K17 Submarine dive

HMS K17 Submarine

A few members of Dundee Sub Aqua Club and Fife Renegades diving the wreck of the K17 Submarine.

K17 was sunk on 31 January 1918 during the night time fleet exercises later known as the Battle of May Island when she was attached to the 13th Submarine Flotilla. HMS Fearless ploughed into K17 at the head of a line of submarines. It now sits broken in two in around 54 meters.

Here’s a couple of videos of the dive, one by me and the other by Peter Keelan. We cross paths near the props.

 

 

 

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Shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon and Palau – Rod MacDonald talk

Rod_Header

Dundee Sub Aqua Club and the University of Dundee Sub Aqua Club are proud to announce a talk by Rod Macdonald. Rod began diving in the early 1980’s and developed an interest in shipwrecks following a trip to Scapa Flow. He published his first book in 1990, ‘Dive Scapa Flow’, and has since published a further 8 books on diving and shipwrecks around the world.

The talk will be on Truk Lagoon where an air assault by the US on the Japanese naval stronghold during WWII sunk many of the Japanese merchant fleet and many naval vessels. Truk Lagoon has almost 50 major shipwrecks and Rod will talk about some of the history and what it’s like to dive there. More recently Rod has been diving in Palau which was attacked using the same approach as that adopted for Truk Lagoon. He is currently in the final stages of writing a book on diving Palau which he hopes to publish in October 2015.

Please come along to what will be a fascinating talk on both diving and also the Japanese fleet attacked during WWII. Rod will be available to chat afterwards and will no doubt be happy to answer questions. For more information on Rod please visit his website here.

The talk is open to everyone and if you would like to advertise it around your local club or organisation please download a copy of our poster here. For making a donation to the RNLI and for ordering tickets please click on the PayPal link.

We’ll take a note of your name and add it to the list, no physical tickets will be issued.




PayPal payment was adding £5 postage, all fixed now. Sorry!

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St. Catherines, Loch Fyne 01/03/15

On the 1st March we had hoped to take the club boat out to the Isle of May from Anstruther but it was obvious in the week leading up to the dive that the weather wasn’t going to be on our side. An alternative dive to St. Catherines was organised which also allowed a few people to come along who didn’t manage to sign up for the boat dive.

The site we chose goes by a couple of different names depending on where you look online, Seal Reef and St. Catherines North seem to be the most commonly used. A few members of the club had dived near the jetty in St. Catherines last year but this was the first time any of us had dived this particular site.

View from St. Catherines

View from St. Catherines

We had arranged to meet up on site at 09:30, Gordon, Alistair, and I arrived on time but Mark and Craig were delayed on the way and someone even managed to end up in Furnace (I won’t mention any names…yet). This changed the buddy pair plans a bit so Gordon, Alistair and I decided to go in as a 3 first while Mark and Craig provided shore cover.Upon entering the water the visibility in the shallows was practically zero, there was also a fairly strong drift, and after getting separated twice Gordon decided he’d had enough so Alistair and I continued on as a pair. After pushing through the poor vis and current down to about 6m where the steeper slope starts the visibility cleared to about 4m and the current dissapeared making conditions quite pleasant!

We followed the slope down to about 12m before turning right to head up the loch and towards the boulder reef which we soon found. Passing over the reef down to 22m we came across the armoured cable which was covered in peacock worms, hydroids, sea loch anemones, vase sponges on their tall stalks (Haliclona urceolus), and a variety of sea squirts.

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

The reef itself was also home to an abundance of life, with more sea loch anemones, peacock worms, spiny starfish, common urchins, and Edwardsiella carnea anemones. There also seemed to be a lot of large hermit crabs and greater spider crabs out in the open on the reef, trying to clamber away as you approached. After about 15mins exploring the reef and taking plenty of photos we started to make our way slowly back and up the slope towards the entry point finishing off our safety stop at the top of the slope before venturing back through the poor vis and current at the surface. A very pleasant and relaxing dive!

Harbour Crab/Sandy Swimming Crab

Harbour Crab/Sandy Swimming Crab

While we were in the water Veronica had arrived after her slight detour around Loch Fyne so we decided that Gordon and Mark would go in while Alistair and I completed our surface interval, meaning Alistair would buddy Craig and I would go in with Veronica on the following dives.

 

 

 

While Gordon and Mark were in having a nice dive the weather actually cleared slightly and in the sun we were treated to nice views across to Inveraray and the hills on the other side of the loch. The break in the weather didn’t last however, just after Alistair/Craig and Veronica and I entered the water for our dives the wind picked up and sleet started again as Gordon’s nice time-lapse video below shows (click on settings cog and select 1080HD under quality)…

Once in the water Veronica and I descended down to 10m to carry out mask clearing and AS ascents as part of her SO5 lesson. These were both performed perfectly by Veronica (well done on the mask clearing/removal in 7°C water!) before continuing to lead the dive to the reef and the cable.

Greater Spider Crab

Greater Spider Crab

We encountered much of the same life as on the first dive with lots of greater spider crabs and large hermit crabs again providing entertainment as they clambered over the rocks. This time we also came across a nice male dragonet on the mud slope and a couple of rock cook and goldsinny wrasse in amongst the tangle of peacock worm tubes on the cable.

Once we reached our turnaround point Veronica led the way back to towards the exit and up to the slope for our safety stop. We surface after a very successfully completed lesson and nice dive with a total time of 32mins, and another break in the weather.

Goldsinny Wrasse on the cable

Juvenile Goldsinny Wrasse on the cable

Craig and Alistair had surfaced from their dive just before us having also had an enjoyable dive apart from a slight leak in Craig’s suit which caused him to get a little wet. These were the last dives of the day so we all got packed up while the rain was still off before heading home.

Although the weather was pretty miserable and not everyone managed 2 dives I think everyone would agree it was still a good day at a nice site. Well done to Vee for completing her SO5 lesson too.

More photos can be found on the Gallery page or here

The following week Dave, Callum, and I visited the same site, we found similar conditions and visibility and this time followed the boulder reef down to 35m. I had managed to figure out how to use the GoPro (ie. turn it on!) in the week in-between and during the dive was able to capture the video below of a few things displaying bio-fluorescence. Long-clawed squat lobsters, gas mantle squirts, devonshire cup corals, and a nice yarrell’s blenny were a few that showed up really well. I’m hoping to get some more footage and photos very soon!

(click on settings cog and select 1080HD under quality)

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Dogfish Reef & Kenmore Point, Loch Fyne 21/02/15

Back in February four of us (Dave, Robbie, Callum, and I) made the trip west for a day’s diving in Loch Fyne. The plan was to dive a couple of sites; Dogfish Reef followed by Kenmore Point.

The club has visited Dogfish Reef at around this time of year a couple of times now (2013 & 2014) as, with the exception of last year, it is normally a sure thing to find large numbers of Small-spotted Catsharks (Dogfish). As well as the lure of sharks it is also a very interesting dive with plenty of other life.

Following a very early start and a great breakfast stop at Brambles in Inveraray we arrived early on site and had the place to ourselves. After a quick walk down to the shore to check out the entry we got our kit sorted and were soon on our way in.

Callum had very kindly lent me his GoPro for this dive to try and film some biofluoresence but I thought I’d rather just carry it around on standby mode and not film anything…oops! Nevertheless we had a good dive, following the rocky slope along to the left of the entry point and round the corner down to a maximum depth of 39.2m. Along the way the slope was covered in sea loch anemones (some quite large), peacock worm and parchment worm tubes, various sea squirts, sponges, spiny starfish, and red cushion stars.

After spending a bit of time around 38m we began to ascend slowly and make our way back along to the entry point. It wasn’t until we were back up at around 30m and reached the silty part of the slope in the corner of the bay that we started to come across the dogfish. Just the odd one at first then bundles of 4 or 5 were dotted about, most were quite timid and didn’t pay us any attention they just watched as we drifted slowly by.

Back onto the rock we continued our ascent as we made our way towards the exit point. At 9m I switched to my 50% mix which cut down my deco time slightly meaning we didn’t have to spend quite as long in the cold freshwater layer at 6m. Callum on the otherhand being on his CCR had no deco time at all. Surfacing with total time of 37mins, a great dive even though I messed up the GoPro filming.

Dave and Robbie had also enjoyed a good dive, they had planned on doing a sports diver lesson during their dive but decided to just have a pleasure dive in the end.

After surfacing into a heavy sleet/rain shower it was decided a hot lunch was in order so following a healthy chip butty at the Tearooms we made our way along to the site of our second dive of the day which was Kenmore point.  Access to Kenmore is along a very bumpy track leading down from the Argyll Caravan Park, after a couple of miles along this track you reach Kenmore.

There is an access road to the houses and the shore here but at the request of the residents we parked at the top of this road, it is only a short walk down to the shore entry point and I’m sure the residents wouldn’t appreciate divers parking in their drives and getting changed etc.

View from Kenmore Point

View from Kenmore Point

The buddy pairs were the same for this dive and we entered in the bay on the north of the small headland with the aim of following the rocky walls around to the right of the entry point.

Callum and I entered the bay to find the visibility at <1m in the shallows but we carried on and this soon cleared once we were below 6m. Following the steep slope around the corner we soon hit the rocky reef which turned in steep drop offs which we followed to down to 30m. Although dark the visibility was reasonable at this depth and there was plenty of life to see on the walls, with lots of sea loch anemones, peacock worms, a variety of large solitary sea squirts, sponges, brachiopods, and lots of long-clawed squat lobster as ready to have a go as ever.

Long-clawed Squat Lobster

Bring it on!

Common Dragonet

Common Dragonet

Horseman Anemone

Horseman Anemone

After spending 20mins going along the wall we turned to make our way back, slowly ascending as we went. On the way back Callum spotted a nice big horseman anemone and we also found a large male common dragonet. Back on the sand slope in the bay for our safety stop before surfacing from a very enjoyable dive with a total dive time of 45mins and max depth of 30.8m. Dave and Robbie decided to cut their dive short after encountering the poor vis in the shallows, along with problems with a computer and drysuit hose this was probably a sensible option. It was raining heavily when we surfaced again but thankfully this stopped long enough for us to get changed and packed away (it’s usually the other way around!).

Sea Loch Anemone

Sea Loch Anemone

A good day’s diving and a nice dive at another new site for us at Kenmore Point. There are still a number of alternative dives to explore here (including a gnome garden at 25m!) but I think visiting by boat would be an easier option.

For more pictures check the Gallery page or here.

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Farne Isles 2014 – Diving with seals

Seal checking us out

Seal checking us out

Myself, Wendy, Stewart, Andrew, Alistair, Anna, Graham, Gordon, Callum, and Duncan all went to the Farne Isles in September to dive with the seals. We had a hard boat with a lift (I love those) and most of us stayed in Wooden Wigwams  at Springhill Farm an excellent clean, quiet campsite.

Our accommodation for the weekend.4

Our accommodation for the weekend.

1st dive myself and Wendy encountered a seal lying on the bottom at 20 metres, as soon as we approached it took off and started swimming round us nibbling Wendy’s fins and circling us for a considerable time. It was then joined by a slightly larger seal that joined in the play (in a non-threatening way Ken!).

We agreed on surfacing that even if we never saw another seal the rest of the weekend this encounter was enough and had us grinning like Cheshire cats

Seal flyby!

Seal flyby!

2nd day out  I dived with Wendy again, once down around 18m we saw Stewart and Duncan on the bottom watching a seal that was just lying there looking back at them. I joined in the lying on the bottom game. Wendy swam over the seal. In seal language this translated as “GAME ON”. The seal followed Wendy swimming round her tugging at her fins, at one point it was almost nose to nose with her and she got to pet its head.

During this time we were joined by another seal who buzzed the rest of us for ages. The whole thing must have lasted about 15mins.  The seals followed us up on our ascent to 12m before leaving. I couldn’t believe how fast I went through my air, mind you I had been squealing and laughing my head off at the seals that at one point had pulled Wendy backwards, it was brilliant.

Permanent grins on our faces after that dive in fact we both grinned for day’s afterwards. .

Everyone smiling....  almost..

Everyone smiling…. almost..

Alistair who was diving with Gordon (both taking pictures) was followed by a seal that was nibbling his fins on a few occasions. Alistair was oblivious of the whole encounter as he had his face glued to the camera. I’m sure he got some nice photos though of other things. Next time he should have a Go Pro on his head facing backwards!

Callum and Andrew practiced Zen buddying where Callum sat for ages all kitted up and waited on Andrew to finish kitting up. Congrats to Callum for his very Ghandi like calm. They also got to play with the seals and Callum also stroked one (not a euphemism!).

Callum found a large skull of a seal and placed it on a rock shelf, this was found on subsequent dives by Gordon and Alistair and Myself and Wendy, a cool find but we all left it there as we figured the Captain on the boat wouldn’t let us keep it (boo hoo).

Anna and Graham also got to play with seals on the surface near the island although the seals did seem a bit more cautious in shallower water.

Snorkelling on the surface.

Snorkelling on the surface.

 

All in all a fantastic weekend. We’ll be back in 2015.

 

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Isle of Lismore & The Breda 01/02/15

Sunday the 1st of February saw five members of DSAC (Dave, Callum, Lewis, Ken, and myself) travel across to the west coast with the club RIB (Tay Explorer) for a day’s diving. This day ended up quite different from what was planned, which was a day diving in upper Loch Etive. With the original plan to dive on the Saturday put off due to the weather we set off from Dundee early on Sunday to arrive at Taynuilt ready to launch the boat by 09:30, only to discover that the beach that is apparently used for launching (with normal cars according to some online sources) was far from suitable for our boat. In fact it was difficult to see how this could be used at anything but high tide, so with our plans to dive Loch Etive out the window it was on to plan B which was launching at Fisherman’s Wharf near Connel to dive the Firth of Lorn. Loch Etive would have to wait for another day…

Once at the much more suitable launch site it didn’t take long to get the boat into the water and everyone plus gear on board. Using Fisherman’s Wharf gives a wide range of dive options, probably most commonly visited from here is the wreck of the Breda, but you can also visit the Sound of Mull, Kerrera, or further north towards Shuna Island. With the light SW wind and clear sky we chose to head over to the SW corner of Lismore and follow that up with a dive on the Breda.

Looking Towards Ben Cruachan

Looking towards Ben Cruachan

Leaving Ardmucknish Bay we had great view of the snow topped hills behind us as we began the 7nm trip across the firth to the bottom end of Lismore. The journey over was fairly straight forward with only a slight swell to contend with and after passing the lighthouse at the southern point of Lismore we made our way up the southwestern side beneath the 50m high cliffs on the island. Keeping an eye on the depth sounder we approached what looked like a fairly steep underwater drop off under the cliffs. There was only a gentle swell on the surface here but conditions looked much worse down the Sound of Mull, thankfully we weren’t going that far.

Lismore Lighthouse

Lismore Lighthouse

Ken, Lewis and I were first in with Callum and Dave staying on board Tay Explorer. Descending at the bottom of the cliff face (56° 28.420N 05° 34.810W) we passed over a small area of kelp before reaching a steep boulder reef which due to the lack of current in this area was very silty. This continued down to around 30m where the boulders began to thin out until at 37m we were onto a mud/silt slope with just the odd boulder dotted about. We didn’t spend long at this depth and soon made our way slowly back up along the boulder reef while keeping the slope on our left.

Northern Sea Fan (Swiftia pallida)

Northern Sea Fan (Swiftia pallida)

Although perhaps appearing dull initially this site did have a huge variety of life, along with a number of species only found in these particular habitats on the north west coast of Scotland such as the Celtic Feather Star (Leptometra celtica) and Northern Sea Fans (Swiftia pallida). Also on the reef were numerous sponges, sea squirts, devonshire cup corals, spider crabs, red cushion stars, sea urchins, and a couple of small-spotted catsharks (dogfish).

Feather Stars, Sponges, & Sea Squirts

Feather Stars, Sponges, & Sea Squirts

Football Sea Squirts (Diazona violacea)

Football Sea Squirts (Diazona violacea)

Once we reached 10m there were a couple of vertical rock faces that were home to more sponges, sea squirts, and the smaller feather star species (Antedon spp.). It looked like these walls were continuing deeper so I think entering the water a bit further south than we did would be a different dive. After just over 30mins it was time to deploy a DSMB and make our way up, surfacing with a total dive time of 37mins and a max depth of 37.9m. A good dive with some really interesting life.

Celtic Feather Stars (Leptometra celtica)

Celtic Feather Stars (Leptometra celtica)

Back on the boat Callum and Dave decided to give this site a miss opting to just dive the Breda instead. Heading back across the Firth of Lorn with the wind now going with the tide the conditions were much better so it was a quick trip back across to Ardmucknish bay and the wreck of the Breda (Wrecktour). Sunk at the hands of German bombers in 1940 the wreck now sits on the sloping mud sea bed with depths on the deck ranging roughly from 13m at the bow to 20m at the stern (depending on tides).

As we approached the charted position it became clear the usual shot lines were no longer present so we would have to locate the wreck and deploy our own. Not a problem for our new plotter/sounder which picked up incredible detail as we passed over a cross section of the wreck, including one of the large holds. With the shotline deployed and Lewis choosing to skip this dive Callum and Dave entered first, followed shortly by Ken and I. Both buddy pairs attached a strobe to the bottom of the shot to make it easier to locate at the end of the dive.

Beginning the dive roughly in the middle of the wreck, on the port side of one of the holds we made our way around the entire wreck visiting the bow first then the stern, passing some of the remains of the ships cargo on the way such as truck axles and wheels. Visibility was reasonable at the bow at around 5m but poorer towards the stern. The wreck is home to a good variety of life, with large plumose anemones and sponges on the structures towards the stern and the outer hull covered in peacock worms, soft corals, sea loch anemones, feather stars, and sea squirts. A nice Flabellina pedata nudibranch was also spotted.

Flabellina pedata

Flabellina pedata

With the water temp at 7°C, after 25mins exploring the wreck it seemed like a good time to locate the shot line before making our way up, this was made much easier with the help of the strobes left at the start of the dive. Although, the strobe couldn’t be seen from the starboard side of the wreck in the reduced vis so another quick visit to the bow before going back down the port side to find the line. Surfacing with a total time of 38mins and max depth of 18.4m (on the deck at the stern).

From the Breda it was only a short trip back to the jetty where the boat was unloaded before being recovered via the beach. Despite not being able to dive where we had originally planned this was still a good day’s diving. Lismore was an interesting site and I think the walls just south of where we went in would be worth exploring another time and the Breda is always a nice easy wreck dive. With plans already in place to attempt Loch Etive again, we will be back!

For more photos visit the Gallery page or click here.

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First Dives of 2015. The Slates, Loch Leven

Keeping up with tradition, DSAC ventured out for the first dives of the year on the 2nd January. A great turnout again this year; from the club we had Dave, Callum, Ken, Lewis, Alistair, David, Doug, Veronica, Joe, and myself. We were also joined by a couple of friends, Chris (Perth BSAC) and Grant (Glasgow).

Our dive site of choice this year was The Slates at Loch Leven (dive guide on Finstrokes), this site has a number options to dive. From the usual entry point you can either head out NE into the bay (which is also ideal for training) down the gentle slope to a boulder reef and brittlestar beds at about 20m, to the left you can follow the point around to the next bay, this consists of a steep boulder slope which goes down to 50m so you can pick your depth on the way round. Another option is to enter in the second bay and follow the next point around to a couple of small wrecks before making your way back. All of this together with the ample parking and easy shore access makes The Slates a very popular dive site and one we have visited many times in the past.

Dave & Callum

Dave & Callum

With it being the 2nd of January we weren’t expecting tropical weather but after arriving on site to sideways sleet and snow getting out of the warm cars took a bit of persuasion but once in our drysuits the weather was a bit more bearable. Not hanging about we quickly got ready and headed off on the first dives. There was a range of plans from the different buddy pairs; Ken/Lewis/Joe decided to follow the main point round to the next bay while visiting 35m on the way, Callum/Dave and Chris/Grant were all on rebreathers so explored around the point a bit deeper, Myself and Veronica chose to visit the brittlestar beds and boulder reefs in the first bay while Alistair/Doug/David also stayed in the bay to carry out David’s first Ocean Diver open water lessons.

Life on a boulder

Life on a boulder

Veronica and I were one of the last pairs in so decending into all of the muck above the halocline (also probably kicked up during everyone else’s entry) we were a bit concered about the vis but this soon cleared into what was around 4-5m vis even though it was quite dark. Following our bearing out we soon passed over the large chain and anchor that sits here then down the sand/mud slope to the boulder reef which starts at about 12m and soon followed by a dense covering of brittlestars which continues down into the depths though we spent most of our time at 20m.

 

 

There was a nice variety of life on this dive, the boulders were covered with sea loch anemones, various sea squirts, a couple of sponges, peacock worms, and a even a few small Facelina Bostoniensis nudis. In amongst the brittlestars we also spotted a greater pipefish, dragonets, topknots, common sunstars, common whelks spawning, and dozens of shore urchins. With time getting on we turned back towards the shallows passing the anchor again on the way back before completing our safety stop amongst the murky halocline, with a total time of 38mins and max depth of 21m we surfaced completing a great first dive of 2015.

Black Brittlestar (Ophiocomina nigra)

Black Brittlestar (Ophiocomina nigra)

During our surface interval (with hot drinks kindly made by Veronica) everyone was discussing the highlights of their first dives, for David it really was his first dives and he had successfully completed his first open water lesson. Joe, Lewis, and Ken had an interesting dive exploring the point while Callum and Dave came across a large conger eel at around 50m.

Numbers dwindled slightly for the second dive, David was very keen to get out again and on with his second lesson so while they were in the bay Lewis, Ken, and I decided to follow the second point round to the small wrecks. The second point, like the first, consists of a steep slope of jumbled boulders which we followed down to 30m as we made our way round. It is quite a long swim around the point and back so we didn’t stay at this depth for long. Once round the far side of the point there is an obvious gully which ascends quickly to about 12m which you need to go through to find the wrecks, the first being a small motorboat then the larger empty hull which lies on it’s port side on the slope.

Common Dragonet (Callionymus lyra)

Common Dragonet (Callionymus lyra)

After a quick nosey around  it was time to head back so keeping the slope on our right we made our way back round at about 13m. Once back into the bay in which we started it was a short fin across the bottom and up to the exit point. Lots of life again on this dive, the boulder slope is covered in sea loch anemones, squirts, peacock worms, and deeper down a variety of encrusting sponges. We also came across a number of goldsinny and cuckoo wrasse, dozens of little cowries, and a few jorunna tomentosa nudis.

While we were enjoying our dive, in the other bay David had completed his second open water lesson with Alistair so was very happy. Once out of the water it didn’t take us long to de-kit and get packed up ready for the drive home. A great day’s diving to start off the year, it’s always nice to meet up and dive with friends from other clubs and well done to David for getting his first 2 open water lessons completed.

Cuckoo Wrasse (Labrus mixtus)

Cuckoo Wrasse (Labrus mixtus)

Sea Loch Anemone (Protanthea simplex)

Sea Loch Anemone (Protanthea simplex)

For more pictures go to the gallery or here.

 

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