St Abbs

22nd January 2006

Intrepid club members once again venture out into the cold just to prove there is no “Diving Season” for Tyneside 114 Divers.

Sunday dawned with a weather forecast that sounded very favourable, with ‘slight Southerly breezes’ and a mild temperature, unusual for this time of the year in January.

 Earlier in the week, the winds had been strong but Westerly in direction. Conditions therefore seemed positive enough to warrant the 90 mile journey up to St Abbs.
So it was, that four club members headed North up the A1 with the intention of meeting in the car park at St Abbs harbour, prior to loading their dive gear aboard Peter Gibson’s charter boat, Selkie.

Once safely aboard, Selkie headed north past the jagged cliffs of St Abbs Head to seek a dive site which offered some shelter from the swell, a legacy of the strong winds earlier in the week. Some 15 minutes later, we arrived at the dive site known locally as the Skellies.
Rolling backwards over the side of the boat into the cool green waters of the North Sea, there was little time to adjust to the shock of hitting the cold water, as with an ebbing tide streaming across the dive site, a rapid descent was required to gain the shelter of the sea bed 15 metres below.

Once in the lee of the gulleys, out of the tidal flow, it was possible to drift gently in the current and explore the rocks and walls that make up this particular dive site. The U/W visibility proved to be a reasonable 5-6 metres.

 Usually in the summer months this area of u/w coastline is covered in marine life, but over the cold winter months the gullies appear much sparser, with the deadmans fingers looking withdrawn and limp. A solitary lobster is located under a rock, but no other fish life appears. This site however is not totally devoid of life; hidden in cracks amongst the rocks and gulleys are a multitude of magnificent multi coloured dahlia anemones.
Huge numbers of crinoids swarm across the gully bottoms, carefully avoiding the outstretched tentacles of the anemones.

 

 

 

 

After 35 minutes, the cold however is beginning to bite through the wetsuit gloves, it is time to launch the delayed SMB and head back to the surface.

Once back aboard the Selkie, hot drinks in hand, we watch an animal drama unfolding high up on the cliffs overlooking the sea, as members of the coast guard are being lowered on ropes in order to rescue a loan sheep that is stranded at the base of a cliff face.

This morning we woke up to the national news reporting the doomed efforts to rescue the unfortunate bottle nosed whale in the river Thames; now we are watching another animal rescue drama unfold before us, an intriguing end to an otherwise enjoyable days diving.