Farne Islands 2010

1st-3rd May 2010 : Diving the Farnes from Glad Tidings VII

dead mens fingersWeather forecast Force 5-6 NE - not a great start to the weekend's expedition to the Northeast Coast at Seahouses in Northumberland. Our Skipper for the weekend William Shiel of the Glad Tidings VII was confident we'd get out but not for all the days of the trip.

Saturday dawned with a fairly windy start but we headed down to the quayside and loaded the boat. In fact it was not so rough and we managed to get out to the islands and dive on their north side where a heap of seals watched us all enter and swim down the shot for our first dive on the Northern Hares. The water was very clear with 8-10m visibility every day, but rather cold - only 7.5C so the two real men (Alex and John B) diving in wetsuits were a little chilly. The whole seabed here is dominated by soft corals with dead mens fingers everywhere. We swum around a dropoff at 25m to the bottom well below. Not so many fish about this early in the year (May 1st) but lots of squat lobsters and crabs along wtih quite a few blue lobsters.

The second dive on Saturaday was on the Longstone near the lighthouse and here we got our first in water encounters with the seals. Diving along a cliff topped with kelp (and the BBC cameraman along for the ride....) decorated with anemones and soft corals and dropping to a stoney plateau at 20m was a fantastic experience. Seals kept coming and tweaking our fins as we moved about - often divers thought they were just touching the bottom when in fact a seal was nibbling their feet !

Seal in the Farnes IslandsSunday was expected to be a bit rough but we once again trouped down to the quayside just in case. The skipper reckoned that we were ok to dive later that day so to come back after lunch. A certain amount of tourism ensued and we (mostly) arrived back at the boat at 1pm to head out through a rather 'sporting' sea. Although the waves were pushing 1.5m we managed to get to the islands and have two very nice dives on the Blue Caps (a series of small islands) where diving birds met divers (or was that the other way around....?). We managed a second dive that afternoon on the Wreck of the Abessinia - a steamship wreck dominated by two huge boilers each standing 3m off the seabed. This was the deepest dive of the weekend at ~25m. Much of the seabed was covered by brittlestars waving their arms and collecting plankton.

BoilerOn our last day weather was if anything worse and we were the only diving group who went out to the Islands. Due to the strong winds we dived the Blue Caps once again but this time with a much stronger current running North along the coast. Vis was spectacular but the cold winds were a challenge for divers in wetsuits. Despite them we all had a good dive and even met the seals once again. Conditions were worsening on the surface so after a cuppa we decided to return to Seahouses and head for Oxford. Pretty good weekend all in all - 43 dives and no problems apart from mild hypothermia.

On our last day weather was if anything worse and we were the only diving group who went out to the Islands. Due to the strong winds we dived the Blue Caps once again but this time with a much stronger current running North along the coast. Vis was spectacular but the cold winds were a challenge for divers in wetsuits. Despite them we all had a good dive and even met the seals once again. Conditions were worsening on the surface so after a cuppa we decided to return to Seahouses and head for Oxford. Pretty good weekend all in all - 43 dives and no problems apart from mild hypothermia.

kettle

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