Skelligs – a pair of tiny uninhabited islands off the south west coast of Ireland with some of the best diving in the world. At the end of April 7 of us took the long road from Oxford to Ballinskelligs via the ferry from Pembrokeshire (well in fact 6 of us did this and one took a plane and traveled lounge.jpgin relative luxury….)
Thanks to Brian’s excellent organisation we arrived after the long trip (4 hour drive overnight from oxford to wales, ferry crossing to ireland, another 3.5 hours of drive across Ireland) to find our acomodation for the week – a very nice house with soft beds and a big lounge, open fireplace and very good kitchen. We all moved in and went off to find dinner in the local pub – very nice.
The next day dawned and we all piled down to the pier to meet the skipper and the boat – these guys are very relaxed – no need for 7am wake ups and early starts – they don’t even consider going out until 10am – most civilized. The boat was not bad – plenty of space to kit up and get ready with a nice engine cover that acted as a kitting up bench. Exit was over the side whch was rather high due to some odd Irish law about people falling out of boats. There was a small step off platform at the rear but this was accessed via a climb over the rail – not easy with a twinset on…. returning to the boat was also a little tricky – there was a nice ladder beloww the waterline at the rear – but alas it ended just above the waterline leaving one rather unstably trying to get one’s leg over onto the platform. After a lot of moaning from the group an extra handhold appeared halfway through the week which improved things a little.
We dived 5 days, two dives a day and had a day off midweek. Sadly weather was not the best and we were unable to dive on the skelligs most days but restricted to ‘local diving’ which was excellent so no complaints there. On two days we did get out to the Islands and had a very nice dive in the cave which lies just below the helicopter pad on Skellig Michael. Several of us came out around the cave and found a very pretty pinnacle covered in jewel anemones and dead man’s fingers out at the edge of the dropoff. On or second trip out to the islands we were unlucky as the skipper missed the tide and dropped us onto a very nice wall dive in a 2 knot race. One lucky buddy pair found the wall but mst got to 40m an found no seabed before aborting their dive. the lucky pair reported a very nice wall going past a warp speed, a brief spot of gardening to free their DSMB from the kelp and some very large fish. Good vis too.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the appearance of basking sharks on several of the journey’s out from the harbour. Lots of plankton was about and they were hoovering it up all over the place. We got up very close to these huge fish and one intrepid team member even got into the water with one.
Marine life was very prolific – the dominant lifeform seemed to be a toss up between big Dhalia Anemones and Starfish – which were spotted having an orgy on the last dive of the week!
Lovely place, very remote, very restful, good diving but alas the weather means we didn’t get out to all the sites we’d hoped for – but then again we could go back.
Many thanks to Brian for all his efforts in organizing the trip.