Ard Na Cuile & Heather Island 15/03/14

The weather has not been on our side so far this year, we had planned to dive the Breda in Ardmucknish bay on this trip but on the way to Oban we could see that the strong south-westerly wind was creating pretty miserable conditions in exposed areas so we decided to stay within the shelter provided by Kerrera.

Once we had all arrived at the Puffin Dive Centre it wasn’t long before everyone was ready to go and the club boat was in the water waiting to be loaded with kit and divers. Given that we were limited to fairly sheltered dive sites we chose to dive Ard Na Cuile first which is just a short trip south of Puffin, there was still a bit of swell coming across this part of the sound but it was still safe to dive here.

Graham dropped Steven and I in first, followed shortly by Ken and Micah. We had entered at the northern end of the wall so the plan was to head south keeping the wall on our left. Once in the water Steven and I descended down the sand slope to 25m but there was not much to see so we followed the slope for a short while before coming back up to 15m before making our way along the mix of boulder slopes and vertical walls which a good covering of life with lots of feather stars, dahlia anemones, soft corals, squirts, and sponges. The visibility wasn’t bad, around 5m maybe less, with a fair bit of ambient light. After about 20mins we turned around to head back towards where we had dropped in and soon after I sent up my DSMB and we were on our way back up.

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Ken and Micah had surfaced not long before us so they were just getting picked up as we reached the surface. I had decided to try a fibre optic cable with my strobe and black out the built in flash of the camera but for some reason the strobe failed to fire so unfortunately I didn’t get any photos from this dive.

During our surface interval back at Puffin we bumped into a group of divers who had just been up to the Breda on their RIB and after their single word answer to the question “how was it?” we were glad we had made the decision to give it a miss.

The second dive of the day was to be at Heather Island, we had done a couple of dives here back in January but it is always an enjoyable dive and it would be the first dives here for Steven and Micah.

The buddy pairs were the same except Dave joined Ken and Micah on their dive. We all went in at the usual point at the north-east end of the island with the plan of heading south with the wall on our right.

With reasonable visibility again, Steven and I followed the drop off down to 20m before heading south to make our way along the wall. Even after numerous dives at this site there is still a lot to keep you interested. There really is a huge variety of life here with feather stars, squirts, numerous different sponges, sagartia anemones, dahlia anemones, white cluster anemones, and peacock worms all filling in the spaces on the rock surface. There are also lots of well decorated spider crabs and a number of different nudibranch species here.

After about 20mins of following the wall we had reached the old creel, complete with line and buoy, that marks the point at which the wall starts to disappear into a sand bank halfway along the island. We crossed the sand for a short time before Steven sent up his DSMB before we ascended. After the first dive I removed the fibre optic cable from my strobe and unblocked the built in flash so I was able to get some photos this time. Another great dive.

Just a short trip back to Puffin then the boat was recovered and thoroughly washed before being stored ready for next time. Not the best weather but it was still a nice day out, with great dives and great company.

For more photos click here, or go to the Gallery

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