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Back : James Love, Tim Airey, Tara Wilson, Keith Muir, Chris Holland
Front : Mike O'Driscoll, Clare Drakeford, Hazel Archer
One thing about Scottish weather : You can guarantee that you'll have some!
Day 1 - Tuesday 13th
We set of from Edinburgh where it was a very nice day. On route to Oban we experienced a few showers but thankfully it was dry when we had to load the kit onto the boat. This involved lowering all kit including cylinders and weightbelts by rope onto Poplar Diver. Once everyone was aboard and we had been to Tesco for the last minute booze run. We set off at around 18:00 going up the Sound of Mull and then past Coll and over to Canna, We got to Canna about midnight and decided that the weather was closing in and that we should stop there and see what the weather was doing in the Morning.
Day 2 - Wednesday 14th
The forecast was bad, very bad, gale force 8 southerly winds, there would be no way to get to St Kilda in this. Hence we went to dive the Chadwick off of Skye. The Chadwick is smallish wreck that is fairly well broken up, but there is a lot of life on it. We then went over to and through the Sound of Harris, where we did a dive at Shellay (just at the mouth of the Sound of Harris). The Atlantic was wild and hence we headed to Tarbet harbour to rest up for the night. At least we were the right side of the Hebrides. At least we could go to the pub if we wanted!
Day 3 - Thursday 15th
The weather had now really closed in, we couldn't get around to Scarp to do a dive and hence dived a cliff in the loch just outside the harbour. Now we are beginning to think that St Kilda was probably not on the cards. Such is life with the Scottish weather. Second dive was a 'food' dive where we went diving for scallops. We all cam back with our goodie bags filled with a few scallops, apart from Keith whose bag was full to the brim! We feasted on scallops that night, after we all helped shell them. Scallops in Butter and Garlic... Scallops in a cream sauce. We even had scallops left for a dish later in the week.
Another night in Tarbet and yes another night in the pub. You can't get too drunk as you have a trip back on the Tender back to the boat to consider! The things you see when you don't have a camera! A bloke coming out of a building carrying a pint, next to a big sign for an AA meeting. At least the weather looked as though it could improve.
Day 4 - Friday 16th
The weather had improved enough for an attempt at the crossing to St Kilda, five to six hours away from Harris. WELL WE MADE IT! The crossing was rough, only Myself (although feeling a bit worse for wear), Clare and Tim made it with our stomachs intact. Even Durk, our deck hand, lost his breakfast that crossing. As soon as we got there we dived the North West face of Boreray much to the surprise of those that had a rough time crossing. However we all kitted up and jumped in for a spectacular dive. We knew it had been worth the journey. Just don't ask too many details from Tim, Keith, Mike or James about the exit, or listening to dive briefs, although easily missed in the excitement when your kitting up to dive you first dive at St Kilda.
Unfortunately, although I did take some pictures and transferred them to my laptop, the dammed thing crashed just after the cut and past from the camera, and hence I lost them all into the ether! Annoyed that was an understatement. But don't worry I've made up for the loss since.
The wind was still to strong/wrong direction to stay in Village Bay and hence we stayed in Glen Bay. Unfortunately you can not go ashore from Glen Bay.
Day 5 - Saturday 17th
Great cliff dive on Soay in the morning. Upon surfacing Rob, the skipper asked us to pack all our kit back into the Pod on deck. The weather forecast was Gale Force 8 and building from the South East fro the next two days. This was going to be a rough ride back.
We got about an 3/4 of an hour out before we had to turn back, Stornaway Coastguard advised us that the weather we were heading into was getting worse and we would be better weathering it out at St Kilda. Hence we headed back to Glen Bay. That was a bit of a surprise for those who had chosen to rough it crossing out in their bunks.
Once back Rob decided that we might as well go diving in the Bay as we were going to stay there. BONUS. The bay had a lot of caves in the cliffs which were occupied by seals. I've also not seen so many nudibranchs, anybody who has dived with myself or my buddy Hazel will know we are Nudibranch freaks.
Day 6- Sunday 18th
The gales hit us during the night. At around 3am the anchor started to drag on the bottom. Fortunately Poplar is kitted out with an alarm for such things, which woke the Skipper. This meant that the anchor needed to be repositioned and hence needed to be brought back in and then redeployed. Things always break at the worst time, it was then that one (of two) generators on board broke, this meant that the winch for the anchor struggled to get the anchor back. However it eventually got the anchor up and it was soon repositioned.
Rob then spent the majority of the morning fixing the generator and hence we could not dive during this period. But the good news was the weather was dropping. After a light lunch, if ever there is such a thing from Heather (the cook) we got ready to dive Glen Bay again.
However just as we were kitting up Rob decided that we could go around to Mina Stack if the swell was not too much. Hence we dived Mina Stack in the afternoon.
After we dived we then headed around to Village Bay. We then had a choice :
a) Go ashore for a while and then head back to break up the journey home.
b) Go for a dive and then head back.
c) Go ashore for a while and stay the night, an early dive and head back approx. 12 hour journey.
d) Second dive, stay and then an early dive and head back.
Of course we chose option c as we wanted to land in daylight to have a look around and then spend the night at the famous Puff Inn. Besides the weather was improving all the time.
Of course we then had a quick bite to eat on the boat, well a three course meal and then headed top the Puff Inn. You join the 'club' at the Puff Inn for a pound which goes the the RNLI and then Cans are a pound and shots at 80p oh and the shots are always doubles. (a double for 80p Clare and Tara were in heaven!)
Mind you we had to dive in the morning at 8am so nobody got too drunk, even though Tara and Clare got a carry out of a vodka and coke and brought it back to the boat. On the way back Tara points at a bright light in the sky and asks is that the North Star. The rest of the gang in the tender nearly fell overboard as the skipper said, 'no, that's the mast light of the yacht that arrived earlier", Nice one Tara.
Day 7 - Monday 19th
An early dive, hit the water at 08:04. Tara, much to the skippers surprise was awake and in good humor. The famous Sawcut was our agenda. Very nice dive. Skipper tells us to put up an SMB as we exit the cave as there is still a current running. Those that did soon found that they were hanging onto a kite and just had to go with the current, much to their buddies surprise, don't you agree Tim.
Now just the trip back to Tobermoray. The weather is fantastic, the journey back is flat calm, amazing, hard to believe that we had to turn back because of gales just 2 days earlier.
Of course we had to go to the Mishnish once in Tobermoray and the Arm's and most went on after that too.
Day 8 - Tuesday 20th
Just got the Sound of Mull to go now. The weather held and it was a brilliant day. We decided that we wanted to dive the Hispania on the way past. This was a fab dive too.
We then headed back to Oban in good cheer. All thoroughly enjoyed the trip and all aboard want to return to St Kilda.
Meet the Gang