Our big trip of the year. A weeks liveaboard trip with 1o club members to Orkney with the hope of diving both in and out of Scapa Flow.
FridayTravel to Aviemore Leisurely drive up to arrive teatime. A few beers in the Bridge Inn, very convenient for the Premier Inn. Good plan given the downpours. Saturday Drive to Scrabster for the afternoon ferry to Stromness. Very convenient to load Clasina, as right next to ferry terminal. Easier with the crane and big sacks. Then off for an explore. Walk / hostelries depending on inclination. Sunday First dive on the Koln. Laying on starboard side in 36m. Enough time to just investigate the bow section at a relaxed pace. Lots falling away but still recognisable features. Lots of fish around, especially juveniles. Lunch at Lyness, giving the opportunity to visit the newly renovated museum. It has been nicely done with much better graphics (and explanations), a bit of technology added but less items exhibited. Second dive on the Karlsruhe. Same orientation but much more salvaged / broken. Viz not so good but most did full length of wreck. Docked at Burray in front of the Sands hotel. Opportunity for a leg stretch for some. Monday UB116 broken sub on sandy bottom Great viz – majority of wreck. Off to conning tower top. Tiny. Most of wreck blown apart but alignment of sub body still distinct – workings, wires, air tanks all visible, Cliff under Colonsay lighthouse Expecting a big wall (looking at the surface topography) but only went down to 30m ! Ridges stepping down with huge rocks scattered around. Lots of wrasse and fry. Plenty of crabs, some big edibles, and squatties. Nudibranchs. Arrive in Kirkwall Frankie’s birthday Roast beef and birthday cake (Guinness & Maltese) The Theme bar (The Motor Hoose) and retire to the boat. Messy for some. Tuesday Endeavour Lovely wreck sitting upright. Decking disintegrated, so access inside. Great growth and colours on every surface. Prop and rudder still in place. Big scour under bow of boat. Lots of fish around. Very picturesque. Calf Sound drift 20m ish moderate continuous drift across shingle / shell bottom. Starfish, crabs, scallops and weeds. Good practice for buoyancy control. Bags up after 20 minutes. Into Pierowall for the evening Wednesday Wall 45 degree sheer plane cliffs on the surface that continues underwater but with more gentle steps down to 30m. Lots of cuckoo wrasse with several brilliant blue males. Plenty of dinner plate size edible crabs and a dogfish woken up. Quick trip to the whisky and ice shops in Kirkwall in the surface interval Loch Garry Tide running strongly. Shot dragged off by about 20m. Had to crawl or furiously fin along the gouge line to get to the wreck. Lovely broken wreck, tallest structure about 1.25m. Not much room to get out of the current. Colours great against the coarse sand. Lots of wrasse, a couple of conger and tompot. Then a drift to finish. Into Balfour, Sanday, for the evening. No pub but a fabulous stately home and ‘model’ village. It was also the night of the blue moon. The sky mostly clear and the water calm it was a wonderful site watching it rise from the horizon. Thursday Cotavia
7 hardy souls volunteered for the 7.30am jump in. A nice wreck at 37m but the current running like a train. The shot dragged down by the force, not helped by the divers having to drag themselves to the wreck. 4 crayfish spotted.Whilst the divers were down, those topside were treated to the sight of Minke whales (at least 2) and a pod of porpoises out for breakfast.
The divers return was another workout with the current running fast. Even recovering the shot was a significant exercise.F2 and Barge Mean to be a quiet dive for 3, ended as an opportunity for 6. Into barge hold to see gun and lots of fish. Swim around hull to see even more. Follow the line to the F2. Well destroyed but still inline varying from 2 to 6m off seabed. Dresden One of the cruisers. Varying stages of destruction from the attempted salvage and decay. On its side so most things visible and accessible. Viz an OK 6m. Into Stromness for last minute shopping opportunities. Friday Kronprinz A massive ship. All attempted to find the big stern guns but after the first pair the viz was very poor. There is photographic evidence from them but the viz was not good even then. Upside down, and breaking apart but the scale is the thing. Karlsruhe Second time. In reverse. Bit of pull on the shot (extreme springs) but not an issue of the wreck at all. Stern to bow via 4 guns, turbines, armoured control box and winches. Well broken but lots of swimming and crawling life. Viz a good 4m plus. All prepared for our farewell dinner at the Ferry Inn, Stromness.
Overnight in Stromness, then the early ferry to Scrabster and our journey home !