Oban Weekend

31st October – 2nd November 2008

by Nic Faulks

A final check of the weather report on Friday 31 st October stated that the weather for the weekend on the west coast of Scotland would be calm, cool and clear. As we set off towing the boat up the A1 and into Scotland , we were wondering if the BBC had got it wrong again, hail storms, lashing rain and high winds seemed to accompany us all the way to Edinburgh . However, by the time we reached the “wiggly” roads of the west coast, the wind had dropped with the sun and so had the temperature.

Saturday morning dawned with blue sky and frost. Twelve divers then emerged from their two luxury caravans on Tralee Caravan site, to launch the club ribs, just 200m from our accommodation. The focus of the day was the wreck of the SS Breda, a cargo ship which was bombed during the Second World War. After a little bit of struggle, we got both boat engines running and headed out for the first dive on the Breda.

 

For the second dive of the day we were again on the Breda , though this time there was a little bit more current running. Shot lines were dropped, so that some dive leader practical sessions could be assessed. Eleven divers managed a good dive…. The twelfth had a short dive, due to missing the shot and deciding the wreck-less sandy seabed was not very interesting to look at!

After the last diver was picked up we all headed back to Tralee, loaded up Tony’s van with empty cylinders, which he and a couple of others kindly took to get refilled. The remaining group prepped the boats for the following day. We all then readied ourselves in anticipation of a night out in mighty Oban! After a couple of pints and a lovely curry, most of us, happily sated, returned back to the campsite… an intrepid few remained out on the town.

Sunday morning: we were ready and on the road by 8am. The first task of the day was to keep the road clear, while getting kit ready and launching the boats at South Shian, next to the fish processing plant. Once on the water, we all headed out of Loch Creran, through the narrows, rounded the north coast of Eriska island and out to Branra Skerry in the Lynn of Lorn.

The weather was stunning, mirror calm water, blue sky and a dusting of snow on the hills. The diving on the Skerry was full of marine life, such as edible crabs, squat lobsters and scallops, though there may be a few less now!! We returned to the launch site for a tank change and to say bye to Tony, who had to leave early for a long journey to the midlands.

The second dive of the day was a drift dive, through the Creran Narrows, drifting from Rubha nam Faoileann round the north tip of Eriska Island . Loch Creran is a site of international conservation importance for its reefs and the narrows certainly lived up to this expectation. The marine life thriving in the current was fantastic, sponges, anemones, nudibranches, tiny spider crabs and many other critters.

 Once the final diver was picked up, we headed back to the launch site, where we found that the low tide had left the very long slip way almost totally exposed. A full team effort made sure that the boats were pushed up on to the upper slipway so that the vehicles could be hitched up. A busy hour then ensued, packing and sorting kit. We were all on the road home by 4pm, with memories of a fantastic weekend to take with us.