May bank holiday trip to St Abbs and the farne islands, May 2011

Summer expedition to the Sound of Mull, August 2010
Plymouth Summer Expedition, August 2011

Dates: May 2011,
Author: Simon

As like the fellowship of the ring, the OUUEG divers travelled from the shire and overcame the hostilities bank holiday traffics jam, traversed the spine of England and ventured into bonnie foreign lands of Scotland in search of underwater delights and riches. The weary travellers were greeted to find one of the finest caravan parks the divers had even seen. Gorgeous beds and plenty of space to stretch their weary legs. Dare it be said, but this was not the first thought of the weary travellers. For the first thought was the succulent scent that overcame them as they walked through the door. For the fine host of Os and Grianne delighted the fair travellers with large pots of chilli goodness. This was not a one night only thing but everyday night produced ‘A-maz-ing’ food.

Enough of the food storytelling, as this could be a whole report in itself as it was so amazing, on with the diving.

Being one of the first marine reserves in the UK, expectations were high. Indeed, these were bolstered by stories of the previous year great dives. Whilst the stories told were of good diving, they also came with warnings of the variable weather. We hoped the weather would turn good from the previous weeks gale force winds, however the heads confidence in seeing this beautiful reserve was not high. Hopefully the heart thoughts could prevail.

Whilst the winds did blow, we were fortunate to have glorious sunshine and the first day proved a windy day, with a full westerly. We thought St Abbs would be sheltered but had it not been for Os excellent organising and gaining access to one of the finest boats at St Abbs (Wavedancer) and one of the best skippers in the form of Billy, the weekend would probably would not have been the success it was.

The first day the surface was relatively calm, however there was still some swell and strong currents underwater which made diving relatively challenging. The sites chosen were a good taste of what was to come, sea anemones in every form and plethora of soft corals. That said, a new form of underwater game was Christened. Rock, paper, scissor, finger, a soon to be viral game amongst all divers on safety stops

If we had been mildly disappointed with the first day, it was more than made up by the next three. For the skipper did not disappoint and gave dive after dive where St Abbs was seen in all its glory. From the drift dives through gullies, to a great tunnel dive from 2m that went down to 12m  From a great wreck to more gullies, arches and swim throughs. All of which were carpeted and vast walls of deadmans fingers and sea anemones. This was not only the life seen, as it seemed to be the season for Jelly fish too in which plenty of species and colours to entertain all.

You could tell Muhan was also in heaven as she saw so many lobster and crabs her eyes almost popped out of her head. She even tried to persuade them to grab onto her BCD so that she could have an excuse to take them home from this protected site.  She had to concede that these were the ones that would ultimately get away

With most of the divers veterans of ET and the three or four wave system, there was some who were mildly surprised to be finished diving by three in the afternoon. Full of energy, a few ventured into the glorious sunshine and strong winds to explore St Abbs head with its many callous stacks that house vast colonies of many hundreds of birds and the amazingly beautiful lighthouse which was shown recently on ‘Coast’.

Some also ventured to the beach to run around in the sand, build sand castles and if you were David get some triathlon training in swimming for twenty minutes in a very cold 8*C sea with only a 3mm wetsuit. A true Ironman.

After the walks there was even time for a cheaky pint down the pub to watch the champions league final.

Again the evening company and food went down well and many stories told.

Os was still on speaking terms with his 4 wives. Muhan sitting all night being wrapped in the warmth of her duvet, Clare very comically being asked whether a drink that was spilt over her felt cold instead of that person saying sorry (Os tut tut :) ),  Piotr falling asleep infront of the fire and there was a rather long discussion over purring.

There were also many hours of construction work, with Stefan constructing his rather impressive underwater Camera, the size of which grew magically with every mention. Os relaxed to a well constructed makeshift Shisha. All of which was intermingled with some very entertaining banter and stories

The après scuba were not short of some comic moments too when on the last day Stefan being rather peckish decided to indulge in some cheese and bread. On finding the ingredients to his master piece he decided to check something and placed it on top of the car. At this point an eagle eyed sea gull swooped down to eat the defenceless meal and Stefan was stunned to be left with none.

For some, St Abbs was not the last dive of the weekend. A small number had to venture back to Oxford whilst the majority stayed on to go down to the Farne Islands. The stories told here will live long in the memory, as the weather was so good they stayed on the water for the whole day. This enabled alot of time to see and to play with the seals. The weather was so good that in between dives there was even opportunity to go snorkelling with seals. A memory that most will not forget

The overriding memory was of good diving and fantastic companionship. A true pleasure of a trip!

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