Back in May a group from DSAC (Dave, Callum, Vee, Joe, Lewis, and myself) spent a long weekend diving in the Sound of Mull with Lochaline Dive Centre. On the trip we were happy to have Mark, Roddy, Alex, Marc, Catherine and Gavin dive along with us.
Instead of just the usual weekend trip we decided to book three days diving, starting on the Friday. This meant an early start for some of us travelling over that morning to make the ropes off time at 11:00. A few others had taken the easier (and perhaps more sensible) choice of booking the accommodation for the Thursday night too.
Either way everyone was on the boat on time to start the trip. The plan for Friday was to do the Hispania at 16:30 so we opted to do Ardtonish Point as the first dive.
This was a really nice wall dive with large overhangs and plenty of crevices for things to hide in. With the range of different kit on the boat, singles, twinsets, and CCRs so there were a few different dive profiles going on with some going along the wall at around 25-30m and others visiting 60m.
Following a long surface interval and the trip up the sound we were all ready to dive the Hispania and waiting for slack. Not an easy one to judge but Alan had never put us wrong yet so we weren’t worried about missing it.
Once we were given the word everyone stepped off the back of Sound Diver I and made their way down the shotline. The position of the wreck has changed over the years, listing steeper to starboard, and there has been some degradation of the masts on the deck and in the deeper holds but it is still a fantastic wreck dive. Very recognisable as a ship with lots of deck structure still present and completely plastered in life it is easy to see why this is a favourite of many. We were treated to great visibility on this dive and there were a variety of dive plans again with those able staying on the wreck for over an hour, and most being accompanied by the very friendly and inquisitive ballan wrasse!
Following the day’s diving it was back to Lochaline and along to the hotel for dinner and a few drinks before a relatively early night.
It was quite an early start on the Saturday as the plan had been to head out of the Sound to Maxwell Bank and Bo Faskadale had the weather allowed. Unfortunately, while it was calm in the sound the wind further put a stop to this plan so after a bit of debate we decided to dive the Shuna, Rondo, then a wall near Loch Sunart.
The Shuna can be quite a dark and murky wreck but we were treated to decent visibility with good amounts of ambient light on the deck and even down to the prop on the seabed at 31m. There is also plenty of life to be found on the Shuna with some rarer things to be spotted such as the red variety of dead man’s fingers, and northern sea fans.
After the Shuna we had a decent wait before doing the Rondo so spent the time relaxing, and enjoying the views from around the small islands where the Rondo sits with a few choosing to explore the islands.
After the surface interval we all got ready and jumped in on the Rondo. We were treated to great visibility again which improved even more down below 30m. Quite a few of us decided to visit the bow on the sea floor at 48m before working our way slowly back up the wreck that curves steeply to near vertical up the rock face. In the good visibility we were treated to some fantastic views looking up the wreck and seeing the divers above us.
The stern and rudder of the Rondo is also a great place to spend your deco or safety stops with loads of anemones and sponges covering every inch of the wreck here and plenty of ambient light.
After the Rondo we stopped in Tobermory with some deciding to get a chippy and others an ice cream, or both! With the wind picking up a bit we decided against Loch Sunart for the wall dive and headed for Calve Island instead. A few decided to sit this dive out but a couple of buddy pairs still went in. This was another nice relaxing wall dive with lots of life including white cluster anemones, jewel anemones, large sponges, and various nudibranchs. The wall does descend down beyond 50m but we decided to stay shallower and Veronica completed her first 30m dive.
The evening was spent with another nice meal and couple of pints in the hotel before heading back to the dive centre for the night. We had an early start in the morning again to get slack on the Thesis first thing. Unfortunately after it’s collapse in Jan 2014 the Thesis is a very different dive to what it once was.
There is now only a small section in the middle of the wreck that is still completely standing, with the bow and stern almost completely flattened. However it is still an interesting dive as there are a few different bits to explore and it is still covered in life.
The final dive of the trip was to be the Hispania again as it was a favourite of many on board. After making our way up the sound we did have a short wait before slack and again Alan was spot on with his timings. Visibility was possibly even better on this dive that the dive on Friday so was a really nice dive finish off the trip. I even managed to see the spare prop which I had somehow missed on every previous dive (thanks to Alex for pointing it out!).
A great weekend again and it was really nice to meet Marc, Gavin, and Catherine, and catch up with Mark, Roddy, and Alex. As usual Alan was a fantastic skipper and Mark & Annabel great hosts.
Gavin Anderson’s amazing photos from the weekend can be viewed on his facebook page here.
There’s also a great video of the friendly Hispania wrasse by Mark here