Easter Trip to Loch Fyne

Three days of diving up on Loch Fyne out of Tarbert onboard Big Blue, with Malcolm the Skipper – Fyne Diving.

Lots of critters on each dive!

The journey up was quite straight forward for most people to get to the log cabins at West Loch Shores, however, Sue and George managed to stop in the wrong Tarbet. Many phone conversations were had discussing road numbers and locations, until it suddenly dawned that they may be in Tarbet, on the shores of Loch Lomond. After a brief discussion as to whether the water they were looking at was fresh or salt, it was confirmed that they were in Tarbet and still had a two hour drive to get to us in Tarbert!

The West Loch Shores cabins come in two sizes, one which sleeps 10 in which there were 6 of us, and the other which sleeps 6 and had 4 in. Nice views from the cabins too, out across Kennacraig Sound, and just a few miles from our boat for the weekend, over at Tarbert.

How much air can you get in your drysuit?

The first day dawned grey and wet, but we were in dry-suits so who cares!! The dives which we did were the Margaret Niven and South Bay reef wall. The Margaret Niven was one of the iron steam ships known as Clyde Puffers. She was launched at Greenock in 1866, and sank while carrying a cargo of crushed granite to be used as road chippings, on the 21st August 1908 having collided with a rock off Barmore Island.

The dive initially takes you down a wall, then you follow a rope out for 30 metres across a muddy seabed, then the wreck looms up in front of you. Winches and bollards are the first thing you find, followed by the cargo hold, still containing granite chips. At the stern the small propeller and rudder are still evident. Following a circuit of the wreck we headed back to the wall where more nudibranch hunting ocurred! The second dive was a wall covered with life; good for macro photography.

Sue and George, happy despite the rain.

That evening we all headed off to the pub for dinner. The Islay Frigate Hotel was very accommodating, and the food and beer very nice.

Day two dawned a bit wet too, but again we were diving so why care? The days dives were Torpedo Reef and the Arran III as the second dive. Torpedo Reef was not so much a reef but a series of bedding planes surrounded by sand. We spent ages floating around looking for the torpedo. In a fit of desperation we found a line of blue string, which we followed and BINGO! It lead to a torpedo. Quite impressed how big it is complete with electronics in the head. I think about four people found the torpedo.

The second dive was the Arran III which is another Clyde Puffer. This one sank on 31st December 1922, returning from Lochgilphead with a cargo of beer bottles. We found no beer bottles, but did find a wreck covered with life. The stern is in about 12 metres of water and the bow in 6-10 metres, so even the winter light was enough to illuminate the seabed.   Lots of crabs, lobsters, squat lobsters and other critters were found here. After drifting off the wreck we were also able to find quite a few scallops, and Susan demonstrated her outstanding scallop cleaning skills on the way back to harbour.

Becky, critter hunter in chief!

Back to the cabins for dinner, this time prepared and made in house. shepherd’s pie, loads of it, and apple pie on the menu, however, as so many scallops had been gathered, we also had a starter of scallops with crispy bacon. A lovely evening was had, all sat around the kitchen table.

So, day three, the weather looked to be clearing up – finally. The first dive for the day was North Bay, an area full of scallops which made Steve happy! After this first dive a number of people went home; principally to beat the bank holiday traffic – who could blame them.  The brave or mad ones (Si, Nic, David L, Becky and Richard M) stayed on and did Horses Bite, which was a nice dive. A small wall with a series of gullies and steps all covered with life and most importantly lots of nudibranchs. We were also able to gather a few scallops, just fresh to deliver to the parents on the way home.

Our boat in the sun shine

As we packed up our kit, the sun came out and the whole harbour, town and surrounding hills once again cast their spell of beauty on us. Just ready for the drive home…typical.