Tuesday, 3 January 2012

First dive of 2012

Apologies for my lack of communication.  It's been almost 3 months.  Having a real job again has put paid to an awful lot of my leisure time.  So, what have I been up to since October?  This and that.  Apart from gifts for friends and family my jewellery making has mostly had to take a back seat for now, although I have had time to make a few new things.  The weather has been too awful for cycling and I don't have time to go to the gym any more.  I have still been diving - yes, at this time of year, in Scotland.  During November and December I was working towards my PADI Rescue diver certification.  As a result of achieving that and several other PADI specialities and having logged more than 50 dives I am also now a PADI Master Scuba Diver. Woohoo! Go me!

Don't think that because it's now officially winter the diving has stopped.  The Boy and I are still managing to dive every week or two.  We made sure we had enough full air cylinders to be able to dive throughout Christmas and New Year while we were on holiday.  On 2nd January eight of us had our first dive(s) of 2012.  The plan was to drive to The Slates at Ballachulish in the west of Scotland.  It's a former slate quarry and a pretty good dive site.  Even I can get in & out of the water there without too much trouble.

Sadly, the weather forecast was for snow at Ballachulish which meant the 3 hour drive could turn out to be impassible.  We had a bit of a confab and decided to try for St Catherine's on Loch Fyne instead. It's almost as long a drive but as long as we could get past the Rest and Be Thankful the road is more accessible.

When we set off it was cool, verging on cold, and damp.  It seemed no worse by the time we reached Arrochar so we carried on.  As we approached the Rest and Be Thankful pass the weather took a turn for the worse and the road started to look like this:

Thankfully, once we reached the other end of the pass the snow turned to rain and the journey was less of a white knuckle ride.  We drove through the village of St Catherine's and turned off on to the old road that serves as a parking area for the dive site.  As we were getting ready for our first dive the wind really started to get up and there were waves on Loch Fyne that looked more suited to surfing that scuba diving. Here we are getting into the water:

This little video taken by The Boy might give you a feel for the surf:

Once we descended into the loch it was a great dive.  We even went back in for a second dive.  There was a surprising amount of aquatic life to be seen.  There were the usual Squat Lobsters, from the teeny to huge ones. This was quite a big one:

There were Velvet crabs, Harbour crabs, Spider crabs, Hermit crabs in all shapes and sizes.  There were loads of fish, a lot more than I've seen in ages including this Ballan Wrasse:

and this Butter Fish that looks like it was posing for the photo: 

Then, on our way back to the surface at the end of our second dive we found a shoal of silvery fish, the first time I've seen more than a handful of fish in one place in Loch Fyne.  Apologies for the lighting in the video, I tried to provide light with my torch while The Boy filmed but, as usual, we weren't always looking in the same direction:

The water was a toasty 10 degrees centigrade compared with the barely above freezing temperature on the shore.  We didn't hang about getting changed. In fact, I packed away my drysuit, kept my thermals on and finally changed into real clothes in the car on the way to pub to fill in our log books.  The Rest and Be Thankful pass was at least being consistent on the way home:

Let's hope this is the start to a fantastic year's diving.


  1. Well done on the diving achievements Maggie! Love your photos and I've never heard of a Butter fish!

  2. Thanks Pat. I'd heard of Butter fish before but that's the first time I've seen one - I think.