Pathfinder – St Abbs

Sunday 12th July and this was our first club boat dive of the year. Lockdown cancelled a lot of our diving plans, including a week of wreck diving out of Plymouth, a weekend in the Sound of Mull and a Bass Rock Isle of May weekend too. Time to catch up with some diving, now that the governments, Scottish and English, have allowed boat diving and groups of people to use them, all be it limited numbers.

The swim through at Black Carr.
The narrow swim through at Black Carr.

The first dives were at St Abbs, on board Pathfinder, skippered by Paul O’Callaghan, and his wonderful shirts. It didn’t disappoint either! The day was calm and sunny as the seven of us met up in St Abbs, ready to load the boat. Sandra and Graeme our two new members joined us for their first Tyneside 114 dives since joining, including Graeme’s big camera! ?

Once the crane had lowered all of our kit on to the boat, we set off and dived Black Carr as the first dive. We all jumped in and tried to find the swim through, I think we all did. It seems this year that the urchins have been doing quite a good job of grazing a lot of the hydroids off the walls, but there were still lots of nudibranchs and other critters around.

Dave Woodwood on his rebreather hovering over the seabed.
Dave Woodwood on Black Carrs

Once back on the boat, I think we all agreed that it was just great to be back in the water. Everyone had enjoyed it and no one had had any kit malfunctions – a bonus. Everyone managed at least 45 minutes in the underwater realm. Skipper provided a cup of tea/coffee on the way in to port for the surface interval. No one knows what he sterilised the cups with, but I lost the feeling in my tongue and the side of my face for at least 20 minutes after drinking the rather chemical flavoured brew!

Graeme with is camera, mid water.
Graeme and his massive camera! 😉

After a chilled surface interval back at St Abbs, we set off out to dive cathedral rock. Quite close in to St Abbs (sometimes dived as a shore dive) if you do it from a boat then you are guaranteed to find it! We were dropped in, six divers this time. The arch is a double arch, so you can swim through the bottom section with lots of room, or the narrower tunnel between the two upper arches. Because it can get tidal here, the marine life just plasters all surfaces of the arch with dead man’s fingers, plumose anemones, sponges, elegant anemones and lots of wrasse and saith. If you look hard enough there are often nudibranchs, found on what they eat – sponges or hydroids.

We all swam around the arch then along the wall round the bottom and back up to the arch again. It makes for a nice dive, especially as it is quite shallow (12 – 14 metres) and the sun was out, giving everything more colour.

Crystal sea slug on hydroid turf.
Crystal sea slug on the Arch

On our safety stop we were surrounded by jelly fish, all silently drifting with us. It was a bit surreal…. But as we popped up, there was the boat, waiting to pick us up and whizz us back to St Abbs. Everyone on board was happy, two lovely dives to end the lockdown drought! Back on shore, we packed up our cars, to go look for fish and chips, back in Eyemouth. The queues were huge, so we drove on to Berwick, and had fish and chips from the shop on the main street. Good food, easy parking and no queue… probably the go to for future trips.

Jelly fish on the safety stop.
Jelly fish on the safety stop
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