Thursday, December 09, 2010

Diving in December!

Sunday, 5th of December was a cloudless, clear cold day here in Dumfries & Galloway.  There wasn't a breath of wind when five divers met in the Whitesands car park at 08.45.   After collecting our tanks at DG1 we were off for Dundrennan and one of the prettiest, most secluded spots on the Dumfriesshire coast.   We arrived just at 11.00 and high tide.   It was frosty, cold and beautiful. 

Robin Rigg Wind Farm
The views across The Solway Firth when we arrived were spectacular!   Not everybody likes this wind farm, but I love it!  I was happy to see it as I looked across to the snow covered foothills of The Lake District in Cumbria.   It seemed as though we could see for a thousand miles. 

The hills of The Lake District from across The Solway Firth

It was frosty, but next to the sea there is no snow.  I believe that the the Gulf Stream takes care of that for us.  It is such a friendly and obliging current.

This is me (black suit with yellow fins) and Alan getting into the water.  It isn't as easy as one would think.  There are large rocks just under the water's surface and if one is not graceful (like me) you will fall over in a humiliating manner. 
The water was still and calm.  Usually this means good visibility.  Sadly this was not the case on Sunday.
This photo of Nick, one of the  members of the club.   You can see how poor the visibility is even though this picture was taken near the surface.  Even with the low visibility some members of the dive club were able to find the a shipwreck that the guys were looking for, The Ludgate.

I was so happy to be diving.  I didn't care about cold or low visibility.  It was enough that I was in the water with the chance to look for little fish and seaweeds.  In the beam of my LED dive torch I saw the claws of a squat lobster poking out from under a rock.  In the time it took to look between the cracks of a rock and look up again, I had managed to get myself and Alan separated from the other three divers.  So sorry Alan.   

It was good that we had all reviewed separation procedures immediately before the dive.   We looked for 1 minute turning 360 degrees, went back the way we came for a minute, looked again for another minute and surfaced.  When on the surface, we looked for the other divers or their bubbles.  Oddly the glare on the smooth surface of the sea made it hard to see bubbles from the other divers.  We started to swim for shore when the rest of the party popped to the surface.    We re-grouped and thought we'd try again.  

My ears wouldn't equalize on the decent.  A mid-water decent is harder on ears than walking in from the shore.  I had to go up a few meters to get them to clear.  When my ears had cleared and I could go down again, I had lost my dive party completely!!  Crap!  I thought I could feel the current taking me a bit while I was clearing my ears.  I was disappointed that I had lost them a second time, but not surprised.  When I re-surfaced, I was already about half a kilometer from shore.   There is only one way to get to shore . . . swimming.   I rolled over onto my back and started kicking.  The sun was lovely and bright and it helped to keep my hands warm.  It took AGES to get to the shore and the current was insisting that I be on a different part of the shore.

While swimming toward shore by myself . . . thoughts of shark attacks crept into my brain.  It has only been a few days since the attacks in Egypt.  I forced myself not to think of that.  There is no point on dwelling on things outside ones control and focused instead on the stunning scenery.  I mean what else would I be doing on a cold Sunday anyway?  Laundry?  Christmas shopping?  Cleaning the bathroom?   Not long after I had started my swim to shore, two more divers popped up.  They had become separated and were following the same procedure I just did.  By the time we  made it to shore, all five of us were getting out of the water.  Again, some of them were much more graceful than I was.

We packed up and made our way to the The Old Smugglers Inn in Auchencairn to write up our log books and have a warm drink.  We ended up staying for lunch and a couple of games of pool. 

All in all, I had a wonderful day and I am very grateful to the members of the Dumfries and Galloway Subaqua Club for making it all possible.

Photos  by Rodger Donald


Xtreme English said...

Cool! (and COLD!) I had no idea the gulf steam just blasts over you. It seems to miss the City of Satan by quite a bit.

Lovely photos, and I'm so glad you didn't let thoughts of sharks distract you from your purpose (getting to shore!!!)

Nice post!!!

betty said...

Beautiful scenery! And, I do love the sight of wind farms. They are so graceful-looking.

Sarah said...

Nice post! I gotta hand it to you getting into the sea in December. Here, I make sure the water is warm enough to brush my teeth!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so glad you had a lovely day and with good friends and it was lovely to see you posting again.

Have a Great Christmas and may 2011 bring you all you need and keep you and yours healthy, happy and warm.

Mrs K

Anonymous said...

You are brave - cold water AND sharks! (Are there really sharks in those waters?) This time of year, I don't even want to dip a toe in Lake Michigan. -Cousin Susan