Diving News & Reports

To catch up on what is happening in the scuba diving world, click "Divernet"

Covid is still with us!!

Scuba diving training activities in the pool and Open Water have resumed and will continue if the Branch Diving Officer is satisfied with ongoing Covid Risk assessments. These risk assessments will be reviewed on a regular basis in co-operation with the Pool Authorities and guidance from Government.

Diving Awards

Over the past few weeks, a number of Clydebank Sub Aqua Club members have gained various diving awards. Congratulations to them and safe diving in the future. Onwards and upwards!!

Sport Diver:- Cameron Kirkcaldy,

Master Diver:- David Ryrie, David Richford, Gordon Anderson, Michelle Morgan, John Morgan.

Deep Diving Qualification: Andrew Sinclair, Neil Richardson

Branch Instructor: Neil Richardson

If I have missed anyone out, please let me know and please send a photo if you would like to be famous!!

Bankies,the first ten years.

May 2022

by Jack Morrison

Memory is a funny thing. I remember clearly the night Clydebank branch was formed but I can’t remember the exact date other than it was 1961. A group of about thirty met in the Central Library a mixture of locals some of whom were already divers and members of Ibrox branch looking to start a branch closer to home. Frank Galloway the general secretary and Peter Bell President of the Scottish Sub Aqua Club came along and showed films and slides of outings and even some underwater shots. That was followed by a pool session with try dives for prospective members. Sadly not me or my chums, at fifteen we were too young to use an aqualung. They allowed us to join as junior members and we spent the next year learning to snorkel and perfecting our fining technique, I’m still trying to get it right. In those early days we had no equipment and no money but some of those who transferred from Glasgow branch had their own equipment and we managed to acquire a couple of demand valves in need of repair.

Over the next two years we built up a bank of equipment mostly cylinders working on the premise a demand valve can be used by many but a cylinder only once. Transport was also in short supply as in those days few people owned cars.

One of our regular sites was Red Rocks just outside Largs. Eddie Docherty would put ten or twelve cylinders in his Ford Anglia and drive down while the rest of us would wear our weight belt carry our bag on the bus to Glasgow catch the train to Largs then the bus out to Red Rocks. As more members joined with cars we went further afield, Loch Long, Loch Fyne, St Abbs and Oban. Oban was a favourite as Oban branch had a hut with a compressor and could fill cylinders but only after church services were finished at two o’clock.

They say people make Glasgow and the same applies to diving clubs. We were fortunate during those early years to have some memorable characters whose selfless dedication helped the club thrive. By 1969 we had over 100 members. Characters like our first BDO Eddie Docherty a PTI during the war he was always pushing us to extend our skills. In those days we all learned to do free ascents 1 from ten feet, 1 from 20 feet and one from 30 feet. Eddie turned it into a competition adding 10 feet at a time until we were all happily doing free ascents from 100 feet or 30 metres. Thankfully we don’t do free ascents anymore it’s scary and dangerous and with modern equipment unnecessary.

There was our unofficial safety officer Jimmy Duff so called because he neglected his equipment. There was Verdi grease on the metal parts, tears in his suit all because he never took it out of the boot of his car except to go diving. Alan McCormack who said his first dive was off the front of a landing craft on D-day. They were told they were in shallow water when they were in fact in 4 metres Alan survived because he was a swimming instructor but not all of his fellow soldiers did. Jimmy Sinclair a canny treasurer who built up our funds and went on to be treasurer of ScotSAC. Ali Abubakar who built an artificial reef in Loch Long which attracted congers and is still called conger alley but should be Ali’s reef as it once was. Adam Curtis joined in 1967 when he was appointed professor of cell biology at Glasgow University. Clever, yes, clumsy, yes, evidence lots of broken masks, other peoples usually. Then there was the time on Bruce Howard’s boat when Bruce asked Adam to deploy a stern anchor which he duly did. We all watched as the end of the rope disappeared over the stern. “Did you not secure it before you throw it over?”

“No”

Adam spent his first dive looking for the lost anchor. He did recover it. There are so many stories of loss and finding. The most difficult was finding Eddie Docherty’s false teeth in Oban bay when he surfaced started laughing and his top set fell out. We found them eventually. Everything was simpler then most of us had wet suits repaired easily with Evo-Stick. Cylinders didn’t hold enough air to allow us to stay deep enough long enough to need decompression stops. There were very few rules one which came in handy was the requirement for surface cover. There was a joint outing at Troon harbour with a navigation competition. Dive pairs had to navigate a square course. Each pair had to have surface cover to follow them. Clydebank were the only pair who realised if the swam on their back they could follow the snorkel cover who went straight from one buoy to the next round the course. No-one noticed neither of divers had a compass. Those were exciting days when everything was new, dive sites were being explored for the first time. I still put my gear together before I put my suit on, a throwback to those days when o-rings were nylon and failed often ruining a days diving. Today the branch is in excellent shape there is a good committee and the members keep in touch through social media. There is more diving and training being carried out than ever. Sometimes I wish I was starting out again as a spotty fifteen your old looking forward with anticipation and excitement to my first dive. Eddie used to write a short column for our local paper where he used his imagination rather than his log book to describe diving.  “Hovering weightless above the seabed we followed the spoor of some unknown denizen of the deep”. We had a good laugh at that one. Happy birthday Clydebank Sub Aqua Club.

Where's the Gin & Tonic?

Text: Keith Waugh

Photos: Ian Sinclair & Keith Waugh

The weather forecast said it would be a glorious day for a couple of dives, so up to Drishaig we went, 7 bankies looking forward to a day in the sunshine. We weren’t expecting the ice!!! Wading in to the water was like wading through a Slush Puppy. What the hell, we enjoy “character building” conditions!! Once under the ice we were greeted by a bright green scene with the sun streaming down through the water. Magic, chilly, but magic all the same (psst! For magic read Baltic!) Several members of our group completed some diving qualification exercises, so well done, particularly under the circumstances to John Morgan and Gordon Anderson. And a very big well done to Alex Spanner for completing his first 2 dives with Clydebanksac. The dives will definitely never be forgotten. The whole lunatic party was: John & Michelle Morgan, 1st timer Alex Spanner, Ian Sinclair, Gordon Anderson, Gordon Kirkcaldy & Keith Waugh. I think I really do need that Gin & Tonic ...... with ICE!

Clydebank Sub Aqua Club is 60 years Young

October 2021

Members of Clydebank Sub Aqua Club recently celebrated its 60th Year with a meal in a local Clydebank Indian Restaurant. The event, organised by Club Treasurer Michelle Morgan, was a great success, with plenty of traditional Clydebank Banter and food.

Jack Morrison has been a member of the Club since the beginning. Obviously he was a mere youth back then, barely able walk, let alone fin.

Jack said; "Sixty years ago the first meeting was in the basement of Clydebank Library followed by a pool session in what was then called the New Baths. I was 15 and you had to be 16 to use an aqualung so no try dive for me that night. Didn’t put me off as I’m still here."

Photo by Martin Keeley

Digital Diving Logbooks

Here are examples of the best Digital Diving Logbooks on the market. If you know of any good Digital Logbooks, please get in touch via the "Contact Us" page (bottom of page)

As most divers use a dive computer it might be considered logical to take advantage of all the data collected by the computer and, at the same time, make logging your dives simpler. Having downloaded your dive details in to a digital logbook, all you have to do is add the details that the computer cannot know, such as the name of the dive site, weather details, tidal information, your buddy, whether it was a boat dive or shore dive and any notes you wish to make about the dive.

Of course, you do not have to add all this additional information, but it will make a more complete logbook which you may enjoy looking back on in the future.

Most dive computer manufacturers produce their own digital logbooks. Some are very good and some are absolute rubbish.

However, there are a number of excellent digital diving logbooks produced by enterprising individuals not attached to a particular manufacturer. Here are some:

Another comprehensive digital logbook is produced by DiveMate

Suitable for Tablets & Mobile Phones

https://www.divemate.de/

In my opinion the best available digital logbook is Diving Log 6

https://www.divinglog.de/english/download/index.php

A very useful digital logbook is produced by Subsurface

However, it looks a bit "clunky"

but it is FREE!

https://subsurface-divelog.org/

Farne Islands 2021

by Keith Waugh

25th September 2021

We had been looking forward to it for several months and finally the weekend had arrived. The Clydebank Sub aqua Club annual trip to the Farne Islands, organised by our very own entrepreneur, Niall Brittain.

Several members of the party had arranged to make it a family weekend, and booked accommodation in the Seahouses area. One member, John Kerr, hand cast a spell over his wife and managed to persuade her to go camping!!!!

Fortunately the weather forecast looked fairly promising, with light SW winds and sunshine and a high of perhaps 22 degrees C. For late September this was quite remarkable. Niall had a bit of "black magic" to perform, as the make up of the final party had to change slightly, owing to various work issues for some people and a not too serious Covid issue for another. However, the final party consisted of Niall (the big cheese) Brittain, John & Michelle Morgan, John Kerr, Gordon Anderson, Neil Richardson, Martin Keeley, Yvonne Carruthers, Alan Dorricott, Craig Muirhead and myself.

"Ropes off" was scheduled for 1400 on 25th September, which actually turned out to be around 1425. However, we made good progress and arrived at our first dive site, Big Harcar and hit the water just at 3pm. 

With a water temperature of 13 degrees C, it was almost warm enough to dive in a wet suit!! Perhaps next time!! Unfortunately the underwater visibility was not quite so pleasing. There had been a few moderately rough days prior to our trip and this had reduced the underwater visibility to around  5-6metres. 

Not to worry, it is what it is and it wasn't too long before Gordon (my buddy) and I started to see a few seals. On the first dive I had about 18 sightings, but many of the sightings would probably have been of the same seal. The underwater terrain consists of cliff walls covered in waving kelp, with soft corals, anemones and sea urchins with numerous crabs and a few lobsters lurking between the boulders. There were several outcrops of small reefs rising to just below the surface, again covered in similar life to the main reef walls. The terrain was all very similar to Eyemouth and St Abbs. Not surprising, since we were just a short distance further south. Everyone else enjoyed similar experiences.

Back aboard "Serenity 2" we enjoyed a welcome cup of tea or coffee to wash down the lunch which everyone had brought with them.

An hour and a half later and our skipper, Andrew, was looking around for a 2nd safe diving site. The sea was beginning to "get up", with waves crashing over the reefs in some places. We settled on "The Hopper" on Longstone. Most of us had dived here previously, but it is always a good site with the reef wall dropping to around 25metres and covered with life. There are a few channels which take you to the other side of the reef. We were warned not to venture through the channels as the skipper could not risk endangering the boat to pick us up, so it would most definitely mean we had to swim back to the outer side of the reef. Warning duly noted!!! Plenty soft corals, and anemones on the walls and a few fish around. Sadly the light was beginning to fade, as it was now around 6pm, but still a brilliant site.

Everyone  enjoyed the day, especially since the sea was not so rough that anyone turned green!! Thanks to Niall for organising the trip and we all look forward to September 2022, when we hope to do it all again, hopefully with a little better visibility!

All photos are screenshots from video

Choppy Waters in the Sound of Mull 

August 2021

Text & Photos by Keith Waugh & John Kerr

The long awaited Lochaline weekend, affectionately known as “Choppy Waters 2021” was finally upon us, despite the trials and tribulations of the Covid disruptions and devastations. Most party members were travelling to Lochaline during the course of Friday. John Kerr and I left Clydebank promptly with the intention of breaking the journey at Glencoe village for a dive at Manse Point. We were joined by Gordon and Neil.

Manse point requires a certain amount of care owing to the tides, but the wall just to the west of the point is spectacular, dropping almost vertically to 30 metres, with a fairly steep sandy/muddy slope beyond. The wall is covered in still life ranging from hydroid, to fanworms and some soft corals. The top of the reef is a mass of writhing Brittlestars. A little disappointingly not that many larger fish such as Ballan Wrasse or Pollock, though numerous small fish such as Gobies and the usual Squat lobsters and Shore crabs.

Onwards then to the Corran Ferry and the final 30 miles push to Lochaline. Having checked in at the Morven Diving Lodge and unloaded our overnight bags and food packs, we headed down to the old Lochaline Pier. Most of the rest of the group had turned so it was a mass “dive in” at the east side cliff face.

With low water around 16:30, it meant a stagger in full equipment down the short but steep shoreline path, across the sandy bay and finally relieve the weight with a plunge in to the shallows. A short swim took us to “edge of oblivion”!!! The Lochaline wall drops sheer to around 60 metres. As we descended in to the green depths, down a wall which really is vertical, you have a sense of the need for good buoyancy control!! The wall is a mass of soft corals, hydroids, small Vase sponges, anemones, fanworms. The occasional Pollock or Ballan Wrasse swam by.

Saturday morning saw us down at the pier for an 08:30 “ropes off” and heading up the Sound of Mull for our 1st boat dive at Auliston Point, which is actually just inside the entrance to Loch Sunnart. This site has to be one of the best wall dives in Scotland, even though it bottoms out at around 30 metres. Conditions were almost flat calm, so Malcolm, our skipper on “Peregrine” was able to manoeuvre the boat right in to the cliff wall to drop us in to the water. The main feature of this life covered vertical wall is the profusion of Redfingers. There are also large numbers of Plumose anemones, Devonshire Cupcorals and Dead Men’s Fingers (Alcyonium digitatum). On the bottom there were shoals of small codling or perhaps young Saith. All very colourful and photogenic.

After a lunch break in sunny Tobermory it was off to one of the best (in my opinion) dives in Scotland. The wreck of the SS Hispania. The ship lies across the prevailing currents in approximately 25-30 metres depth. When she first sank in 1954, she was almost upright pointing towards the Mull shore. However, over the years the strong currents have gradually given her a pronounced list to starboard. Consequently, despite the skills and knowledge of skipper Malcolm, we had to wait around 40 minutes more than predicted before the currents were finally slack enough for diving. Even then there was still a bit of current with which to cope. Nevertheless, it was worth it. The shot line took us to the bridge area, where John and I could descend to the seabed and make our way to the stern. As we dropped down, we could see the golden colour provided by the mass of orange Plumose anemones covering the wreck. The shallower parts of the superstructure and decks were covered in red seaweeds waving in the current. Arriving at the stern the prop shaft was covered in Dead Men’s finger soft corals making for a good video sequence with John in the background. The hull was completely covered in yellow, white and orange plumose anemones. The decks, spars, masts and collapsed superstructure were similarly covered. Quite a few Ballan Wrasse and large Pollock called the Hispania home. Some of them were relaxed enough to be photographed and video’d. The underwater light and visibility must have been around 15 metres. A truly brilliant and memorable dive!!

Day 2 and John Kerr writes:

 

It was Sunday, the last day of our 2021 “Choppy Waters” sojourn, the touch of sadness as we left the Morven dive lodge for the last time (the lodge having been sold) being quickly dispelled with four of a +20 pod of dolphins joining us briefly for some entertainment in the bow wave of the Peregrine as we headed to Calve Island for our 1st dive of the day.

Quickly kitting up, with no tide to worry about we couldn’t wait to drop in to what has to be one of the best wall dives in the sound (well maybe Auliston Point gives it a serious run for its money in my opinion)  – we were not to be disappointed, - +10mtrs visibility, 14 deg C , Ballan & Cuckoo wrasse, the Devonshire cup corals, Deadman’s fingers and the Red fingers (Alcyonium glomeratum – for those interested) bringing pure delight to the visionary senses – my favourite though had to be the Leopard Spotted Goby who sat quite contentedly as we floated by 😊

A surface interval spent fishing for the White-Tailed Sea Eagles, who we hoped would join us prior to our departure, quickly flew past and we were ready for our last dive of the weekend.  The SS Shuna, sank on the 8th May 1913 whilst on passage from Glasgow to Gothenburg with a cargo of coal and lying in 32mtrs of water (25 to the main deck). A complete contrast to the Hispania, the weaker tidal currents allowing the build-up of silt which can quickly reduce the visibility if not careful but none the less a wonderful dive.  The wreck is almost completely intact, inhabited with Pollack, Wrasse and the occasional Cod with the deck, deck machinery external hull dusted with Devonshire cup corals, Plumose anemones and red fingers – a truly great way to finish the weekend. We had the attendance of the two sea eagles for a light bite of freshly caught mackerel to top the off the fantastic weekend.    

KW writes:

 

The weekend was a huge success with plenty of banter, “crack” and humour, but THAT is DEFINITELY another story!!! Thanks to Martin Keeley for organising the trip and to the party members: Gordon Anderson, John Kerr, John Morgan, Michelle Morgan, Neil Richardson, David Richford, Andrew Sinclair, David Struthers, Keith Waugh. Finally, thanks to Malcolm (Cameron McNeill), skipper of “Peregrine” for his skill and knowledge of the choppy waters of the Sound of Mull.