Friday, December 17, 2010

Whiskey Galore? Nope, just an animal medicine bottle

Where are we?
On Sunday some (rather stalwart) members of the Dumfries Subaqua Club went on a mission to find new dive sites.  We were looking for good entry points near sites where there are known to be shipwrecks.  We looked at a couple of different sites near Stranraer. 
Rodger looking out to sea
The first place to check was Corsewall Point.   There is a lovely lighthouse there.  It has been turned into a rather nice hotel.  I went in at one point to ask the hotelier some questions about access to the sea.  The answer confirmed what we had already guessed.  There isn't a really safe place to enter the water near the Lighthouse.  There is one spot with some sand - but it isn't close enough to the wreck site for us to swim to it safely.  We need a boat.

Corsewall Point
The reason we were looking at this point was that on the 26th August 1898 the ship Firth of Cromarty left Glasgow.  She was bound for Australia with over 2000 tons of general cargo and a large consignment of whisky.
Firth of Cromarty
The next day, the 27th August as she was clearing Corsewall Point at the top of the Rhinns of Galloway wind smashed her against the rocks.  The crew managed to escape to shore.  It is reported that it took another four days before a salvage party could get to the ship.  In the meantime much of her cargo, including the whisky, had been "washed ashore".

Nobody knows what became of the whisky but  local legend has it that that many local farmers were quite merry during the months following the wreck.

Gilchrist poison
I did find one bottle in the sand a few hundred meters south of the wreck site.  The mouth of the bottle has been broken and smoothed by the sea and the bottle filled with sand.   I pulled a few small limpets off the bottle and tossed those back into the sea.   The bottle is ribbed.  There is a smooth spot where a label used to be and pressed onto the glass is the word Gilchrist across the bottom and poison across the top.   I don't know how old the bottle is.  I doubt it is from 1898 . . . but it might be!   I've since been told that it is an animal medicine bottle.  I'll let you know if I get more information on it.

As there wasn't a spot at Corswell Point that we wanted to dive, we went to look at the alternative site, Lady Bay near Stranraer.
Lady Bay

The entry to Lady Bay can't be easier.  There are steps going from the parking area down to a gently sloping sandy beach.

Winter days are short so there wasn't any hanging about once the decision to dive this site was made.  Even though we were quick about getting in, we really only had enough light for a short dive.

The visibility was much better than the dive we had last week.  We could see almost two meters!  This meant that we weren't losing dive buddies and we could actually see some of the marine life.  There were some beautiful bright yellow Flat periwinkle shells the size of a child's fingernail and smaller still was the jewel like Blue Rayed Limpet. 
Blue Rayed Limpet

I had seen a photo of these in my field guide but I had never seen one of these in the wild.  They sure are pretty.

Sea hare

There were hundreds of Sea hare nudibranchs.  They are not overly spectacular compared to their garish cousins but these mud coloured nudibranchs are still fun to see.   There was even one on my back later when somebody was unzipping my dry suit.  Naturally I put the poor beast back into the water.

Dahlia anemone
One of the divers, Alex spotted this lovely dahlia anemone.

These creepy marine isopods were everywhere.  It was mentioned that they looked like those worms that were used in torture in an episode of Star Trek. . . . 

Isopod on kelp
I'm sure these little isopods are fine and won't find their way into our ears to nibble on our brains.

Peg face down in the sea
Here is me - making my way toward shore.  I am face down in the water for two reasons, there are huge rocks under the water in this spot and I didn't want to bash my knees against them and the most interesting stuff  to me is under the water's surface and I don't want to miss anything good!

Dumfries Subaqua Club

Here we are bobbing in the sea just as the sun is dipping below the horizon.



Anonymous said...

Glad it's you in the water and me looking at the photos from a nice warm computer! I'm doing my part.
--Cousin Susan

Anonymous said...

Fascinating photos and you must not have had much snow in your neck of the woods yet.

Peggy said...

We have lots of snow but there is rarely any snow next to the sea. We get the Gulfstream current that keeps snow away from the edges.

Sarah said...

That's some awesome life you got there Peg!

Xtreme English said...

I can't imagine what it's like to see these gorgeous sea creatures IN THE SEA!! wonderful photos! what time was the sun going down? 2 pm?