A wild (and wet) weekend on the west coast was had, when five divers packed their bags into Poseidon, topped up Kraken's fuel tank, and headed for Lochaline.
The plan was to aim for Coll and Gunna Sound to hunt for baskers, but hurricane Bertha put paid to that idea from an early stage. Weather in the sound of Mull, however, was far better than expected, and with some of the best wrecks in the UK, no-one was too unhappy to have a weekend of wreck diving instead of snorkelling with giants.
Before we had even escaped Fife, we had about an hour of roadworks to battle through. Fortunately the club vehicle, Poseidon, was more than up to the job and in record time we made it to Lochaline, via a hasty sandwich at Tyndrum and the penultimate Corran ferry of the day.
After settling into very comfortable digs at the Lochaline Dive Centre we met the other half of our group, who were staying in the Hotel, for a quick chat about plans and to plan our passage for the morning. First on the agenda was to 'release the Kraken', a very straightforward task on the ferry slipway usable at all states of tide.
We had quite large tides, so needed to get slack water right for most of the diving we hoped to do in the sound. We started out on the Rondo, where another dive boat (Fyne Pioneer) was also diving. As we had two waves of divers, our second wave had the wreck to themselves, although they did experience the start of the flood. We made it to 38m here, but still had a way to go to the bows. We opted for a leisurely ascent up the wreck, including a nice swim-through under the hull at 25m.
A quick trip up to Tobermory to refuel was called for (at the Tobermory Bakery), where Jamie and Andy did their best to consume their own weight in lemon cake. We continued Northwards to Bloody Bay on the offchance of some marine megafauna, but the seastate was far better in the sound so we soon turned tail and made for the Thesis. This wreck is such a favourite that we dived it twice over the weekend. Worth remembering that although slack water here is at HW Oban, it can be dived through most of the flood tide which runs South to North. Helen's eagle eye spotted two white-tailed eagles who joined us for a while, followed by a pair of peregrins.
The dive centre kindly lent us a mooring for the night, so our only tasks for the evening was to fill our empty cylinders and our empty stomachs. A nice barbeque down by the beach accomplished the latter, and a lovely sunset down by the pier, accompanied by a tot of whisky, topped the night off. We also enjoyed a swim from the pier - no drysuits in sight!
Dawn broke cold a damp, so we were straight into our drysuits and onto the water. We had a little wait before slack water on the Hispania, where we met the Fyne Pioneer again. The Hispania however is large enough to accomodate multiple dive boats, and we got our two waves in exactly over slack water.
As always, everyone got to have a shot at driving the boat. This is a purely selfish tactic on the part of qualified boat handlers, as we're hoping to get more folks trained up to act as cox while we're diving!
One more trip to the Thesis, followed by a speedy recovery and we set off up the windey road.
Really great to get the boat back over to the Sound after a few years away, and some awesome diving with a great group of divers. Thanks all!