Sunday, April 19, 2009

Troon and Lady Isle

Today was my first dive in open UK water. The lovely Clyde was the spot. Our dive club planned a day diving off Troon in Ayrshire. More specifically, Lady Isle just outside Troon Harbour.
We all met up and set off from Dumfries at about 7.30. The club RIB (rigid inflatable boat) and another small private boat were pressed into service and towed up north to Troon.

A couple of hours later we were in our diving gear and launching the boats into water that was a still as a mirror. The sun was shining down from a cloudless sky and there wasn't a breath of wind. Just about as perfect as diving conditions could possibly get! Eddie and Phil getting their stuff on. As for myself, I used the very posh toilet and shower facilities provided at Troon Harbour to get ready. Here is Phil - set to go and feeling quite intrepid!Davey and Alex in the club boat. I took a few photos of the Eider ducks that seem to litter the harbour. I love their noble faces.
After a few safety checks and poses (see above photo of Paul) for the camera we were out of the harbour and out onto the glass-like water.It was hard to believe we were on the Irish Sea. The guys in the dive club all agreed that there were usually only four days a year when the weather and diving conditions are this perfect and those days usually happen in the middle of the week.Getting kitted up.Sandwiches are important!

Every dive trip has at least one or two little mishaps. Today's trip was no exception. First to go was the neck seal on Chris's dry suit. This kept our skipper out of the water and helping everybody else. It also mean that I had to find a different dive buddy.
This is Lady Isle. As it is a bird sanctuary, we nasty humans are not allowed to set foot on it. It is also home to a colony of seals.

The first dive was excellent. I have no other northern dives to compare it to, but I had a great time! In addition to the calm conditions, the visibility was fantastic. We could see the bottom of the sea quite easily from our anchor site (45 feet) and the water temperature was about 6 C. My dive buddy Paul and I saw loads of crabs (three different varieties) some langoustines, a solitary nudibranch, three different kinds of starfish and loads of other interesting beasties.
Here is a photo of what I look like after a dive. It's enough to frighten fish!

After the first dive we thought we'd go around to the other side of Lady Isle and visit the seals. One of the club members, Alistair had a go at snorkelling with them. One seal followed him around the entire time he was in the water. I wish I had gone in as well. I don't know when the conditions will ever be as favourable again.

It was at this point we had another little set back. The engine in our boat sort of decided to have a sulk. It would rev up just fine but then cut out when put into the forward gear. This meant no second dive and it took us ages to limp back to the harbour. As the weather was perfect and we were in no danger we just enjoyed the day and the slow return journey.
Here is me posing with Chris's poor sick boat at the end of the day. I hope the boat is better soon! It is important to rinse out your gear after a dive in the sea. Salt water is corrosive!

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