Fishguard June 2022

Ray Cramer is planning a four day dive trip to Fishguard for the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend.

The plan is to use the Fishguard slipway with a primary objective to dive on a newly surveyed/discovered unknown mark so flexibility of diving other marks may be required.

Dates: Thursday 2nd June to Sunday 5th June. Traveling down the day before.

Accommodation: Hillfort camping who have reserved a field for trip use.

Diving will be using the Majors boat and one of the club boats.

This trip is suitable for Dive Leaders and above only.

Anyone interested should contact Ray direct of add their names to the interest form on the club noticeboard.

Name Depth Length Height
Unknown 39m 45m 4.5m
Baron Carnegie 43.5m 110m 7.5m
Moyallon 49m 83m 13m

Holyhead April 2022

Ray Cramer is organising a trip to Holyhead on 9th & 10th of April this year. This is for Dive Leaders and above to investigate a mark lying at approx 38m.

Reported with length 24m, width 6m and height 3.4m, slight magnetic anomaly, upright, bows partially buried/collapsed to ESE. Boiler midships high point.

The site lies in a strong tidal flow and there is only one weekend in 2022 which allows two diveable days for two waves of 60 minutes maximum dive times.

The plan is to use Holyhead slipway. A weekend could be made of this, weather permitting with suitable small campsite being Cae Ffynnon Caravan and Camping site, Rhosgoch, Amlwch.

Dates: April 9th 2022 and April 10th 2022.

Will be using Alan’s boat and one of the club boats.

Anyone interested should contact Ray or put their name on the interest form on the club noticeboard.

PLEASE NOTE: This trip had to be abandoned due to the weather.

Practical Rescue Management Feb 2022

The branch finally managed to complete another one of the outstanding Skill Development Courses that had been postponed due to the Covid pandemic. So on February 13th, a group of eager students and instructors gathered at Eccleston Delph Dive Centre to get the course underway.
The weather forecast for the day was persistent rain, heavy at times but thankfully, the weather Gods smiled upon us and the whole day stayed dry apart from the final half hour or so.

We all met around 8.30am and new member registrations and renewals were completed before assembling in the café for a welcome and brief discussion about the day’s proceedings. This was followed by a discussion on various types of incidents that we as divers might encounter during our days out whether it might be on land or at sea. The emphasis of the discussion was on the possible dangers and keeping safe during a rescue. This led into the introduction of the Dive Managers role and the problems that they might face. With this all fresh in the student’s minds, they split up into three small groups each having both a lead and assistant instructor to teach them.

The plan for the morning was for these three small groups to work their way through a couple of scenarios, working at a slow deliberate speed with the instructors guiding them through the process of carrying out a rescue and teaching the methods that might be required as well as encouraging the students and correcting any poor techniques.

Also included in the morning session was a spot of rope throwing to a potential casualty. The rope throwing practice always brings an element of fun and laughter to the session. It can actually become quite competitive as well with everyone trying to outdo each other. Thankfully no ropes were lost on this session as everyone remembered to keep hold of one end of their rope. I’ll say no more about that!

This brought the morning session to a close and all the teams assembled at the café for lunch and an informal chat about what they had been doing during the morning. There were plenty of laughs emanating from the group so it seemed that they were all enjoying the course so far.

The plan for after the lunch hour was for the three small groups to merge into two larger groups where the scenarios would be managed by the teams with the instructors mainly observing but coaching and prompting whenever necessary. So during the lunch break, the instructors for the two groups assembled and decided what scenarios that they were going to allocate to their respective groups. Each group would complete a minimum of two scenarios so that all members of the team would be able to complete the various roles such as Dive Manager, rescuer, casualty etc.

The weather was holding up so the group briefings took place at the waterside. The instructors gave the group members an outline of what the scenario would be then the groups decided on their roles and responsibilities. The group that I observed which was led by Steve McElroy, Alan Jones and assisted by Stuart Langley had a lost diver reported for their first scenario so obviously that consisted of an underwater search and rescue by some group members followed by full life saving procedures encompassing the use of a defibrillator and Oxygen administration. Due again to the Covid guidelines, no rescue breaths were performed but the reasons for this were re-emphasised to the students. At the point when life support was required, the actual casualty was replaced with a resuscitation mannequin.

Their second scenario had a twist in the tail. The group were told that it was two divers on the surface with one of them in a distressed condition and being towed in by their buddy. The twist was that they didn’t know that the diver conducting the towing was going to suffer a suspected heart attack. Well this really did kick the team into action as they now had two casualties and really had to start to think about their priorities!

After each scenario, the groups were debriefed by their instructor team. Particular attention was given to their input into the discussion, giving their thoughts on what went well and what they could do to improve their performances going forward.
The other group which was led by Michele Woodward, Alistair Reynolds and assisted by Steve Mills covered scenarios were on the first, two divers surface close to their cover boat but with one of them clearly distressed. The distressed diver then sinks back to the sea bed so a search and recovery was initiated. Thankfully the outcome was a good one as they had the second wave of divers already kitted up waiting to go in once the first pair had returned.

Their second scenario was where a pair of divers on a club dive out to a shallow wreck overrun their agreed dive time. Divers where sent in to search for them. They found the pair of divers but one of them was tangled in fishing line, starting to panic and running low on air. Not a nice situation to ever find yourself in! The importance of carrying your own personal cutting tool became evident in this scenario.

Just like the other group, the instructors debriefed the team, drawing out their thoughts on what went well, what if anything they would do differently. The students were encouraged to become proactive and consider the ‘what iff’s’.

With the afternoon scenarios completed, the groups went back to the car park area for a short debrief before heading off for home or the White Lion pub. Invariably, the topic of conversation in the pub centered around the course. It appeared that the students enjoyed the day. What it did do was got everyone involved thinking about what they could do to make their diving safer and thereby more enjoyable which I would personally take as a sign of a successful course!

I would like to express my thanks to the students for taking part so enthusiastically and putting themselves in the hands of the instructor team. They were in no particular order, Chris Mills, Kate Mills, Andreea Gamulea, Andy Parsons, Dave Barlow, Kelly Bird, Katie Condron, Nigel Thomas, Phil Bradley & Viki Walsh.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the instructor team for giving their time to teach on the course. They were Alistair Reynolds, Steve McElroy, Alan Jones, Michele Woodward, Garry Bolland, Steve Mills & Stuart Langley.
A special thanks to Garry Bolland who assisted me greatly when my printer died a death. And thanks to Ray Cramer for the loan of some ropes.
A big thanks also to the lads at Eccleston Delph Dive Centre in particular Andy Godber who was so very helpful whenever a favour was requested!

Terry Maloney

Chairman’s Letter February 2022

Hello folks, 

That’s Christmas and New Year done, and hopefully now we’re getting back to normal. Just a quick update on things In the club. 

We have a lot of training going on, and all our instructing team do this voluntarily and at their own cost, so if you put your name down to do a lecture, pool session or to go to the quarry, please don’t let them down. They put a massive amount of time and effort into organising and preparing these courses. 

We have a shiny new boat so let’s start organising trips and get back into the water. Remember anyone can organise a trip and get it signed off. 

We have also ordered a new compressor. The old and new committees have been working tirelessly to sort all this out over the last year, so now we need all your support to raise money to replenish our club finances. Try and get down the club, and please come to any functions that are coming up. Just get involved in whatever we have going on. Remember, it’s your club. 

Vince Clegg is putting on a summer party at Birkenhead Rugby Club on May 28th, details to follow. There are also a few dives coming up, so get involved. If you’re still a trainee, you can still go on any dive weekend, just to see how it all works, but obviously, if the boat is full, you’d have to sort out your own entertainment for while the dives are taking place. 

We appreciate all your support, it’s what keeps the club going.

Safe and happy diving,

Dave Edwards

Chairman, BSAC Branch 5

Chairman’s Christmas Letter 2021

Well folks, Christmas is nearly upon us and we are looking forward to safe and happy diving in the new year. First and foremost, I’d like to once again thank the Committee members that have kept the Club going through Covid-19, and I’d like to say a special thanks to Alan Jones (aka the Major) for steering us through the last four really difficult years. Now it’s time for the new Committee to guide the Club to our next chapter, but we can’t do it without the help of all the members. We require all of you to help, in training, trips, club events and just making everyone, new and old, feel welcome. 

Remember folks, anyone, regardless of diving grade, can organise trips – just ask another member and they will help you, or point you in the direction of someone who can. Also, you can do most boat courses regardless of grade: you just need to be enthusiastic. We are looking at taking the boats out (when the weather is a bit better) for members who are not qualified, to give people a feel of how to launch, handle and retrieve the RHIBs, and have a play on the river. Info will be on the board and Facebook ASAP. 

Also, on Thursday 23rd December, Bel is organising a Raffle and Karaoke Night in the Clubhouse, so try and get down to show your support – all proceeds going to the new boat and compressor fund.  

From myself and all the Committee, we wish you all a merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year. Let’s go diving!

Dave Edwards

Chartwork and Position Fixing Course

The Major will be running a Chartwork and Position Fixing course over the weekend of the 22nd/23rd January 2021. The Saturday being classroom based on theoretical navigation. The Sunday, (weather permitting) will be with the boats out in the Mersey. looking at both conventional and GPS navigation.

The costs will be £32.50 which is required for the BSAC course materials and unique reference number needed for course completion. There will also be fuel and boat levy costs for the river session.

Numbers will be limited to the first 10 and those interested should put their names down on the form on the club notice board.

Special Christmas Club Evening

Bel and Katie will be hosting a special Christmas club night on 23rd December. Doors open as usual at 7pm with the fun starting at 7.30pm. There will be food, a raffle, an auction and Christmas Karaoke!

So, come on down, have some fun and raise a bit of money for the club.

Majors Late Xmas Bash

The Major is once again organising his late Christmas Bash. This years will be held at the Irby Mill on Saturday 18th December. The participation list is up on the club notice board but numbers are limited to 50 and places are going fast. Get your name down quickly if your interested.

Chairman’s Letter October 2021

The Chairman’s Last Post

Hello everybody……….Well the time has almost come for me to slope off into the sunset having performed the role of Chairman for 8 out of the last 10 years.  It would be remiss of me not say that is has been an extraordinary privilege to serve the club and with your help and that of the committee in supporting me in steering ‘the ship’ through some choppy waters.  It would be good to claim that the club is now in a better shape than at the outset of our journey, but I guess that is for you to decide.  

One thing I would mention is that we have finally reached an agreement with the Council over a new ten year lease for the club and for the first time this will include the boatshed, albeit they will retain the right to review the tenure of the boatshed at any time after the five year point.  This is highly unlikely, but comes about because the boatshed is actually part of the leisure centre complex and could be subject of redeveloped in the future. 

The actual hand over of the current committee will take place at the club’s Annual General Meeting, commencing promptly at 9.0pm on Thursday, 18th. November 2021.  It would be great to see a full club house and remember this is your turn to bring the current committee to task as well as hear the outline plans for the forthcoming year from the new committee.   This is your opportunity to make your feelings known and make a difference.

With the diving season coming to an end this is an ideal opportunity to finish off your training and develop new skills at the quarries, the instructors are there virtually every week, so it is only up to you to attend.  In addition, I will be running a Chartwork and Position Fixing SDC over the weekend of the 22/23rd. January at the clubhouse.

Turning to the social side of things, the club’s annual dinner dance was a rip roaring event and attended by just over 100 members and their wives.  Would you believe we raised £1,507 for the club after expenses, which is by far the largest sum we have ever achieved.  Our thanks go out to Dave Edwards for organising the show as well as his band of helpers, which included Graeme Cooper for providing the place cards and Belinda with the ladies for sorting out the raffle.

I am also reliably informed that Belinda and Katie Condron intend running a social event at the clubhouse during the run up to Christmas, so watch this space for details.

Finally, The Major’s Late, Late Christmas Bash has been organised at the Irby Mill for Saturday, 18th. December.  In effect, we take over the entire restaurant area, but numbers are limited to 50 places, so first come first served.  The list will be on the notice board this coming Thursday and I would suggest that you book your place ‘pdq’ to avoid disappointment.

That’s it folks, once again my appreciation goes out for all you help and support over the last decade. Take care and safe diving.

Alan Jones

Dinner Dance and Awards Evening 2021

It was another very successful dinner dance and awards evening this this year, held again at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club. This year attended by well over a hundred members, partners, family members and friends. After drinks and introductions there was a superb meal, supplied as usual by Alleycats, followed by more drinks, a lengthy prize draw and then the awards.

This year Vince Clegg was awarded Diver of the Year in recognition of all the hard work put over many years behind the scenes and more visibly during the re-development of the bar area in the club.

The Andy Marshall trophy for trainee of the year went to Andy Parsons. Andy also achieved his Sport Diver certificate this year.

This year, the Golden Egg award for the biggest cockup of the year went to Tony Fitzpatrick in honor of his tussle with a rampaging gatepost.

There were also some special club awards given this year.
To Alan Jones, for the years of service he has given to the club as chairman, keeping it running smoothly through some very difficult circumstances.

To Belinda Condron for all her efforts helping run the bar, baking cakes and organising events.

And finally to Chris Mills and Graeme Cooper for their work in re-developing the bar.

After a really enjoyable evening, some dodgy dancing and as a result of raffles and auctions over £1500 was raised for the Club. A great result. Big thanks to Dave Edwards, Belinda Condron, Graeme Cooper and everyone else who helped organise the event.

Boat Handling Course September 2021

Boat Handling Course – Informative and Thrilling

Day 1: Information Overload

What do you do at the weekend? Maybe go shopping, go for a walk or in our case scuba diving. Yet one weekend in October we decided to take on the 2 day Boat Handling course. 

No sleep in on a Saturday morning. Up and out and down the club with a cup of steaming coffee and the chatter of questioning what the day will hold. 

For the day we did theory work in the lecture room with the words of wisdom from the experienced instructors of the Major (Alan), Alistair, Tony F, and training instructor Martin.

With the day planned out we listened to a number of lectures from explaining the ribs, how they work, what is best to carry on board for safety, signals, buoys, owner and driver responsibilities, and many other detailed areas.

After the lectures we went into the boat house to familiarise ourselves with the ribs and put the knowledge we had learnt to good use. We then had a demonstration on knots and what is best to use for different situations. Then it was our turn to try, which took a while yet going through step by step process we got the hang of it. We then had a break for lunch.

Once we had lunch we were back into it yet this time learning chartwork. This included plotting and using chartwork tools on the big maps of the coastline. This gave many the thirst to learn more on Chartwork and have resulted in a Chartwork Course in January 2022.

At end of the day we had to prepare and check the ribs were ready for next day to go on Mersey River.

Day 2: Mersey and Ribs

Yes, Finally! After information overload the day has come to go out on the ribs.

Of course you have to be sensible and responsible yet I will admit it is a thrill to push the throttle and ride the waves down the Mersey. It was such a beautiful sight, we had a sunny dry day, it felt like I was in a film. Some sort of bond film yet less classy looking as kitted out in my dry suit with a life jacket on too. As safety comes first.

The day started by collecting the ribs from the boat house and another check over. Then we made our way to New Brighton to launch the ribs. We were putting all the theory work into practise.

On my rib it was myself, Belinda, Paul and our instructor Alistair. On the river we had the pleasure to have front row seats to see the Queen Elizabeth Cunard Vessel moored at the cruise terminal in Liverpool. It was massive compared to us in the rib and towered over us. Throughout the day we took it in turns to complete the tasks Alistair taught us and requested us to complete. We learnt: controlling the rib taking into account the current pushing/pulling, manoeuvring the ribs, collecting divers (a buoy was used which we called Bob to make it feel real), using a anchor and many more skills.

The day was amazing we even had lunch on the rib what a beautiful spot to chill and each my lunch.

Time was against us though as the tide was coming in and we had to get back to the launch site before the cars were swept away. Once we arrived, we had to control the rib and get it hitched up to the trailer. The waves made it difficult yet finally got it on and out. Unfortunately we did have a bit of bother and started panicking as the Major’s car was stuck in the sand. We had an audience watching and the tide was coming in so felt the pressure. Yet all cars and ribs were eventually accounted for and out.

The ribs were filled with fuel and then taken back to the club, where they got a good scrub and wash down. We made sure the ribs were clean and tidy ready for the next use.   

The cost of course is for the training packs and the cost of the fuel used in the ribs.

Honestly, if you haven’t done the course, I recommend it.

Please register your interest with the instructors and we will keep you informed when the next one is arranged and keep an eye out on our notice board, Facebook and our website.

Katie Condron
Assistant Instructor and Communications Officer

Assistant Diving Instructor Development Scheme

Alistair Reynolds is looking to run an in-house training course in the near future for instructors who have completed an instructor training course and would like a refresher.

The course will also be open to anyone who is interested in going forward to the BSAC Instructor Foundation Course but would like an introduction into what’s involved or is not sure if their skills are at the right level yet.

Anyone interested should fill in the form below and hit submit to send to the training team

Chairman’s Letter September 2021

Hello everybody…………….Just a quick note following last week’s committee meeting.  Firstly, it was resolved to reduce the towing levy from 50p to 40p across the board and will come in effect after the current crop of planned trips.  The committee is also considering lowering the boat levy which currently stands at £15 per day, but no ‘white smoke’ is yet to be seen.  

The club’s Facebook page is a great tool for passing on information, but unfortunately there has been another incident of an inappropriate photograph appearing on the club’s Facebook page.  Let me remind everybody that the club does a have a strict policy which will be enforced resulting in censure and eventual removal from our Facebook page for anybody who continues to flout the rules.  So please be sensible folks and be nice to each other!  

The River Swim as part of the Festival of the River took place on Sunday, 19th. September was a great success with the club providing 3 safety boats amongst a flotilla of other small craft from other clubs to cover the 159 swimmers taking part.  We have been promised a donation, which last year was £250, so hope the powers that be are equally generous this year.  

Dave Edwards ran an Anglesey trip last weekend (25/26th. September), which due to the inclement weather turned out to be more of a glee club outing than a diving adventure, but at least everybody enjoyed ‘the crack’ in the pub.  He also asks me to remind you of the Dinner Dance on the 30th. October and that he is now collecting in the money (£40 pp).  

As the autumnal gales have arrived Geoff Oldfield has had to cancel the planned ‘Assistant Dive Manager ‘training this weekend on Anglesey.  Currently I do not have an alternative date, but knowing Geoff he will have some cunning plan in train.  On the other hand the Boat Handling Course planned for the 9th/10th. October is full steam ahead with the course packs having arrived in the last few days.  

Looking forward to next year, I have been in touch with Dive/Tec Wise based at St Julian’s Bay, Malta and have a provisional date of Saturday, 4th. June 2022 for a week’s adventure in the sun.  The way it normally works is that I circulate my flight and hotel details together with a list of hotels and apartments and you make your own arrangements.  This means that you have considerable flexibility over flights/dates, times and accommodation to suit individual needs, but that we arrive and depart with a day or so of each other.  A ‘flyer’ will appear on the club notice board the week for those seriously interested in taking part.  

The new Suzuki engine is working extremely well, but requires running in over the next 7 hours.  The manual states ‘Safe operating conditions permitting. Operate the engine at desired speed.  You may occasionally use the engine at full throttle however do not operate continuously at full throttle for more than 5 minutes.  

Notice – Running continuously at full throttle for more than 5 minutes at a time during the 7 hours of break-in operation may cause severe engine damage such a seizure.  

During the last 7 hours of break-in operations do not operate at wide open throttle for more than 5 minutes at a time.’  

Out intrepid Equipment Officer Chris Mills has put a log sheet in the new boat which should be completed after every trip up to the 20 hour point after which the engine must be serviced.  Bear in mind that the engine is compatible with E10 fuel and as it is a four-stroke design does not need a separate oil supply. The oil is contained in the sump just like a normal car engine and this should be checked before every trip via the dip stick located under the engine cover. Suzuki recommend SAE 10W-40 or 10W – 30 marine 4 cycle engine oil.  

That’s it folks take care and safe diving. 
Alan Jones

Mersey Swim 2021

Branch 5 helped out last Sunday by providing three safety boats for this years Across the Mersey Swim. Both Club Boats, including the new 6.5m Humber, joined Club Chairman Alan Jones’s boat and several other volunteer boats to provide safety and support for the event.

In the end all that was required was to watch as all 160 open water swimmers made the crossing without incident.

Starting at the Cockle Hole on the Liverpool side the swimmers headed off at the start of slack water aiming upriver towards the Cammell Laird shipyard on the Wirral side. Over the hour it takes most of the competitors to complete the course the changing current brings the swimmers in to the slipway at Birkenhead priory.

This year, the conditions were really good and many of the swimmers reached Cammell Lairds on the far side before the tide turned and had to swim down the Wirral side to the Priory. In the end all made it safely in. A great result for the organiser’s and all the amazing swimmers who took part.

Chairman’s Letter August 2021

Hello everybody…………………..It only seems like yesterday that I was talking about the beginning of the diving season and here we are drawing towards the end.  August, in particular, was an extremely busy months with diving expeditions to Scapa Flow, Pembroke, Anglesey and Plymouth.  For whatever reason the underwater viz has been a bit below what you would reasonably expect at this time of the year, but has certainly not stopped nor really detracted from the level of enjoyment.

We have now taken possession of the new boat which has been professionally fitted out and now start to run in the engine which takes 10 hours.  However, this should have been achieved by the end of September and additionally, the repair to the Tornado will be completed well before then.

Thanks to the good offices of Martin Campbell in proving a skip, the club has been able to clear and dispose of most of the junk that had accumulated over the previous year.  My thanks also go out to all the people who assisted in clearing not only the club and boatshed, but also the surround area.  Very well done!. Moreover, most of the bottles which had been stored there have been reclaimed by their owners, albeit about six remain.  These will now be tested by the club and taken into use.  Should an owner appear then we would expect then to pay for the test and make a donation to the club for the inconvenience.  

There are a number of diving/training and SDC opportunities on the horizon.  These include:-

25/26th. September – Dave Edwards is running a diving weekend on Anglesey, so if you are interested you need to contact him.

2/3rd October – Assistant Dive Manager Training, Anglesey – This event is being run by Geoff Oldfield and is part of the revised Dive Leader sylabus, though I don’t have any further information to hand.

9/10th. October – Boat Handling SDC – This event is now full with the following people having signed up to take part, Sean Madigan, Belinda Condron, Dave Edwards, Kate Condron, Paul Berry, Andy Parsons, Graeme Cooper, Shaun Williams, Hannah Williams and Mark Williams.

The cost of the training package has gone up to £49.50 and you will now need to forward the cash to me soonest (cheques or bank transfer also fine) so that I may order the materials.  No money means you cannot attend on a promise of future payment.

Finally, can I remind that the club dinner has been arranged for Saturday, 30th. October at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club at a cost of £40 per person.  The numbers are limited to just over 100 and when I last checked the list was starting to look rather full.  Those interested need to contact Dave Edwards direct to avoid disappointment.  

Alan Jones


Plymouth August 2021 Trip Report

So August Bank Holiday came around again and that meant that a group of twelve divers from the branch were going to make their way down to Plymouth for three days diving with In Deep in the capable hands of our skipper James Balouza and decky Sam.

The weather forecast was looking good for the weekend which was a bonus.

We all assembled at our accommodation which was the Boringdon Arms as usual. We received our usual warm welcome from the owners Greg and Sue and their ‘go to’ assistant Jordan. It’s a great base and nothing is too much trouble for the Borry team.

We were dining at the Boringdon on the Friday night so there was no real need to go rushing about and a nice convivial atmosphere ensued.

Some of us did go for a walk though as I needed to speak with Claire, the manageress of the Royal Oak. So not to be rude, we did partake of a beer or two while we were there.

We then ambled back to the Boringdon for showers and a change before our meal.

After all the travelling, just about everyone retired fairly early so as to be nice and fresh for Saturday morning.

After a great breakfast, we all made our way to the Mountbatten Centre for an 8am meet up with our skipper. I had already chatted with James about what dives we would be doing as there was a very important football match kicking off at 5.30pm and quite a few of us wanted to be back in time to catch it. That sounds easier than it was as I wasn’t aware of any of the local pubs on our side of bay that were showing live football. But weeks earlier, Claire from the Royal Oak helped us out and booked tables for us in the Three Crowns over on the Barbican. But more of that later as there was a days diving ahead of us before that.

So ‘ropes off’ was at 9am and we headed off in the direction of Whitsand bay and our first dive which was to be the Rosehill. The Rosehill was a 2700 ton armed merchant ship that was torpedoed by U40 in September 1917. She lies about two miles out from Portwrinkle.

As usual, James shotted the wreck on the boilers as he usually does. Our group made their way down the shot line into what can only be described as poor viz for Plymouth. Three to four metres at best I reckoned. Garry and I had already decided to take our strobes and clipped them to the line so as to aid everyone’s return. We made our way to the stern as the last time we dived the wreck, some of us missed the stern gun. Well we made sure that we didn’t miss it this time despite the bad viz! The ambient light levels were good though so that made the dive more enjoyable. We also took in the propellor and rudder that now lies flat on the sand. From here, we made our way back towards the boilers. If you look closely, you can still see lots of engine parts amongst all the wreckage. Swimming past the boilers, we started to make our way towards what used to be the bow. This entails a lot of swimming over lots of sections of plate. There are plenty of Pink Sea Fans growing here and myriads of fish. Mainly Bib. But the most awesome sighting was three or four large Bass actively hunting their prey. It’s not something divers see that often. The Bass appeared to be actually using the light from our torches to hunt by. They were swimming within a metre of us and when we directed our torches at them, they were just like glistening bars of silver.

We weren’t far short of the bows and the two large anchors but decided to turn back as our deco had kicked in by now and the requirements were starting to build up. The Bass followed us all the way back.

We reached the shot line and started our ascent. Garry and I collected our strobes on the way up. We all (Garry, Steve, Kat & I) left the bottom with about ten minutes deco to do. We all completed our schedule before finishing our ascent.

Despite the conditions, we all agreed that it was a very enjoyable dive.

James pointed Seeker in the general direction of our second dive once we were all aboard which was to be the James Eagan Layne but only chugged along slowly so that we could get sufficient surface interval completed. This went well as Sam served up tea, coffee and hot sausage rolls which were very welcome indeed.

Surface interval over, we all kitted up and prepared to dive the James Eagan Layne, a liberty ship of 7000 tons that was torpedoed in March 1945 by U1195. She stayed afloat for about eight hours before finally sinking in Whitsand Bay.

This wreck has the reputation of being the most dived wreck in the UK. Well it’s showing it’s age a bit but despite that, you can understand why it has the reputation it has. It’s a truly stunning wreck! We dropped down the shot line to the bows and then through the superstructure into the forward hold. From here, you can swim the entire length of what is left of the wreck. Her stern broke off a few years ago in a storm.

The visibility was not much better than on the Rosehill but the fact that we were inside it made the dive so much better as there was plenty of ambient light flooding through all the openings in the sides.

We covered the entire length of the wreck from stem to stern. Unlike our last dive on it, we didn’t spend too much time at the stern and therefore had enough gas and time to go all the way back to the bow. We exited the bow and made our way back up the permanent shot line.

Personally, it was one of the best dives I’ve had on it!

So the first days diving was done and dusted and we made our way back to the Mountbatten landing stage in plenty of time to get back to the Borry, have a shower and a quick pint before heading over to the Barbican and the Three Crowns for the Liverpool v Chelsea game. Well thanks to Claire at the Royal Oak, we had a great location to watch the game and get dinner. I’ve got to mention the Surf & Turf that most people had. It came out on what looked like sharing platters. Needless to say, there were no complaints! The beer wasn’t bad either!

After drinking up, we made our way back to pick the water taxi up. Garry and I couldn’t catch the first one as it was full so we let Steve and Kat head back first. We only had twenty or thirty minutes to wait but that time flew by as we were treated to a comical show by some clown in a small boat with an oversized engine on it. He was messing about making the boat point up at about 45 degrees when he gunned the engine a bit. What he failed to remember was to keep the engine reviving when making a sharp turn. Well he paid the price! He rolled it over and the crowds watching were treated to the sight of a boat slowly sinking into the dock. Another boat came to his rescue and even though his had sunk, they managed to grab a trailing rope and tow it back to a little beach not far away.

Eventually everyone met up at the Boringdon and we all recounted tales of what we had seen during our first days diving and discussed the next days dives. All over a couple of shandy’s of course!

Sundays dives were to be the wrecks of the Persier and the Maine. So two potentially good dives to look forward to.

We woke to yet more settled weather with the sun shining and a reasonably blue sky. What more could we ask for?

Ropes off was a little later but we were all aboard quite handy so James pointed Seeker in the direction of Bigbury Bay and the first of the days dives, the Persier. This wreck is a WW2 casualty after taking a torpedo on her port side in February 1945. Everyone was hoping for better viz than we had on Saturday. James shotted the wreck in his usual efficient manner and as we were all kitting up fifteen minutes beforehand, most of us were ready to go. Marc and Adey were the first two down the line and then the remaining pairs followed. Again, Garry and I attached our strobes to the shot line to try and make the return easier for us. The viz was no better than the previous day but still sufficient at about four to five metres to not spoil the dive.

We covered the entire wreck. The highlight being the stern with the rudder post standing proud and the steering gear still in place. We eventually made our way back to the shot line and saw the benefits of using our strobes as the line would have been a lot harder to find without them! Everyone was more than happy with the first dive of the day but everyone’s favourite was still to come!

Once the shot was retrieved, we made our way towards Salcombe and the wreck of the Maine. On the way, we had tea and hot sausage rolls served up by Sam for our lunch. They were really very tasty!

The Maine is a WW1 casualty after having taken a torpedo on her port side  just like the Persier in March 1917. It’s such an iconic wreck! Once inside it, the ambient light coming through all the open space makes it a brilliant dive. Especially in good viz!

James put the shot in at the stern. We made our way down the line, clipping our strobes on as we went. We dropped below the upper deck level and swam into the wreck. We slowly made our way though it, passing though holds, skirting round the boilers. It’s an awesome dive! And on the return, we stopped at the now famous ladder that which has been the subject of many a photograph. Once back at the stern, we dropped towards the sea bed where sections of the steering mechanism can still be seen. Looking up from here, our strobes could be seen flashing away indicating where the shot line was. We all made our ascent and had about ten minutes deco to complete before surfacing. Once all the divers were back on board, we made our way for the Mountbatten centre. You could tell from the buzz on board that everyone had had an excellent couple of days and were really happy. And we had a Bar-B-Q to look forward to that evening at the Royal Oak.

Once we were all showered and changed, we strolled down to the Oak in glorious sunshine. We couldn’t have wished for better weather!

Our tables were booked for 7pm but we deliberately arrived a little earlier so we could enjoy the atmosphere and one or two lemonades of course.

Well I can honestly say that the food did not disappoint. The chef did himself proud with some lovely dishes ranging from steak, sword fish through to burgers. We all had a lovely meal. The only downside was that the pub had been drunk dry! I’m not suggesting in any way that members of Branch 5 were responsible for this lol.

Well with no beer left in the barrels, we made our way back to the Boringdon for a last drink or two. Everyone was in good spirits after a great days diving followed by a lovely barby.

As is usual, we discussed the days dives and the dives still to come.

We had agreed to a scenic dive at Hilsea Point to start and follow it up with a dive on the Oregon.

Ropes off on the Monday was at 10am but as everyone was aboard early yet again, we cast off and headed for Hilsea Point. It was a bit choppy on the way out but not really too uncomfortable. It was mainly just spray so everyone edged that little bit closer to the wheelhouse. Once we had reached our destination though, conditions had eased and it was a comfortable process of kitting up. James dropped the shot bang in the gully which was to be the start of our dive. His instructions were to head North once we were in the gully and then turn right after exiting it and swim around the pinnacle. Adey & Marc were the first, followed by my group, Andy & Kerry then Ray & James.

We dropped down the line which ran over the edge of the gully and there below us on a clear bed of sand was the shot. We all checked our direction and headed North as instructed. The gully was a brilliant start to the dive. It was about 25mtrs deep at the start of the dive and three or four metres wide but eventually narrowed down to about one metre wide as it shallowed up to about 12mtrs. The sidemount divers actually reported having to swim side on in order to get through! We turned right as instructed and keeping the wall on our right hand side, followed the amazing rocky contours. This was turning out to be an excellent dive, made so much more enjoyable as we had the best viz of the weekend. There was plenty of life to be seen. Definitely some of the biggest Urchins we have ever seen! Lots of different species of fish especially Sand Eels in their thousands. Crayfish were abundant on parts of the dive although my group actually only saw one. We did see some Dogfish (Cat Shark?) as well. One in particular being about 1.25mtrs long we reckon.

I spotted this one just as the current was starting to pick up so now we went on a nice little drift dive. What a great way to end a very enjoyable dive. We sent our DSMB’s up and made a nice slow ascent up to 5mtrs where we completed any decompression requirements as well as a safety stop.

Back on the boat, everyone was enthusing about the dive. One regular actually asked me ‘why the hell haven’t we dived that before?’ I couldn’t give them an answer except to say that we would have to do it again at some point. It was an excellent dive!

Thankfully the sea had flattened a fair bit so it was tea and pasties all round during our surface interval. And did they go down well? Especially for the ones who went back for a second sitting lol. Mentioning no names of course Garry.

We now made our way to the site of our final dive of the weekend. It was to be on the wreck of the Oregon. This is an old wreck. She went down in a storm in 1890. James dropped the shot in on the stern as he explained that there was a large net at the bow which divers might not like to venture too close to. We followed the same format as for all the other dives with four of us going in together. Dropping down the line, Garry and I clipped our strobes into place once again. The wreck was teeming with life. Large shoals of juvenile fish plus a healthy population of Congers and Lobsters. The wreck is well broken up as you would expect for a ship that had been underwater for over one hundred and thirty years! But this just added to the dive in our opinions. We slowly followed the contours of the wreck, eventually arriving at the bow and the large net that had been caught up at the bow and looked more like a mast from distance as it stood vertical due to the many floats that were still attached to it. After having a good look around here, we agreed to make our way back to the shot line. Everywhere we looked, there were Congers and Lobsters to be seen. The wreck was alive! The viz on this wreck was certainly the best that we had had experienced on any of the wrecks this weekend and after a while, we could see our two strobes flashing away in the distance. We made our way over to the line, agreed to ascend and recovered our strobes on the way back up. We had all gone into deco on this dive as it was our second of the day and also the deepest (just) of the weekend. We completed all of our required stops before surfacing.

With everyone back on board, Seeker headed back to the Mountbatten Centre. We all stripped our kit down on the way so that we could unload the boat quickly as some of our group were heading for home immediately after we docked.

The remaining eight though were staying over for the extra night and going out for a meal and a few beers after getting scrubbed up.

We said our good byes to Andy, Kerry, Steve & James and headed back for our digs. The sun was shining so we all sat out front at the Boringdon and had a couple of drinks before heading off for our meal. And why not!

Our restaurant for our last night was Lackys Balti House. I’ve got to extend a big thanks to the owners as usually they are closed on a Monday night but agreed to open up especially for us when I called to book a few weeks earlier. It’s not a licensed restaurant which we knew so all took our own beer and wine with us. Lackys did us proud. The food was delicious and we all had a fantastic evening discussing the weekend, the diving, the football, the weather and just about everything else. We all agreed that it had been a brilliant trip. Possibly the best we’ve had in my opinion.

After leaving the restaurant, we all strolled back to the Boringdon for a few more drinks before heading for bed. We had lots of laughs and maybe a few drinks too many but everyone was sensible as we knew that we had a long drive ahead of us the following morning.

We all ate a good breakfast the next morning before saying our good byes to Greg and Sue and of course to each other.

All that was left was to make our way home after a brilliant weekend. Roll on next year.

A big thanks must go to all the following people for making the trip go so well.

The gang at In Deep and particularly James and Sam.

Also the staff of The Boringdon Arms. Greg, Sue and Jordan.

Claire from The Royal Oak.

Our team for the weekend. Garry Bolland, Michele Woodward, Adey McGuigan, Marc Holroyd, Ray Cramer, Steve McElroy, Nigel Thomas, Alan Jones, James Brandon, Andy Rath, Kerry Place.

Thanks everyone.

Terry Maloney (trip organiser).

Scapa Flow August 2021 Trip Report

After having our original trip to Scapa Flow cancelled the day before we left in 2020 and deciding not to go on the re-organised trip we weren’t expecting to be on this one. But when Alan got in touch to say a few had dropped out we decided to take the places…. and by the end of it were very glad we did.

We set off 8 o’clock Friday morning and with a couple of stops along the way arrived at Thurso Premier Inn eleven long, long hours later….. so just time for dinner and bed. Then up for breakfast at seven followed by a short drive to Scrabster to meet the others on the early Ferry.

After a pleasant hour and a half on the Northlink Ferry, passing the impressive Old Man of Hoy along the way, we arrived at Stromness for 10am. Bob Anderson and his crew, Teresa, Zoe and Godfrey were ready for us, so just the small matter of loading all the kit into bags to be lowered down to the deck by the boats crane then handballing all the non-diving gear down into the passenger berths.

Bob’s boat, Clasina, is big compared to other boats running dive trips in the area and very well equipped. The six cabins in the passenger area each had two large bunks and just enough room to move around. We were lucky enough to have space under the lower bunk to store bags etc which was a big help. On deck, there is a large undercover area for kitting up / hanging suits, a large open area with benches and storage bins for each person’s gear and two toilet shower rooms. To one side of the desk is and opening gateway with a short drop to get into the water with a lift alongside to get out. The main bridge area has a further toilet shower room, two tables with enough room for everyone to sit down together and a full size range for cooking and keeping warm after diving in the lovely Scottish Summer.

As this was our first trip to Orkney, after a quick walk around Stromness to get our bearings and a coffee we went off for a look round the Ring of Brodgar, a large Neolithic stone circle a few miles outside Stromness. By the time we got back the rest of the group had arrived on the later ferry and got their gear stowed away.  After Covid not everywhere in Orkney had opened again and there was a local festival on that day but fortunately Martin had pre booked tables at the Ferry Hotel for the first two evening meals. The food was great but it had been a long couple of days so we headed off to bed after a few drinks, only to be woken a few hours later by the industrial firework display being set off a few hundred yards away closely followed by the local pipers getting stuck in.

Next day was supposed to be a seven o’clock start but the first Northlink ferry of the day gets warmed up at five thirty and only being about a hundred yards away was pretty difficult to sleep through. Anyway, after breakfast onboard we got underway and had our first briefing from Bob. This and all the other briefings he gave were excellent. He laid out all the history of the sites, what to look out for, the best routes for us first timers and lots of other detail for the more experienced. All this mixed in with his unique sense of humour made for a great start to each dive. Bob had laid out a plan of dives for the first few days with the end of the week left open for us to decide where we wanted to go.

The first dive was the SMS Dresden, a fairly intact light cruiser lying in 25m at the prow dropping to 38m at the stern. We got kitted up and in we went. Down the shot to a davit midship. Bob had suggested following a route forward from this past the bridge and armoured control tower, mast and on to the forward capstans. We headed off in this direction but with this being our first time mixed with the sheer scale of the ship and the fact my leg was filling with water, would be lying if I really identified much. We did reach the bow and came back up this and followed the hull hoping to find our way back to the shot again but no luck. So sent up an smb and came back up. The boat was waiting, and the lift was amazing. Back onboard there were plenty of moans about the vis but we thought it was pretty good…. must have been at least 5m.

After bailing out my suit I found a hole in the boot but there was not much I could do about that. Hung everything up to dry and Zoe kindly put my under suit in the dryer over lunch. We tied up at Lyness, the old naval base, for lunch. Unfortunately, the museum there was closed for renovations but there was still a fair bit of history to look at. Whilst we were having lunch the crew took details of what gas was wanted for the next dive and started filling the bottles. Lunch was home made soup and fresh baked bread. Really good. Zoe’s cooking over the week will be responsible for hours of exercise over the next few months to try to loose some of the weight gained!

After lunch we headed out again and had another briefing. The afternoon dive was the SMS Karlsruhe, another light cruiser lying on her starboard side in 25m. The shot this time came down just behind where the bridge used to be. This wreck is more of a jumble and can’t remember seeing the control tower but did find one of the huge 5.9 inch guns and forward from that the capstan with the anchor chains still wrapped around. We really couldn’t make anything else out so headed up the hull again to try and find the shot before my leg filled up again. No sign of the shot so back up with a bag again.

After the dive it was back to Stromness. My undersuit had been in the dryer again and once back in port I took my suit up to the Red Shed for an overnight repair, along with the Major to get a zip looked at and Gail to get a spare suit fixed. Andy had brought his bike so set off for a bike ride.

The evening meal that night was back at the Ferry. Again, really good, with most of us having the lamb after seeing it the night before. For us it was another early night.

After managing to get back to sleep for a bit after the five thirty ferry alarm was up for seven to find all the suits had been returned already. The majors zip hadn’t been done but only because they couldn’t get in touch to check if he wanted it replaced. Absolutely fantastic service, wish we had something like that at home.

After breakfast another brief, this dive was going to be the SMS Coln. Another light cruiser and sister ship to SMS Dresden. She was a bit deeper at 36m. This time Martin and Andy offered to lead the way to make sure we saw the main bits of Bob’s suggested tourist route and thanks to them we did. The bridge and mast followed by the armoured control tower. Very distinctive when you know what your looking at. Skylights and deck hatches and on to the capstans and huge anchor chains still wrapped around and disappearing into the wreck. We left Martin and Andy here and set off up the bow and headed back towards the shot. Another miss followed by a close call with a sticky reel but we eventually got back up top.

Back to Lyness for another amazing Zoe lunch then an hour or two free time. Some of us went up to the Naval cemetery and others up to the abandoned Naval headquarters at the top of the hill.

The afternoon dive was the F2 and YC21 barge, not far from Lyness. The F2 was a WW2 Germain escort boat that sank in a storm in 1946 and YC21 a salvage barge that went down in another storm in 1968 whist working on the F2. Both were in about 16m but there was going to be some run…. We got onto the F2 ok but have to say it just looked like a scrap yard. We swam round the wreckage field for about 20 minutes until we found the rope that is still connected to the YC21. It was a hard swim over following the rope with the current running across and by the time we got the barge and swam round out the current we had both had enough and came up the shot on the barge bow. It’s a shame as everyone else seemed to agree the best bits were the salvaged items still in the barge!

After the diving it was back to Stromness, this time for dinner onboard. Zoe had made us an cracking curry, complete with naan bread, poppadums’ and all the trimmings.  After a few drinks onboard we went for a walk past the end of town to the headland that some of the others had recommended. It was well worth it with superb views out over the channel the ferry uses and across the bay.

Tuesday morning the weather was very overcast but nearly managed to sleep through the ferry starting up. Out of port for eight again and off to the SMS Brummer this time. A mine laying light cruiser lining on her side in about 36m. I took a wrong turn from the shot but we managed to get back on track. It was noticeably darker on this wreck and the vis wasn’t as good as the other wrecks so not as easy to pick things out. But we did see the anchor chain and control tower with one of the big guns underneath as well as the famous brass bridge railings. Also, Andy happened to be passing at one point and showed us the search light iris blades which we would probably have missed. This time we found the shot and made our way back up.

After lunch we headed off to Pan Hope on the east side of Flotta to dive on the U-Boat UB116. Kate decided to take the afternoon off, so I went in with Ray. As the boat was blown up for salvage there was not much recognisable, but the vis was amazing, at least 10m. We did see ballast tanks and off the end of the wreck following a line for twenty odd meters was a large and recognisable part of the conning tower. There was plenty of life around the wreck and was sorry when it was time to go up.    

That evening we tied up in Burray on the top end of Ronaldsay. Andy went off for another bike ride whilst we chilled out for an hour or two then headed up to the only place to eat in town…. The Sands Bar. This was by far the best meal we had off the boat. The fish was fantastic but everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs as well. Best of all, a good nights sleep as there was no ferry in the morning.

Next day was cold and windy, but fortunately not the forecast storm force winds. After getting under way earlier than usual the morning briefing was all about our first battleship. The SMS Kronprinz. We really wanted to see the 12 inch guns but as the ship had turned turtle and was lying upside down this meant getting to the bottom at 38m and going under the overhanging deck. We were the last down the shot and when we got to the bottom had to queue up to follow a second rope the last 10m down to the sea bed. Unfortunately, by the time we got down there it was pitch black and churned up so you couldn’t see a thing……. there was no way we were swimming under the deck into that so came back up and swam round towards the bow. The boat is so big and quite damaged due to the salvage works so we couldn’t be sure what we were seeing apart from a line of portholes. We eventually came up the side and swam along the keel enjoying the wildlife before setting of a smb and heading up.

We had lunch whilst traveling up to Burra Sound as we were diving on the blockship Tabarka in the afternoon and needed to be ready for slack water.  This is a steamship that was sunk to block the sound and lies in 15m of water. After arriving we had our briefing then got kitted up ready to go in. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been listening properly and had to sit around in our kit for fifteen minutes waiting for the tide. After about twenty we were told to stand down. Bob had forgotten to add the hour for BST!            

After our unexpected hours break we got ready and lined up like lemmings on the deck….. under instruction to get in and down as fast as we could as there was still a bit of a run on.  And there certainly was! Once we did get down it was like being in a wind tunnel. Everyone was on the floor dragging themselves towards to lee of the ship using the kelp…. apart from Steve who was sitting on the wreck enjoying the chaos. After making the mistake of trying to get round the prow then over the top we eventually found a way inside through a hole in the side. Inside it was pretty impressive, lots of life and great vis with light coming in from lots of gaps in the sides. We did try to get out to the stern through the wreck but the current just made it too hard work and on the last attempt had to catch Gail flying past the other way…. After a good look round we decided to go up whist the water was still fairly slack as didn’t fancy it in a proper run.

With everyone back onboard we headed back to Stromness arriving by about three to leave us enough time to a bit of sight-seeing. We dropped Steve and Gail off at the ring of Brodger then headed round to the far side of the islands to see the Italian Chapel. Two nissen huts, part of the Italian prisoner of war camp, that were transformed into an amazing chapel by the prisoners, some of whom stayed on after the war to finish it. Relatives still come over from Italy to maintain it even now. After this we went for a walk around the main town, Kirkwall but arrived just before five and pretty much everything closes at five so headed back to the boat for another Zoe dinner and a few more pounds.

Ian had suggested the walk up the hill behind town so gave it a go to walk off some of the food and actually met Ian on the way back down. It’s a steep walk but up top are fantastic views of Stromness and the surrounding area as well as right out into the flow.   

Thursday was a later start as Bob had to wait for a fuel tanker so we didn’t leave Stromness until about nine. We had our briefing and headed off to the SMS Coln again but stopped on our way at the SMS Margraff, the deepest of the battleships at 45m, to drop Martin and Andy in. Martin had planned long dive to take in all the guns. Not sure Andy was as keen but he went along….

On the SMS Coln we were getting the hang of things at last, we stuck to the original route Bob had given us first time and managed to pick out everything along the way. The vis was a bit dark but still good so we enjoyed it. Swam around the bridge area and saw the mast then on to the armoured control tower. We missed the gun mounts but found the skylights and deck hatches and finally the capstans and anchor chains. We swam up the side this time and could clearly see where the deck was peeling away from the hull and through the gaps to the inside of the ship. We eventually came back to the shot and were able to go up this for once.

After collecting everyone and going back for Martin and Andy we headed off to a dump site just off Lyness. Alan, Ray and Gary hadn’t dived that morning and wanted to spend some time hunting for treasure. Nothing can be taken from any of the warships in the area but they were allowed to root around for objet d’art on the ‘Bottle Site’ so off they went. They did come back with a brass flange, a glass dish and what looked like a bit of shell casing but nothing I’d want on the sideboard at home. 

After lunch we set off for Burra Sound again for a dive on another block ship, the SS Gobernador Bories. A whaler and cargo ship purchased by the British Navy and sunk in about 17m as a block ship.

Wasn’t so keen after the fight with the current the day before but was assured it would be better this time…….so, after the briefing we all kitted up and lined up on the deck again. As with the last one it was all in together and straight down. This time it was slack water and good vis as well. The ship is quite broken up but covered in all sorts of marine life.  Really pleasant dive, we missed the prop and rudder but towards the end we came across the engine block. A huge thing open at the sides showing the con rods and pistons. It looked like it was starting to run after this, so we set off a bag and game up.

After collecting everyone we set off for Longhope, a tiny place on the island of South Walls. Aside from a small ferry terminal, a lifeboat station and a few houses the only thing there is a pub. The Royal Hotel. An interesting place….. When we got in there, they had a roaring fire going that we ended up sitting next to and one of the locals was trying to breath fire with his whisky. We were feeling the pace and after another bucket of coal was thrown on the fire we made our escape. Andy wasn’t so lucky… the owner took a shine to him and started giving him free whisky… he stayed late with Martin, Tom, Steve and Ray.

Friday morning was an early start again. Andy looked a bit worse for ware but was still up for a dive. Ray had ear problems so missed out on the last couple of dives. The last day was going to be SMS Dresden first followed by SMS Karlsruhe, a repeat of the first days diving. This was great as we had missed a lot on the first dives.

We came down almost on top of the armoured control tower and saw one of the 5.9 inch guns. Tried shining lights into the tower slits but couldn’t make out anything inside. Forward we found the capstan shafts where the deck had collapsed.  We followed the deck up to the top of the hull and carried on thinking we might get to the stern but we got to the end of our diving air first and came up on a bag. Really gave an impression of how big the ships were.

After lunch, we went down to the SMS Karlsruhe again. It made more sense this time but is still very broken up. The breach of the 5.9 inch gun and its barrel were certainly the highlights as well as the two capstan and anchor chain. We found the shot again and came up.

The it was time to head back to Stromness and pack up. Steve, Gail, Martin and Andy were getting the five o’clock ferry and driving back overnight. We were originally getting the 11am Saturday ferry but as everyone else was getting the early 6.30 ferry we changed our booking as well. We would have been awake anyway……

With Bob and the cranes help we got everything but the overnight essentials onto the quay and packed up the cars. We then all went off around Stromness for a few bits of holiday tat including an obligatory Scapa Flow sweatshirt from the dive shop and a fridge magnet. Other tat was available…….

After saying goodbye to those on the early ferry the rest of us got ready and headed back to the Ferry Hotel for another meal. Lamb for almost everyone….. it was very good.

Following another early night we were up at five to get ready for the early ferry and half six. After breakfast onboard and docking in Scrabster at eight there was just the small matter of the eleven hour drive back…..

Even with the long drives we both thoroughly enjoyed the week. Bob and his crew were great and looked after us well as did everyone else on the trip. Couldn’t has asked for a nicer group of people to spend the week diving with.

Finally, a big thanks for Alan for organising the trip. I know its was hard with all the cancellations, breakdowns and Covid but it was well worth it. Looking forward to the next one…….

Alan, Ray, Ian, Gary (A lot taller in real life), Tom, Andy, Kate, Steve, Chris, Gail and Martin

Thanks to everyone who has shared photos that have been used in this post

Tough Mudder 2021

On the 1st of August this year the Mersey Divers Team took part in the Yorkshire Classic Tough Mudder to raise funds for the club and also to donate to the RNLI.

Tough Mudder Classic is a 10-mile challenge of mud-soaked mayhem. Loaded with 25 of the world’s craziest obstacles. With no competitive element and no timing, it’s just you, your teammates and muddy strangers working together to conquer the course and earn the world-famous orange headband. 

It was hard going at times, there was lots of mud and lots of getting wet, some of the obstacles really pushed us, but I don’t think anyone stopped laughing throughout the whole day. Except maybe on the Artic Enema! A drop down a drainpipe into a skip full of water and ice cubes with a crawl under a barrier in the middle. Not sure anyone really enjoyed that one but we all worked as a team and no one got left behind……

We’re still adding up the donations and sponsorship but it looks like we will just break £800. Which is a great result for the club and once it’s all collected we will be donating 25% of whatever we get to the RNLI. Watch this space for the final update.

The team on the finish line.

Back Row: Dave Barlow, Dave Edwards, Dave Roberts, Jake Mills, Kelly Baird, Lorna Larkin

Front Row: Kate Mills, Chris Mills, Martin Campbell, Hannah Williams

The New Club Boat

This week the club took delivery of its new 6.5m Humber RHIB. Equipped with a with a Suzuki 175 four stoke engine this should allow us to take even more members out on club trips. This is a massive investment for the club and something that we have been fundraising towards for a number of years.

The boat has gone off to Conway Marina now to have all the electronics properly fitted and tested and should be back with us soon, ready to be put in the water for its first sea trials.

The sale of the clubs older Viking RHIB to one of the club members provided the final funds needed to reach the target needed for the new boat. Everyone was sad to see it go but they are all looking forward getting out on the new boat.

Chairman’s Letter July 2021

Hello everybody……………Well D Day (19th. July 2021) arrived last Monday which means that the club house can now resume as normal, so it will be good to see you all again and, of course, we do need your support.  The big news is that our new boat was collected from Hull last Tuesday and will be on display outside the boat shed this evening (Thursday, 22nd July).  It really is something to behold, so our thanks go out to everybody who has supported the purchase of this large capital item.  It will now go to Conway Marina to be fitted outer with the electronics, (GPS, radio etc) before returning for sea trials closer to home.  

Diving – During the last month successful diving trips have been run to Pembroke  and Cornwall, so our thanks goes out to Chris Mills and Geoff Oldfield for organising these events.  There was, unfortunately, one nasty incident involving Stuart Mathews who besides obeying all diving protocols sustained a spinal bend and had to spend a period of days in and out of a recompression chamber, albeit it he is likely to make a full recovery and is now progressing well.  Just pausing for a moment on trips, you must understand that if you put your name down for a trip and then are unable to attend then it is normal that your deposit is forfeit; moreover, you also remain liable for any additional charges incurred by your non-attendance (such as towing).  The truth is that we are ultimately tied in with people’s livelihoods and quite naturally they want the full amount agreed with the expedition leader not half the money.  If you want to avoid liability you need to find a replacement.

Club House – Part of the recovery process from lockdown will be to put the club house, boat shed and classroom back in use.  What is evident is that the club has been used as a dumping ground for rubbish and this now needs to be sorted out by working parties.  To that end Martin Campbell will be supplying a skip and anything resembling ‘junk’ will be disposed of at the tip.  Moreover, a plethora of diving bottles appears to be growing almost on a weekly basis.  You now have a month to remove your bottles after which out of test cylinders will be disposed of or retested by the club and taken into use as their own.

Training Matters – It is hoped that we will receive further direction from the staff of Guinea Gap Baths with regard to swimmer numbers, reopening the changing room, use of showers etc.  This means that Thursday Training Nights will receive fresh impetus and really get going again.  We expect quite a few people putting themselves forward for Try Dives, so there will be a need for volunteers to assist, remember Dive Leaders can take Try Dives into the pool.  Whilst it is true that we are extremely lucky in having a National Instructor and something like six advanced instructors within our ranks, when you drill down further we have very few Open Water Instructors and a group of Assistant Instructors who have not continued with their training.  It follows that we are now looking for people to attend the Instructor Foundation Course and become involved in training. In my view, this is probably the best BSAC course on offer, it weighs in at £157 for the weekend, however, the committee has agreed to reimburse £57 to everybody taking part.

Skill Development Course – These will shortly recommence with Assistant Dive Manager (2/3rd.October), Boat Handling (9/10th. October), Diver/Cox Assessment, Practical Rescue Management. The last two have no dates at present, but with regard to SDC’s like Boat Handling you will need to buy the pack (£47) from HQ before undertaking the course.  There can be no exceptions to this.  Keep an eye on Facebook or the Notice board in the club for further information.

That’s it folks, take care and safe diving.

Alan Jones