With the forecast for the end of the week and upcoming weekend looking surprisingly good it didn’t take long to fill up spaces on the Eyemouth based Aquamarine Charters for a day’s diving at St. Abbs.
It was an early start with ropes off at 09:45 in Eyemouth but everyone arrived and was ready to go on time. It was a full boat with six of us from DSAC along with a group of rebreather divers from Tyneside and a couple of other open-circuit divers, the Oceanic provided plenty of space for everyone.
Heading up the coast from Eyemouth surface conditions were looking good with the sun out and only a slight wind. Although the sea wasn’t particularly choppy there was quite a swell heading towards shore but this didn’t look like it was going to cause any problems. The journey up to St. Abbs Head didn’t take long and we were soon at our first site of the day, The Skellies.
After a site brief from the skipper each buddy pair took their turn and entered the water. Alistair and I were together for this dive and once on our descent we soon realised that we were not going to be getting the good vis we had hoped for. With the light fading at about 15m we continued down with our torches on and only realised we had reached the seabed once we bumped into it! Never the less we moved close together and started to head on the 280° bearing as instructed by the skipper. Even at 20m we could feel the effects of the strong swell above but we continued over the sea bed focusing on what was illuminated in our torch beams. I suppose one good thing about limited visibility is that it really makes you pay attention to the smaller life you would otherwise overlook and there was plenty to see here; the rocks were covered in carpets of brittlestars, various S. elegans anemones, dahlia anemones in a huge variety of sizes and colours, and dead man’s fingers. The highlight of the dive though was Alistair spotting a large Atlantic wolfish guarding it’s nest of eggs. The visibility did improve slightly when we moved into shallower water, about 14m, but after 40 minutes it was time to ascend so we moved away from the shore and deployed a DSMB before heading up.
During the surface interval the hot drinks and cake provided on board went down very well, as did the chocolate biscuits that were kindly passed around by the Tyneside divers.
When the time came to get ready for the second dive, a site known as Black Carr, the swell had died down considerably and the sea was much calmer, unfortunately conditions beneath the waves had not improved any as we soon found out. Andrew, Alistair, and I went in together this time. We dropped down to about 20m before following the recommended bearing of 150° leading away from the shore down to a depth of 24m. The life on this dive was similar to the first although we did spot a few small common lobsters and a couple of large common sunstars. After 25 minutes it was time to ascend so we deployed a DSMB and were on our way up.
Despite the poor visibility below it was still a good day, the surface conditions were great and it is always easier when you have the comforts provided by a dive boat like the Oceanic. St. Abbs is a great place to dive regardless of qualification as there is plenty to see at any depth with most life actually shallower than 20m it’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the visibility this time.
For more pictures visit the gallery.