Diving St Kilda

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One more diving post, this time July 1997, a live-aboard, ten-day diving holiday to St Kilda aboard the dive boat MV Chalice. We were a party of 12 divers. Bunk beds in tiny cabins and if I remember rightly we were asked not to be extravagant with the water!

The archipelago of St Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles, lies 41 miles (66 kilometres) west of Benbecula in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. You can read more about St Kilda which is a National Trust site here: http://www.kilda.org.uk/

There was much to see diving St Kilda, and we were extremely lucky with the weather http://www.kilda.org.uk/weekildaguide/guide12.htm which can change very suddenly. Big squally winds can come in and rattle across the islands at all times of the year. Our skipper told us it was most unusual to get the perfect weather window that we did.

The diving itself offered great variety, including scenic dives, wall dives, an arch, a cave, and a number of wrecks. I still have my dive logs and recorded the wrecks of the Chadwick, Doris, Nevada II, Tapti, Aurania, and S.S Breda. I try to picture myself back there in that wonderfully clear water, and imagine some of the scenes from my notes: ‘lots of dogfish and a big blue lobster, lovely anemones with orange centres‘, ‘pretty purple fish sat in my hand‘, ‘spectacular tiny anemones, orange, purple, and blue, crabs in cracks in the cliff, big cave – quite a current‘, ‘crabs caught in fishing nets, freed them with my scissors’. There was much more, but now a few photos from the trip.

Oban, in mainland Scotland, where we pick up our dive boat

Along for the ride

St Kilda in the distance

Getting closer

Looming in the evening mist

Old habitations, no one lives here now

Going in

Coming out

Another in

Another out

You need to be fit to haul yourself up the ladder!

Diver says ‘OK’

A great trip

And as I was putting this post together I suddenly thought to check the date and realised that exactly 20 years ago today I was diving the Tapti and the Aurania at St Kilda! Time has flown far too fast!

Diving the Wrecks of Scapa Flow

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It was about thirty years ago that I took up scuba-diving. I learned with a small British Sub Aqua Club and went on to dive with the club for over ten years. It was all cold water diving around the U.K. so dry suits were essential, especially for Scotland in spring and autumn.

Some people have said to me that there can’t be much to see in the waters around the UK, but they are completely wrong. You only have to look on the seabed, in the rocks, on rock walls, amongst the kelp, and on wrecks to find the most beautiful flora and fauna. You do need a torch at depth because the deeper you go the more light you lose. Sport divers diving on air are limited to an eight minute dive at forty metres, after that, depending how long you stay down, you have to do decompression stops on the way up.

In about 1990 we dived the World War I German wrecks which were scuttled and lie in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland. You can read about the history here: http://www.scapaflowwrecks.com/history/  

It was the best diving ever. I remember so well on the first dive as me and my buddy floated down into the depths how amazingly clear the water was. It felt like flying as we fell further and further down, a wonderful sensation of freedom as the heavy weight of all the diving kit when on board the boat suddenly became weightless.

Unfortunately since moving to France I’ve mislaid all my dive logs and so have no record of which wrecks we dived and when. I do know we dived some of the enormous battleships, some of the cruisers, and one of the block ships. I remember we barely had time to get around some of these wrecks because they were so big. And I also remember peering in to the port holes through the murky gloom – kind of eerie – and imagining the time when the German sailors were living aboard.

Information about the wrecks and diving them can be seen here: http://www.scapaflowwrecks.com

I dug out a few photos of that wonderful week’s diving. Unfortunately underwater cameras weren’t that common back then so no pics of the wrecks beneath the waves.

Kirkwall

On board The Triton

Going In

Coming Out

On One of the Blockships

Keeping Warm

To end this post I must tell you about my little bit of treasure! On one of my dives, I think it may have been the Dresden, I picked something up that was partly hidden in the sand. I have always thought it was a piece of a dish, but when I recently searched the name I found that it’s most likely from a hand-basin.

The company, from Hamburg, used to make sanitaire equipment for ships. So this is my rather special little treasure from my dive in Scapa 1n 1990.

The Hummingbird Hawk Moth (for Pete)

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This wonderful little moth hovers for seconds in front of a flower and then zooms off. They aren’t easy to catch on camera. I was lucky on one occasion when they were attracted to a scraggy old yellow daisy which I’m not fond of; it seemed to keep them busy for longer than usual.

 

I’m hoping that Pete, especially, over at his fabulous wildlife blog, will enjoy them.

Beware the Dust Bunnies! (a short story)

I recently posted this on my author blog and it was really successful and seemed to get a lot of laughs. So I thought I’d re-post it on here!

Talking of writing ...

June 2017

Canada:

It started suddenly without rhyme or reason. No one knew why. It was like the beginning of life, when the first creatures crawled out of the sea. Only this time they were born from dust.

Every night it grew. The whispering. Every night as Teresa slept. It was so faint that even the the old dog and the ginger cat couldn’t hear the dust bunnies communicating their terrible message under the bed.

‘Grow!’ breathed Fred gently, he was the biggest and hairiest of all. And at his command tiny particles of fluff and dust and hair gravitated towards them. And they grew bigger.

France:

The woman of the house had become obsessed with writing and for too long had ignored the housework. The vacuum cleaner, unemployed for weeks, had allowed the dust-bunnies to congregate. They had received messages on the air. Messages from the grand master hundreds…

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