After the very successful club trip/training weekend at the beginning of April we decided to leave the boat stored at Puffin Dive Centre for a couple of weeks so we could have another day’s diving in the area without having to tow the boat all the way there as well as back. So on the morning of the 16th Ken, Veronica, Alberto, David, Les, and I met up bright and early at Puffin.
After all arriving on time, getting the boat and everyone’s kit ready we were ready set off on time until we discovered the brakes on a couple of the trailer wheels had decided to completely seize! Thankfully we had all the tools needed and a spare set of brake shoes with us so after 40 minutes we had the boat in the water and were on our way out into the Sound of Kerrera.
We had hoped to make it to the Garvellachs and the great scenic diving on offer down there but with the N-NW wind forecasted to build gradually all day we didn’t really fancy the long trip back going against the swell. Instead we opted to head down towards the wreck of the SS Meldon in Loch Buie where the Island of Mull would provide some shelter from the winds on the trip there and back. The Meldon is a fantastic shallow wreck which sank in 1917 after running into a mine field laid by the U-78.
The 14nm journey down to Loch Buie was pretty straight forward with no real swell to speak off and as the sun was out we were treated to some great views of the Mull cliffs to the west and the Garvellachs to the east. While getting organised at Puffin we had seen the Peregrine from Lochaline Boat Charters pass by and sure enough they were on the SS Meldon when we arrived, they had 12 divers on the wreck but were just starting to pick them up so by the time we were kitted up and ready to go they were all out of the water and on their way. They had very helpfully advised that while the wreck did have a shotline it had become tangled around the stern post (which breaks the surface at LW) so the buoy was actually underwater.
After approaching very carefully the buoy was located just under the surface so David dropped the first of us in. Ken and Veronica were first in followed shortly by Myself and Les. The first part of the wreck you see is the stern standing upright on white sand in only 8m, while the top of the stern is covered in kelp every inch of the underside is covered in soft corals, sponges, and anemones. Continuing down you come across the intact prop and rudder which is turned hard to port and these too are plastered in soft corals and anemones.
After spending a bit of time looking around the stern and prop, we all made our way towards the bow. The wreck becomes more broken and scattered the closer you get to the bow but that doesn’t detract from the dive at all. The prop shaft is visible nearly the whole length of the wreck and there are dense kelp forests covering the collapsed plates with numerous massive pollack swimming about keeping an eye on you. After a quick look around the bow (at only 13m) we made our way slowly back towards the stern where we stopped for another good look before surfacing. On previous dives here there has been a large conger spotted living in a pipe near the bow but this time it was spotted by Ken in amongst the wreckage near the stern. The top of the stern in only 5-6m makes for quite a pleasant safety stop! A very nice 43min dive with a max depth of only 13.7m.
Following our dives, David and Alberto also enjoyed a nice dive on this stunning wreck (after a little weight trouble). Once everyone was back on board we moved into sheltered water outside Loch Buie to refuel the boat before starting on the trip back north.
Thanks to the strengthening N/NW wind the trip back was a little bumpy, particularly when crossing from Mull to Kerrera, the decision to skip the Garvellachs had been a good one! Thankfully in the Kerrera sound things were much calmer so we were able to dive Aird Na Cuile.
Veronica and David decided to sit this dive out so Ken and Alberto went in followed by Les and I. David dropped us off at the southern tip of the cliff face where we descended straight onto the wall before making our way north, keeping the wall on our right.
The wall here drops straight down to almost 40m in places and moving north changes between vertical drops, boulder slopes, and sandy slopes. The rock faces were completely covered in life, with sagartia anemones, dahlia & horseman anemones, soft corals, elephant hide sponges all a common sight and spaces inbetween crammed with feather stars. Below 20m we also came across a number of the less frequently seen celtic feather stars.
After spending quite a bit of time going along the wall at 20m we started to move up shallower and into the edge of the kelp at about 10m before sending up a DSMB and going with the current before surfacing. Another really nice dive at 31mins and max depth of 23m. Ken and Alberto surfaced just after us so once we were all back on board it was only a short trip to Puffin to recover the boat. Another great day diving off the club boat.