Club trip to Mull

8 - 15 June 2013 Excalibur's dive trip to Mull

Arranged by Andy King.

Participants:

Roy Kirke, Kirsteen Sanders, Mike Jones, Jan Jones, Stuart Peel, Bev Peel (non-diver), Foggy and Mist(non-divers but maybe swimmers), Isi, Doug McClure(non-diver), Dave Garnett, Debs Garnett (non-diver), Andy King, Paul Mullinger, Mark Jenner, Chris Chapman.

Approximate costs £300 plus travel and air fills,

We traveled to Ardtonish independently, though some of us met up before the final leg at the Drover's Inn on the banks of Loch Lomond, a watering hole 1001060 10151702829146103 911553791 n which has much to commend it including a stuffed bear. The scenery during this journey was stunning, and included a short ferry crossing, so short in fact that that they were still collecting fares when we reached the opposite shore. 

We stayed at Achranith on the Ardtonish Estate on the Morvern peninsula. This is a grand Scottish house in Victorian style with 5 bedrooms on first floor and a 3 bedroom annex. It has a huge sitting room with a wood burner, a well equipped kitchen and a commercial sized cooker; there are several shared bathrooms. Lochaline is the nearest village with a general store, a pub and the ferry to Mull. We also had free access to the Ardtonish gardens which lent itself to a stroll along the banks of the river Rannoch where there are reputed to be otters.

The Sunday after our arrival, planned as a recreation day, gave us a chance to appreciate the locality. The walk along the shore of the tidal Lochaline was a real treat, first alongside the swans and salt marshes at the tranquil head of the loch, then past the old stone boat house and the slips and finally to the ruins of Ardtonish Castle, the setting for Sir Walter Scott's “The Lords of the Isles”. A renowned beauty spot, we met a number of yachtsmen here who had pulled their yachts tender ashore to stretch their legs and walk their dogs. On the opposite bank, the path to Lochaline runs past the dazzling white sand of the silica mine, a still operating relic of the wartime optics industry.

Kirsteen and I also cycled along the banks of nearby loch Teacuis; the remote bothys there serviced more by boat than the unmade roads and forest paths. Set back from the loch is the atmospheric Inniemore, a sad deserted village, another victim of the highland clearances, but there is wildlife here in profusion, amongst the most memorable being sea eagles, golden eagles , buzzards and red deer but the most prolific being the midges; fortunately the shop at Lochaline sells an effective ant-midge spray. We met Debs and Bev along the way, walking the dogs, the dogs having more energy than all of us.

Diving:

The dive boats were berthed close to the West Pier at Lochaline, itself a monument to a Victorian highland employment scheme. During the first half of the week we dived  from the Peregrine and later from the Brendan when the Peregrines skipper decided to chance St. Kilda. Both boats were well equipped with dive lifts and on board compressors with the Brendan possibly having a larger cabin but the Peregrine having a full-sized heads (a winner with the ladies).

Monday a.m. Breda :

Sunk by enemy action 1940, she carried a mixed general cargo that included cement, 30 de Havilland Tiger Moth biplanes, Army lorries, DSCF4672NAAFIcrockery, copper ingots, rubber-soled sandals, 10 horses and nine dogs. 

We recorded a depth of 22m and had a good look in the holds where there are plenty of the cement bags still visible though no horses or dogs.

Monday pm Thesis :

The 378 ton Thesis was 167ft long with a beam of 25ft, and drew nearly 18ft. In early 1889 she ran into a reef in thick fog then slid into deeper water.

We recorded a depth 28.6m on her. The ship is quite well preserved for her age with plenty still to see.

Tuesday am: Shuna

The 1426 ton Shuna sank on 8 May, 1913, with a full cargo of coal and mixed goods.

We had some excitement on this dive when I stupidly managed to lose a weight pouch at 26m . Fortunately we had not left the shot line and were able to come back up it and complete a normal safety stop. The experience of floaty legs while hanging on the shot line is not one I ever want to repeat.

Tuesday p.m. Aulistone Wall:

Somebody kindly lent me some lead to complete this dive of 35 minutes and 28m. Kirsteen recorded this dive as very pretty.  DSCF4714

Wednesday a.m. Shuna again

Amazingly we found my weight pouch right at the bottom of the shot line. Neptune loves me. We visited Tobermory for lunch and celebrated with an ice cream at the ferry terminal.

p.m. Hispania:

This Swedish steamer, built in 1912 sank in December 1954 with a cargo of steel, asbestos and rubber sheeting when she foundered on Sgeir More, half a mile off the western shore of Mull. The crew rowed round pleading with Captain Dahn to join them but finally they saw him on the bridge, saluting as he and his ship disappeared under the waves. A very beautiful wreck this one with something for everybody. Don't follow captain Dahn's example though, use scuba gear and you will see that the wreck is completely covered with marine growth – anemones, dead mans fingers and other life. 

Thusday: Rondo, Calve Island wall;

Kirsteen and I had a day off for a cycle ride to loch Teacuis and Inniemore.

Friday a.m. John Preston wall

The wreck of the Welsh schooner John Preston, built in 1855 in North Wales,lies on a ledge in 14-18 metres of water at the point of Rubha Dearg, 1 mile west of Lochaline. The site is locally known as the “Slate Wreck”.

Kirsteen and I were slow kitting up for this one and were dropped off later than the others, however we probably had a better dive for it. We missed the wreck but continued along a very scenic part of the wall.

Friday p.m.  Hispania again.

Social

As is the custom, the evenings were filled with gastronomic delights. A high benchmark was set by Andy on the first night and each evening seemed to set the hurdle higher, culminating in Dave and Bev's pork feast on Friday. The evening conversation in the sitting room around the log burner rounded off each day. If your mind wandered off the chat then there was always Stuart and Bev's dog Foggy, ever hopeful of your attention and never tiring of chasing his balls. You could throw them for him too.

Meals

Saturday

Andy, Paul

Beef Bourguignon / Mushroom Stroganoff. Spiced rice pudding

Sunday

Mike & Jan

Lasagne & Salad. Fruit Trifle

Monday

Kirsteen & Roy

Shepherd’s Pie. Fruit Salad

Tuesday

Mark Jenner

Chilli Con Carne

Wednesday

Isi & Doug

Chicken & Mushroom Casserole (& veg. alternative)

Thursday

Stuart & Bev

Chicken and cheese wrapped in bacon

Friday

Dave & Debs

Roast Pork with all the trimmings

On our way home we found out that the the O2 kit had been left aboard the Brendan, covered by Simon, the skipper's, bike leathers and was heading for Egg. It is now back with us via West Riding Fire and Rescue Service, Otter in Bradford and Dave Garnett.

We bought Andy a well-deserved bottle of whiskey for this trip par excellence, they don't get much better than this, long may they continue.

Random Excalibur Picture

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