Dunoon & The Clyde, August 2021

Reports on our previous club dive trips and some of our day diving activities
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Neil Radcliffe
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:30 pm
Location: Lives in Whalley near Clitheroe
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Dunoon & The Clyde, August 2021

Post by Neil Radcliffe »

This trip was conceived as the replacement to the postponed Isle of Man trip, although in the end the best we could find was a 3 day midweek break on a commercial RIB that was then limited to six divers. It takes 8 in normal times. So rather inevitably the spaces were quickly filled by the Zoom regulars: Peter (main organiser), Anton, Graham, Mick, Mike (plus non-diving partner Sheila) and Neil. In the end Mick had to pull out, fortunately Sean had previously asked to be on the reserve list and was still able to take the place.

The chosen venue was Dunoon, a coastal Scottish town located at the North Western side of the Clyde estuary, which itself is very much an old Chorley club favourite location. I guess it’s the nearest place up the west coast where the diving starts to get good, although it’s still at least a 4 hour drive (plus short ferry crossing) away. Our dive-charter hosts were Jason and Claire at Wreckspeditions, using their large RIB the ‘Starfish Enterprise’.

Jason had already posted a write up for our group his Facebook page; I’ll copy that first, then add some further details below:

“A cracking 3 day dive charter done with Chorley Sub Aqua Club another group of new faces experiencing the Clyde, some for the first time.

Shakedown day included [Dive 1] the Gantocks (3-4m vis) and [Dive 2] the Akka (2m vis). Guys really enjoyed it, but it was apparent that after the biblical rain of late coupled with spring tides, the main channel visibility was not going to be great. So day 2 we opted to steam through the fog to Loch Goil, and yet again it turned out to be a great shout.

Dive 3 was on the beautiful MV Averella and a lovely 6-7m vis, followed by [Dive 4] a gorgeous wall dive with a super 8-10m vis .... happy days.

Our final day saw us head for [Dive 5] the Greenock Dredger, sunk in 1902 after a collision with SS Ape. Unfortunately conditions were not great and the tide turned earlier than expected, 1-2m at best. So for a final dive [Dive 6], and the increasingly popular Unknown Holy Loch Wreck sitting in 20m with mast rising to 8m.....and we were rewarded with an unexpected 6-7m vis and they absolutely loved it!!!

Great bunch of lads who are already planning their 2022 trip with us. Safe trip back lads, will see yous again soon .”

So now the unmentioned bits! Dive 1 had quite a strange outcome whereby the first pair in were finally picked up well to the north of the island, the second pair adjacent to the island, and the final pair well to the south of the island. This was probably due to the change of currents around slack, but we must all have had quite different dives!

Both of the main channel dives (the Akka and the Greenock) were as difficult as Jason suggests – it was both dark and silty – a real shame as these are widely regarded as brilliant dives when the conditions are good. Jason kindly didn’t mention that this led to two cases of diver separation, although this was well handled by all concerned. On the Greenock some recent First Class Diver candidates had kindly left an unwound reel near the shot-line, which provided our two most regular instructors with a valuable opportunity (!) to conduct a full-blown entanglement and consequent buddy rescue exercise.

The trip up Loch Goil provided the wonderful sight of an airborne Sea Eagle, chasing a gull (without success). Jason explained that the gulls harass the Eagles like this, leaving the Eagle’s nests open for raiding. We also passed a seal colony, with just the odd one in the water; they are apparently more diver-shy than their Farne Island cousins. Then on our return journey we managed a close encounter with the historic Paddle Steamer the Waverly, complete with day-passenger Sheila leading the waving!

Jason’s RIB works really well as a diving platform. He does all the heavy lifting, you simply don the kit two at a time whilst sat on large storage boxes near the stern, then pretty much flop straight over the tubes. His re-boarding ladder is also dead easy to use, and the process is then simply reversed. This pretty much eliminates that difficult heavy-kit shuffle to the back of normal hard-boats; so on balance this seemed easier. Having said that, underwater visibility aside, we were *so* blessed with the weather, barely a ripple was seen on all three days.

Unknown to us, Jason’s compressor developed a small issue at the end of day two. It speaks volumes for his level of service that he actually made the ferry crossing to Glasgow to get our cylinders filled that evening.

So, six divers, all completing six fairly successful dives, and whilst there was much talk about the Turned Turtle award, I’m not really sure we identified any obvious candidates.

But out of the water, Graham clearly led the way! On both the first and third evenings, his evening meal order somehow got missed, so he ended up getting his food after we’d all finished (amusingly they did tempt him with just the rice part in the Chinese though!). The other main excitement was that we arrived on the Sunday to find the hotel not expecting us until the Monday; it was that sort of place. Fortunately they did have enough rooms available (it was that sort of place!). Jason is currently building contacts for alternative accommodation, including some large self-contained options which sound very promising.

One nice surprise was former DO Stuart Nelson (with campervan) joining us for a day. He appeared before ropes off, and Jason was kind enough to let him spend the day on the RIB with us; you could tell that Stuart really loved it! Then he joined us for that night's evening meal. I believe he then headed further north to see some other friends.

Roll on next time, and thanks very much to Peter for doing all the organising. Please do all add your own additional memories and thoughts below.

Neil.
Last edited by Neil Radcliffe on Wed Sep 01, 2021 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Neil Radcliffe
Club Member
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:30 pm
Location: Lives in Whalley near Clitheroe
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Re: Dunoon & The Clyde, August 2021

Post by Neil Radcliffe »

One footnote from me: within 24 hrs of leaving Dunoon, I was crossing London by Tube, headed to Gatwick with Eleanor (my eldest, also a diver and club member). She is now in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) on her student exchange year; all appears to be going well so far. I don't believe she managed to take any dive gear though.
Peter Masheter
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Re: Dunoon & The Clyde, August 2021

Post by Peter Masheter »

This was my first proper diving trip, Anglesey not counting, and I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of it. Will admit was nervous at times but dive buddies and skipper make you feel relaxed.
Never seen as many starfish before in one place and for the marine biologist candidates in the club this is a must place to dive.
Next time I bringing my own milk as the little pots uou get are useless !!!
Maria H
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Re: Dunoon & The Clyde, August 2021

Post by Maria H »

Peter’s dates didn’t work for us, and also the trip was fully booked, so Catherine and I went up to Dunoon a few days before the rest of the gang.
I particularly enjoyed the Gantocks dive, with slopes and gullets with lots of life (anemones, dead mans fingers, and lots of crabs in pairs).
The Avorella wreck sits upright, and also full of life, though maybe a bit dark for any newer divers.
We were impressed by Wreckspeditions, and Catherine has booked a return trip for next year.
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