Over the last few years we have ventured out on the 2nd of January for the first dives of the New Year and 2014 was no different.
The A-Frames at Loch Long has been our usual for the last couple of years but this year we decided to try the Twin Piers. This site is also on Loch Long but for some reason no one in the club had dived it before so we thought it would be nice to try something different.
The site is easily identified as just south of the old Torpedo Testing Station the remains of two concrete sections of an old pier that give this site its name sit just off shore. Access to the shore is through the old pier entrance with the help of a ladder that someone has kindly fixed in place, and parking can be found on the grass verge slightly down the road where there is space for at least 4 cars.
We all arrived onsite at about 09:30 to find we had the place to ourselves so after a wonder down to the entry point and a quick site brief we all started getting our kit organised. Joe and I were on shore cover duty first so everyone else set off on their first dive. The remaining buddy pairings were Dave/Robbie/Lewis, Callum/Ken, and Gordon/Steven.
On the first dive Joe and I (and everyone else) followed the directions recommended on Finstrokes and other online sources. The vis was fairly poor in the shallows, which was to be expected given the amount of recent heavy rain, but it did start to clear up below 6m. From the piers we headed east across the slope down to about 17m where we then turned to head up the loch keeping the slope on our left. Soon enough came across the remains of the small wreck that sits upside down on the seabed here. Not much is left of the wreck, only the decking, a few ribs and other rotting bits of wood, all with a covering of sea loch anemones, squirts, peacock worms and sponges.
Not far past the wreck we found the rocky reef and spent a short time exploring here at about 20m before it was time to turn around. The reef itself was really nice, with a mixture of large and small boulders all with a good covering of life. On the way back, keeping the slope on our right, we passed the wreck again and continued down the loch slowly ascending to about 9m. The location of each pier is clearly marked as on the slope below each one is a covering of empty mussel shells and common starfish, so after a chilly safety stop at the bottom of the piers we surfaced with a total dive time of 43mins.
Everyone else had reported good first dives too, with Dave and Robbie completing the Ocean Diver training they had planned while Gordon and Steven found one of the resident congers on the reef, which Gordon managed to get a few nice photos of.
The second dives were carried out in the same order as the first with a few of the buddy pairs opting to explore to the right of the piers. Ken and Callum followed the slope down to about 30m but reported a barren slope of nothing so Joe and I decided to head to the reef again to try and find some congers.
We got to the reef a bit quicker this time so had more time to have a good look around, and soon enough we came across a huge conger eel under a pile of large boulders, Joe even went around the back and could see its tail through another gap. There was also a lot of fish life around on the reef with numerous juvenile cod, ballan wrasse, leopard spotted gobies, and a sleeping rock cook wrasse which only slowly drifted off after a small prod to check if it was dead. After about 15mins of looking around the reef we turned back towards the piers and endured another freezing safety stop in the freshwater layer under the pier before swimming up to the ladder to exit.
A couple of nice dives at an interesting new site was a good way to start off 2014.
For more photos go to the gallery page.