Spring time visit to Lochaline

April 2016

Report and images by Richard Booth

One of the great things about BSAC is that being a member of such a large organisation often opens up opportunities to dive with other BSAC club’s.

So it was that 4 members of Tyneside 114 found themselves heading up to Lochaline as part of a Durham Divers organised weekend.

Accommodation was in the comfortable Morvern Dive Lodge.

Despite earlier unsettled weather in the week, the sight of light winds and calm waters offered the tantalizing possibility of travelling out side the Sound of Mull to some of the more exposed dive sites that this area has to offer.

Next morning the MV Brendan headed up the Sound and out into the Minch where we were met with some residual swell from the earlier bad weather.

We continued on down the coast of Mull to the site of the wreck of the SS Aurania.

Vent

This large vessel was initially torpedoed in  February 1918 but remained afloat. Whilst under tow however she parted her lines in bad weather and was wrecked after being driven onto the rocky Mull shoreline. Her wreckage is now scattered over some distance making for a good rummage dive. Her large boilers still rise impressively off the seabed and it is even possible to swim along the gap that separates them.

Diver between boiulers

Under water visibility was around 4 metres on the boilers but dropped as the swell became more pronounced in shallower waters.

For the next dive, the MV Brendan travelled over to the Isle of Coll to the site of the MV Tapti. This particular wreck offers one of the best dives in this area. Its exposed location however means that conditions have to be relatively calm to dive this site and justify the long journey across from Lochaline.

For Tiago, despite numerous previous trips to Lochaline, the weather on this occasion provided him with his first opportunity to dive this scenic wreck.

Whilst the wreck is now quite broken up, many of the ship’s features such as the boilers, masts and cargo winches are very recognizable, and make it reasonably easy to navigate your way around the wreck site.

Boiler

The large bow is possibly the most impressive feature of the wreck rising several metres off the bottom and which now has a rich covering of colourful marine life.

Dual Bollards

The next morning the Brendan headed back up the Sound to dive the wreck of the SS Shuna. Initially the under water visibility near to the surface appeared good. Several metres down however and the visibility quickly dropped and the wreck was wrapped in a cloak of darkness.

Diver in dark

Between dives the MV Brendan headed over to Tobermory, which allowed everyone the opportunity for a quick wonder around the shops whilst enjoying some spring sunshine whilst we passed the time waiting for slack water on our next dive site, the SS Hispania.

Brendan at quay

Once back on board the Brendan we made the short journey to the dive site and patiently waited for the tide to slacken.

Under water visibility proved to be much better than that earlier experienced on the Shuna, with a gentle current quickly clearing away any stirred up sediment.

Mono Bollard

The wreck is largely intact and still very recognisable as a small cargo ship. We all made the most of exploring along the decks and cargo holds of this vessel, as well as swimming through the colourful remains of the accommodation block and the bridge.

Porthole

It made for an enjoyable end to an excellent weekends diving. Many thanks to Dave Taylor for organizing this trip.

Brendan picking up