Club holiday to the Isles of Scilly

Last June (2014) 11 TSAC members enjoyed a diving holiday on the Isles of Scilly with Dive Scilly, Based in St. Mary’s. Our skipper Dave McBride made sure we had a memorable time on our boat Tiburon. Here’s club member Ian’s review of the week.

Getting to the Isles of Scilly is quite an experience particularly if you fly from Land’s End International Airport. The aircraft is a small twin engined “Indiana Jones” affair and the passengers are weighed before boarding to ensure a well balanced aircraft for the flight. After a rapid journey during which the fliers are able to look down on the ferry passengers, the landing on St Mary’s Island is an adrenaline provoking experience as the approach to the island gives the impression you are about to fly into the headland, and as you skim the top of the cliff you land gently on a grass runway and roll gently to a halt. A nice touch is that your luggage miraculously arrives at your accomodation before you do.

Veterans of Scilly diving will be familiar with lumpy seas, poor visibility, weather changing daily, aborted plans etc. but this was not to be. We enjoyed 6 days of good weather, kind tides and excellent viz and the only problem we had was the new Bauer compressor recently purchased by Dive Scilly, which died due to “too much salt in the air” obviously unusual at dive venues. That aside the 6 days diving were brilliant and not without humour.

There were many memorable moments as with most club trips and some will be familiar from other club outings, like the ritual dance as Ruth attempts to get into her drysuit, and John’s “…come along Valerie” when he is rushing somewhere. We also had the willyweight as an attempt at trim adjustment (see pic) which looks potentially harmful to health, and the poem to Bauer complaining about the frailty of their compressor (but don’t let him sing it again).

Since we were without our dining officer we duly appointed John’s brother Peter to fill the role, and he did a grand job in finding and booking a range of venues while also managing to walk Aud off her feet along the length and breadth of most of the islands. On our one “day off” when we agreed to find our own entertainment for the evening, we all ended up on the seafront with fish and chips.

All in all a great holiday and thanks to the organisers, Val and John, and to Val’s Dimwits (Dive Managers While In Training) for the organisation and keeping a very tidy boat – even with rebreathers and photographers(thanks to Roger for the pictures). We should also be grateful to the skipper Dave McBride and Sarah his wife who provided endless quantities of food for lunch and cakes for tea, always well received.

Daily Dive Record

Day 1. HMS Firebrand – 1707 – 25m

A gentle bimble around debris including anchors and canon, a refreshing first dive in perfect conditions, and an ideal start to the week.

Black Rock

Diving in shallow water with lots of seals. Ruth actually managed to ride one bronco style!

Day2. Italia – 1917

She lies in a steep gully from 20m to 46m . Claire and I chose to tour the boilers down to 34m then swim up the wreck past the engine to the stern. Lots of marine life among broken plates which lie against the gully wall. Also the first “dry”dive for Claire in her repaired drysuit.

HMS Colossus – 1798

An atmospheric wreck in 15m complete with handy plastic guide sheets containing historical notes. Lots of huge copper nails, exposed timbers, bits of canon, and concrete pathmarkers with arrows for poor navigators.

Day3. Plympton – 1909/SS, Hathor – 192035m

My personal favourite as I first dived this in 1974. The two hulls lie across each other in 30m and although both are now flattened ther is still a huge amount to see, in fact without Gavin’s masterful leading I could easily have outstayed my air supply – thanks Gav!

Black Rock – Seals

Back again by popular request to play with the water Labradors. Gavin seems to have a particular attraction for them as the follow him around, even lying on top of him during on safety stops.

Day 4. Bishop’s Rock and Canons

A scenic dive among jagged pinnacles of rock during which Gavin, Ruth and Ian managed to find a canon, everybody else found in excess of 30, but seemed to enjoy it just the same.

HMS Daisy/Western Rocks

Not much to see here except more seals and pretty scenery but viz was good enough to enjoy it.

Day5. Cita – 1997 – 25m

Allegedly with a cargo of ceramic toothbrush holders! Roger was heard to voice his disappointment over not finding a soap dish amongst the remains of the ship. The wreck itself was an interesting dive through a broken up hull with lots of sea life among the debris.

Menawethan –Eastern Isles

More seals in shallow water. Keeping their distance today but good to watch. Claire and I did surprise a huge sleeping male who rose majestically through the kelp in front of us and just kept coming out, it fealt quite threatening but he just gazed sleepily at us and swam gently away.[N.B. If you google “Menawethan” and look at “Country Diary” you get a good idea of what it is like.]

Day6. SS King Cadwallon – 1906

A lovely dive for our last day. The hull lies at about 30m to the lowest point of the deck with the lowest part of the hull around 40m. Exposed boilers and some internal workings giving homes to fish which attract seals who would surprise you by appearing suddenly and then vanishing. Roger and John met a friendly one at 40m hence the picture.

White Island

A gentle scenic paddle around rocks and sand with a few bits of wreck. Just a pleasant way to end the week.

The Poem (only the first verse)

We bought a compressor from Bauers
Which lasted just 100 hours.
They said “too much salt in the air was the fault.”
So it wasn’their fault it was ours.

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