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DIVE TRIPS

Seal Island, Loch Fyne

14th April 2024

Photos & Text: Keith Waugh

Despite the weather forecast members of Clydebank Sub Aqua Club decided that it was about time we took the boat out for a spin, now that spring has sprung and the long, hot summer days are approaching!! (Aye! Right!)

The venue was the islands in Loch Fyne, known by divers as Seal island, but their Gaelic names are Eilean Aoghainn and Eilean Fraoch. The plan was to dive the deep cliff on the south-east of Eilean Fraoch and then dive the shallower east side of Eilean Aoghainn.

Unfortunately, the far from satisfactory wind and sea conditions would make safe boat cover for the 2nd dive a little hazardous, so we opted for 2 dives at Eilean Fraoch. 

There were not many fish around but the underwater scenery was still worth the effort, with vertical walls coming up from 40 metres and a good covering of still life including sea squirts, fanworms, anemones and soft corals.

The party consisted of John Kerr, John Morgan (BDO) Michelle Morgan, Gordon Anderson, David Ryrie, Gordon Kirkcaldy, Stuart McKechnie, Don Pieris, Keith Waugh.

1st Dive of 2024!!

Text & above water photos by Gordon Kirkcaldy

Underwater photos by Jemma Anderson

A cold, dark and foggy 7am start from the Clydebank Club hut on Sunday 7th January but a great day with Andy, Stuart, Jemma and John. We all braved a very cold -3°c at Carnoch Bay, Ballachulish, Loch Leven for the first dive of the year for some Clydebanksac members at least!! The weather was very cold, as was the water, but the sun was shining and the banter was flowing. Two great dives. Thanks to Andy for suggesting this site. A first for most of us and won't be the last.

Beyond the Back of Beyond

Gerry Regan

If you’ve ever wondered what lies beyond the back of beyond let me tell you that its name is Sheigra. A tiny hamlet of sturdy dwellings rooted in the rocks and turf 4.5 miles west of Kinlochbervie. Here you will find the Divelodge accommodation for KLB Diving. Five of Clydebank’s finest had made their way to this isolated spot for 5days of diving in its magnificent coastal waters. It takes around 265 miles from Glasgow and perhaps 50 years back in time to reach Sheigra but it truly was worth the effort. We were joined by 3 other divers who had travelled 600 miles to prove the point.

September 2023

As is always the case on the first morning Tigger and his mates were up and ready for ropes off for a dive in the adjacent sea loch as the stiffening wind precluded a site further out. We needn’t have worried for as soon as we descended the visibility combined with stunning topography made the whole endeavour worthwhile. There was an abundance of life in every location Cuckoo Wrasse in particular. As we were so close to port we powered in for the luxury of a cafe break in the interval. A second dive was just as amazing with huge Crayfish being the star attraction. The journey back to the lodge was punctuated by a visit to the local hostelry which reminded me of the bar in the film “Deliverance” but without the charm.

As the weather improved it allowed us access to further out incredible sites. The Skipper Chris, had an obvious intimate knowledge of the area and an affinity with his clients which provided a seamless progression of magnificent dives. By the Thursday the benign weather was hijacked by a roaring Westerly gale, however the skipper was still able to take the Wildcard out and find a sheltered spot to allow a dive.

Can’t help but mention all the hard work that John Kerr put in to making such a success of this trip. He really was a jack of all trades: cook, victualler, bosun, and master raconteur. Thanks again John.

The highlights of this trip were too many to mention however it would be remiss not to acknowledge the level of witty repartee, Bon Mots, insights, and badinage, none of which can be printed. The legend that is Davie Tigger Ryrie also completed his 200th dive with the club, embellished with a forward roll that resembled a bad case of dysentery in action. Davie Richford also tested the surface tension with an innovative face first entry off the dive lift. Of my own unique head first entry one word- ouch!

Dive sites;

 

1. Eilan Dubh, Skate dive,

2. 100mtrs in from 1st dive

3. Roin 1

4. Roin 2, 150mtrs further west

5. Crayfish Dive. Back of Sheagra.

6. Bhopal tragate.

7. Creagh Mhor, 2.

8. Creagh Mhor, 3,

Diving was through KLB Diving.

Facebook DiveKLB.

Here is a short video shot by Ian Hicks, edited & produced

by

John Kerr

Pilgrimage to the Sound of Mull

Story & Photos: Keith Waugh

Additional photos: Niall Brittain

August 2023

It’s early August, so it must be time for the Clydebank Sub Aqua Club annual trip to the Sound of Mull. Clydebank chairman John Kerr was the man in the hot seat, organising the trip and encouraging participants to pay up!!

The plan was to travel to Lochaline on Friday 4th August, have a dive or two on the way at Manse Point, Loch Leven and/or the Lochaline Cliff Face, stay at the refurbished “Highland Base Camp” (HBC) in Lochaline and dive on Saturday and Sunday from “Brendan” skippered by Malcolm McNeill.

The only fly in the ointment was those pesky tides!! For those of us planning to dive it meant leaving Clydebank at around 0730 on Friday. Fortunately, the weather gods smiled and we were able to dive without getting wet!?! Another possible obstacle was the reduced service Corran ferry, however everyone negotiated the ferry without any hitches.

Gordon Anderson and myself had a pleasant journey to Lochaline in good time and enjoyed a relaxing hour-long dive on the wall just east of Lochaline pier. Upon submerging we were greeted by a large shoal of Sand Eels and then swarms of “small fry”. On the wall itself there were numerous Goldsinny wrasse and young, vividly coloured female Cuckoo wrasse. The wall life was quite prolific with soft corals, Football Seasquirts, Devonshire Cupcorals, a few Ballan wrasse and Pollock. All in all, a good start to the weekend. Throughout the early afternoon, other members of the group arrived and having settled in to their bunk rooms at HBC, had similar dives on the east wall.

Friday evening saw a flurry of cooking activity in the communal kitchen at Highland Base Camp, as there was another group of divers staying as well. Fortunately for us, it was their last night, so there was a certain amount of drinking going on!! (Of course, Clydebank members are not like that!)

However, a visit to the Lochaline Social Club later on Friday evening by some members of our party, soon put paid to that belief! The drink, the banter and the drink flowed freely. Meanwhile, back at HBC the more sober members of the group got stuck in to the whisky and the beer.

The plan for Saturday was for a trip up to the wreck of the Aurania at Caliach Point on the north-west corner of Mull, a mere 22 nautical miles away and then on to the wreck of Tapti off the south-east corner of Coll, another 10 nautical miles across the Passage of Tiree. It was going to be a long, long day with “ropes off” at 0800. We’d better finish the whisky and beer and head for bed!

Saturday morning, 0615 and the weather was not too encouraging. The cloud hung low over the Sound of Mull and the air was heavy and dank with rain mist. A typical Scottish summer’s day. We loaded tanks, dry suits, BCD’s, weight belts and picnic lunches on to "Brendan" and indeed, remarkably, at 0758 we cast off from a slippery and drizzly Lochaline pier. Fortunately, very fortunately, the sea was pretty calm and we made good time up the Sound of Mull. As we progressed the weather gradually improved. The “mizzle” stopped, the air was still, the clouds started to break up and Andrew was in full voice! Passing the dive sites of Rondo, Shuna, Hispania, Calve Island and the town of Tobermory, we rounded the most northerly point of Mull at Ardmore Point and headed WSW to our first destination of the Aurania wreck, just to the south-west of Caliach Point.

SS Aurania was a passenger Liner but used as a 1st World War Troop carrier. Fortunately, there were no troops on board when she was hit by U-boat torpedoes in January 1918. Further details at: https://www.scottishshipwrecks.com/aurania/   After 100 years of Atlantic gales she is badly broken up in about 20 metres of water. However, the twin boilers stand about 7 metres above the seabed and make an impressive sight, covered in soft corals, seaweed and other marine growth. The wreckage of beams and plates scattered around the area make ideal hiding places for Pollock, Ballan & Cuckoo wrasse, Bib, crabs and lobsters. We enjoyed underwater visibility of around 7 metres during a 50 minutes dive. After the dive, Malcolm, our skipper, informed us that a Basking shark had come in to the area before swimming off!! We were sorry to miss out on that!!

After a 10 nautical miles passage west, we closed in on the southern end of the isle of Coll and the wreck site of Tapti. A few Grey seals greeted us on arrival, curious to see what all the fuss was about. Various sea birds, perched on the rocks, were enjoying the early afternoon sunshine. Yes indeed, the clouds had broken and it was a calm, sunny afternoon.

SS Tapti, a cargo ship, came to grief during a typical January gale in 1951 and sits in around 20-25 metres depth. Further details at: https://www.scottishshipwrecks.com/tapti/

Having first dived this ship in the early ‘70’s I was shocked to see how badly beaten up she now is, but it is quite a long time. Nevertheless, she is still impressive with large areas of superstructure making ideal hiding places for the colourful and plentiful fish, mainly Pollock, Bib, Ballan & Cuckoo wrasse. I was over the moon to get some good video sequences of the vividly coloured male & female Cuckoo wrasse and some great shots of dive buddy Gordon on the wreck. After the dive, John Kerr remarked that it was one of his best dives in Scottish water!!

We left Coll at around 1530 in very favourable weather, thank goodness, for the long haul across the Passage of Tiree, down the Sound of Mull, back to Lochaline. On the way we were thrilled to have a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins accompany us for a short distance. It was great to see them leaping through the waves. We arrived back at Lochaline at around 1945. Fortunately, most of us didn’t have to cook dinner, as pizzas were being prepared at the bar in the Lochaline Social Club, right on the waterfront. The pizzas were enormous and scalding hot!! So with a pint in one hand and a large pizza in the other, the banter was set for the rest of the evening. The first topic of conversation being the slight? confusion over the pizza order and who was eating what!! ………. But that is another story!!!

Sunday morning, 0615 AGAIN and we were rolling out of bed, tidying up, breakfasting and heading down to the pier for an 0800 “ropes off” and heading up to Auliston wall in Loch Sunnart. This is one of our favourite dives and with calm, sunny weather, was reached in good time with the first dive at around 0930. The cliff wall drops almost sheer down to around 30-35 metres and is covered in soft corals such as “Dead Men’s Fingers” and “Red Fingers”. Above you can sea various seaweeds moving gently in the currents.

After the dive, the weather was still superb as we motored over to Tobermory, spending an hour of the surface interval wandering around the picturesque capital of the Isle of Mull. Being a Sunday morning, most of the shops were closed, however, Niall, Brian and myself enjoyed a relaxing coffee and cake in the Coffee shop in a former church. It felt almost tropical as we sat outside in the warm Mull sunshine!!

Ropes off again and off we went in "Brendan", through Doirlinn a’ Chailbhe, the narrow channel which separates Calve island from Mull, and down to the last dive at the wreck Shuna. Again, this is another favourite dive site, as it is only a short hop back to Lochaline.

SS Shuna was carrying coal from Glasgow to Gothenburgh when she sank in a storm in May 1913. Further details at: https://www.scottishshipwrecks.com/shuna-s-of-mull/

She now sits upright in 30-32 metres depth and still looks like a ship as she is fairly intact after all these years. However, as the cargo was coal it can quite often be a dark wreck to dive. Conditions were calm today so exploring the superstructure was fairly easy with John Kerr saying that he could see almost across the entire width of the wreck.

As we headed the short distance back to Lochaline the weather was still perfect. Well, almost perfect, with the odd burst of rain in a couple of squalls. The transfer of the masses of gear from "Brendan" to the cars was quickly achieved with a big “thank you” to skipper Malcolm for his expert seamanship, it was off to see if that reduced service Corran ferry was going to catch us out! It didn’t, so the drive back to Clydebank took us through the magnificent Pass of Glencoe with the Aonoch Eagach ridge on the north side and the Three Sisters, Buachaille Etive Mor & Beag on the south side of the glen, then on to Rannoch Moor, Strath Fillan and Loch Lomondside. It had been a brilliant weekend with the weather mostly kind!

A BIG thank you to John Kerr for organising the whole event and to the divers who made up the group, namely Clydebanksac BDO John Morgan, Michelle Morgan, David Richford, Gordon Anderson, Andrew Sinclair, Niall Brittain, Brian Tierney, John McNealis, Keith Waugh, and guests of the club, Paul Doyle and Peter Gunn. Hopefully, we’ll do it all again next year!!!!

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