Thursday, 10 July 2008

At last, an update! Diving the Farne Islands

Well, been a little bit busy of late so time to catch up with what's been going on.

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Might as well start at the beginning, diving in the Farne Islands a couple of weekends ago on an Orca Divers outing which proved to be fantastic fun overall. Drove up with Nick James on the Friday afternoon, staying in a B&B place. Alas, I was in the male overflow room which housed four of us. Still, it was somewhere to rest our heads. Diving on the Saturday was good: I was buddying Elmars, a just qualified OW diver (i.e. just qualified, all 4 dives being done in Capernwray). I was a little apprehensive about taking him out for the first time but he was fine. Good bouyancy, stuck close, all was fine. Not quite so fine with the dry suit though: started taking on water on the first dive, I was soaked down to my socks by dive two! Still, the Xerotherm undersuit kept my warm enough even though the water was 12C (good bloody job!).

As to the dives themselves, the first was fairly non-descript. Took my group four goes to get down (weight, ears and so on). In the end Elmars and me made it down, Nick and (er...) his buddy didn't. Missed the wreck we were looking for, although some nice kelp and a massive school of mackerel. Over fairly quickly as Elmars ran through his air. Given my wet dry suit I wasn't too upset :)

Dive two was far more fun! Seals!!!
Got a good 40 minute frolic in with the seals which was great. A bit spoiled at the end by, er, losing my camera... weighed down by an extra wide angled lens £550 worth of kit slipped unnoticed off my wrist as I sent up a marker buoy. Didn't realise until we were about to get onto the boat at which point I was mortified. Myself and another chap, Steve, went and searched for it but with no joy.

It was a grey, gloomy few minutes on the boat waiting for the last team to come up as I mentally told myself "Ah well, it's just things, everybody safe and sound, that's the important thing". The last group took quite a while to come up and we criss crossed the area to see where they'd emerge. Chased down a couple of SMBs but they were not the divers we were looking for. Eventually they did... close to where we had emerged... and clutching my lost camera!?!? Unbelievable. Quite unbelievable. One of them, Wilson, had spotted it on their safety stop, against all the odds. I think he deleted all the world class competition shots out of envy though, honest ;)

After a fairly early start on the Sunday we got to the beach for our boat around 07:30 and waited for the verdict on the weather. And waited. And waited... the wind was picking up and the last forecast I'd seen had been for gales on the East side of the country, strong winds on the West side, which is where we were. Another RIB full of divers set out so we were a little hopeful, but as the minutes went by it was looking less and less of a go-er. Eventually, at 09:00 Paul, the skipper, pulled the days diving. The wind was getting up and predicted to increase and the boat of divers we'd see go out apparently hadn't been able to get any divers in the water. Got to admit, by that point I wasn't too fussed: we had our couple of first timers and I still had memories of the leaky wet suit from Saturday so I wasn't that mad keen on going in "challenging conditions"!

So that was it, bar a long drive back. A few of us headed up to Bamburgh Castle, just up the road, which made for a nice morning. Also allowed us to see an air sea rescue in full flow, complete with helicopter and lifeboat. Yep, reckon it was the right call not to do the second dive. The drive back was hard though, there really were gales across the North!

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Blogger Joanne said...

I used to live there (Bamburgh that is, not under the sea) and its one of the most beautiful parts of this country...say hello to the puffins next time ;p

3:08 pm  
Blogger Bill said...

Off to Eyemouth in a few weeks so I'll lean out of the car window on the way past and shout!
No change there then.

1:07 pm  

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