After an early start, Callum, Ken, and I made our way over to Oban to meet up with Dave, Lewis, and Robbie who had spent the night in Oban after travelling over with the club boat (Tay Explorer). Once at Puffin Dive Centre it didn’t take long to get our kit organised and launch the boat so we were out on the water by 10:30.
Our plan for the day was to do a couple of dives around Heather Island with some training included. We decided to start our first dive at the south east point of the island where there was a gentle slope then head north up the island with the slope on our left.
Dave, Callum, and Robbie went in together with Robbie successfully completing his final Ocean Diver lesson (OO5). Ken, Lewis, and I went in together and after completing mask clearing and AS Ascents from 15m for Ken’s DO6 we continued with a dive, exploring a mix of sand/shell slope, vertical rock faces and impressive large boulders.
There is a huge variety of life at this site, with numerous feather stars, different squirts and various sponges covering the rock faces. In-between all of this were sea loch anemones, camouflaged spider crabs, edible crabs, purple sunstars, and nudibranchs (Flabellina browni and Diaphorodoris luteocinta). We were a bit unsure what the underwater conditions were going to be like given the recent weather but it did not disappoint, visibility was not far off 10m and ambient light penetrating down to around 20m. After travelling about half the length of the island it was time to surface so I sent up my DSMB and after a safety stop we surfaced with a total time of 43mins.
Our surface interval was spent back at Puffin where we could sit indoors in their planning room. Unfortunately the stove wasn’t lit so it was just in cold in there as it was outside, still it was nice to have a seat inside.
After a decent surface interval we were soon back out at Heather Island for our 2nd dive. This time our plan was to enter at the north east end of the island and head south with the slope/wall on our right.
On our dive, with Ken leading as part of his Dive Leader training, we kept within 20m and followed the steep slope then vertical rock wall along to the large cave opening. Again there were plenty of feather stars, various squirts, and sponges covering the rock faces. Just south of the gloomy looking cave opening the wall has a thick covering of large peacock worms with white cluster anemones filling the rock spaces in-between.
Past the cave opening the vertical wall continues before you come to an old lobster pot with line and buoy still attached, the buoy sitting at about 15m and the line covered in yellow rimmed squirts and peacock worms. Just after this the wall shrinks away into a sandy slope. This is where we surfaced with a max depth of 20m and total time of 25mins. Another great dive!
Robbie/Lewis and Dave/Callum reported good 2nd dives too. Dave and Callum explored along the bottom of wall this time at 30-40m and interestingly found numerous phosphorescent and tall sea pens.
Once everyone was safely back on board we made the short trip back to Puffin to recover the boat and after the mandatory look around the well stocked shop we all headed for home.
Luckily although it was cold the weather stayed fair all day with only a short shower when we were packing up. With the boat staying in Oban for the summer we will have lots more great diving to look forward too. A great winter’s day diving.