Lochaline – Sound of Mull

Lochaline – Sound of Mull – Wrecks wrecks and more wrecks! (July 2016)

By Nic Faulks

After last year’s trip of sunshine and calm seas, we had high hopes for 2016, so Simon Smith organised another trip. The Lochaline Dive Centre is now under new management (accommodation, food and booking – not the boats). So we booked in for B and B then decided to go for the evening BBQ option too. We all arrived tired but intact on the Friday night, had a beer then off to bed.

Diveboat

Saturday didn’t dawn as sunny as last year, but the winds were not too strong so we headed out into the sound, with the first dive of the day to be the Thesis, a wreck with has collapsed over the winter and is not what it used to be. So it was interesting to dive it and see what was left, or for me, just to look at the life and to try out my new 8mm fish eye lens.

Soft corals

As you can see from the photograph, there are loads of soft corals still on the wreckage, and a Si Fish (A reference to Simon – Editor) hiding in there too. The bow is the shallowest part, and is covered with hydroids and some red seaweeds. Amongst these the Nudibranchs hide. Just off the wreck, in amongst the boulders, there are other bits of wreckage and if you are lucky a scallop or two.

Boat cabin

The surface interval was had crammed into the wheelhouse for tea and cake, biscuits and tortillas.

Shuna prop

We motored on up the sound until we reached the Shuna, which is still upstanding from the sea bed and still has its propeller.  The dive here can be a bit dark and murky, however it may have been dark, the visibility was quite good and we even found the spare propeller on the deck.

Nudibranchs

Again there was also quite a bit of life on the wreck, including nudibranchs (not good to photograph with an 8mm lens!

We then pootled back to port, back to the Dive Centre, leaving all of our kit on the boat. Fills were also done on the boat, unless you wanted nitrox, which necessitates a trip up to dry land with the cylinder. After showers we all congregated in the café area, where we were treated to a fantastic BBQ spread. Thank you to Faith and Calum, very well catered for!

Sunday dawned with showers and a strong breeze, but the tides were good for the Hispania, the best wreck of them all. For this dive, I dived with Richard Moss, to be “dive led”. We waited for slack then headed down the shot towards the stern passing some fabulous scenery on the way.

Hispania

At the stern we found the big boss where the propeller had once been and the rudder which is just huge.

Diver on Hispania

Here we also found the majority of other divers, just chilling out and hiding from the current that there was.  The life on this wreck is fantastic, I did take a lot of photos!!

For the second dive we headed up towards Loch Sunart to dive a very small fishing vessel known as the Tonn Vane. Simon had dived this as part of his First Class prep and was interested to do it again. In 28 metres on a flat silty loch bed, you can imagine what happens when the silt gets stirred up. We were first down and found the wreck standing upright on the sea bed. Old lift bags on its decks, presumably from an aborted attempt at re floating it. The wreck is plastered with life (sea-loch anemones, dead mans fingers, oaten pipe hydroids etc, but the visibility is fragile…

Viz

Possibly not a good dive for a group of 12, but great for a rhib with 6!

We arrived back at Lochaline in time for a quite turn around and a fast drive to the ferry. After a great weekend, I had work the next day and wanted to be home before midnight! Which gladly we were.

Back at base