Farne Islands, Hiding From the Storm!

Kelp forest with sea urchins

With the weather forecast for the weekend so poor, we didn’t know if the dive on Sunday would happen, but with no word of cancellation from the skipper, we all met up on the pier at Seahouses for a respectable 0930 ropes off. Seven keen divers, two of who were guests, Jodie and Nick. Always happy to have guests diving with us. 😊 William was skippering Glad Tidings 9, we were in no hurry, with the tides, so we loaded up our kit on the boat, wondering where to sit, we were the only ones on such a large boat!

So with lots of room to spread out, we all ended up at the back. Then decided to spread out more. The trip out wasn’t too bad,  so the forecast 2m swell hadn’t yet arrived, though diving on the south side of the islands wasn’t really an option. 

We journeyed over to the Farne Islands, to the north side of the Harcars, nice and sheltered, shallow with a maximum depth of 10 meters, and at this time of year, grey seals. William was telling us that in the autumn the seals just start appearing here, and spend the first part of the winter in this area, it is shallow and sheltered so good for divers and snorkelers.

Sun star looking pretty

The first dive was shallow, dropped in at 1.5 meters, then down in to the kelp. Kelp might try and steal dive kit from time to time, but it is an essential nursery garden for lots of species including crabs, fish and nudibranchs. The hold fasts have little fingers which attach to the rocks, these harbour small mollusks, crabs and other critters. The stipe is the stalk, on which lots of marine life grows, and is sometimes grazed by urchins. Often you get red seaweeds growing on the stipes, with small fish hiding between the plants. Finally the seaweed has a big broad blade, on which you get bryozoans growing, on which little yellow and white nudibranchs feed.

SiFish and I did not see any seals, but some of the other divers did. The key for seals is to make bubbles, stay shallow and wave your arms around a lot. It is the disturbance of the water that makes them interested, they come over and investigate. Their favourite pastime is chewing fins, nipping DSMBs or just zooming around.

Happy Catherine, after two lovely dives

Afte an hour we all ascended and climbed back on the boat, for coffee and thanks to Lisa some lovely home made rich chocolate brownies, very nice. The weather did look like it was changing, getting windy and a bit choppy, but tucked behind the Wamses we were nice and sheltered.

The second dive was along the wall of the North Wamses, always a nice dive with so much live on the wall, dead mans fingers, plumose anemones and if you look hard enough, lots of sea squirts too. SiFish and I dived with Catherine on this dive, and I think she really enjoyed looking at all of the colours. Every crack had a lobster, squat lobster or crab in it too. No seals though, I think they were preparing for the incoming storm! The lucky few saw the seals on the first dive.

On surfacing, we realized how dark it had got, rain clouds gathering. So we all jumped back on board and had a hot drink, secured our kit then headed back to port. Two lovely dives, and everyone safe back on board. The rain didn’t actually start until we were getting changed in the car park! Typical.

Glad Tidings 9 was our chariot for the day. Lots of room to spread out and eat chocolate brownies. 

GT 9 coming to pick the divers up

Glad Tidings 9 is a big boat with lots of room, and William always expertly picks us divers up safely. 

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