Happy Divers aboard Farne Diver II and enjoying a well earned cuppa. August 2014. Images courtesy of Mary Varley
On Sunday September 23rd Glasgow Underwater Group and Glasgow University Sub-aqua Club joined forces to do their bit for the environment by organising a rubbish collection dive as part of the BSAC Litter Pick campaign. What a great day for both divers and non-divers as we organised a BBQ to make it a social occassion for members and their families.
We dived at the lovely bay at Cove as there was space for all the cars, easy entry to the water, space for BBQ and the promise of scallops. Good news, it all worked as we found litter to record for the BSAC campaign and also scallops for the BBQ. Most of the rubbish was bottles & cans but Richard and Alan did their bit by bringing in a bit of a boat – they do like their wreckage!!
24 people attended in total, 18 from GLUG and their families and friends so a great turn out.
We are looking to do this on again around May time (earlier in the season) as it was such a good day. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was great that so many people came even though they couldn’t dive.
At least once a year GLUG members maintain that old Scottish tradition of cross border raiding when they descend on (or at) the Farne Islands. A combination of numerous wrecks, exceptional marine life and awsome drift dives combined with frequently exceptional visibility are the main attraction. The relatively short journey time to the Seahouses area of Northumberland and good diving infrastructure minimise any organisational problems.
The keynote marine species on the Farnes has to be the grey seal and they are visible hauled out in large numbers at locations such as the Longstone. Underwater they have become habitualised to divers and will often approach in ones and twos as can be seen here in the photographs taken by GLUG member Johan Nilsson.
The seals are most often observed in shallow water and hence are best reserved for the last dive of the day. Deeper waters around the islands are strewn with wreckage but a fairly dynamic tidal regime means that careful dive planning is essential if you actually want to stay put on any individual wreck. You can of course settle for a drift through Piper Gut taking in a number of wrecks as well soaking up the vibrant marine life sustained by the moving water at sites of this nature.
The final photograph sums it up well, satisfied divers at the end of a weekend trip, must be the Farnes effect again.
So far we have had an very active year. There has been shore diving almost every week of the year. In addtion we have run a hardboat trip out of Eyemouth in June and July and recently had a fantastic weekend at the Farnes at the beginning of August. Next is Mull 8/9 September and we are looking forward to a week long trip to Scapa Flow in September 2013.
Looking back over the last few months it appears that not a week has passed without some GLUG related diving activity having taken place. As well as providing open water training to many of our own members we have provided active support for the current Glasgow University Sub-aqua Club (GUSAC) training programme and some of our instructors have also assisted in training further afield in England.
Diving trips have taken us to many locations across the south west of Scotland from the Clyde to Loch Linnhe and beyond.
The bulk of our recent training activity has been geared to assisting members who wish to obtain the BSAC Dive Leader qualification. Instruction covers the responsibilities and safety of leading other divers and involves a number of open water exercises as well as a few hours of “classroom” work. Running concurrently and integrated with the Dive Leader training we have also completed a BSAC Practical Rescue Management (PRM)course.
Part of the above training involves the simulation of diving emergencies in open water where each student has the opportunity to implement the steps required to manage an “incident “. In my opinion this is a most useful aspect of BSAC training which really does round off diving knowledge and skills in an effective hands-on way.
In training we are always looking for a successful outcome at whatever the level and we define this by awarding a qualification. Obviously the higher qualification levels are only reached after some considerable time and effort on the part of those who attain them. Enough guff, congratulations to Gavin Wilkie one of our members who has recently qualified as an Advanced Diver, definitely a successful outcome.
Been There, Done That
Well we have been to a lot of places, we have done a lot of stuff and we have done it in every flavour of the always unpredictable often perverse Scottish weather. Possibly some of the most adverse weather conditions occurred during one weekend when some of our members joined a GUSAC trip to Oban. The photograph below, taken by Johan, illustrates the conditions perfectly, no more words from me are required.
At the other end of the scale we have also encountered exceptionally dry, often warm weather throughout the month of April. This has given us some pleasant diving conditions even if they have occasionally been tempered by green water as the seasonal plankton bloom kicks in at some locations. Of particular note was the trip to Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe organised by Gavin Wilkie. Some photographs from that trip are shown below.
Here are some examples of the marine life that can be found in Loch Leven (captured during a previous visit).
“I can report some of the best visibility I have ever seen in Scotland. From my max depth of 32m I could see the surface clearly.”
Moving closer to home dives have included our regular destinations in Loch Long and Loch Fyne as well as a dive on the SS Kintyre wreck at Wemyss Bay for the more experienced members.
As ever Jack Morrison and I have been scouring some unlikely sites looking for obscure and insignificant beasties to photograph. One of our regular sites with a depth that makes experienced GLUG divers cringe (6 metres) has turned out to be something special. The pier at Portencross is a sea slug hot spot where this year so far (with help from Jim Anderson who runs the Scottish Nudibranchs website) we have recorded 15 species in an area no larger than 20m by 5m. Included in this count are sea hares which have gathered in great numbers both on the pier piles and on the sea bed for some distance around. See images below.
Members snaps from the last few months.
Final Shot captured on the way to dive the Canna Wall in April (boathandlers – you really do need to know where the pointed end is pointed at).
January 3rd, the First Dive
The extreme weather at the end of last year impacted on our dive plans causing some dives and training to be postponed including activities scheduled for the first week in January. The cold weather however did not deter three members from going ahead with the first dive of the year at Inverkip Yacht Club. I could not take part in this dive but did go along to “count them all out and count them all back”. Not only did they all come back they even left the water exactly where they went in, a very precise piece of navigation by Richard. They also managed to find the little wreck that lies off the yacht club along with its resident conger that can often be seen lurking at the entrance to its lair under the stern.
While this first dive was underway I was treated to a very welcome cup of coffee by two members of the Inverkip Yacht Club. Talking to the guys from the yacht club revealed a little of its history (the oldest establishment of its kind on the Clyde). It was also rather pleasing to hear that they had no difficulty with divers operating from the old slip next to the yacht club.
Although GLUG is a club primarily focused on diving we still have a significant training commitment. We do not take on complete beginners but do assist experienced divers to reach the more advanced BSAC grades as well as delivering specialist courses covering diving related skills. As a BSAC branch with a number of experienced instructors we also provide assistance to the Glasgow University Sub-Aqua Club. Readers trained by other agencies please do not be put off by our BSAC tag. GLUG membership is open to suitably qualified and experienced divers, there is no need to cross over to BSAC as long as you retain membership of your qualifying organisation.
Before leaving the subject of training congratulations are due to Kevin Boyle one of our members who has recently qualified as a BSAC Sports Diver.
End of an Era
In its few years of existence you would think that GLUG was too young to have any sort of “era”. A bit clichéd but how else do you describe the impending final departure of Flying Eagle a dive boat used by our members since the first days of GLUG. The attraction was easy, based nearby at Largs Marina the Flying Eagle could transport our members to any of the numerous wrecks and reefs in the Clyde. Saturday 19th of February saw the last GLUG trip on Flying Eagle before she is sold on in early March, I think that the photographs below taken at Largs Marina on the day say it all.