m in front of me and maybe 2m deeper so I thought I might as well have a look. The bow was at 47m and was still lit by penetrating sunlight. As I looked back I could see two divers arriving and the lights of the others scattered up the wreck. An amazing sight. Heading back up the wreck, Paul swam through under the keel at 35m and then we bimbled back up to the rudder. Excellent dive.
Dive 2: Thesis.
You can't really visit Mull without diving the Thesis, it just has to be done. Greeted again by spectacular vis, hairy nudibranchs and a few timid wrasse we swam around the length of the wreck just waiting for the cold factor to end the dive. A liitle excursion to the anchor of the port side of the bow and then up the shot to end a fantastic visit to the Sound.
BTW: One last thing, Mark Davies sent me a reminder to pay up for the balance of the trip. It is reproduced below, enjoy
Dear Professor Rowland,
For you academic types in the rarified air at the pinnacles of your ivory towers I am sure the real world seems a strange and unfamiliar place. The machinations of the practicalities of life must seem like a mystery and concepts which are commonplace to the comman man become alien and incomprehensible when you live in a world quite set apart from that in which the rest of us abide.
I imagine if you had time away from the burden of your research and studies into abstract concepts beyond the minds of mere men you may very well find yourself full of questions about how the real world works. How does that milk end up on the doorstep? Where does the food that appears on the table come from? Why does Mrs Miggins turn up every week to clean the study? And what is the force of nature which drives and creates these phenomena?
Well, that force which drives the cogs of the real world machine is 'money'. It is a token system utilised to assist the exchange of goods and services. It may surprise you to know that the milk, food and even Mrs Miggins do not materilise out of thin air and in fact an 'exchange of money' is very often required in order to produce them.
Like the pint of milk, the nut roast and ageing cleaning ladies with laddered stockings the exchange of money is also required for leisure activities, such as diving trips. One such diving trip is fast approaching and unfortunately to make it happen the rather vulgar matter of 'money' must be addressed. I am sure the demands of world-changing academic research must make this business of 'payment' seem increadibly trivial, however it is sadly necessary. I hate to draw your attention away from your vital work but I must ask that you forward the balance of the fees for the trip as soon as possible.
If you have any difficulties with how to do this then perhaps Mrs Miggins could help you out.
Always your humble servant,
Mark Davies (Esquire).