St Kilda 2011

Reports on our previous club dive trips and some of our day diving activities

St Kilda 2011

Postby Liam Hoey » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:53 pm

Come on guys tell us about this trip LOL ;) ;) ;)

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Liam Hoey
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Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:05 am
Location: Euxton, Lancashire

Re: St Kilda 2011

Postby Maria H » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:46 pm

I blame Liam for this one…. In March 2010 he posted on the Forum, asking if anyone was interested in diving St Kilda. I’ve wanted to dive St Kilda for years, so I was immediately hooked, and subsequently disappointed when Liam decided he preferred the idea of warm water instead :roll:
There were only 4 of the usual suspects from the club (Maria, Dave Sheridan, Sean and Geoff), so we were also joined by Dennis Wigg and 2 friends of his (Mike Jones & John Gibbon). There were also 4 others on the boat, making 11 divers in total. St Kilda is an exposed location (75 days of gales per year) and so we were all anxiously monitoring the weather forecast in the weeks and days before the trip. We’d all heard stories of failed trips, including Dennis’s 3 previous attempts.
First impressions of the Elizabeth G were encouraging – she’s a sturdy and seaworthy vessel, just what you need to visit the remotest part of the British Isles.
After loading the boat, we headed up the Sound of Mull to Tobermory. An early start the following morning and we headed up to Canna for a check-out / scallop dive. Then it was up to the west coast of Skye for a dive on the wreck of the Doris: we dropped straight on to the prop, but I’d left my camera on the boat! That evening it was scallops for starters, and that set the high standard of meals for the week. Image

We had a wander ashore in Leverburgh, Harris, in the evening but, being Sunday in the Hebrides, the only bar was closed and we had to improvise with drinks on board.
On Monday morning we motored out to St Kilda amidst gently rolling seas, and caught our first glimpse of these remote islands, shrouded in mist. Image
The topography of St Kilda is all about sheer rock faces that provide world class wall and cavern diving. The marine life was plentiful, with cuckoo wrasse, ballen wrasse, pollock, crabs, lobster, squat lobsters, crayfish, and the occasional seal or two. Image Image
The walls are covered in life, and there are some amazing cut-throughs and overhangs. Image Image
One of the epic St Kilda dives is Sgarbhata Arch. The top of the arch is at 30m, and the bottom at 50m. The walls are covered in marine life, but it was a pity about the viz and the current that we had to swim against - scary! Image

One memorable dive was through a gulley and then an archway with clear surface, through to the other side of the headland, where the boat would be waiting for us. Sean “what U turn” McKenna lead the dive. Got most of the way through and Sean decided we’d gone the wrong way, so wrote on his slate for us to turn round, so we did ….. and then turned round again a few minutes later! Even on the boat, he remained unconvinced that we’d actually swum through the headland. Image
Things were looking up when Dave offered to lead us on a “slow bimble”. I’m so relieved that it was lead by Dave the Pensioner rather than Dave the young fit squaddie. I wondered at one point whether I’d inadvertently signed up on a British Military Fitness bootcamp!
We went ashore for a wander round Hirta, the main island. The last inhabitants asked to be evacuated in the 1930s and it’s not hard to imagine why. There is still a year-round presence of defence contractors and apparently in the winter they lay ropes between the buildings and insist that anyone who ventures outside must clip on. It’s an amazing and beautiful place, but I’m glad we were there in summer! Image Image
On the way back we dived off Canna, which is like a mini Giants Causeway, with basaltic columns also visible underwater. There was also a cavern with glassfish towards end of dive. Image
Just round the corner from the Sound of Mull, we dived on the SS Nevada, which is broken up, but still a very substantial wreck, with large boilers and lots of marine life.
We rounded off the week with a scallop dive in the Sound of Mull, and a dive on the Shuna.
The sea was calm and the sun shining for the return journey, and the dolphins were out to play. Not one, but three pods of dolphins played in the bow wake as we cruised back from St Kilda. Life doesn’t get much better than this. Image
Elizabeth G is a great boat, with a great crew.
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Most boats have a musty smell, but not this one. It is evident that Rob has invested a lot of time and money in this labour of love and I also suspect a female touch in the décor of the saloon etc. Image I would be very keen to do another trip on board Elizabeth G, and Rob has plans to do Norway next year, so watch this space….

Maria

P.S. If this hasn't bored you rigid and you'd like to see more photos, here they are http://s777.photobucket.com/albums/yy53 ... t%20Kilda/
Maria H
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