Thursday, 2 June 2011

Drift diving at St Abbs

A little later than intended I'm finally updating my blog.  Where did the time go?

Anyway, the awful, torrential rain finally cleared up a bit just in time for Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May.  That was good news for The Boy and me because we had arranged to go scuba diving at St Abbs on the south east coast of Scotland.  We arrived early and watched the boats taking other divers out for their own adventures:

We had decided to do our PADI Drift Diving Speciality as part of the trip so there was some studying to do the week before.  We had a couple of trips booked on the Tiger Lily out of St Abbs harbour.  We'd been out on her before so we knew it would be a good day out.  St Abbs is also a Marine Conservation Reserve so we knew there would be cool things to see under the water.

We started off at a site called Black Carrs. The Boy and I descended to the bottom and while we were waiting for the others to join us we had a visit from a Ballan Wrasse:

It was hard to say who was more curious, it or us.  It swam right up close and stopped just in front of my face and just hovered there staring at me.  Then it went and had a stare at The Boy while he took it's photo.  It went back and forward between the two of us like that until everyone was in the water and ready to set off.

A little further on The Boy stopped and seemed intent on taking photos of a rock.  I went to take a look and I still couldn't understand why he was photographing a rock.  Then it moved and I realized that there had actually been a tiny, well camouflaged fish sitting on top of the rock.  I only saw it as it swam off.  Can you see it?

By this time I was wondering what had happened to the drift (current) we were supposed to be diving in.  Just then, the dive leader turned in a different direction and there it was.  All of a sudden I was aware of being carried along by the current.  What a fantastic experience!  No finning required, just become a passenger in the current and enjoy the scenery and, obviously, don't lose sight of the rest of the group.  The downside of drift diving is that, if you want to take photos, by the time you've spotted something interesting to photograph the drift has swept you past it. So, no more photos for the rest of the dive.  After a while the dive leader inflated the surface marker buoy so the boat could find us and we all surfaced.

The great thing about diving off the Tiger Lily is that it has a lift on the back, oops, stern so you just have to stand on it and be transported on board in a single smooth motion and hobble onto the deck instead of trying extricate yourself from gear and clamber aboard in an ungainly fashion.  The skipper also provides hot tea/coffee and biscuits. What a star!

For the second dive we were taken to the Tye Tunnel. Fortunately the sea was flat calm or the entrance to the tunnel would have been tricky.  Here's one of the group about to enter the tunnel:

You have to swim over a rock then dive head first down between the walls to the bottom.  It opens out at the bottom but the initial entry is fairly narrow.  I managed to contain my claustrophobia while we did that part.

When we came out the other end of the tunnel the dive leader spotted something on a big rock and drew it to our attention.  What was it?  Only a cute looking lump sucker:

It looks like something you'd see in a Walt Disney cartoon, not at the bottom of the sea.  It wasn't even remotely put out by a group of divers surrounding it, staring, making bubbles and taking photos.

Just after that we found the drift.  It was a much more gentle drift than the first dive and it was a very relaxing end to the day to be carried gently back to the rendezvous point with the boat.

What a great day.  A huge thank you to Ally for arranging it.  We'll definitely be back.