A break in the miserable weather we’ve had so far this year allowed us to make the first trip of the year to the Isle of May on the club boat, Tay Explorer. Six divers made it out for this trip, Ken, Lewis, Joe, Graham, Myself, and Ryan.
After an easy 08:30 launch at Anstruther we made our way over the island, although there was practically no wind to speak of there was a larger than expected swell coming from the northeast. As we made our way around the south tip of the island and up the east side towards the first planned site, the boilers of the SS Island, it was quickly apparent that it was going to be too rough to safely drop off and pick up divers here. So we carried on to do a full circle of the island back to the Alterstanes landing area where it was perfectly flat!
The first dive of the day then was the small wreck of the Anlaby which lies well broken up on the boulder slope in 10-15m depth, just SW of the Alterstanes landing. The main features of the wreck are the prop and rudder at 15m with some large plates and remains of the keel/ribs following the slope shallower from there. Lewis and Ken went in first followed by Ryan and I. Graham and Joe stayed onboard and went in as the second wave.
Considering the time of year the visibility was surprisingly decent at about 4m. On our dive Ryan and I quickly found the scattered wreckage then followed the ribs and metal plates down to the small pile of wreckage at 15m which includes the rudder and prop. After a look around here we moved off the wreck and followed the boulder slope back up to the shallows before sending up a DSMB at the end of the dive. There wasn’t a huge amount of life about other than the usual urchins, common sunstars, and dead man’s fingers but a nice surprise was the number of sea hares on the boulders at about 12m. A nice first dive at the Isle of May for the year, and Ryan’s first dive off the club boat, albeit a little chilly at 6.5°C!
Once everyone had completed their first dives we stopped for lunch on the island, tying the boat up alongside the tender for the NLV Pharos which was there to service the island’s lighthouse.
With the swell preventing diving on the east of the island we had to chose another site on the sheltered side. Ryan and I decided to try one of the large caves in the cliffs towards the southern end of the island while Lewis, Joe, and Ken opted to try and do the wreck of the Primrose as their second dive.
In the past I had done a number of dives along the boulder slope on this side of the island and always found it pretty bland so was looking forward to trying something different and we weren’t disappointed.
We dropped off the boat at the mouth of the cave into a fairly wide steep sided gully in 7m depth, the walls of the gully were covered in dead man’s fingers, sponges, plumose anemones, sagartia anemones, colonial squirts, along with a couple of very well camouflaged scorpionfish. The gully gradually got shallower and narrowed as we continued in, eventually we got to 3m depth with just enough width for one diver before turning round to make our way out. It was really calm thanks to the conditions but I’m sure in a westerly swell this would be very different! After leaving the cave we headed south to find some huge boulders covered in more soft corals before heading down the steep slope which turned to sand at 20m. After a short stay here it was back up the slope before again ascending on a DSMB. A really nice dive with a total time of just over 30mins and max depth of 20m.
Back on the boat we made our way over to the marked position of the Primrose wreck. The wreck is marked on the charts and we also had a position taken off wrecksite.eu which was basically right on top of the charted position. Despite this we just couldn’t pick it up on the sounder so unfortunately the others didn’t get the wreck dive they were after, instead they decided to dive an unexplored area off the SW of the island looking for lobsters.
Following the final dive of the day it was an easy trip back to Anstruther in the sun and going with the slight swell. Although we didn’t necessarily get to do the dives we had hoped, the Anlaby was a pleasant dive and the cave was certainly worth doing. We will need to go back and explore the caves in the cliffs further to the south.
For more photos go over to the gallery.