I have never seen the conditions so flat calm in the flow, not a ripple, not a breath of wind. We couldn't have wished for a better start to our trip.
Our first dive in to the ‘abroad’ conditions (apart from the temperature) was the Brummer. Jacqui, finding something that glowed red when torchlight was held near it, called us over. We all stared at it for ages, flashing our torches over it continuing to make it glow but all of us unable to identify it. Eventually, getting fed up of wondering, I made a reach into the hole to move it. I then realised it was an inanimate object so picked it up to find it was a metallic halloween mask. We all had a laugh and then suitably placed it into a porthole for the next unsuspecting divers to come along.
During our surface interval we were blessed to see a pod of dolphins passing by prior to descending on to the Cöln for our second dive. We had the pleasure of sharing the wreck with another buddy pair (unfortunately also on the Jean Elaine); one who kept informing us that he was an instructorat every possible opportunity and one a very inexperienced diver (his girlfriend who was obviously easily impressed and had only completed 10 dives before this one!). They were diving in and out of holes in the wreck at breakneck speed trying to cover as much as possible during their dive time. The poor girl struggled to keep up with her buddy and looked knackered, but according to her instructor buddy "she is a natural diver, so is OK!!!!" Mmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Our first dive on the battleship Markgraf resulted in Ian riding the rudder to send up his DSMB at the end of the dive. The Instructor and natural diver also returned to the Jean Elaine after more than 10 minutes of decompression. Both the natural diver’s 15L tin and her instructor's pony sucked dry. Alarm bells,already ringing after yesterday, were now ringing much louder at this point.
On our surface interval, Alan our skipper spotted a large minke whale. Unfortunately the Huskyan also got wind of it and took off in its direction at speed and it disappeared. Disappointed that we had lost sight of it and after another 20 to 30 minutes of waiting we turned to getting our kit ready for the next dive. Next thing we heard was a very loud blow with a whale breaching very close to the Jean Elaine showing us its impressive size. Another two then began to breach.
Within the light cruiser Karlsruhe, Jacqui found a mahoosive ling in the gun but still no sign of her missing camera. The Instructor and natural diver returned to the Jean Elaine with an overfilled goodie bag of queen and king scallops. For once it was not Jacqui that was disgusted, it was me!!!!!
I commented on how small the scallops were and that they were babies and should be put back to which I received the reply "they are queenies therefore, they don't have to be big and the kings were big enough!!" All of the scallops were smaller than the palm of my hand but they reported they had a good feed with them, but they had to eatthe whole lot in order to get a meal!!!
We retired to the Flattie bar that night to be entertained by a group of young, drunken lads dancing, singing and acting out the 80’s music. Our sides hurt with laughter.
The battleship König was our first dive today. There were long purply/black worms on the hull approx 2m long. I have never seen these before. The second dive of the day was on the light cruiser Dresden, where we seen the shield which is the height of "a Julie". One side of the hull was coveredwith loads of brittle stars and I found a large Yarrell’s blenny.
During our meal in the Royal Hotel, we bumped in to Robin "how deeeeeeep!!" For those who were present at Lochaline earlier in the year you will hopefully remember Robin from that weekend. Unfortunately he was without his usual buddy Ron, but we had a catch up anyhow.
Andy, owner of the Jean Elaine, met us this morning bright and early. He was checking to see we were all intact as Saturday night for Burgsac in Stromness usually involves at least one of the emergency services being called for assistance. We were happy to report that only a fingernail was broken this time. The instructor and natural diver had also left us the day before so we were able to stand down and put the O2 kit and defib away and relax. Luckily both of them had also survived to tell of their experiences in Scapa (though I think their stories may differ from ours!).
The first dive was the battleship Krönprinz Willhelm (midships), where we found nudibranches (not sure what type!)
We spent our surface interval time at Lyness Museum, I was enjoying myself so much that I didn't realise all had left me behind as I continued to take in the masses of information about WW1 and the history of Orkney. Thankfully they waited for me to return to the boat before heading off for our second dive on theF2 and Barge where Jacqui and Ian again ignored me and decided to play with the large Ballan and male Cuckoo Wrasses instead. In a total strop after being cast aside, both my torches failing and my photos turning out shite, I decided to go scallop diving and continue where the instructor and natural diver had left and collected a massive scallop that was approx 4cm, the only difference is that it went back in to the water as it was far too big for me to eat!!!!!!!!!!
That night we bumped in to Roy the c**t. Those on my first Scapa trip many years ago will recall he jumped out on me wearing a Viking helmet and waving an axe shouting "rrraaaaaaaaarrrrr" when I was getting out of the shower. He scared the living daylights out of me for the rest of the trip to the point that I had to have the rest of the Scapa dive crew protecting me for the rest of the trip just in case he did it again. Roy recognised us and after reminding him of the incident he then fully recalled. He is doing well and is, surprisingly, engaged to be married.
Dive one was on the wreck debris site of the immense Bayern gun turrets, where we looked around the first 2 turrets and found a very large scorpion fish and Jacqui became fixated on the large ball bearings which rotated the guns when fully working.
The drift dive Tabarka was our second dive and for the first time, due to the fantastic visibility, we saw two different wrecks one on the way in and one on the way out which we think was the Urmiston Grange.
The ride back to harbour was a little lumpy and for the first time ever on this trip we were rocked to sleep.
The weather was looking much more like a proper Scapa day with waves, wind and swell. However, because we were here to dive we jumped in to dive the Krönprinz Willhelm (stern).
The last dive of the day and of the trip was the V83 at Rysa Little. This wreck is hardly dived as it is not one of the most popular ones, although it will be from now on for me. The V83 is a WW1 torpedo boat but only the stern section is now available to dive with a concrete barge close by. The Bow of the V83 was salvaged by Cox and Danks. During the dive I caught a flash of something out of the corner of my eye which turned out to be a female seal which circled us for the whole dive, playing with our fins and being all cute. She disappeared for a wee while and returned with her mate. Obviously her mate didn’t realise she had brought him back to check us out and had other ideas in mind. Aware that I was watchingthem, they disappeared inside the wreck for a little privacy. However, being small myself and a bit of a voyeur, I put my head through a hole in the wreck and watched a little seal porn.
Unfortunately we had to cut our trip a day short due to gale force winds forecast as there was a risk we would have been stuck in Orkney. We had excellent catering on the Jean Elaine (apart from my attempts at veggie pizza) and we ate like there was no tomorrow (Jacqui’s scales can prove it!). As there were only three divers staying on board we also each had a dressing room and ensuite bathroom to boot!
Awesome trip -