25th-26th April 2015
by Richard Booth
One of the joys of membership of the BSAC is the opportunity to dive with other branches. In this case three members of Tyneside 114 joined a Durham Divers trip to Lochaline on the Sound of Mull.
So it was that the party assembled at the Morvern Dive lodge late on Friday evening, a holiday let that specializes in providing comfortable accommodation for visiting dive parties.
Next morning we assembled down on the pier and loaded our kit aboard the MV Brendan.
Due to the strong Northerly winds, Malcolm the skipper made the decision to make the long trip down the Sound and around the bottom of Mull to Loch Buie to dive the wreck of the SS Meldon.
After locating this wreck we dropped in close to the remains of the wreck stern complete with its large four bladed propeller and rudder still in place.
From here we moved down the wreck exploring along the propeller shaft pausing to look around the two large boilers. Forward of here the wreckage becomes more broken with only a few cargo winches indicating that we were above the shattered remains of the cargo holds. Scattered across the seabed large lumps of coal can still be found scattered amongst the wreckage and kelp. Moving further forward we eventually came across the broken remains of the bow, complete with an anchor sitting on the seabed.
Once all the divers were recovered we headed across the Sound of Lorne to dive the wreck of the SS Breda. Despite the swell on the surface, underwater visibility proved to be surprisingly good. Some of the group opted to use the shotline attached on the stern. They were rewarded with good visibility and a scenic and colourful swim around the stern.
Others chose to descend down onto the bow with the aim of searching for scallops on the seabed in front of the wreck. (pic of diver on bow)
That evening we enjoyed fine French cuisine, a beef Burgoyne cooked by Hubert Desgranges.
.Next morning involved an early morning start in order to tidy up the accommodation and load our surplus kit into the cars. Again, there was a strong breeze blowing potentially somewhat limiting dive site options.
The wreck of the SS Thesis however offered shelter from the prevailing weather and so was an obvious choice for our first dive site of the day.
Reports of the recent destruction of the wreck unhappily proved all too sadly true. The once scenic and magnificent bow is now largely collapsed and reduced to a flattened pile of scrap with the odd steel rib still protruding up from the flattened plates.
Only around the boiler area is the wreck still recognizable as a ship, although only an extremely foolish diver would now enter this area of the wreck to swim along the narrow passage that runs beside the boiler, given the recent collapse of the forward area of the wreck. Moving deeper down the wreck it soon became all too clear that the stern has also collapsed and is now also just a flattened pile of metal work with only the rudderpost standing upright and still rising proudly above the wreckage in defiance of the surrounding scrap carnage around it. Alas, no longer can you sink on to the seabed and stare up at the Thesis stern arising above you; time and over a hundred years of storms and corrosion have finally taken its toll on this wreck!
Whilst it is sad to compare the current state of the Thesis with its more intact past, this wreck still provides a very scenic and colourful dive.
For the final dive we headed over to Ardtonish Bay to hunt for scallops. The dive was along a slope covered with marine life. Initially scallops appeared rather scarce; however descending further down the slope revealed areas of sandy seabed rich in scallops. A great way of ending the weekends diving. Thanks to Dave Taylor for organizing this dive trip.