Diving the West Coast with DSAC (Miami Vice Style)

or else the Deeside SAC diving trip where 5 cars and 3 boats went out and 4 cars and 2 boats made it back…

The time for the club’s first diving trip of the year had come at last! After a lot of anticipation and even more planning (by Simon) 10 divers were ready to set off from Aberdeen to go to the West Coast for a weekend of RHIB diving. The plan (meticulously prepared by Simon) required a relatively early start after work from Aberdeen, drive to the Oban dive Saturday and Sunday (2 dives each day) and come back late in Sunday evening.

Friday 21/03/2014 – The Journey

The day started with unbelievably good weather. Clear blue skies and sunshine. I loaded the kit to the car and drove to work. On arrival I regretted not having taken my sunglasses with me as it made it difficult for driving and I would so definitely need them for the weekend!

As usual prior to dive trips the day seems to be dragging on forever but at last the clock ticked 14:45 the time to shut down my computer and get out of the office!

Met with Simon at the car park and moved my gear to his car. managed to fit just about everything including rebreather spares, consumables, food and a pineapple!?

Showing Pineapple (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Showing Pineapple (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

After pumping the tires up to the optimum pressure (following Diving officers pre-dive checklist) we started our trip. Although at the South end of the city and right on the perfect spot to start our journey we decided to head North into the city Centre and the Friday afternoon traffic as we had to go to the Bridge of Dee and pick-up Aberdeen Universities RHIB which we were to deliver to OBAN. The traffic turned out to be not as bad as expected and after hitching the boat we started on our trip to the West Coast this time following the Northern route via Fort William.

  • Clear skies.
  • sunshine
  • sunglasses
  • 2 cool blokes
  • in a fast car
  • towing a boat
  • and the Miami Vice soundtrack playing at the background
  • life is good!!!

Aberdeen To Oban - The Snow Route

A couple of stops to check that the boat and the trailer were ok and about 2 hrs before Fort William we noticed the weather changing.

At the same time Si’s fast car Turbo was dying on us. An intermittent fault that resulted in loosing Turbo meant that we were in for a long long trip.Luckily the remedy turned out to be relatively straight forward. Quick stop the car. Turn the engine off. Start again!

As it was getting dark we didn’t really paid much attention to it and continued driving. About 1.5 hrs before Fort William we were inside a blizzard! A couple of inches of snow all around us and more snow falling!!! At about that time I caught myself thinking “doesn’t look like I will be needing those sunglasses now.!” and that was probably the wrong time to realize that I had no jacket!!!

Rather surprised by the change of weather we decided to check on the other divers how they were progressing. I texted Brian who had started earlier that us and shortly after I got a response by Dave (odd I thought). Brian’s car had died. They were stuck in the blizzard waiting for road assistance! OUPS!

tht's what it looked like from inside the car
that’s what it looked like from inside the car

Indeed before long we came across their stranded truck and boat trailer. It was just after the first road assistance truck had arrived and they were loading the truck never to be seen again…

The second road assistance truck hitched the boat and although at that point in time it did not felt very much like Mimi Vice we all continued our eventful trip to Oban.

After a quick stop for dinner Chinese (crystal Palace in Oban) everything looked better and after a short drive we made it to Tralee Bay Holidays and checked in to our Lodge “The Rondo” non the less!!!

Keith and Quentin were also there as Keith had picked up Quentin from the “incident scene” and soon after Mike and Gar arrived and the road assistance truck delivered Brian, Dave and most importantly The boat!!! J

By the time Kathleen, Jenny and Phillipe arrived we were on our 3rd (or fourth) WELL DESERVED drink!!!

 Saturday 22/03/2014 – Diving Day 1

Saturday morning I woke up by the smell of frying bacon which (as am not a morning person) is by far the best way to wake up in the morning!!! Simon and Quentin were already preparing a fry up and after breakfast we started preparing our kit and the boats to launch.

View from the Lodge's Balcony on Saturday Morning
View from the Lodge’s Balcony on Saturday Morning

The weather was on our side for the morning and the launching of the boats but turned soon after we left Tralee Bay and made for a rather unpleasant ride until we got shelter at the Heather Island.

After the dive we moved back to Dunstaffnage marina (www.dunstaffnagemarina.co.uk) where Mike keeps the boat and I spent most of the surface interval in the toilet.

With a hand hair dryer…

drying my undersuit that was soaked as my right hand cuff seals were leaking

The second dive was the SS Breda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Breda)

Photo courtesy of DIVERnet
Photo courtesy of DIVERnet

SS Breda Photo Courtesy of DIVERnet Wreck Tour 9 (http://www.divernet.com/Wrecks/wreck_tours/159469/wreck_tour_9_the_breda.html)

And also see Rod McDonald’s page on the SS Breda: http://www.rod-macdonald.co.uk/index.php/Scottish-Wrecks/ss-breda.html, or Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Breda

After a light lunch (sandwiches prepared during breakfast) we went in for the second dive of the day.

The dive went to plan with me and Brian diving and surfacing together which was a challenge considering that visibility was really poor. Much to my surprise I could see a halocline in the water which I did not expect as I thought the Breeda was too far from the coast for that but as it turns out she is not! Also my cuff seals held and had a dry and very pleasant dive!!! We even managed to find the shot line and ascent on the same line we descended. I still find it amazing how much your navigation skills improve when you (or Brian in this case) clip a £300 strobe light on the shot light…

the weather conditions had improved significantly and while on the boat waiting to recover divers I found myself thinking this is a good day to be out diving!!!

On returning to the lodges and after a little bit of diver / rebreather fuff myself and Si went to deliver (at a WWII Nuclear Bunker!!!) the Aberdeen University SAC RHIB and afterwards buy more food from the supermarket!!!

Back at the lodges Quentin and Gar had been busy making Dinner. A most excellent Chili con Carne which we washed down with copious amounts of Gar’s Kopparberg kopparbergh cider!!! Steve and Sue had also popped in to say hay and Steve was coming diving with us tomorrow!!!

After dinner we continued drinking and talking diving nonsense until late… (as diver do)

Sunday 23/03/2014 – Diving and the Journey Back

As you probably guesses I woke up by the smell of frying bacon, sausages and breakfast being prepared!!! After a bit of diving / kit / rebreather fuf / TLC

usual rebreather diver pre-dive fuf
usual rebreather diver pre-dive fuf (Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett)

Mike had an accident doing DIY on his boat and decided he wouldn’t dive but was absolutely great helping us launch the boats (apart from when he dropped the yellow boat. No that was not excellent.)

Beautiful - Beautiful Day (photo courtesy of Brian Burnett)
Beautiful – Beautiful Day (photo courtesy of Brian Burnett)
Diving Weather!!! - Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett
Diving Weather!!! – Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett

Eventually we launched all 3 boats as Steve had joined us with his boat and headed out to dive the “Haunted House” which was meant to be a drift dive, had the current made an appearance, but turned out to be shy and those that went in had some fining to do!

Myself and Brian were meant to be on the second wave but as the reports were not exactly promising, awe-inspiring diving we decided to pass.

Heading back we stopped at the Breeda for one more dive. Myself and Brian went in and although visibility had not improved much (or at all) we still enjoyed penetrating the wreck and found the way back (without a £300 strobe attached to the line you will be surprised to hear!). I was delighted I managed that dive as my right hand cuff seal developed a tear earlier that morning so I didn’t thought I was going to go diving until I had a light-bulb moment and decided to use my dry gloves and that worked!!!

Gar and Quentin went in as soon as we were back on the boat but managed to miss the wreck.

  • They managed to miss the wreck that Simon found.
  • Although they saw Simon heading to the wreck.
  • They thought they shouldn’t follow him. They new better.
  • So they dived lobster posts instead…

Divers sometimes make me wonder…

Back to the Lodges we recovered the boats and after tidying up we started our trip back to Aberdeen. Not before long we had to stop because the trailer had no breaks. Luckily we were close to Steve’s place who kindly offered help, tools and a jack! In the meantime while Simon and Steve were working to fix the trailer brakes I was enjoying a nice cup of tea in the sunshine. Am good like that!

Eventually we decided to leave the garden and the sunshine and start driving back home. The trip was generally uneventful minus a few stops for the Turbo to recover and the trailer bearings that were heating up. After the customary stop at the Comrie Fish and Chip Shop (http://www.comrie.org.uk/business-directory/2790/the-comrie-fish-and-chip-shop/) (courtesy of Mr BJB/Carlos) we continued to the boat shed were a rather tired Dave had been waiting for the last couple of hours!!!

We offloaded the kit from the boat and Simon’s car (including the pineapple) and headed home. Washing kit would have to wait for tomorrow…

Many Many thanks go to:

  • Simon for organizing the trip (and bringing a pineapple along in a diving weekend)
  • Carlos (BJB) for being a great dive buddy
  • Quentin and Gar (not many people manage to miss the most dived, permanently buoyed, wreck in the West Coast!!!)
  • Keith, Dave, Kathleen, Phil, Jenny and Mike for making it a great weekend
  • Steve and Sue for all their help and company

Looking forward to see you and dive with you all soon


Diving scapa flow with Aberdeen Watersports out of MV Valkyrie

Last time I was diving Scapa Flow it was August 2009 and of course as much as I had promised to return that didn’t happened until November 2013. This time though it was much much easier! 🙂

Scapa 2009 Trip

Unlike last time I had not had to endure the endless drive from London to Scrabster but only travel from Aberdeen to Scrabster and from there take the ferry to the Orkneys!

A small panic with batteries aside and the usual madness of packing CCR diving gear for a weeklong trip on Thursday evening everything went to plan. On Friday I finished with work early and went back home to finalize preparations. Steve arrived after a very long drive from London and since the common consensus was Breakfast at McDs we decided to skip the pub (very much unlike us!) and have an early night (even more unlike us!) since the alarm was set for about 04:30!!!

Saturday 2 November 2013 – The trip to Scapa

Well before the first rays of light showed in the sky we started loading the car, which obviously contained already a significant amount of kit, and set off to meet the rest of the team at the Backsburn roundabout from where we would form a convoy to drive to Scrabster.

We arrived at the known junk food restaurant first and proceeded to place orders. Much to Steve’s disappointment the IT system had gone down and they had to reboot the system before they could not take any orders. In the meantime the team started to gather and more and more, just woken up, divers started to appear. A couple more attempts to order the much needed now breakfast were met with the same response “System is down. Waiting to reboot” and at about that time we noticed A LOT of smoke coming from the galley and a few panicked people running around! At that point we had already been there for more than half an hour and if anything was coming that would be  a fire engine than our breakfast!!!

Disappointed and hungry we started our journey with an EPIC MacDonalds FAIL. Fortunately just before Elgin, Steve spotted the “Golden Gates” and stopped for a high quality (not) breakfast prepared by the greatest junk food producing establishment in the world!!!

I was compensated for that traumatic experience though at Scrabster, where on arrival we had tea, bacon baps and cakes at Scrabster’s Cups tea room. Cakes were great and I was rather upset that I had to leave before I got to try ALL cakes in the menu!!! 

Steve was really excited about this Cafe!

At about that time the whole of the group had made it to the North Link Ferries Terminal in Scrabster and we were ready to start boarding.

Boarding can be done in two ways

  1. Straightforward: drive the car to the ferry. Get out of the car and walk up to the bar
  2. Fuffing: Offload the car. Load the trolley. Take the trolley to the ferry. Walk up to the bar.

Steve opted for option i) as option ii) did not seem pleasant or fun.

Aboard the MV HAMNAVOE and after the necessary introductions the whole team assembled for a first drink!

The Scapa Nov 2013 crew: Steve, Cam, Chris (the drinking one), Chris (the one with loads of hair), Ian, Paul, Angela, Don, Mike, Alison (without lube on her hair), Bjorn & of course me!!!,

 The trip was short and on arrival to Scrabster we boarded MV Valkyrie which would be home to us for the following week!

MV Valkyrie (photo courtesy of MV Valkyrie)

Once on the boat and having got our cabins Hazel showed us around and briefed us on how things would work for the rest of the week. The briefing included facilities, food, gas, time schedules and other stuff to ensure that everyone knew what was going on and what the expectations / requirements were.

Highlight of the briefing was the clear “No Take” policy of MV Valkyrie that I am particularly fond of. Sadly I have been aboard diving vessels where the skipper, not only did not explicitly discouraged looting of wrecks but, effectively promoted it! Salvaging anything that could identify the wreck is acceptable provided that the formal procedure is followed, for further details read the MCA guidelines on the subject here and there. Salvaging anything else after that so that it can be sold to recover the diving trip costs is a pathetic, pikey attitude unfortunately very common amongst certain diving communities.

Of course there are divers that recover “pretty” things to fill their garage, garden shed or even living room and although this is not as bad as salvaging wrecks to sell them (see pikey) it still deprives future divers from enjoying their dives, apart from the fact that it is usually illegal and stealing along with looting which are not agreeable activities in my books.

Skippers have a role to play and they should be promoting responsible diving as in the end the only one hurt will be themselves. No one wants to dive a barren broken-up featureless wreck. Features like bells, compass, lights, telegraphs etc make a dive interesting, removing them makes for boring dives. I am aware of divers that will avoid booking with certain skippers because they won’t allow them to bring up “spidge” but for how long are they going to be able to sustain that?

With the briefing out of the way we started loading our kit on the boat. That proved to be a bit of a challenge, as the boat was quite low or to be more precise the tide was low!!! Kit was lowered into the boat either by hand, rope or just thrown down (had a couple of near misses there!!!) and apart from a rubbish bag (which was recovered) we didn’t drop anything else!!!

 Once everything was sorted, and after a fair bit of dive kit fuffing (a theme that would continue throughout the week) we made our way to the Ferry Inn for a couple of drinks and dinner. Apparently the scallops portions left a few divers hungry but generally the dinner was great and so fed and watered we made our way to the boat in very very heavy rain!!!

To be continued…

Sunday 3 Nov 2013 – Day 1 of Diving

The weather forecast was never favourable for this week and by last night’s rain we knew that it was going to be an ugly Sunday morning. None the less we were all excited and determined to go diving. Hazel was quite confident that we would manage a dive. So at 8o clock we cast the ropes and headed out of port. Howling winds and a very wet deck by the sea splash / spray and continuous rain made even the bravest of us to realize that this was not a diving day!!! more like a “I think I want to go back to bed please” day but we pushed forward…

 Shortly after leaving the harbour Helen called us at the lounge for the first of many excellent dive briefings. The first dive was going to be a shake-down dive to make sure that all was working before we go ahead diving more adventurous stuff later in the week.

Once on site Rob informed us that it was too exposed

Video Of Scapa Exotic Weather

and we would make our way to the F2 which is more sheltered and our only chance to dive today.

On arrival to the F2 & the YC21 Barge the conditions were, not exactly tropical, but  safe to dive and as we were already kitted up we decided to go for the first dive of the trip.

F2 Briefing Sketch showing features and orientation (courtesy of MV Valkyrie)

A video of the F2 dive by  Chris Smith can be found  here.  As this was a shallow wreck I decided not to take my 100m long reel. The down side of that was that I was too light, as my reel makes part of my “integrated weight system”.

🙂 “Hindsight is the Superpower I would love to have most!” 🙂

Back on the boat and before we even got out of our kit Rob announced that the conditions were too bad for another dive today and we would head back to post. A decision that was welcomed by everyone as a few green faces had started to appear!!!

Helen had prepared Lunch (Soup, Rolls, Meats, Cheese & Salad) and by the time we made it back to port the weather was getting better. It turns out that not many diving boats made it out on Sunday altogether!

 After a bit more of fuffing and a look around the local diving shops Scapa Scuba and Dive Scapa Flow‎ (which would make a theme for the rest of the week) we returned to Hazel to get fed again!

 Dinners on the Valkyrie are epic. Really. Our dinner tonight was made up of: Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, Shepherds Pie & Strawberries & Cream for dessert!!! yammy!!! And the quantities could only compare to being at home AND being fed by mum!!! AWESOME!

After dinner we retired to the lounge / saloon to watch Star Trek. Not the most social activity I hear you say? Well maybe, but if you had what we had for dinner you wouldn’t be able to do an awful lot more!!!

Monday 4 November 2013 – Day 2 of Diving

After breakfast we left port to dive the SMS Brummer. 30 min prior to reaching the dive site Helen summoned us to the lounge for the diving briefing which included a sketch of the wreck and detailed instructions as to how to descent, all the interesting features available for us to see and how not to miss The Guns. Halfway during the briefing I found myself thinking “I really want to dive this wreck and see all these awesome features, Masts, capstans, bathtubs, Guns, the bridge, Guns, The battle bridge and did I say Guns?”.

SMS Brummer (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

For a virtual 3D dive on the SMS Brummer visit Scapa Flow Wrecks and see SMS Brummer.

On surfacing Rob was waiting for us to refill cylinders (for the gas guzzling twinsets – NOT ME! 🙂 and with cups of tea and coffee. Soon lunch was ready and we proceeded to the galley for an epic Fry-up. 

By the time we finished lunch Helen was preparing the briefing for the next dive! 

SMS Karlshrue briefing sketch showing features and orientation (courtesy of MV Valkyrie)

Chris’s Smith SMS Karlshrue Video here and for a virtual 3D dive on the SMS Karlshrue visit Scapa Flow Wrecks and here. 

Alternatively if you want more information on the SMS Karlshrue or indeed any other of the Scapa Flow wrecks you can get Rod McDonalds excellent book Dive Scapa Flow.

Odd features at either quarter of the Stern (potentially mine laying chutes) looked intriguing but sadly my knowledge of WWI warship Naval Architecture is rather limited so could not possibly comment…

After the dive and while Rob was filling cylinders we set course to the port of Stromness.  On arrival and after a bit of fuffing about with diving kit we made our way to Julia’s Café for another round of cakes (as if we weren’t getting enough food aboard the MV Valkyrie!?). While enjoying our Mocha with Marshmallows and other unhealthy chocolaty stuff we bumped onto the Deeside SAC divers that were visiting Scapa at the same time with us! Brian, Mike, Simon, Gar et al were all in Scapa diving on the Club’s annual pilgrimage to Scapa Flow organized traditionally by Lorne.

Right on time we headed back to get fed by Helen who had prepared: Sweet Potato Soup, Chicken Curry & Pineapple Upside Down Cake for dessert!!!

 Although watching films was entertaining enough we decided to give Cards Against Humanity a chance as it seemed amusing enough and we were advised that it a suitably offensive cards game to play.

 Sadly the US version of the game didn’t prove to be as offensive or amusing as expected although I am sure that the UK version would make up for it!!!

Subsequently we progressed to play “The Hat Game” a kind of cards game (probably conceived by Steve altogether) and by that time the combined effect of alcohol (which surely one has to have to accompany such team activities) and comments about “Charismatic Leaders” and “Comic Heroes – see Mumm-Ra” led a couple of non-Political Correct but thoroughly entertaining miming games!!!

I am pretty sure I am NOT going to be playing the “Hat Game” in any family gatherings that is for sure!!!

To be continued…

Tuesday 5 November 2013 – Day 3 of Diving

The time to start diving the “more” exciting wrecks of Scapa had come! Today the weather was better and the first dive of the day was going to be the SMS Krownprinz Wilhelm.

Photo of the SMS Krownprinz Wilhelm (courtesy of Wikipedia)

 For a virtual 3D dive on the SMS Krownprinz Wilhelm visit Scapa Flow Wrecks and here. Apart from being the massive wreck of a battleship the Krownprinz was the only of the Koning class Battleships to take part in the Battle of Jutland and escaped without damage!

Back on the boat Rob was filling cylinders and Helen was filling divers with Burger, Chips & Salad!!! (No. Before you ask. No. There was no demand for salad!)

The afternoon dive was a quite unique dive. Submarine  UB 116 was the last submarine to be sunk at the Great War. She was lost with all hands on deck when a whole minefield was detonated around her! 😮 Sadly further salvage efforts and an (unsuccessful) attempt to make safe of her 10 remaining torpedoes resulted in a wreck site that looks nothing like a submarine. For further info on the story of the UB116 see the UBoat Net and Wikipedia’s entry on UB-116 here.

After that and back on port we gathered in the galley for Helen had prepared for us Garlic Bread, Lasagne & Apple Crumble (Growing fat at this point!!!)

Once more having had a great dinner we retired to the lounge to have a quiet drink and relax for the remaining of the night. Relaxing didn’t really last very long because SPACE TEAM was introduced and quickly got loads of dedicated fans. SPACE TEAM is a mobile phone game and as it works on any smart phone quite quickly it spread amongst all (well almost) all members of the crew. Won’t go into the details other than it is addictive and it definitely is a team game!!!


Wednesday 6 November 2013 – Day 4 of Diving

The first dive on Wednesday was the   SMS MARKGRAF another Konig class battleship and sister ship to the SMS Krownprinz Wilhelm we dived yesterday. Interestingly enough the SMS MARKGRAF is named after  the royal family of Baden (see Wikipedia here). The SMS Baden was was the largest and most powerfully armed battleship built by the Imperial Navy (see Wikipedia here). Sadly the Baden lies at the Hurd’s deep at about 170 to 180 msw which is slightly outside recreational diving limits 😉 And if the depth is not enough to put divers off it is also worth mentioning that (due to the depth) it was considered to be an appropriate location for damping Chemical and radioactive waste from mid 40s to mid 70s…

For more info on diving the SMS Baden you can read Mark Ellyat’s excellent book Gladiator of the Deep.

Having seen guns of all sizes and dimensions we decided to get back to Helen for Chilli Con Carne!!! Awesome diving and awesome food!!!

Diving the V83 as the second dive of the day had to be a shallow dive (in-line with good PADI diving practices – Avoiding reverse profiles) we are good like that 😉 The V83 was a Torpedo boat destroyer that was used by Ernest Cox of Cox & Danks Shipbreaking Co. to salvage the High Seas Fleet. There is an excellent book about the story of Ernest Cox called The Man Who Bought A Navy and I strongly recommend reading it to all divers and engineers!!!

V83 briefing sketch showing features and orientation (courtesy of MV Valkyrie)

Not a dive I enjoyed as I was having buoyancy issues and poor communication issues.

At some point I pulled out my reel so that we could reel out to the Concordia Boiler unfortunately (poor communication) Steve thinking that I was preparing to deploy my DSMB for ascent he started to prepare his DSMB for deployment and ascent!!! Luckily neither of us was having a ball on that dive so it didn’t really spoiled anyone’s dive! On the plus side we managed to see the Gun and the officers quarters! You can see Chris’s Smith V83 Video of the dive here .

On arrival to port we decided to break the common theme of fuffing about with diving kit and killing time until dinner and decided to pay a visit to the Highland Park distillery a rather dangerous activity as divers are known to be partial to alcohol…

The highland park distillery is located near Kirkwall in a very impressive complex of traditional buildings. Sadly by the time we got there it was too late to join for the last distillery tour but we had plenty of time to look around the fine collection of bottles and invest in some quality whiskey.

I could not resist buying a bottle of HP 15 yo whiskey and a bottle of DRAKKAR to take to Greece and drink celebrating meeting with my brother after 2 years!!!

 We had to make sure we are back in time for dinner as we did not want to upset Hazel (nor miss dinner)!!! so quickly we finished with all whiskey purchases and after a quick stop by LIDL (to buy cheap booze) we headed back to the boat where Hazel had prepared for us Chorizo & Mushroom Quiche, Stuffed Chicken & Banoffee Pie!!!

 And after that in a rather sluggish – slow motion style (see eating loads of great food above) we made our way to the pub for a couple of drinks…

To be continued…

Thursday 7 November 2013 – Day 5 of Diving

With the weather looking good we left port to dive the SMS Dresden II a Coln class light cruiser that was commissioned late on the war and din not see any action. Although during the dive briefing Helen pointed out at the Shield with the Dresden crest at the starboard Bow I managed to miss it during the dive and needless to say I was quite disappointed about it, but I suppose that makes for a good excuse to go back no???

Guns, The Armoured Control and the bathtub at the Officers Quarters made for a very enjoyable dive and as by now we were getting the hang of it Ascents Descents and DSMB deployments were getting better and better.

SMS Dresden II briefing sketch showing features and orientation (courtesy of MV Valkyrie)

Back on the boat and after the customary cup of tea the team now addicted to SPACE TEAM and having set up a WiFi network on the boat returned to the popular activity of screaming and shouting to each other!!!! The only break came when Helen sounded the Bell and we moved to the galley for Sausage Pasta Bake. During lunch the conversation was around the many different chilli sauces that Helen had collected that rated from regular Tabasco to Hot – Super Hot – Stupidly Hot and Dangerously Hot!!! Some of them even came with warning labels:

“Not to come to direct contact with the skin!!!” OMFG!!!

 Of course you would think that everyone would stay clear of the particular Uber-Hot ones rather than go on and smear it all over their faces, but hey we are talking about divers here!!!

The second dive of the day was SMS Coln II a sister ship of the Dresden II that we dived that morning. Along with her sister came too late in the war to get to see any action. Although sister ship to the Dresden II it is impressive to note the differences between warships based on the same design but built on different shipyards. Sometimes it feels like Designs are like a pirate code “more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules” which is a bit disturbing for engineers like me…

SMS Coln II briefing sketch showing features and orientation (courtesy of MV Valkyrie)

You can see Chris’s Smith SMS Coln II Video of the dive here

For dinner Helen had prepared Red Onion & Cheese Puffs, Stew and Chocolate Cheesecake!!!

After dinner and as folk was lying in their cabins a certain known mischievous diver thought that it would be funny to replicate the known scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack Sparrow is trying to Rock the Boat!

Friday 8 November 2013 – Last of Diving / Return

The last day of the trip is always a bit depressing. I had a great time and did not really wanted to think about leaving or going back sadly the boat was booked by another group of divers after us 😦

The first dive would be the same with the last one the SMS Coln II. It is really amazing how the more you dive the better you get and more comfortable you feel. Closing to the end of the week the dives feel so much easier and more fun!

 After Lunch (Jacket Potatoes) I started with tidying up staff and helping other divers getting kitted up for the last dive of the trip. I was not too keen to dive the F2 again and Steve’s dry suit was leaking so opted not to dive that get wet again. Once every one was back on the boat the deck was full of activity and divers packing loads and loads of diving gear (where did all that came from???)

By the time we had finished packing it was time to load the car and the trailer that the rest of the team would use to transfer their stuff on the ferry on Saturday morning. Surprisingly(?) we managed to finish loading right in time for dinner: Stuffed Peppers, Chicken & Brocolli Pie and THE BEST Sticky Toffee Pudding I HAVE EVER HAD. No seriously. It was awesome 🙂 And a real struggle not to go for more!!!

After the dinner we loaded the car and waved bye bye to the team starting our trip to Kirkwall.

Boarding the Ferry at Kirkwall was seamless but a bit all over the shop. We were directed to an empty car park and told to wait there. Time for boarding came and passed but we were still there waiting. No one was around to give any instructions or information. About half an hour after the scheduled departure time, the woman from the kiosk cam and signalled to all the cars to start boarding.

Once started, boarding was straight forward and quick. We soon found ourselves checking-in and got our cabin and fall asleep.

Saturday 9 November 2013 – Back in Aberdeen

Scapa 2013 Return Trip

The trip was good and did not woke up until the ferry was entering Aberdeen. Awesome! Has to be my favourite way of travelling!!!Sleep at departure. Wake up at Destination!!!

Google maps extract showing (about) the 2013 journey


What a great trip! This Scapa was expected to be a great and it did deliver. The weather, the wrecks, the boat, the food and the team were all excellent and could not have asked for more, really really looking forward to 2019 to go back!!!

A great trip and looking forward to go back!!!

Many thanks to:

  • Steve for being a great dive buddy
  • Cam for organizing the trip
  • Hazel, for being a great skipper and her absolutely 1st class dive briefings
  • Helen an awesome Cook
  • Rob, the always helpful Crew!
  • Alison (with lube on her hair), Paul, Angela, Donald, Michael, Christopher S, Chris P, Ian & Bjorn for being great buddies!

Croatia 2013 with Diving Leisure London and Krnica Dive

A gastronomic Orgy of Head-banging and Black DSMBs!

Ladies and Gentlemen.  Croatia 2013!!!

After last year’s Diving Leisure London ‘s EPIC trip to Croatia (read more about it on Jen’s blog here) Alex arranged “The Return of DLL to Croatia” trip and having read and heard all about “The Legend of Mike Coopey” I was amongst to first to sign up!

As usual, the days prior to the trip were anything between frantic and manic. Going diving with SLB Freestyle the weekend before the Wednesday I was flying did not help, nor that the display of one (of the two) handsets of my rebreather died that very weekend!!!

At that point I have to thank Ambient Pressure Diving for their phenomenal Customer Service!!!
I called (in a state of panic) Zoe Monday morning and told her what happened. Tuesday evening, while packing and just before my Wedensday morning flight I got a knock on the door and there it was!!! A Loan Lid!!! Yey!!! – Super Happy!!!


APD Inspiration – Loan Lid arrived at the 11th hour!

So all sorted and I am making my way to the airport for my flight to Amsterdam. Check-in was almost smooth apart from KLM’s issue with extra luggage. I had bought extra luggage allowance on-line but it looks like their on-line system is not that clever and it does not automatically link the excess luggage with the ticket. Just annoying having to wait at the checking while they sorted it out. Other than that all went well and after a short flight (and some disappointing “snacks”) I was in Amsterdam. A very quick connection flight (hardly enough time to go from my arrival gate to the departure gate) and more crappy snacks and I was in Venice!!!

While waiting patiently for the rest of the group to arrive from London (direct flight – nice!) I thought I should go and get something to eat as the KLM snacks left a lot to be desired! I ordered a “brioche” which was OK although the staff at the counter was between rude and stupid.

After that went back to my seat and patiently waited until I spoted a bloke wearing a SANTI t-shirt and I though “what are the chances?”

So I approached Tony and of course he was the man Maurizio from Krnica Dive had sent to collect us from the airport! So Tony had just drove 4hrs from Croatia to Venice via Slovenia just to collect us!!! How good is that?
And he was about to do drive for 4 more hours back to take us to Croatia!!!Venice to CroaVenice_Croatiatia (quite a journey) photo courtesy of Google Maps (thanks google!)After 4 hours of driving and a few passport checks Tony was asking us if we wanted to stop somewhere to eat. Our response was: “Nah we would rather go to Krnica” and eat there (if possible) and after a quick call Tony replied “yes that is OK Maurizio has asked the bar to stay open and wait for us”

Now. I would like us to stop and reflect on this for a second. HOW COOL IS THAT?
I mean the bar stayed open for us!!! – Thanks Maurizio!!! and Thanks KUM!!! Now Wikipedia reliably informs us that Kum is Serbo Croatian stands for best-man or Godfather (if you go for the slavic etymology) or Sand if you opt for the turkish one. Your Call. Either way Pizza was AWESOME!!!

After dinner and before going back to the apartment for sleep we had a quick chat with Maurizio about diving as he was not exactly looking forward to go diving with my YBOD!!!


9358_3139028491367_1680584037_nMaurizio came to take us to the dive shop where we started preparing our gear. Needless to say Maurizio was ready for us!

Twinsets ready to go diving @ Krinca Dive!

pre_dive_checksPre-dive checks


The first dive of the trip was SS LinaMyself at the bows of Lina – Photo courtesy of Maurizio Grbac

The Lina sunk when she hit the shore and although her bows lie at 25m depth the stern is at around 50m (similar to our Rondo!)

During the surface interval Maurizio prepared (a light snack) for us – A HUMONGUS plate of pasta – before we head out for the second dive of the day, which, was a reef dive.


Photo of nearly eveyone in the group – photo courtesy of Joules Claro

Once back ashore and after the mandatory ice cream a quick shower and off for dinner at the Agriturizmo Restaurant. A well impressive dinner with mostly locally sourced ingredients! I lost count of how many courses we had but one thing is for sure. It was awesome and there was A LOT of it!!!

agrotourismoMore awesome food at the Agriturizmo!!!


After a breakfast of local VERY LONG SAUSAGES, Cheese and bread (how Continenatl) Back at the dive centre and we are preparing our kit for todays dives


Analysing Gases and Marking Cylinders (and there was a lot of them!!!) – Photo courtesy of Jules Claro

Finally we made it to the marina and we were waiting for our boat to take us to dive “The Baron Gautsch”


Have we got enough gas?  – Photo courtesy of Jules Claro

As you can see from the above photo all was peaceful and quiet. Until the Germans arrived! But this is a story for DLK to tell…


Baron Gautsch historical photo – photo courtesy of Krnica Dive

Diving the Baron Gautsch


After the dive the ride back involved a lot of sleeping!


A diver’s life can be really very hard…

Back on the beach for an ice cream but no time for a shower as Maurizio had already started preparing his Humongus BBQ for all of us diving with Krnica Dive!

krnica_dive_bbq1Krnica Dive BBQ!!! – Photo courtesy of Jules Claro

And there were quite a few of us! Free drinks – courtesy of Ghost Fishing (a brilliant non-profit organisation) who had just completed a project of cleaning up Argo were definitely appreciated!!!

Please do have a look at Ghost Fishing web page here and their facebook page here

After a hearty breakfast of local salami, cheese, bread and local sweet and savoury pastys we headed back to the dive centre to analyse more gases, mark cylinders and eventually DIVE the ARGO!!!


analysing my 14/53 diluent – Photo courtesy of Jules Claro


Argo historical photo (photo courtesy of Krnica Dive)

Argo was on her way from Venice to Rijeka when on the 22nd of January 1948 she ran into a WWII, leftover, mine. She now lies in two pieces at 50m depth. Eleven, out of twelve, crewmembers lost their life. Source Krnica Dive


Divers on the Bows and Stern of the Argo!


Alex having a light snack between dives!


Stern of the Argo – photo courtesy of Jules Claro

After two excellent dives (one on the bows and one on the stern section we made our way back to the dive centre and Krnica.

For dinner we went back to KUM for more of the good stuff!


The gang seconds before the “Boy Band” pose

Food was absolutely awesome so we opted for the “no holds barred” approach and between us we ordered almost everything in the menu


Have we got enough food there?

Pizza, salads, chips, starters all. Lost count of how much food we had that night. What I do know is that we ate it because it was awesome (not because we were hungry!!!!)


The plan for Sunday was quite exciting as the plan was to dive two wercks!!!

The cargo Italian cargo steam ship SS Luana and the Cesare Rossarol an Italian Light Explorer and both were sunk when hit mines.

rossarol3Historical photo if the Cesare Rossarol – photo courtesy of Krnica Dive

Both now lie at a depth of around 50m

954862_3136715593546_226348489_n DLK doing his thing!

1014274_3136719913654_1529757544_nFerreting around

The time between dives was spent primarily sleeping! or eating!


oh yes and other challenging activities like chillaxin and sunbathing!!!


Sunday was great not only because had two great dives but also because I sucessfully tested my brand new APD Black DSMB. As the following photos show BLACK DSMBs ARE THE WAY FORWARD!!!

photoAPD Black DSMB successfully passing Sea Trials

I will not dwell on that as I am planning to add another “Testing Dive Gear” section on my blog and this subject will be discussed extensively there…

Once more without any intention of breaking the tradition, Ice Cream and Beers followed before we head out for more Pizza KUM!

1001330_3139028851376_301612025_nPost dive drinkies!!!

As you can imagine the same scenes of carnage were repeated! Only difference? This time I got an ice cream too!!!



Monday was a bonus day. The plan was to go out and do a bit of sightseeing but as none of as was in anyway interested in anything else other than diving (well food and drinking maybe) we decided to dive SS Vis.

Maurizio drove us to the marina where Jules banged her head on the boat as hard as she could. Blood and pain ensued but there was no discussion about missing a dive so with the help of plaster, duct tape and a hood (primarily to hide the duct tape rather than the cold) we all jumped in the water.

1013938_3130789365394_474712810_nPost dive photo showing Jules latest “Medal”


Jules Diving the Vis – Note hood to hide the “impact” damage!

Once back onshore we went to the local tavern for lunch and of course it was excellent (as expected)

Back at the villa the washing of the kit was leisurly and it involved drinking beer in the swiming pool!!!


Once all the gear was washed and left lying around Maurizio came and we started our way to the Gallerion Museum. Gallerion is more of a private collection of a very enthusiastic local diver and historian and only recently has been moved to this new location so that it can actually be presented to the public. Our guide very enthusiastic and passionate both about history, diving and his collection went through the wars of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Great War and the Second World War and how these had resulted in loads and loads of wrecks in the waters of the Adriatic.

After the very informative tour and a quick beer we headed to Konoba Morgan, a local restaurant with excellent food and great view where I had:

  • Prosecco
  • Cheese and Salami platter
  • awesome local beef
  • Desert

And after all that great food it was time to head back to our appartment for our last night in Croatia. Much to my dissapointment I was running out of cash and as there was no cash machine around we had to abort the call for one last drink at KUM (probably for better – judging from last year’s antic’s!!!!).

On tuesday morning Maurizio came to see as off as Tony started the long drive back to Italy and the Marco Polo International Airport.

As expected unfortunately for Tony there was not much talking going on on the way back!!!

971448_3139043811750_720291505_nA very quiet ride back!

What a great great holiday! I was gutted to have to go so soon and I am going to miss the excellent food, the ice cream, the nice weather, the diving hey I will even miss Maurizio!!!

Hopefully not for long as I am looking forward to go back to Croatia and dive with Krnica Dive again (sooner than later!)

many thanks to:

  • Alex for organizing the trip
  • Dave, Jules, Steve, James for make it fun
  • Chris for buddying up with me and my YBOD
  • and of course to Maurizio and all of the staff at Krnica Dive who made their best to look after us during that great week

Thanks to all and looking forward to see you all.