Monday, January 02, 2012

First Dive of 2012

New Year's Eve or Hogmanay is a pretty big deal here in Scotland but for me I was tucked up in my bed at 11:00 and asleep before the bells.  I have a very good reason for doing that.  I was up and out early and could not be hungover.

Drinking alcohol is very dehydrating and there are a lot of diving accidents that happen when the diver has been drinking heavily the night before.

Two members of the dive club were up for a day's diving.  That meant that New Year's Eve found us dashing to DG1 (the big community swimming pool in Dumfries) where our club has the equipment room and compressor to collect tanks and weights.

Because it's winter and we live pretty far north, it was dark when I left the house just after six.  The stars were still out and it wasn't frosty and there was no wind.  This hardly ever happens in the winter! 

Our estate car (station wagon) was plenty big enough for the three of us and our gear, so off we went to Lady Bay in Loch Ryan near Stranraer.
It was glorious when we got there.  With the tides the way they are we were going to be getting into the water at slack water (the few minutes when the tide changes from an ebbing tide to a flooding tide).   Lady Bay is a sheltered portion of Loch Ryan with very easy entry.  It has steps down to the sand and a gentle slopping, sandy beach.  The easy entry and the protected sea loch is perfect for trainees . . . .  I love the place for its nudibranchs, isopods and pipefish.  Last winter there were so many Sea hare nudibranchs I discovered one on me as I was de-kitting.
This is Will and Elaine.  We weren't in a big huge hurry.  There were just three of us so we had time to enjoy the rare winter sunbeams
Elaine went first. I can only take one trainee in at a time.  We got into the water, and got our fins on . . . .but when we got in up to middles we realised that we couldn't see our feet.  Not good!  The water was murky - there was an algae bloom.  If it hadn't been a sunny day, we wouldn't have been able to see our hands in front of our faces.  

From the shore we saw the water had two tones.  It looked to be where the sand stopped and the deep water started.  It could have been swirls of algae instead of the sandy bottom.  We snorkeled out further to see if we could escape the soupy conditions.  We failed.  It isn't safe if your dive buddy can't see your signals - especially if you want to get some training done. 

We had to knock the dives on the head and head home.   The reason we have such abundant sealife in the water around Scotland is that there is all this food for them.  If the algae that feeds that food chain prevents us from seeing things, too bad!  That's the price ya pay. We were cheerfuld though.  We said we would rather try to dive and fail than mope around in pajamas with a hangover.

Getting home turned out to be a bit more adventurous than we had hoped. Getting down to the site at Lady Bay means driving on a single track road between farms.  There is a public slipway for small boats and a place to park your car so the road, though small is a public road. 
There was a soupy bit that worried me on the way down.  I was right to worry.   We couldn't get through it on the way up.  I stepped out of the car into liquid mud. 
It was over my ankles and was the consistency of newly mixed concrete.  It had every appearance of firm ground from a distance.  I don't know how we got down!

The three of us emptied the car and tried again.  We thought that if we didnt' have three divers and all the gear, it would be easier to get out . . . it wasn't.   After being jerked around by the AA (recovery service in the UK) and waiting an hour to then be told they weren't coming, we asked a farmer.  He had us out in five minutes.  I love farmers!
We loaded the car back up and made our way back to Dumfries.  On the way, the skies darkend and it started to rain. (note that the sky is already getting cloudy in the above photo)  We managed to be outside and enjoyed the best part of the day.
Cleaning up after a dive was a bit more involved  - Happy New Year everybody!


Shammickite said...

A day to remember indeed! Better luck next time with your dive training.

dogbait said...

A great way to spend the first day of the year.

It's 6am here now and the sun's frying our brains already.

GinoMonacchia said...

Very nice photos...