After a couple of months of looking at becoming more self-reliant in terms of SCUBA gear, tons of budgeting and criteria matching and changing my mind, I decided I’d take the leap straight into the dark side: a BP/W setup, that I would piece together from various brands. It arrived on Tuesday and that evening was spent assembling and drooling.
A pressing issue quickly arose: When would I test-dive it? We were soon to go on a diving holiday, and without a test dive it meant that my kit would have to stay home. That was a depressing thought.
Enter the forecast for two days of blazing sunshine. A club dive popped up on short notice on Wednesday for Thursday. Happiest bunny on the planet. And we’re off to the west coast, work be damned (better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, right?).
Out of 3 options on the dive plan, we ended up with option #4, the “A-frames” near the oil terminal at Loch Long. There were 3 of us, so the planwas for 3 dives, round-robin style. I got the first two, just either side of high water. This was the first time my new reg and bc got attached to a tank, so I was prepared for the worst. Would the strap lengths be right? Would the DIN-to-yoke adaptor poke me in the back of the head? Would the cambands hold? Would my weight be right? Would my trim be ok in the water? Would my new camera case flood?
On the first one the water surface was filthy as the tide was bringing in chemicals from the oil terminal. Underwater, visibility was a decent 5-6m, clouded by plankton bloom. On the second dive, the tide going out took away the chemicals and the visibility improved to 10m. Surprisingly, my gear worked out just perfectly. The weight was right, buoyancy was great, the trim was as good as I get anyway, everything was comfy, so I quickly forgot about the gear and focused on enjoying the dive.
The seabed was made up of empty mussel shells, quite literally. Sea life was abundant, with all the usual suspects that I won’t list, with three notable additions: my first lobster, hiding in a hole under a cement block, my first comb jelly or two (one on each dive, no idea if the same individual) complete with iridescent combs down its sides, and a massive red anemone spotted by Lindsay!
For the third dive it was my turn to roast topless in the sun. My back got on the verge of burning (accumulated over the surface intervals as well) despite my Mediterranean background. There IS such thing as too hot in Scotland! Meanwhile, Lindsay and Alistair allegedly saw some nudibranches to add to the list of sightings. the spectacle must have been very distracting, because Alistair’s camera was unaccounted for at the end of the dive 🙁 .